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Mr. Straw: I do not undertake to do the latter, but I shall come on to our approach to the recommendations

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of the Convention when we get to the intergovernmental conference. However, we want to see the present proposals strengthened. The matter was discussed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at the dinner that I attended on Monday. We wish to push it.

Mr. Bercow: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Straw: No. I have taken many interventions, and I may take some more later.

I say to the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) that even this proposal represents a significant advance on the proposals for subsidiarity which were included in earlier treaties. In the previous Government, the right hon. Gentleman, when he had responsibilities for Europe, voted in favour of the Maastricht treaty. He was an adornment of that Government. The proposal allows some dynamism in the process, and the right hon. Gentleman needs to see that in the context of the majority that is required, even under qualified majority voting, to get something through.

If I may, I will make some progress. I pay tribute to the efforts of previous Governments, including the right hon. Members for Wells and for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), to secure Europe's unification. It was a distinguished predecessor of mine, Lord Hurd of Westwell, who said eight years ago:

It was good that the previous Administration, under John Major, not only made those statements but backed them with actions such as the establishment of the know-how fund and the sponsorship of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Also, that Administration pushed and prompted the EU to enter into association agreements with each of the applicant member states so that they had a route through from where they were in 1989-90, which was flat on their backs in economic and political terms, to where they are today, which is just about to become fully fledged members of the EU.

In paying that straightforward tribute to the previous Administration, I say also that we are proud of this Government's record in pursuing this cause. In a speech in Warsaw three years ago, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was the first EU leader to call for enlargement before the European parliamentary elections next year. At the time, some believed that that was overly ambitious, not to say an unrealistic ambition. However, it is about to be realised on schedule.

To take up the point raised by the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Sir Michael Spicer), integrating the accession countries into the Union will entail costs. The financial package agreed by Heads of Government at last year's Copenhagen Council amounted to £26 billion between 2004 and 2006. By any standard, that is a large amount of money, but it is well within the overall budgetary ceilings for enlargement that were agreed in Berlin in 1999. In comparative terms, it amounts to a total cost to the EU 15 of just 0.1 per cent. of EU GNP in any one year.

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We must make a calculation—and both the previous Government and we have done so—about whether the benefits of accession outweigh the costs. That has been our judgement collectively in the House over many years. Studies estimate that enlargement could increase our own gross domestic product by £1.75 billion in the medium term, and help to create more than 300,000 jobs across the Union. Our workers will enjoy freedom of movement across the world's largest trading bloc. Our companies will enjoy unfettered access to a market of more than 500 million consumers.

The opportunities for the United Kingdom are greater than for almost any other country in Europe, if only we take them. We have the opportunities arising from our more dynamic, more liberal market economy, and from the way in which our service sector excels, and we have the opportunities presented by the fact that we speak—if the phrase will be pardoned—the lingua franca of the whole of eastern Europe: English. The further east those countries are, the more they look towards us, rather than towards some of our continental neighbours. Those are opportunities that we should seize.

Enlargement will not only help us to realise Europe's full economic potential; it will give us the capacity to reach across national borders to confront the new threats to Britain's security. We all know that, acting alone, we will never be able to protect our citizens from the threats of global terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or the chaos and misery spread by failed and failing states. We need more partners in Europe to confront those threats, and we need to build on the tried and trusted EU methods—co-operation across borders, intelligence sharing and joint law enforcement operations. That has been a central lesson over the past 20 months in the campaign against terrorism.

If the European Union is mutually to benefit from the accession of the additional 10 countries, the institutions that were originally designed for the six founding members will have to be reformed to cope with the demands of 25 member states. It is a tautology, and a pretty useless one, to claim that what is in the Convention, and the changes that the Convention may in time lead to, are not a condition for accession. That is obvious, because we are dealing with accession separately. It tells us nothing, except that if we tried to operate the EU at 25 with the existing institutions, we would find that the institutions became less and less efficient.

There are many examples of how that would happen. For example, when the revolving presidency was first agreed, each member state had a presidency for six months in every three years. When we first became members, it was once every four and a half years—almost within the perspective of a single Government term. Currently, it is once every seven and a half years, and from 1 May 2004 it will be once every 12 and a half years. In addition, alongside the wider disparity in economic performance in those countries, there is a much bigger range in population and capacity. With the best will in the world, it would be extremely difficult for some of those very small countries—in private they know it, even if they are less willing to admit it in public

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for the time being—to run an effective presidency across all the Councils for six months in every 12 and a half years. There will be no collective memory in those systems.

That is why we proposed that there should be a full-time president of the Council. We also proposed that there should be a full-time representative on foreign affairs, and within that there should be arrangements for team presidencies. I say to those Opposition Members who share my vision and view of a European Union of sovereign nation states that it is in their interest as much as ours that we strengthen the institutions of the Council, which represents those nation states, rather than that they should be weakened, as they have been in recent years.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher and Walton): It has always been understood by those of us in the Opposition who are keen on enlargement that in order to make a European Union of 25 work, there would have to be concessions. We would give up something in order that the new entrants could come in, and the EU would be no less effective. Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in treating the outcome of the Convention, he will safeguard certain interests that we have, such as foreign policy being subject to a veto, but otherwise will seek the best solution of the division of powers between the European Union and the British nation, so that we can make progress within the EU, rather than trying to make progress impossible?

Mr. Straw: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Of course we have our clear red lines, and we will stick to them. We will not have foreign policy communitised. We simply will not have it. There are many other red lines for us, but what we have learned since the mid-1980s is that this country benefits, for example, from qualified majority voting in a wide range of areas. When Maastricht was under discussion, it was striking that Lord Hurd, debating whether there should be a referendum, pointed out that the most significant and major changes that were made in the way in which the EU operated in order to make it more effective, not least for our benefit, were ones made in the Single European Act. Lord Hurd said:

Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes): The Foreign Secretary assured my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr. Taylor) that there would be no communitised foreign policy if he had his way. Can he explain the differences between a communitised foreign policy and a unified foreign policy in Europe, which the Prime Minister promoted in Cardiff some months ago?

Mr. Straw: Of course I can. There is a huge difference. I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is in such a muddle over the issue that he does not understand the difference between a communitised foreign policy and a unified foreign policy, so I shall explain.

A communitised foreign policy is one where all the Community institutions operate in respect of that foreign policy. The right of initiative is left solely, as it is at present in respect of trade or fishing, to the European

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Commission. As Foreign Ministers, we would become subordinate to the European Commission, and whether or not we went to war would be subject to qualified majority voting in the Council. We would be bound by the decisions reached by qualified majority vote inside the Council. Even if we objected to the decision, we would still have to put our troops in, and any legal issues would be subject to arbitration by the European Court of Justice. That is the communitisation of foreign policy.

A unified foreign policy is what we all seek, regardless of whether we are in the European Union. It is one under which we have a view, others have a view, and we try to come together in unity. That is what we seek. The phrase that we use is "a common foreign policy". Sometimes we are able to achieve that, as we have on the middle east, rather successfully, and as we have on the Balkans and many African conflicts. Sometimes we cannot achieve it, as in the case of Iraq, in which case we have to agree to disagree.

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