Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
1. In March 1999, the Foreign Affairs Committee
concluded their enquiry into European Union enlargement by urging
"to continue to work actively to maintain
and strengthen the commitment of the EU Member States to the enlargement
process and to work jointly with other key countries such as Germany
to provide strategic direction and momentum to the process"
2. The Prime Minister, in his speech in
Warsaw on 6 October, set out the UK approach to enlargement:
"Nobody who considers how the European Union
has underpinned peace and democracy in the reconstruction of post
war western Europe can doubt the benefits that enlargement will
bring to post-cold war Europe and the Balkans.
Nobody who considers the role that open markets
have played in generating wealth and prosperity in the European
Union can doubt the benefits of creating a market of half a billion
Without enlargement Western Europe will always
be faced with the threat of instability, conflict and mass migration
on its borders. Without enlargement the political consensus behind
economic and political reform in the weaker transition countries
Should that happen, we would all lose."
3. This note, the first of a series of six-monthly
progress reports on enlargement covers:
progress in negotiations since the
publication of the Committee's report in March 1999;
a summary of the performance of the candidates;
the UK's activities in promoting the
enlargement process; and
the next steps.
4. When the Committee published its report
in March 1999, the EU was negotiating with six countries: Poland,
Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprusthe
"Luxembourg Six". At that stage negotiations had been
opened on five of the 31 chapters of the "acquis" (the
EU's legislation and practice). By January 2001, 29 chapters had
5. At the Helsinki European Council in December
1999, the EU decided to begin negotiations with a further six
candidate countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Romania
and Bulgariathe "Helsinki Six". Since then, the
EU has opened between nine and 16 chapters with each of them.
The charts at Annex 1 summarise progress.
1 summarise progress.
6. In October 2000, the Commission published
a "Strategy for Enlargement" document which assessed
progress in each of the candidates and proposed a "roadmap"
for the negotiations, dividing the remaining issues and chapters
between the Swedish (Jan-June 2001), Belgian (July-December 2001)
and Spanish Presidencies (Jan-June 2002) with the objective of
concluding negotiations by mid-2002. The Strategy also proposed
that requests from the candidates for transitional periods should
be divided into three categories: acceptable, negotiable and non-negotiable.
And it introduced a new concept of "setting aside" a
limited number of issues for consideration at a later stage, where
doing so would allow a chapter's provisional closure.
7. The General Affairs Council on 4 December
welcomed these recommendations. The Nice European Council then:
reiterated the historic significance
of the enlargement process and the priority which it attaches
to its success;
completed the Intergovernmental Conference
and with it the institutional reforms necessary for enlargement;
agreed the main recommendations of the
Commission's Strategy paper, which provides a framework for accelerating
progress in negotiations with the best prepared countries;
expressed the clear hope that the new
Member States will be able to take part in the next European Parliament
agreed that candidates which have concluded
accession negotiations with the Union should be invited to participate
in the next IGC;
agreed to assess progress at Gothenburg
European Council in June 2001.
8. The obligations of membership of the
EU were set out in 1993 in the "Copenhagen Criteria"
(so-called because they were agreed at the Copenhagen European
Council). The relevant passage states:
"Membership requires that the candidate
country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy,
the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of
minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well
as the capacity to cope with competitive pressures and market
forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate's
ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence
to the aims of political, economic and monetary union."
9. The Commission's Progress Reports published
in November 2000 submitted for Scrutiny on 5 December 2000, copy
of the Explanatory Memorandum
An overall improvement in consolidating
democracy, respect for the rule of law and the protection of human
rights. However, some concerns remained, in particular treatment
of minorities, including Roma, trafficking of women and children,
corruption, reform of the judiciary and, in Romania, the state
of childcare institutions.
Improvements in the economies of
the candidates. Malta and Cyprus were judged able to withstand
the competitive pressures of the single market (ie meeting the
Copenhagen economic criteria in full). Poland, Hungary and Estonia
were judged likely to meet them in the short term, provided they
maintained their current reform path. The Czech Republic and Slovenia
were thought also able to meet the criteria in the same timeframe,
provided remaining reforms were completed. However, Latvia, Lithuania
and Slovakia needed to make further progress in order to meet
the criteria in the medium term. The Commission thought that Bulgaria
had made some progress, but that Romania's efforts to meet the
economic criteria had been "too limited".
The need to strengthen existing structures
and create new ones in order to adopt, implement and enforce the
acquis (the body of EU legislation and practice). The reports
acknowledge progress in the candidate countries in adopting the
acquis, but question their capacity to implement and enforce
10. The Commission will issue the next round
of reports in autumn 2001. Meanwhile, there will be opportunities
to review progress. These include regular dialogue in the framework
of the Europe Agreements, the Association Councils and the National
Plans for the Adoption of the Acquis. The monitoring tables
which chart candidates' progress will also be regularly updated.
11. The Helsinki European Council also formally
recognised Turkey as a candidate for EU membership. The European
Council concluded, however, that Turkey needed to make progress
in meeting the Copenhagen political criteria (relating to democracy,
the rule of law, respect for human rights and minorities) before
it would be ready to open negotiations with the EU.
12. The UK has supported the enlargement
process in several ways. First, it has attempted to provide strategic
direction for the negotiations. In speeches by the Foreign Secretary
(in Budapest in July 2000) and the Prime Minister (in Warsaw in
October 2000) the Government has called for a new, problem solving,
approach to negotiations, for a negotiating timetable, for an
acceleration under the Swedish Presidency, and for accession in
time for the first new Member States to participate in the European
Parliamentary elections in 2004. This last point was reflected
in the Nice European Council conclusions. There have been other
Ministerial speeches promoting enlargement (see Annex 2 for details).
13. Second, the Government is working closely
with other Member States to promote enlargement. There is an extensive
programme of bilateral contacts. There have been joint articles
for the press (including the Prime Minister and his Swedish counterpart
in the FT on 20 September 2000) and joint working papers, eg a
UK-Dutch paper on "the Way Ahead for Enlargement". In
2001, there will be joint seminars with Austria and the Netherlands.
And there may be joint visits by Europe Ministers to candidate
14. Third, the UK is involved in over 70
Twinning projects (secondments of civil servants to Departments
and Ministries in candidate countries to assist with public administration
reform and preparation for enlargement). This is the third highest
number of any Member State after France and Germany. The UK is
working in partnership with other Member States on over 40 of
these projects. In addition, the UK has launched seven bilateral
"Action Plans" to bring together the UK's pre-accession
assistance to candidate countries (copies attached at Annex 3)
and expects to launch similar programmes in all candidate countries
by the end of FY 2001-02.
15. In accordance with the Commission's
roadmap, the Swedish Presidency wants, as a minimum, to conclude
negotiations with the Luxembourg Six on nine chapters: on Free
Movement of Goods, Services, Persons and Capital; Company Law;
Culture and Audio Visual; Social Policy and Employment; Environment
and External Relations. They also plan to open all remaining chapters
with as many as possible of the Helsinki Six. Their work programme
is at Annex 4.
And as agreed at Nice, the Gothenburg European Council will "assess
overall progress, in order to give the necessary guidance for
the successful completion of the process."
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