Select Committee on European Communities Tenth Report


25 November 1997

  By the Select Committee appointed to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion of the Committee, raise important questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which the Committee considers that the special attention of the House should be drawn.



9984/97 COM(97) 2000:Commission Communication Agenda 2000: The EC Budget 2000-2006; and Reform of the Structural and Cohesion Policy


Accession to the European Union is widely seen in the countries of the former eastern bloc as an integral part of re-joining the historic culture of Europe to which they belonged before the tide of communism engulfed them. It is seen as a coming home.

  1.    Enlargement of the European Union to bring in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is no longer a dream-there is now a practical and immediate opportunity to set a course which will re-shape the political, economic and social life of the whole continent. If enlargement is successful the peoples of Europe could enjoy conditions of security and stability without parallel in their history. If enlargement is stalled or mismanaged not only would this opportunity be lost but there could be a slide towards the tensions and instability which have so disfigured Europe in this century.

  2.    The publication of the Commission's Communication, Agenda 2000, in July 1997, signalled a new urgency in the consideration being given by the institutions of the Union to the practical issues of enlargement. The Communication sets out a proposed timetable for the negotiations leading to enlargement; it outlines reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and the Structural and Cohesion Funds which it sees as essential to pave the way to enlargement; and it proposes a new financial perspective for the years 2000-2006 within which the pre- and post-accession costs of enlargement to the Community Budget can be contained.

  3.    We thought it would be helpful to carry out an enquiry in the light of Agenda 2000 into the financial consequences of enlargement, so far as they could presently be foreseen. The enquiry was conducted between the end of the Summer Recess and the end of November so that a report could be made to the House before the Luxembourg European Council on 12 December when decisions are expected on the opening of the negotiations intended to lead to accession of the applicant countries.

  4.    Part 2 of the Report is a Summary of the Opinion of the Committee. It highlights what we consider to be the most important elements of our Opinion which are generally set out in more detail in Part 5. Part 3 provides background. Part 4 summarises the evidence of the witnesses on the major issues which arose during the enquiry. Part 5 sets out the Opinion of the Committee on those issues.

  5.    The enquiry was carried out by Sub-Committee A. The membership of the Sub-Committee during the enquiry is listed at Appendix 1. We are grateful to all our witnesses and particularly to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, the two European Commissioners, the two chairmen of Committees of the European Parliament and to the distinguished representatives of the governments of Estonia, Germany and Poland who gave oral evidence. Witnesses are listed at Appendix 2.

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