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Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will set out the factors underlying each of the Copenhagen criteria by which a candidate country would be assessed for membership of the EU. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Copenhagen criteria require that a state has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, a functioning market economy, and that the state accepts the obligations and intent of the EU. The EU have not set out explicit factors underlying these criteria. It is the responsibility of the Commission to advise on whether the criteria are met and then for member states to confirm this advice.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the application of the principle of transparency in EU (a) whistleblower cases and (b) working committees. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union provides that decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen. The EU institutions, when dealing with both whistleblower cases and working committees, apply the EU's general rules on transparency.
Regulation 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and the Council provides for public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Under the Regulation, all official documents are accessible except when disclosure would infringe a specific public or private interest. All decisions refusing even partial access to a document may be the subject of an administrative appeal to the institution concerned. If not satisfied, applicants for information may then institute court proceedings, or appeal to the European Ombudsman.
Various working committees and groups operate under the auspices of the Council (under Article 19(3) of the Council's rules of procedure). The Council General Secretariat updates and publishes a list of such bodes. The documents of working committees can be made directly accessible to the public in accordance with Article 11 of Annex II of the Council's Rules of Procedure. (These are easily accessible on the Council's website at http://ue.eu.int/docCenter.asp?lang=en&cm sid=245)
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs below what minimum share of the popular vote sustaining a Government a country would be assessed as no longer a functioning democracy for the purposes of the Copenhagen criteria applied to membership of the European Union. 
in order to open negotiations. The Copenhagen criteria do not specify a minimum share of the popular vote sustaining a Government necessary for a country to be considered democratic. The Commission is responsible for advising whether the Copenhagen criteria are met and will look at the individual circumstances of each country in reaching its assessment.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the basis is of the statement by the Minister for Europe in his letter to the Financial Times on 22 June regarding the cost to the UK of the EU budget proposed by the Luxembourg presidency at the European Council. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The €25 billion figure was based on the final Luxembourg proposal on 17 June regarding own resources on the revenue side of the EU budget. That proposal would have excluded all community expenditure other than new member states' market related expenditure and direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy from the calculation of the UK abatement. It also proposed other adjustments to the own resources decision so as to reduce the net contributions to the community budget of Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The combined effect of these changes would have meant that over the 2007 to 2013 period, the UK net contribution to the Community Budget i.e. the UK's gross contribution less the abatement and UK public and private-sector receipts would have been approximately €25 billion higher than it would have been if the current own resources system continued unchanged.
Dr. Howells: The UK has a long-standing commitment to conclude negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The UK remains committed to pushing forward substantive work on this treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and has been pressing for negotiations to begin as soon as possible and without pre-conditions. We regret that this has not been agreed to date.
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not made representations to the French Government on this issue but officials remain in regular contact on the full range of social and human
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rights issues. The human rights of members of the Roma community are protected by the core international human rights instruments, to which France is a party.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to ensure agreements reached at the G8 summit in Perthshire this week recognise the location of the summit by referring to them as the Perthshire Declaration or Perthshire Accord. 
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on non-governmental organisations having a specific role as part of the peer review process proposed for the Human Rights Council. 
Ian Pearson: If peer review is an element of the future Council's work, reports from NGOs should provide an important source of information for consideration in the process. More generally, we are strongly in favour of NGO participation in any Council being maintained at the same or greater level as in the Commission on Human Rights, and are working with our EU partners to ensure this is achieved.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the UN Secretary General's proposal to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights with a Human Rights Council. 
Ian Pearson: The UK fully supports the Secretary-General's proposal to raise the profile, status and effectiveness of the main intergovernmental human rights forum in the UN system through replacing the Commission on Human Rights with a Human Rights Council. We believe it should be on the same footing as the Security Council and Economic and Social Council, with a clear mandate to address urgent human rights situations as and when they arise.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the Inter Institutional Agreement on (a) business and (b) job creation. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
The 2003 Inter Institutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking provides a framework for taking forward elements of the Better Regulation agenda which require co-operation between Community institutions. These include simplifying and reducing the volume of legislation and using impact assessment for significant Council and Parliament amendments. Improving the regulatory environment in Europe and reducing the burden of regulation on business will make a real contribution to increasing European competitiveness. Dutch studies predicted that
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reducing their national administrative burden by 25 per cent. could result in an increase of 1.5 per cent. in Dutch Gross Domestic Product.
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