Select Committee on European Union Seventeenth Report


24 October 2000

By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.




1. With the next enlargement the European Union's external frontiers will move to the east[1]. The Central and Eastern European candidate countries will take over tasks hitherto mainly fulfilled by Germany and Austria, becoming responsible for controlling thousands of miles of the EU's new land frontiers—frontiers which will thenceforth border on the states of the former Soviet Union. They will also become responsible for controlling long sea frontiers, in the Baltic and, ultimately, the Black Sea. The new Member States will thus assume a central role in securing the frontiers of the European Union's "area of freedom, security and justice", especially as regards its protection against illegal immigration and international organised crime.

2. This report looks at the challenges faced by the candidate countries in satisfying the existing Member States that they are ready to take on these responsibilities. It examines the assistance being given to the candidates by the EU, and asks whether the problems of raising frontier controls to the standards required by the EU could become a factor in delaying enlargement. Given the nature of the subject-matter, and the confidentiality of the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the candidate countries, the conclusions reached are necessarily tentative and to some extent speculative.

3. The inquiry was carried out by Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs), whose members are listed in Appendix 1. The Sub-Committee took oral evidence from the witnesses listed in Appendix 2, to whom they express their thanks. The Sub-Committee visited Warsaw on 18-20 June 2000, and express particular thanks to the many witnesses from Poland and elsewhere who gave evidence. The Committee also wishes to thank the Ambassador, Mr John MacGregor, and the staff of the British Embassy in Warsaw for their help and hospitality. The Specialist Adviser for this inquiry was Professor Jörg Monar, of the Centre for European Politics and Institutions at the University of Leicester.


4. As far as possible in this report a distinction is made between the controlled external frontiers of the EU (for example, between Germany and Poland) and the open internal borders (for example between Germany and France)[2]. This usage cannot however be entirely consistent when quotations from witnesses are used.

1   Accession negotiations were opened on 31 March 1998 with the "first wave" of candidatesCyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Negotiations have since begun with Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Malta. Turkey has also been formally recognised as a candidate country. A map showing the present EU and the candidate states can be found in Appendix 3. Back

2   This distinction follows the precedent set by the Committee's Report, Schengen and the United Kingdom's Border Controls (7th Report, 1998-99). Back

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