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Mr. Ian Davidson (Glasgow, Pollok): My right hon. Friend stressed the importance of the House enacting the Bill so that the treaty can be ratified. Is he aware that Ireland has rejected the proposal on which the Bill is based? Does that mean that all our discussion is immaterial or does not the Irish rejection matter?
On the Irish decision, my hon. Friend made an important point to which I want to respond fully. Consultations have taken place between the European Union leadership, including Britain, and the Irish Government. They have asked for time to consider their position. [Interruption.] It is interesting to hear scoffing, howls of laughter and cheering at that prospect. However, if ratification is not agreed by any member state, including Britain, enlargement cannot proceed. If enlargement is desirable, as I believe it to be, it must proceed.
Roger Casale (Wimbledon): Does my right hon. Friend accept that, although it is sometimes difficult to understand the exact position of the Opposition, it is clear that they are not against the enlargement of the European Union, but want an enlargement that will weaken or undermine it, instead of consolidating it and reinforcing its capacity to act?
Peter Hain: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I do not think that the Opposition are in favour of proper enlargement. They want to wreck the prospects of the candidate countries, as well as Europe, the Bill and the possibility of getting ratification from Britain. Fortunately, we have a clear majority over the Eurosceptics who sit on the Opposition Benches and it is just possible that the Bill will be introduced without their support.
Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley): Does the Minister really think that the Bill is indispensable for enlargement? From my experience of the Community, it seems to me that it would be perfectly possible to convene an intergovernmental conference tomorrow in Brussels to discuss enlargement issues in the Nice treaty that are completely uncontroversial and without any need to ratify the treaty itself. One could have such a conference tomorrow and get on with enlargement.
Peter Hain: The hon. Gentleman is a formidable journalist, but if he imagines that he can convene an intergovernmental conference tomorrow and renegotiate enlargement, he is living in cloud cuckoo land. Britain increased its voting strength in the Council of Ministers under the Nice treaty. We got a better deal than any of the other larger countries; we increased the share of our vote under qualified majority voting. If we reopened the Nice agenda, does the hon. Gentleman believe that that increase, which is embedded in the treaty, subject to ratification, would be left untouched? Of course it would not. Several parties are not happy that Britain's share of the vote increased.
Mr. Robert Jackson: My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) is a formidable journalist, but I do not believe that The Spectator had correspondents at the Nice summit. He would otherwise know that the decision on the voting weight was exceedingly controversial and that representatives of several member states threatened to walk out. If the treaty falls through, the whole matter might have to be renegotiated with consequent enormous complications.
Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): My right hon. Friend said that his mission was to educate the Opposition. He has shown them that their zealous anti-Europeanism would recklessly annoy many of our friends. However, will he also educate them about the changed attitude of the United States Administration to European security and defence policy? It undermines yet another plank of their anti-Europeanism.
Peter Hain: My right hon. Friend is right. The President of the United States has been steadfast in his support for the European security and defence policy. He speaks for the Administration in Washington, and some of the offstage noises to the contrary should be ignored. As I shall make clear later, if I am allowed to get that far, the events of the past month have increased the importance of a European role in security. The progress has been endorsed.
Enlargement is not a favour that we are doing the candidates. It is a favour we are doing ourselves. Why? It will reunite Europe at long last after the bitter divisions of world war two and the cold war. It will make us safer; war between the EU's members is now unthinkable. By enlarging, the EU will extend stability throughout Europe.
Enlargement will make us richer. Taking in the central Europeans alone will boost British gross domestic product by £1.75 billion. That is an important prize. It will create more jobs for British workers. Enlargement will create thousands of them throughout the UK. It will mean lower prices and greater choice for UK consumers. They will have access to a wider range of products at more competitive prices as the single market is enlarged to become the largest in the world, with a population of nearly 500 million.
Enlargement will make our streets safer. Together, the EU member states are tackling cross-border crime, drug smuggling, people trafficking and illegal immigration. If we are to deliver lasting success, we need the candidates inside the EU, working with us on those tasks.
As I said earlier, enlargement is even more important after 11 September. After the horror of that day, we need enlargement more than ever. If we are to defeat the terrorists, we need the bigger, stronger Europe that enlargement will bring. We need the practical co-operation across the continent that enlargement will allow.
Let me explain. On 21 September, European Union leaders agreed on an action plan to fight terror across Europe and beyond. That plan is based on much closer co-operation with the United States, and on much closer co-operation among the EU's member states themselves.
We agreed on a European arrest warrant. The warrant will be most effective when it applies not just in the present 15 member states but across Europe, in what are now the candidate countries. It will, when they join. There will be nowhere for the terrorists to hide any more. A common definition of terrorism in each nation's laws was also agreed. When it applies across Europe, as it will when the candidates join, the days when terrorists could avoid justice through legal loopholes will be ended.
We agreed on quicker freezing of assets and evidence, through recognition by each EU member state of others' court orders. When that applies across Europe, as it will when the candidates join, terrorists will no longer be able to hide the funds that pay for their campaigns, or the evidence that will convict them across Europe.
We agreed on better intelligence-sharing between member states. When the candidates are part of that network, as they will be when they join, all Europe's eyes and ears will help to ensure that we can crack and pre-empt planned terrorist action throughout our continent.
Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan): Does my hon. Friend agree that in the fight against terrorism, one of the most important aspects of this treaty is the headline military goals? As has been revealed in recent weeks, many of our NATO allies have not the military capability to contribute to NATO. If the goals within the treaty for the European targets are achieved, the capability will exist.
A bigger European Union will mean a stronger European defence policy toowhich relates to what my hon. Friend just said. It will mean more troops able to handle the peacekeeping, humanitarian and crisis- management operations that Europe may need to run in the future. It will mean an EU better able to stop the kind of instability, on its borders or further afield, in which terrorists can hide and thrive.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): I hope that the Minister will not be seduced by the intervention of his hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith)with whom I often agree, although I do not on this occasion. It would do nothing for the strength of NATO if it were somehow thought that to achieve the headline goals of the European rapid reaction force was equivalent to achieving the objectives of the defence capabilities initiative, and NATO itself.