Mike Gapes: That is already happening. There are not many EU countriesin fact, only ourselves and the Frenchwho can carry out the gamut of defence activities. There are arguments that certain of our EU partners need to do far more on their defence budgets and their commitment to security. In particular, I hope that the new German Government will review their commitments. By relying on just a few European countries, we cannot deal with the many problems, especially in a world where the United States is reluctant to be engaged or feels that it is already over-committed elsewhere. We need others to be involved and to provide a breadth of support. Such co-operation is working and many examples can be quoted.
There are potential problems. I spoke about enlargement, and it is reported that French Government officials are saying that future enlargement will not go ahead if there is not financial support for it. That is code for, "Don't mess around with the budget. Give us more resources, otherwise we will block Macedonia and potentially Turkey". They have some difficulty with the fact that we were so successful at the opening of the accession negotiations on 3 October.
We in the UK must maintain our unity and consensus about future enlargement. I have been encouraged by the remarks about the need for further widening and enlarging of the EU. Whatever changes the Conservative party undergoes in its 18-month reflection period, I hope that it will not go back on the commitment to enlargement and the accession of Turkey.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, realistically, Turkey is not likely to join the European Union because President Chirac, in an unsuccessful attempt to buy support for the European constitution, conceded a referendum, and something similar has been done in Austria? Turkish membership is popular among politicians, but not among the people of those countries. I am afraid that Turkey is being led up the garden path and is very likely to be disappointed.
Mike Gapes: There have been great changes in Turkey in the past four or five years. The prospect of EU membership will, I suspect, lead to even greater changes. Nobody is saying that Turkish membership of the EU will occur in the next five, seven or even 10 years, so let us wait and see where we are when that referendum takes place, if it takes place. President Chirac will be long gone by the time Turkey joins the EU.
: On a related point, is the hon. Gentleman aware of a report that is being drawn up for the European Parliament about the future of the
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European constitution? It is being prepared by Andrew Duff of the UK Liberal Democrats, together with Johannes Voggenhuber of the Greens, and it is believed that they will recommend that a constitution should be in place in the EU before Turkey could ever accede. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that would put Turkey's membership in the medium or long term in severe doubt, because we will not have a constitution in the form that has been presented to us over recent months and years?
My hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) has spent some time discussing trade and the importance of progress at the negotiations in Hong Kong, which relate to important issues such as the common agricultural policy, US farm subsidies and other international difficulties. It would be absurd if we were to discuss the repatriation of negotiations on trade. The only reason why we, as Europeans, could stand up to the United States when it introduced its illegal and unjustified steel restrictions was because we, as Europeans, were collectively strong enough to take them on.
I do not want a world in which one country, the US, or perhaps two countries, the US and China, totally dominate all the small countries because of their weight in the global economy. There should be a multi-polar negotiating structure that involves trading blocs which are strong enough to resist the most dominant and the most powerful, whether that is the existing great power, the United States, or the coming great power, China, which will dominate the east Asia region. As Europeans, we will be extremely vulnerable if we allow our internal divisions to reduce our ability to negotiate and stand up for our interests in future trade talks.
Mike Gapes: I am not a fan of the CAP. I represent an entirely urban constituency, which does not even contain a city farm, so I have no interest in my constituents consuming food that costs significantly more than it would had it been bought on the world markets. I also have a commitment to developing countries, and the CAP and related regimes have caused great damage to many poor people in poor countries around the world. However, the aspiration to get rid of the CAP does not mean that it will go, and we must work hard to achieve that objective over the coming years, which is why it is important that the Government stand firm on their commitment to hold a review as soon as possible.
In future, even less of the EU budget should be spent on the CAP. In recent years, there has been a welcome reduction in the percentage of the budget that goes on agricultural spending, but the perspectives for the next few years still mean that about 39 per cent. of the total budget will go under that heading, which is too much. The matter should be re-examined, because the CAP is not in the interests of Europe, the developing world or my constituents in Ilford, South, given the prices that they pay for imported food.
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Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): In the course of today's debate, I have sensed a sea change, which is less obvious in some cases than others. I have participated in debates in this House for the past 20 years, and for the first time I have detected an element of realism, although it has not necessarily been reflected in the remarks by some of the more fanatical members of the Europhile contingent.
Enlargement, which I have always supported, and the idea of co-operation in Europe, which I have also always supported, are producing their own consequences. It is apparent and clear, irrespective of whether any of us went to France during the French referendum, that the French people decided against the constitution, and the Dutch decided against it, too, but nobody can claim responsibility for that.
The fact remains that a substantial shift is taking place, even if it is not yet more than a tremor. There is an increasing recognition of the lack of democracy in the European Union. The argument is beginning to move to the question of whether, irrespective of the fate of the constitution, the existing treaties are adequate to deal with the dynamic that I described. I mentioned the best efforts of the Prime Minister, although that is not to say that I think that his best efforts are anything like good enough. I took the trouble to read his speech to the European Parliament and agreed with many of the sentiments that lay behind it.
As I said in International Development questions the other day, I am extremely glad that the Government are taking a far more constructive view about the developing world. We see all the debates that are going on in Hong Kong and in the Doha round, and the attempts to reform the common agricultural policy in the interests of getting a proper balance between farmers in the developed world and those who are desperately and damagingly poverty stricken in Africa and other parts of the world.
Yesterday, the European Court of Justice made a rulingno doubt on the basis of some argument that had been put to itgathering to itself the right to make decisions about the Marks and Spencer tax case. Cadbury-Schweppes is another such case. We need not go into the detail of that. Low growth and high unemployment are problems in France and Germany and in other parts of the eurozone.
This realism is not born out of the so-called previous rantings of the Eurosceptic right. In the past, some have no doubt been prepared to point a finger at me, and perhaps even at my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory). I would say that there is no harm in looking at the record and asking who has been right over the past 15 or 20 years. It has been a shared operation by those who have persistently and consistently argued for a policy of Euro-realism. One extremely prominent new Labour Member of Parliament who is not that far from the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to me the other day in the Lobby, "Bill, you call it Euro-realism; we call it realism." Some of the policies that the Chancellor is putting forward show an understanding of the necessity for open markets and competitiveness.
I have visited the countries of eastern and central Europe many times, and I have many friends there to whom I talk regularly. A few weeks ago, I had the
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pleasure of meeting some of themthey were from the Czech Republicin this Parliament. They were social democrats, not from the centre right. They expressed their deep concern and disillusionment about overregulation in Europe, their discovery that their agriculture was being put under severe duress, the significant reduction in the amount of cultivated land in the Czech Republic because of the imposition of European quotas on products such as milk and sugar, and the fact that the Czech Republic had been self-sufficient in agricultural products before joining the EU, but was now a net importer of them.
Anyone who heard me say that a few years ago might have remarked, "There they go againEurosceptics ranting on." However, I read the information from an informal note prepared by an official in a European Committee, who heard what was said and took careful notes. It is necessary to work towards the co-operation in Europe that I mentioned, bearing in mind the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells, with which I agree, that the way in which the acquis and the treaties are constructed and the institutions established does not admit of the sort of reform that we want, let alone what the Prime Minister wants. We have an increasing amount of realism and a greater dynamic towards making things right yet a problem that is inherent in the structures prevents the latter from happening.
The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) is right to say that the Prime Minister has failed in the EU recently but that is because he is hitting his head against a brick wall. It is no good talking to us about 68 proposals for deregulation. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells said, they mainly deal with accession agreements and matters that are defunct. If we are to make a difference to dynamism and enterprise for those countries that are in a proper relationship in the European continent, we must make sufficiently radical changes to ensure that something happens.