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Every Member hopes that all the problems identified in the report can be overcome by 2007, but the Government must address the possibility that they will not be. What is the Government's assessment of the likelihood of the criteria being met? If they are not, what course does the Minister recommend? Should accession be delayed until 2008 or should the accession itself go ahead but with certain provisos, such as delayed access to the single market? If the latter, how long might the delays last?
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Do the Government endorse the Commission's assessment? What conversations about that has the Minister had with our partners and with the European Commission? Is there a prevailing view among his colleagues? If one country is judged to have met the criteria but the other is not, should both countries' accession be delayed, or would the Government prefer to see their candidatures judged separately? Does the Minister consider it right that the Council could delay Romanian accession with a qualified majority, whereas unanimity would be required to delay Bulgarian accession?
Whoever decides those questions must look both backwards and forwards. Some might say that, in certain cases, the accession criteria were assessed broadly for the great enlargement last year because the political imperative was, after so long, to make that enlargement happen. But given the immense challenges that lie ahead in respect of an enlargement involving Turkey, Croatia and the rest of the western Balkans, and perhaps Ukraine, we must not give those countries the impression that standards can be fudged. Turkey would be rightly aggrieved if we judged its success in meeting EU standards by a stricter measure than that which we used for other countries. We must make it clear that that will not happen.
Mr. Redwood: I am pleased that my hon. Friend thinks the acquis communautaire too bulky and often unhelpful. Would it not be a good idea if the Government, at the same time as negotiating with the candidate countries, tried to get Commissioner Verheugen to understand the need to cut the acquis communautaire substantially in the interests of competitiveness and prosperity in the EU?
Mr. Brady: My right hon. Friend makes an important point and that was one of the great missed opportunities of the British presidency. During Foreign Office questions earlier today, the Foreign Secretary referred to several directives that are being withdrawn, but nearly all of them do not apply to this country or are out of date in any case. The importance of identifying a great slew of things that do not need to be done by the EU has been missed, which is a tragedy.
We have looked at the issues that need to be addressed in clause 1, but the Commission's report also has implications for clause 2, which deals with regulations concerning the free movement of workers, with particular regard to the transitional period of up to seven years.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many businesses throughout the country depend on the hard work of Poles and other people from the last round of accession countries? Would he care to revisit the Conservatives' position at the time of that accession and say whether he thinks it was right to oppose the opening of the UK market to workers from the 10 accession countries?
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Mr. Brady: I shall deal with that point. One thing that we should learn from the previous expansion is that the Government's figures and predictions were entirely wrong, not least because the UK responded differently from our EU partners. The Government have to consider how to learn from that experience and what its implications are as we approach this latest expansion.
The Home Office's predictions for immigration from the accession 10 were spectacularly wrong. In 2003, it predicted that net immigration from the new member states would be between 5,000 and 13,000 a year to 2010. In fact, in the 14 months alone between 1 May 2004 and 30 June 2005, there were 232,000 applications for the workers registration scheme, of which 220,000 were accepted.
What are the Government's predictions for migration flows from Romania and Bulgaria in the event of expansion going ahead? How have they revised their methods in the light of how wide of the mark the previous predictions were? The accession treaty provides for the suspension of the free movement of workers in whole or in part if member states undergo or foresee serious disturbances of their labour markets. Given what has happened since May 2004, we can anticipate that many Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will want to come to Britain. There are strong economic reasons why many may want to do so. According to the Commission's most recent figures, both Romania and Bulgaria, despite their high rates of growth, still enjoy an average gross domestic product per head of only a little over 30 per cent. of that of the EU 25.
There are other concerns that the Government must take into account. The Commission's report raises the serious problems of organised crime and inadequate border controls. There is also people trafficking, which was also mentioned earlier. As the House knows, that problem is particularly severe in Moldova and Ukraine, both of which share a frontier with Romania. The Government must address that issue very seriously.
Keith Vaz: I am most grateful to the shadow Minister for Europe for giving way. He has not answered the question put to him by the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson). We are concerned not about the Government's predictions, but about the hysteria generated by the Opposition at the time of the previous enlargement, which was totally unjustified. The Minister said that the Government will consider the matter nearer the time. What is the Opposition's position?
If anyone is hysterical, it is the former Minister for Europe, and not the shadow Minister for Europe. The Opposition want the Government to give a clear answer as to what their approach will be. The
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countries involved are quite poor when compared with the rest of the EU 25. There will be considerable pressure and the hon. Gentleman should say whether he believes that there is a limit to the amount of inward migration that the UK can accommodate. The Government do not appear to know the answer to that question.
Mr. Steen: I might be able to help my hon. Friend. Is he aware that the average wage for junior public officials in Romania is between 50p and £1 an hour? On average, policemen earn about £1,000 a year and doctors £3,000 or £4,000. Is not that part of the problem that must be addressed if Romania and Bulgaria are to become full members?
Mr. Brady: I am overwhelmed by my hon. Friend's detailed knowledge of public sector salaries in Romania. It is helpful, but we still do not know whether the Government regard that as a cause for concern. The Minister refused to say earlier. Although the Government misjudged completely the impact of the previous enlargement, he thinks that it is too soon to say what the impact of this one will be.
Given the problems, what restrictions on the free movement of workers from Romania and Bulgaria do the Government propose? The Minister said that it was too soon to decide, but he could have given some indication of the Government's current thinking. He said that a decision would be taken closer to the time, perhaps in a year, but that is not good enough. The Government must have some plans or proposals for how they might react if the accession date of 1 January 2007 is met.
Mr. Brady: No, not at the moment. What arrangements do the Government expect to have in place for the initial national or bilateral two-year period following accession? The date of 1 January 2007 is very near and, if it is to be met, the Government must have some plans and proposals.
Do the Government expect to extend national measures or bilateral arrangements for the rest of the transitional period? How will they monitor the suitability of their arrangements and what opportunities will they give Parliament to scrutinise and assess them? At a time when fears about further enlargement are taking hold in some EU countries, it is important that we make this enlargement a visible success. We need to get it right, and that means proper planning and forward thinking from the Minister and his colleagues.
Like the hon. Member for Glasgow, South-West (Mr. Davidson), the Minister will have noticed that the accession treaty allows for the EU constitution to be in force, or not to be in force, or to be abandoned. I know that the treaty was signed before the referendums in France and the Netherlands, but does not the Minister find it extraordinary that there is no acknowledgement that the constitution has been democratically rejected?
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The Opposition's position on the constitution is very clear. It is dead, and it would be utterly wrong to try to resurrect it. Will the Minister enlighten the House about the Government's view? Which of the three possibilities that I outlined does he expect to apply in 2007? He could be bolder: which of those possibilities would be the Government's preference? Perhaps he will not be that bold.
The Minister will recall that one of the arguments deployed on the constitution's behalf by the Government was that an enlarged EU would collapse in chaos without it. He may remember that the Prime Minister went so far as to say that the constitution was necessary to make accessions work. We said at the time that that was rubbish. We have been proved right since and the Bill makes the point again. The EU has many problems, but its current structures are coping perfectly well with an EU of 25 members and no one thinks that the accession of two more members will make matters worse.
The constitution was not about making an enlarged Europe workit was about another agenda entirely. Will the Minister be gracious enough to admit that that particular line of spin has been shown to be plain wrong and that the Prime Minister's words were nonsense?
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