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Mr. Straw: The right hon. and learned Gentleman raises an important issue. However, our record in meeting the obligations of the 2000 review, as a nuclear weapons power, is better than any of the other nuclear weapons states.
Sir Menzies Campbell:
Before the Government came to power, I was one of those who supported the reduction in warheads on the Trident system. The
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Government implemented that quickly and got rid of the freefall bombsthe WE177sand several other systems. In that regard, the Government have acted properly, but I am not sure that that will be enough to satisfy many of those who attend the NPT review conference.
If there is to be some long-term agreement with Iran, it should of course cover more than nuclear or security issues. Other issues for discussion and, one hopes, agreement include trade and investment, independence and impartiality of the police and judiciary, freedom of expression and the discriminatory treatment of religious minorities.
The EU response to the situation in Ukraine has been both well judged and effective and we should take some pride in and confidence from that. The Foreign Secretary will be aware that reports this week suggested that a member of the Commission said no unequivocally to the notion of membership of the EU for Ukraine. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg recently said something similar. In the same reports, it was said that the UK Government were non-committal.
I do not disguise the fact that Ukrainian membership would present difficulties. The Ukrainian economy, for example, is by no means compatible with that of the European Union. The gross domestic product per capita in 2003 was £2,800. In the EU in the same period, the average was £14,900a substantial disparity. Then there are the problems of governance in Ukraine, which recent events have thrown into sharp relief, and the historical relationship with Russia, which the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes mentioned. However, it appears to me that something is going on in eastern Europe, especially in Romania and in Ukraine. It might not be as dramatic as events in 1989, when the Berlin wall came down, with all the consequences that followed. I have the sense that some movement is taking place in countries that previously were thought to be impervious to arguments about the rule of law, an independent judiciary and control of the military. If that is so, we have an overwhelming responsibilityand it would be in our intereststo be responsive to such movement. That is why we should never say never about Ukrainian membership. We should be willing to say that there may be circumstances in which Ukraine's membership becomes both feasible and desirable. The Government have not said anything on the record about that, but I hope that some consideration will be given to it. In particular, the Government should ensure that no communiqué is issued this weekend that appears to bar for ever any application by Ukraine.
I am in no doubt that in the circumstances presented after the death of President Arafat collective engagement by the EU in the situation in the middle east is essential. Weby which I mean the EUhave, after all, been the largest supporter financially of the Palestinian National Authority, although much of what has been built with the money that we have supplied has been destroyed. Interesting questions arise as to who should be responsible for its replacement. Everything must be done to facilitate the Palestinian elections, which appear to be proceeding remarkably smoothly so far.
I do not believe that a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza will be any substitute for a comprehensive settlement that does not take account of the right of
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return, the status of Jerusalem and, perhaps most significantly, the settlements on the west bank. The right hon. and learned Member for Devizes said that the EU should not compete with the US, and he is right. He was right to say that we need a joint approach, but the evidence on which he sought to rely to suggest that some kind of competition is taking place could fairly be described as hearsay evidence, not evidence that one would wish to stand in the way of a joint approach. The EU may be very persuasive, but no one will be more persuasive in Israel than the US. If we are still talking about a two-state solutionas we must doit will require the full effort of the whole Quartet. Most certainly, the European Union should in no sense be competing with the United States.
I shall finish with a few words about the constitution. My view may be unique, but I think that the constitution is neither the glorious victory that the Government claim nor the shattering defeat that the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes claimed. The constitution is a sensible balanceit enshrines properly, once and for all, in one document rather than several, the relationships that are at the heart of the European Union. In the course of this weekend, I doubt that the constitution will come under much discussion. In the UK, discussion about Europe may never be brought to a conclusion, but it will certainly not be brought to a proper state of consideration unless and until we have the opportunity provided by the referendum to which the Government are committed. The sooner that day comes, the better.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell). He speaks with great authority on these issues and I disagree with little that he has said so far.
I agree that it is important for the Government to continue campaigning on Europe, but do we not need a date for the referendum campaign? Ministers and Members would then be able to go out to the country to talk about Europe. In fact, it would be much better if we did that in advance of a referendum campaign, because the European project is such an integral part of our foreign policy that we should not need an artificial reason to start talking about it.
I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for his work on enlargement. It is right that Britain has been the champion of enlargement over the last few years, starting with the Prime Minister's speech in Warsaw five years ago. It is also right that the Foreign Secretary should point out the importance of Turkey's membership of the EU, for all the reasons that he set out, and because once Turkey joinsas I hope it willEurope will never be the same again. Turkey will bring a new religion to Europe, through the Muslim faith, as well as different cultures. We should see that as a positive development in the history of Europe. We should take into consideration, too, what the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife has just said about Ukraine.
Turkey's association with the European Union began in 1963 when it signed its first agreement with the EU, with the eventual promise that it would join at some
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stage. That is almost 41 years ago, so the forthcoming European Council will have historic connotationsat last, we shall be saying to Turkey, "Let us begin the negotiation process".
Of course, it is right that Turkey should meet all the criteria of every other country. It would be quite wrong if we changed the rules for Turkey or had a different standard from that for other countries. I hope that the go-ahead will proceed this weekend and that when the Prime Minister returns on Monday he will tell us that it has been achieved at last and that negotiations can begin. Whether the process lasts for five years, 10 years or more, I hope that Britain will be at the forefront in developing relations with Turkey and ensuring that not only our trade relations but our people-to-people relations improve.
The comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) were interesting. It was Conservative policy to hold a referendum on enlargement, yet the Conservatives now claim to be fully supportive of the enlargement process. They argued in favour of a referendum on Nice, but if we had had such a referendum it is possible that enlargement would have been blocked. When the shadow Minister for Europe winds up the debate, I hope that he will reassure us that there is no question that a Conservative Front Bench will call for a referendum on the admission of Turkey to the EU when that eventually happens.
As I said in my intervention, I am concerned about public opinion in countries such as France. The latest opinion polls suggest that 70 per cent. of people in France oppose the entry of Turkey, so I am glad that President Chirac will be appearing on national television in France tonight to argue the case for Turkey. It is extremely important that Governments begin to talk about the enlargement process at an early stage. We did so only at the last moment in respect of the enlargement of 1 May.
It is important to note that, despite the hysteria surrounding the entry of Poland, the Czech Republic and the other eastern European countries, and the predictions of the Conservative party, the Daily Mail and its sister papers, a huge number of people have not entered the UK. In fact, enlargement has gone extremely well. The people who have come over have taken part in the registration scheme; they are contributing to our economy, although of course they send remittances to their countries of origin, and are strengthening it by their presence. We should welcome that. I think the same will happen when Turkey joinswhenever that is.
I hope that the Government will fashion a policy on the freedom of movement of Turkish citizens at a very early stage. We do not want a repetition of what happened just before 1 May, when there was a slight change in the Government's position and registration was introduced. I argued very much against the need for registration and I think that view has proved correct. Let us get things right now. Let us tell the Turksas potential fellow partners on an equal basiswhat we plan to do about freedom of movement, so that nobody misunderstands our position.
The enlargement of 1 May will not be a huge consideration this weekend, although no doubt progress will be noted when the 25 Heads of Government meet around the table. I hope that we can do more to build the
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new member countries into the existing structure of the EU. Recently, I looked at the number of European agencies and how many were sited in the various EU countries. Obviously, there are no European agencies in the new member states and no plans to hold European summit meetings in any of them because of the deal struck in Nice, which was, as I recall, undertaken to make the Belgians feel a little happier. That is why so many European Council meetings take place in Brussels. Now would be a good opportunity to move one of the agencies from the old 15 to the new 10. Perhaps one of them could be in Prague, Warsaw, Cracow or one of the other new EU countries. It is essential to show that the enlargement process did not end on 1 May. If those countries are to be full and true members of the EU, we should be willing to hold more summits in them and move more of the agencies to them. The new members would feel reassured by that.
The right hon. and learned Member for Devizes mentioned the Lisbon agenda, which will, I am sure, be discussed at the Council this weekend. He was wrong to say that the Lisbon agenda was a failure; it was not. The difference between what happened at Lisbon and at other EU summits was that for the first time economic reform was benchmarked. It was part of that process to review the Lisbon agenda after five years to see how well the European countries had done. In fact, the Kok report, published a few weeks ago, makes it clear that Britain has done well, as opposed to some other EU countries. We have not done as well as the Scandinavian countrieswe would expect to see Sweden, Finland and Denmark right at the top, partly due to their population sizebut the economic reform agenda that our country is pursuing was praised in the Kok report. The House will know that the 112 indices have been reduced to 14 core indices, but we are in the top tier in a number of cases. So it is wrong to say that we have not done well out of Lisbon. Of course we can do better, but the Kok report is very clear. I am sure that the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady), will have read that report. He will know that we have actually had a good report, but we need to do better.
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