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Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston): As the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests, the simplification of the treaties of Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice

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would be a great advantage. When we talk to our representatives on the Convention it is clear, first, that about 75 per cent. of the text would relate to business that had already been agreed, and secondly, that whether there should be a chairman or a president of the Council is hardly an earth-shattering issue that is likely to be raised in the Dog and Duck.

Mr. Campbell: I am someone who believes fervently that there should be a common foreign and security policy, but I also believe that it should be based on the rights of individual Parliaments and Governments to determine their own foreign policy and decide on the circumstances in which they commit their troops to conflict. In setting up institutional arrangements, it is not impossible to bring about that highly desirable end, but we need to understand that constitutional implications may arise from the nature of the institutions themselves.

That is why it is unwise to the point of foolishness—I am sorry if this is unpleasant for those on the Treasury Bench—to say that there will be no referendum. Until the process is completed, how can a rational assessment be made about whether the final product includes an issue of constitutional significance? We have to wait until we have the product or the package: only at that point can we make an informed judgment about whether a constitutional issue is raised that would require a referendum.

I am going to conclude, because many right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate in the debate. To return to an earlier point, this is in one sense a rather prosaic occasion, but many people acknowledge that it marks an enormously significant step. Our continent was riven by two terrible wars in the 20th century and half of it was crushed by Communism for the best part of 40 years. It is now setting out, so far as it can, to come together in a union that seeks to preserve democratic values and ensure economic freedom. There will be 25 free and democratic nations in the European Union. The purpose of the Bill is to allow that to happen. This is surely an occasion to savour.

2.41 pm

Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): I had, perhaps naively, assumed that this would be a consensus debate—a blessing, a benediction and a welcoming of what the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) referred to as a remarkable political transformation. I had not given sufficient weight to the ability of Opposition Front-Bench Members to exercise their visceral dislike of the European Union, which we encounter so often.

The increase in the number of states within the European Union and the greater diversity that will flow from it will have many positive effects. For example, the new countries that looked to the United States for their liberation are far more transatlantic than the initial core of six nations who formed the Union. Foreign policy will therefore be mightily transformed, and greater diversity is surely to be welcomed, just as we welcome the historic rejoining of so much of Europe. On any definition—cultural, historical or political—the newer members of Europe are indeed part of our Europe, which was artificially separated at the point that Soviet tanks had reached at the end of the last world war.

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Certainly, 2002 saw fundamental changes in both the political and security landscape of our Europe—the biggest ever enlargement of the European Union and NATO at the Prague summit. The process began in 1989, and who can forget the wonderful scenes at the Berlin wall on 8 November that year? Since then we have seen great steps forward—not the end of the process, but a major change. It is so much a matter for joy and rejoicing that I ask the Minister for Europe whether the Government plan to celebrate the great change in Europe? Will any Government moneys be available, not just nationally but locally, for minorities such as the Polish community in this country, or perhaps to inform young people about the historic event before us? We could use the twinning arrangements in Wales and Scotland to ensure that the dramatic change is celebrated appropriately throughout the United Kingdom

There were problems—sometimes despair—at points of the route along the way: discussion of the regatta principle and differentiation, for example. Certain countries seemed to have insuperable problems. Slovakia, with its leader Mr. Meciar, appeared to be ruled out at one stage, while Malta was so highly polarised in its political composition that it seemed that there would never be a consensus. Happily, we have seen the positive results of the referendums so far. In Malta, a subsequent general election confirmed the position established in the referendum. Along the way, there were fears that the Baltic countries, which were part not of the Soviet empire but of the Soviet Union, could not be welcomed into the political or security structures of Europe without causing too much offence to the Russian Federation. All that now appears to be in the past.

We have arrived, and I pay tribute for having arrived not only to the Government—I recall the Prime Minister's historic speech at Warsaw—but to the valiant efforts of Günter Verheugen, the Enlargement Commissioner, who has coaxed and forced—carrot and stick—so successfully along the way. The new entrants are certainly historically and culturally European. The Baltic states were part of the old Soviet Union while others were part of the Soviet empire. Remarkably, Cyprus and Malta are included, which creates a new opening to the Mediterranean, so two members of the Commonwealth are joining us as members of the European Union—another significant fact to welcome.

I welcome all this, not least because of my personal history. I lived in Hungary for some time—and what country is more European or democratic than that? The four parties in Hungary have all been in government at some point since the remarkable change. My first son was conceived in Hungary, married a Slovak in Prague last year, and is now living there. Another son is married to a Maltese citizen. Many of us, including the Minister, have grand personal links with the new countries. They have all come together; the results of the referendums are clear.

Europe will never be the same again, as President Chirac found to his cost, when he lectured the new countries in respect of Iraq as badly brought up—mal élevés—which caused great offence. Foreign policy, so often Franco-German dominated, will now have to be discussed in more consensual ways over a far wider spectrum of issues. The newer countries have a greater

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transatlantic leaning. I am delighted that Poland has been offered leadership of one of the new zones in Iraq. What a wonderful transformation since 1979 and the end of the Soviet Union and empire. The Convention shows the new alignments, the new debates and the new challenges.

As for problems for the United Kingdom, I have heard some understandable concerns about the dilution of regional policy as a result of the demands of the accession countries. It is fair to say, however, that the financial settlement reached with those countries was remarkably niggardly, certainly if assessed in terms of the amount per head of population—far less than in earlier enlargements. I have also heard some concerns about the movement of workers from the date of accession, but there are safeguard provisions. There are also concerns about the position of the Roma—a major social problem in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There is a need for an EU-wide policy to improve the social conditions of the Roma and to discourage a wave of emigration. The current visa regime for Slovakia, which will expire in May next year in any event, is causing concern. The Government could end that regime, if only for its symbolic importance , a few months before we are pledged to do so.

It is important for the Government to ensure early ratification of NATO enlargement for the seven new members. There is surely no controversy about that enlargement, and the UK has championed that cause. Norway and the US Senate have been through their parliamentary procedures, and I urge the Minister to consider parliamentary progress on that matter. There is consensus and, because of our past, it is important that we are seen by the seven new NATO countries to be manifestly on their side. No opposition will be met in Parliament, so I see no reason why ratification of NATO enlargement should not be completed by the House by the early autumn at the latest. Perhaps the Minister can tell us when the NATO accession Bill will appear before the House.

The problems that are likely to arise include the monitoring of the performance of the new members. The Copenhagen EU Council has the safeguard clause for unforeseen developments in the first three years, and we need real and rigorous monitoring to ensure that there is no backsliding by the new members. In the next stage of enlargement, Bulgaria and Romania have a target date of 2007, which was set at Copenhagen, but there is no prospect of an early accession for Turkey. Indeed, the Turkish Government have mentioned a period of 10 years. The Foreign Affairs Committee produced a positive report last year, which said that Turkey must be treated like any other country in respect of the Copenhagen criteria. However, key problems arise for the Turkish accession, including Cyprus. It is inconceivable that negotiations should be started with a country whose army is in illegal occupation of a fellow EU country. Other questions include the lack of civilian control over the military and the treatment of religious minorities—including the Christian minority—in Turkey, and they will have to be properly addressed.

A glance shows that the Balkan countries, many of which have small populations, form a black hole on the map of Europe, because they contain the potential for instability in Europe. They must be encouraged along the way. Croatia, by far the most advanced and—on any

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definition—a very European country, has made its application already. After we have dealt with that application, we will have to consider Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania. It may be that we should have a pre-accession strategy for the western Balkan countries as a whole, with possible differentiation for Croatia.

Another problem is the new borders, and the danger of creating another fence at the edge of Europe. How will we deal with the new neighbours? Expansion has to end at some point. If there is a Europe, there must be non-Europe, but how will we deal with those countries that, for the time being and possibly for ever, will be on the wrong side of the line, such as Ukraine, Belarus—with its current problems—Moldova and others? Europe must develop creative solutions to that problem.

The Bill is short and technical, but marks a sea change in our Europe. It is a good story. After all, who can forget the joy of November 1989 in Berlin, which marked the start of this process? I see the process not as one of enlargement but of reunification of the free nations of Europe and I greet it with enthusiasm.

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