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16 Dec 2002 : Column 543—continued

The Prime Minister: I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman about enlargement. It is worth pointing out that Britain has always done best in Europe when it has been engaged. Although, of course, the Conservative party's history in Europe when it was in office has been somewhat rewritten, the fact is that Mrs. Thatcher was engaged in Europe for the first seven or eight years of her premiership, and the Conservatives were responsible for putting through the single market proposals. It is important to realise that, in the end, they were a lot more sensible then than they are now, and perhaps the same could be said of us.

The key is to ensure that we carry on getting the best possible deal for Britain. That is also true in relation to CAP reform. The leader of the Conservative party was quite wrong. CAP reform was not blocked at the Brussels summit. Indeed, the disagreement was about over insistence that the mid-term review should go back

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into the conclusions of the Brussels summit, so the agriculture reform programme continues, as the Commissioner indicated a few days ago.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that the position on the euro has not changed. I agree with what he says about Turkey. On the CFP, I also agree that it is important that we try to work out the very best deal that we can possibly secure for our fishing industry, recognising that there is a genuine problem. I simply say that people who complain that the Government are not doing enough but refuse to recognise that a fundamental issue has to be tackled—whoever was in government would have to tackle it—are not doing a service to the Scottish fishing industry because they are pretending that there is an easy solution when there is not one.

The right hon. Gentleman is right about European defence. The benefit of engagement is absolutely clear. The tragedy is that if we were not engaged as a country in the debate about European defence, it would not mean that European defence would not take place; it would simply mean that it would take place without us.

Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Is it not a fact that, for many people in central Europe, what has been agreed this weekend will represent a remedy to the great outrage of Munich and to the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939? Is it not a great tragedy that the great statesman from Chingford cannot rejoice about the fact that the sacrifice of those 17 per cent. of the few who fought above this place, recklessly in our interests as well as theirs, will have the satisfaction that their countries will come into the family of European nations?

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will now ensure that the United Kingdom Government and those in our commerce and industry go on an offensive to ensure that we get in on the markets of the new member states? Under the Labour Government, Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry have been insufficiently in attendance in those countries, and I hope that—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order.

The Prime Minister: I am sure that we will make every effort in that regard. Important commercial opportunities will exist for our business and industry. Those countries that will come into the European Union under enlargement will offer tremendous opportunities for our companies and we must ensure that we seize them.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): In welcoming much of the Prime Minister's statement, may I ask why there was no mention of Zimbabwe? Was not the plight of southern Africa in general, and the terrible fate awaiting Zimbabwe in particular, raised during the summit? We were assured by a Foreign Office Minister last week, in an appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee, that it would be raised. Why was it not?

The Prime Minister: It was discussed at the Foreign Ministers meeting. I say again to the hon. Gentleman—I know that he feels passionately about this issue, as everybody does—that we must have the specific remedies that will work in this situation.

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Joyce Quin (Gateshead, East and Washington, West): I welcome enlargement, which is a tremendous cause for celebration. Given the impressive and widespread use of English in many of the enlargement countries, will my right hon. Friend lead an effort across Government not only to encourage industry to take opportunities in the new market, but to increase public awareness in Britain of the significance of this historic achievement?

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right on this matter, and I know that she has done a lot of work on it. It is interesting, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has pointed out to me, that of the 13 countries to come in under this enlargement or to come in subsequently, 12 gave their addresses in the English language.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, when in Copenhagen, he discussed with other Heads of Government their support for military action against Iraq? Can he tell us how many are so persuaded of the moral case for war, as against a legal cover afforded by the Security Council resolution, that they are prepared to pledge troops and assets in a military deployment?

The Prime Minister: Of course the issue was raised and discussed on the margins of the summit with many countries. I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that all the countries to which I talked are fully in support of the UN resolution and recognise that if there is a breach of that resolution by Saddam, action should follow. Whether they participate or not is up to them.

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East): May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the personal role that he has played in the enlargement process? As well as being a champion for enlargement, will he continue to be a champion for reform, and ensure that the points that he set out in his joint letter with Chancellor Schröder of 25 February this year, which will see the reform of the European Union, are followed? We will have a Europe of 25 nations. I know how much he enjoys these summits, but with 25 countries at a summit, it is very important that it should be as efficient and as effective as possible.

The Prime Minister: Likewise I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, and all that he did when he was Minister for Europe to push forward the process of enlargement, which was important. Secondly, in relation to the Council and the Convention, one of the interesting things is that when we talk, in the European Convention, about the reform process in Europe, most people recognise that we must make fundamental changes in the way that Europe works. It was interesting that when President Giscard d'Estaing addressed the Council he made it clear that we had to strengthen all parts of the European Union, including the European Council.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe): Will the Prime Minister accept whatever share of the credit is his due for the success of the Copenhagen summit? Will he agree, however, that probably the lion's share of the credit should go to the Danish President of the Commission, who is, I believe, the political ally of

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the British Conservative party—[Interruption.] He is a Danish Conservative. Would the Prime Minister agree that that underlines the special urgency of achieving institutional reform of the European Union within the next 12 months, during which it will be decided whether we can have a better decision-making process for 25 member states than we have at the moment for 15?

Does the Prime Minister intend to stick to his principles of a clear leadership of the Council of Ministers, a clear leadership role within the Union for the Council of Ministers, intergovernmental approaches to foreign and security policy rather than the Community method, and greater democracy at the same time? Does he think that he can achieve all that? Will the new members be on his side or not in the difficult negotiations over the next 12 months?

The Prime Minister: I certainly pay tribute to the Danish President. I agree that the negotiations were conducted superbly by him, but he is actually President of the Council, not the Commission. I do not know whether he is an ally of this Conservative leader—but who knows whether he may not be an ally of any other Conservative leader.

I agree entirely with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's other points. The proper red lines for our national interest in the convention are that we have the Council able to play its full role and that it is properly organised. In our judgment, there cannot be a Communitisation of the common foreign and security policy. We have to make sure that we increase the democratic accountability of the European Union.

I entirely agree about the new members of the EU. After all, these states fought to be nations again. I said in my statement that they had rediscovered their national identity, but they have always had their national identity. What they have not had is the opportunity to express it. These countries will be our allies in the EU, which is why it is important that they see us playing our full part in the EU and are not at its margins.

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on a truly historic summit that was good for Britain and for the whole European continent. However, will he use his good offices to apply pressure to the Turkish Government who, in turn, should apply pressure on the Turkish Cypriots to come to an agreement for the unification of the whole of the island under the Kofi Annan plan?

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