Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 20-40)



  20. Would you care to speculate—maybe you do not care to—on which countries might have real problems with referenda? Poland presumably would be one, at one end of the scale, the largest one; the smallest one, Malta, I hear may have a problem. Are there any others you think might be on a cliff edge?  (Dr MacShane) I do not think so. Every country has questions, and rightly so, about aspects of its future role, the extent of help that it may get in different sectors of its economic activities from Europe, but to decisively say "no" to the European Union would be a retrograde step. Of course, there is always the age difference. Some of the older citizens in different countries perhaps hanker after old systems, old ways of thinking, and those who do not want to see any change in the way agriculture is organised, the way the economy is organised, perhaps might feel dissatisfied, but I am pretty confident we will get a strong "yes" to Europe out of all these referenda.

  21. Did you think the decision—some call it a non-decision—taken on Turkey was the right one to have taken?  (Dr MacShane) I think it was a very clear decision, because I had many conversations, particularly with friends in France, before Copenhagen, and there was a view that it would not be reasonable to consider looking at beginning accession negotiations with Turkey before the closing years of this decade, and indeed, if you look at French opinion polls on Turkey, particularly in the ruling conservative party, four out of five people polled are opposed to Turkish accession. The fact that France, and a number of other countries, accepted what was much more, if I may say so, a British and German view—that we should make full progress report on Turkey at the end of 2004 and, assuming that the report is positive, we can begin negotiations straightaway—I think was a very good result, both for Turkey and for Europe.

Lord Scott of Foscote

  22. Minister, I wonder if I can ask you a question about the European Court of Justice and the difficulties about that that enlargement may bring. At the moment there are 15 judges who sit on the European Court of Justice, one from each Member State. Enlargement will mean—unless there is some reorganisation, some discussion about how to deal with the problem—there will be 25 judges sitting in the Court, hearing every case that comes before the Court. There is a real question about whether that is going to be practical. Have there been discussions about this?  (Dr MacShane) My Lord, I am ashamed to say, knowing how prominent a member you are of this Committee, that I am—I think this is the technical term—"unsighted" on that question, which I have to say is prima facie a very good one. I do not know if the Director of the EU Department can answer, or if my Lord and the Committee would accept that I will write to you. Believe me, I would like to see the letter myself!  (Mr Darroch) Just to add one point to that, I do not have an answer. There are discussions as part of the Convention process on the future of Europe about the structure and size and role of the ECJ, and the number of judges that you need for this will be part of that discussion. They have not got very far yet, and I am not sure what is going to come out. But as part of that process, we may look at problems posed in terms of enlargement, but in terms of whether there is going to be anything in the accession treaties on the number of judges, I think each of the acceding countries, according to my present understanding, has the right to nominate a judge to the ECJ as existing Member States do. I do not think they have changed that and, as the Minister says, we will write to confirm that.


  23. Before asking Lord Williamson to put some questions on institutional issues, can I just ask you a couple of points on EU and Iraq? The first one is whether or not you feel that the EU can find a common position before any military action is taken in Iraq, and the second question is: is it fair to say that most of the Member States in the European Union have expressed some reservations about what the costs of reconstruction are going to be and as to whether they will be in a position to contribute?  (Dr MacShane) The European Union, and those of its members who play a key role on the Security Council of the United Nations, have worked very closely on the Iraq question, and that resulted in the 15 to zero vote in favour of Resolution 1441, under which we are currently operating. It is no secret that there are different comments in public by different members on the absolute need for a separate resolution on whether or not Member States can support action were military action not formally sanctioned by the UN, and positions taken in terms of refusal to contemplate participating in military action by the sending of forces from one of the major European Union countries, Germany, which of course we should not forget has only very recently changed its constitution to permit the notion of any of its soldiers operating outside the German area. On the question of reconstruction, Chris Patten certainly has indicated that there may be problems on this. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has saddled Iraq with enormous debts, and those oil revenues that he has under UN programmes have gone into building up military strength, including, according to intelligence reports, buying equipment that potentially can be linked to the construction of weapons of mass destruction, so there will be a big economic construction task. If we are to move to a post-Saddam, reform-minded Iraqi government, undoubtedly Iraq will need international aid. I think at this stage it would probably be speculation on my part, because, let me remind the Committee—perhaps I should have started with this—certainly the policy of the British Government as expressed by the Foreign Secretary in his statement to the House just this morning is that we want to see a peaceful outcome to this. Yes, we are piling on the pressure but our view is that we want to see Saddam in full compliance with all the relevant UN resolutions, not just 1441, and if he can demonstrate full compliance, the regime will have changed in Iraq. I think I would have to come back to the Committee in terms of Iraq's reconstruction when we are further down the track, when we know where we will be in a few months' time.

Baroness Billingham

  24. Can I put to you one particular scenario that Commissioner Patten has been speculating on, and he warned it would in fact be particularly difficult to persuade EU Member States to pay for post-war reconstruction in the event of the United States acting unilaterally. That is one scenario. I want to know how important is the EU's role in reconstruction aid. Let us use the experience of Afghanistan as perhaps our role model.  (Dr MacShane) I think those are very important points, and I have no doubt colleagues in the Department of International Development are reflecting on them, but at this stage it is difficult to know how each individual Member State would respond. It does depend, as I said in my previous answer, on the circumstances, which are likely to be complex, say, were there deemed to be a fundamental change in the regime in Iraq and a new type of government, and we would have to look at the nature of the new government of Iraq, and the needs of Iraq. I was struck, attending a conference in Paris before Christmas that President Chirac presided over, that he was able to raise $4 billion to help Lebanon. So money can be found. Let us also not forget that Iraq is not Afghanistan. It is an oil-rich country. It is a country with a high number of professionals. I know, because I meet some of them who have fled from Iraq and who are involved in my constituency and come to see me in my regular surgeries as asylum seekers. Were they to go back, there is a bright future for Iraq. It is a country in which women play a positive professional role, with high levels of education. So again, I do not want to speculate. We just do not know where we will be on Iraq, but the tragedy of Iraq is that its talented, educated people, who live on the whole in a secular kind of society, with a lot of natural wealth through oil, are saddled with this evil tyrant.

Chairman: Let us go on then in that case to institutional issues. It seems nowadays we can hardly talk about them without speculating on what France and Germany are expecting the rest of the European Union to do. Anyway Lord Williamson has some questions.

Lord Williamson of Horton

  25. Minister, certainly you will be unsighted on this question, you probably dream about it because it is a more general question about the state of the Convention and it is in two parts. Of course we have now had the reports from the working groups and we are really moving into act 2 of the Convention. We are moving from working group reports to discussion in the Convention itself. It is quite an important point, I think, in the history of the Convention and that is, I suppose, why France and Germany have come forward with their own position on important issues and, indeed, the Presidency's foreign minister is appearing also now in the Convention. We have moved up a gear. You may have seen that the press have taken an interest in this matter, believing British interests may not be served by the fact that other important Member States are pushing on together. So the first part of my question is do you think these developments are positive or perhaps less so from the British point of view? Secondly, do you think there is some sort of gelling together of opinion among other Member States which will already begin to influence the IGC, I know we are not there by a long way but do you think that is the situation?  (Dr MacShane) I welcome increased co-operation between France and Germany because when that happens it is good for Europe and on the whole what is good for Europe is good for Britain. One remembers the co-operation between Billy Brandt and Georges Pompidou which opened the way to British accession in 1973 and we remember the co-operation between Helmet Kohl and Francois Mitterrand and if I may add a third name to that group, of Margaret Thatcher in building the single market. One does rather forget the history of the first part of the Conservative Government in the 1980s which was a great European Government and drove forward the single market on behalf of all Europeans, working jointly with President Mitterrand and Chancellor Kohl. If you look at some of the more recent proposals, for example on freezing CAP payments and spreading them over 25 per cent of 15, obviously that bears down on CAP; on agreeing to consider Turkish entry into Europe as early as the end of 2004, that was a stated goal of British policy and then of course the most recent announcement to have an elected permanent chair of the European Council of Ministers, that too is very much in line with British policy, so we welcome all of those. It is a contribution—there are 13 other Member States. I have never seen a game of rugby won with only two players on the pitch so I do think it is important. I was in Rome yesterday, I am on my way to Dublin tomorrow morning, I make a point of trying to visit as many countries as possible because I think policies are made in the capitals of Europe, not just in Brussels, and they have all got different positions. So far I would say the Convention has done a good job, I think it has been moderate. My hope is it does not make the best of the enemy of the good, that is to say it does not seek to have an over-visionary ambition which just does not correspond to European reality and it arises from conclusions which on the whole most of Europe can accept so we do not open the debate endlessly and have an inter-governmental conference which lasts not just month after month but possibly longer than that.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick

  26. Minister, you were quoted in The FT as describing the original German proposal for an elected president of the Commission as a proposal for a European wide Kaiser. We seem to have ended up now at least with a double headed Hapsburg eagle with two presidents. Originally the British Government seemed to be against the German proposal but now it seems to be quite relaxed about having this double headed monstrosity. Is this really a practical proposition to have two presidents. It does not seem to fit very easily with the one telephone number for Europe type of argument. One would have thought if both presidents consisted of, let us say, two ex-prime ministers there might be huge rivalry between them, different agendas and would be very confusing for the Americans to deal with. Surely this idea of the double headed eagle is complete nonsense?  (Dr MacShane) My Lord, I am never quite sure who to call in Washington to know what is happening in the United States. There are so many different sources of power, although the buck always stops in the Oval Office. In Europe we are something different, we are a union of people, citizens who elect their representatives to this Parliament and to the European Parliament. We are a union, also, of nation states, we have a Council of Ministers representing the democratically elected governments and it is not working as many think it should. There are 25 new heads of government soon to take place, that will mean that the chance to occupy the presidency of the European Union on a six month rotating basis will fall to a country about six or seven times in the rest of the century. A change of the president every six months in our view and in the view of the French and Germans does not make sense. We need some permanency. We are calling it a chairman or chair. We see it as a man or woman. My own view is that someone will come from maybe one of the smaller countries, someone who speaks two or three European languages, who is used to bringing people together, rather than the more adversarial traditions of some of the big European Member States, who will provide that continuity and be able to represent Europe in many of the international engagements that Europe has now with Latin America, Asia, China and Russia and at the same time have a very strong president of the Commission with a different kind of mandate through the European Parliament who will get on with the job of making the European Union work. If you want a business comparison it is the Chairman and the CEO. Just as I do not think most modern companies think they have a double headed monstrosity when they have a distinguished chairman who brings everybody together and acts as the figure head for the company while it has a strong executive figure and gets on with reorganising the firm and making one of the producers really serve customers, so similarly we want a Commission president who will crack on with developing the European economy, create the jobs, be powerful over the decisions taken by the Council, and a Council chairman who is there representing continuity in the Council, acting as a person who can speak for Europe along with the Commission president along with the president of the European Parliament who increasingly has an important role. No, I think on the contrary this is an important step forward. How it works out will depend on the personality chosen, the commitment of governments, willingness of the Commission and Parliament to make it work. Certainly it makes sense to most of us keeping close to European affairs in recent years.


  27. Am I right in thinking, Minister, that when you made that rather jocular reference to a Kaiser that you were referring, in fact, to Joschka Fischer's proposal that the same person should be both president of the Council and president of the Commission?  (Dr MacShane) My Lord Chairman, if I may tell a brief story. Shortly before Christmas I had the pleasure on a Sunday of taking the German Chancellor, Mr Schroeder, and his wife and her daughter on a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster. We were in the House of Lords in the Royal Gallery and he was fascinated by all the history: the execution warrant of Charles I in particular, the plaque in Westminster Hall where the trial took place. It was a guided tour, it was not a moment of politics, but I said to him "Chancellor, ths is one of our problems in Britain. We have all of this tradition which we believe in profoundly. We are all born parliamentarians in this country and as we discuss Europe we have to remember that the last man who really tried to tell the British people what to do without democratic authority had his head separated from his body. So the idea of one single all powerful Kaiser figure, which I know one or two people in Germany are perhaps thinking of really, will not work or wash here." Perhaps I should not have used the word "Kaiser" in the newspaper interview but I am a politician and at times you have to say something rough to cut through the wonderfully velvet words of our diplomats.

  28. I was not wrong in what I was assuming was the reason for your saying that. Could we move on then? I would like to touch on one other institutional issue, if I may and that is this troublesome question of the six month presidency. The Greek Ambassador who was with us just before you came seemed somewhat reluctant to suggest that it had to go. He said this is something which should be considered but he was not definite that it should go. On the other hand, with a European Union of 25 clearly it does not make much sense. The Prime Minister, if I recall correctly, and maybe you as well, has spoken of the possibility of team presidencies. Could you just expand on that as an alternative to this system we have at the moment which many of us believe would be unworkable with an enlarged union?  (Dr MacShane) Yes, my Lord Chairman. The Prime Minister said in his major speech on Europe in Cardiff in November that the six month presidency means that often there is no follow up to decisions taken by the Council and of particular interest to the UK is the need to get Europe moving again and not close the two trillion dollar wealth gap with the United States to tackle unemployment. It was agreed at Lisbon this 10 year programme of economic and social reforms of the Union, but it has not been easy to get that continually followed up across all the Councils, each one pursuing its sectorial interests and each presidency coming fresh with its new priorities. So that is why we want the full-time share and we would like to see a team presidency comprising groups of Member States chairing, for example, two of the Councils for two or three years, putting flesh on this. It would also add value not to expect a country, as it were, to take responsibility for every aspect of the European Union's work, especially a small country perhaps without the resources that the UK might have. It will also help to improve co-operation and understanding as teams work together and it will give more impetus and leadership to the European Union. These are ideas before the Convention. They have support, they gain support, some of the devil will be in the detail, but it does seem to us an answer to the problem of 25 countries waiting in turn to have their six months spot in the sun as president of the EU.

Chairman: Could we move on to the European economy now and the first question on that is from Lord Woolmer.

Lord Woolmer of Leeds

  29. Good afternoon, Minister. You will know that in the spring report of the Commission they commented that a step change was needed in the approach within Europe if we are to meet the goal of becoming more competitive with the US by 2010, and the report picked out in particular reforms needed in labour markets and product markets. I wonder if you could give us an idea of the British Government's priorities for making more rapid progress in the area of the single market particularly in product and labour markets?  (Dr MacShane) Undoubtedly the European labour market is not working. We should acknowledge that there have been five million new jobs created since the euro was launched and I welcome particularly that 2.75 million of those have been jobs for women. Nonetheless European Union unemployment, taken as a whole, remains unacceptably high. France and Germany between them having nearly seven million unemployed and those are men and women who were they in work—as they are in work to a large extent in this country, in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands and we have also seen a halving of unemployment in Spain in the last five or six years—of course, they would be contributing through taxation to fiscal positions, through consumption to increasing demand. Yes, we are fairly clear that reform of labour markets is vital and, speaking as a man of the left and a former trade union official, I tell my colleagues and friends in that part of the political spectrum that the return of workers to work should be the most urgent task for all trade unions and all parties of the centre left. We had an article on this in a number of European newspapers, Le Monde, La Stampa, one of the Italian ones and a Belgian one, hoping to see that each paper might take it seriously and we will continue to advance that. On the product markets, we think that one of the most important products one needs to see much more widely available on a transparent basis in Europe is financial services. It is fairly ridiculous that apart from having to be sent to work in Brussels or in Berlin, I insure my car in London and know the insurance company will work there and vice versa. We now spend a greater part of our income on financial products—insurances, pensions, savings, mortgages—and we want to see much better transparency creating a European-wide market in those areas. Perhaps the final point that is important is to get our universities and research institutes linked up with science and business, so Europe again becomes the powerhouse not just for creative intellectual thought, but for applied brain power that is converted into goods that can help the environment, the economy and society instead of, alas, so many of our best brains feeling that they have to go to the United States. Indeed, some of our best companies are relocating a greater part of their R&D investment to America where universities there are properly financed and understand, in addition to original free standing research and creative intellectual work, that they have to serve society on a material basis for society, namely, the economy.

Lord Cavendish of Furness

  30. Chairman, I wonder if I might ask the Minister whether, in view of what he said he sees the relentless decline in the manufacturing sector in this country and does he accept it is so?  (Dr MacShane) Indeed, the economy should have some equilibrium. Equally, we must be very careful not to become over-protectionist in this country. In this country over 70 or 80 years we have had to invite in, for example, foreign automobile manufacturers, Ford and General Motors in the 1920s and 1930s—General Motors being the arm of Vauxhall in this country—French companies in the 1950s, then more recently Japanese companies and Korean parts companies to operate in Britain. Europe needs to pay more attention to its manufacturing base because we are a thing consuming society. Our homes have got more things in them than ever before. If I tap my pockets I have a pager, a mobile phone and a Palm pilot. These are all quite value added things that have to be manufactured somewhere, which certainly I did not have 10 years ago. Yes, it would be good to find ways to see more of these products made in Europe, if that is support for the manufacturing economy. Coming from Rotherham, where we make an awful lot of steel and other engineering products, I do not think I would last long as an MP if I was not in favour of that.

Baroness Stern

  31. I wonder whether there are any aspects of the American economy that you do not wish to compete with, for example, the levels of child poverty, and whether you have a balancing agenda for that social cohesion?  (Dr MacShane) Yes, indeed. I would stress that there is, alas, quite a lot of child poverty in Europe and I try and avoid myself getting into what is rather a zero sum gain on both sides of the Atlantic, those who say everything is wonderful in America and it is sort of terrible and rather weak in Europe and vice versa. There are parts of the United States, individual cities and states, where actually child service protection may be higher than in many European countries. What I think we have to do is constantly benchmark and take the best of ideas, whether it is North America or whether it is from our other European partners or, indeed, further afield in some of the Asian countries. But I am firmly of the view that anti-Americanism is a twin side of anti-Europeanism and I resist both. What I would say, however, is that Europe, with its 370 million citizens, produced on the latest figures 8.6 trillion euros worth of wealth; America, with its 250 million citizens, produced 10.7 trillion euros/dollars—it is almost the same value—of wealth. It would be my ambition, because we have been very focused on political questions in recent years—enlargement in our Convention—to move away from that and get back to material Europe and close that two trillion dollar wealth gap. I just dream of the day when Europe generates that much wealth because it would give me and fellow ministers here and in other countries so much more money either to release to people to spend as they will through tax cuts or to spend on the good things we want in Europe: the better society, the better environment, the better education and so forth.

Chairman: One more question on the European economy before we go on to the CFSP and ESDP, Minister. My colleague, Lord Radice, is currently chairing an inquiry in Sub-Committee A on the possible reforms to the growth and the Stability Pact and he would like to put a question to you.

Lord Radice

  32. Can I say, first of all, what a pleasure it is to see you in your present job.  (Dr MacShane) And a pleasant job, if I may say so.

  33. What is the position of Her Majesty's Government about the proposals by the Commission to reform or modify the workings of the Stability and Growth Pact?  (Dr MacShane) We have always made clear that we support a prudent and cautious interpretation of the Stability and Growth Pact which takes into account the economic cycle, sustainability, and the important role of public investment. Proposals that strengthen the Pact we see as a useful contribution to the debate but any changes to the Pact must deliver a sustainable and long term solution. Finally, we believe there is not a magic key, as it were, a new model of the Stability and Growth Pact which provides all the answers to the questions which have to be met within Member States. In other words, Germany wants, and I am sure the German Chancellor does, to really tackle this unemployment problem. It is not tweaking at the Stability and Growth Pact in itself which would do that, it is fundamental reform inside Germany. We want to see Member States taking their own responsibility to get their own economies moving. We are not convinced that giving the Commission, as it were, stronger powers and enforcing the Pact will make that difference and, therefore, we are not convinced that it is either necessary or desirable.

Chairman: A supplementary from Lord Lamont.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick

  34. In the submission made to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee the Treasury said that it was ". . . very concerned about the Commission's ideas for institutional change on the Stability and Growth pact. . . which would increase the role of the Commission in enforcing the disciplines of the Pact, at the expense of the Member States." I just wonder: if you are going to have a Stability and Growth pact, you are going to have control over fiscal policy, surely it is unrealistic to have a system in which warnings or fines are administered by the Member States? It never happens, it will not happen. If you are going to have this discipline the only way it will happen is actually if the Commission is given more power.  (Dr MacShane) I am not convinced, my Lord. Europe operates as much by example as by precept and benchmarking rather than the man from Brussels coming here and telling you what to do. Fiscal rules, of course, are set by Member States, and rightly so. We have the variations on everything from corporation tax to VAT to income tax to environmental taxes which exist between different Member States and sometimes within the regions of Member States. So, no, I think the Treasury was right to say that the answer must come from within Member States. The Commission can admonish, warn, create publicity, try and create public pressure just as we all do within Europe as we announce what we think should be done and the clear implication is that this is what other countries should follow if they want to get on with the job just as on occasion we are lectured on what we should be doing in terms of aspects of how we run Britain.


  35. Thank you very much indeed. That is interesting. The last group of questions, Minister, is on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the ESDP. I have one very brief question and then I am going to ask Lady Park to ask one. My question is can you give us an assurance that the EU is now ready to take over NATO operation in FYROM now that the political hurdles have been cleared?  (Dr MacShane) Yes. One of the outcomes from Copenhagen which did not get much publicity—because it focused rightly on enlargement—was that the EU and NATO figure out their outstanding difficulties so now we have EU/NATO links in place. The EU was preparing to take over the operation in Macedonia following NATO's mid term review in February. I know Washington welcomes this. It shows that Europe has played its part in bringing security and stability to this part of the continent. We want to see EU and NATO co-operating and building links on this operation to make it a success. I am the Minister responsible for the Balkans, I will be going there shortly myself and I think this is a positive step forward.

  36. You feel if this works well that is the beginning of an entirely new role for the EU?  (Dr MacShane) We are looking forward, also, to the Franco-British summit which will take place at Le Touquet on 4 February where I think a key theme will be defence. Britain together with France are, I think it is fair to say, the two lead countries on these issues in the European Union. Both have a strong tradition of national control in defence matters but both understand the need to co-operate jointly with NATO to ensure that Europe accepts its responsibilities fully to contribute to defence and security.

  37. What a pity it is we could not get that particular act together in the Balkans earlier on. It might have been very helpful.  (Dr MacShane) I was not a Minister then.

Chairman: I know that, that is why I put it in the form of a comment rather than a question. I would like now to ask Lady Park to put a question to you.

Baroness Park of Monmouth

  38. In asking you the last question, is the Government likely to accept President Putin's invitation to an EU-Russia summit in May, I would like to ask a little bit further. The Greek Ambassador told us that they have already had different communications about the agenda. We assume—but we would like to know what is going to happen about it—that there will be some sort of preliminary discussion by all the EU Members before we go to that Summit because I understand the Common Strategy for Russia has been indicated anyway. So that is the question: are we likely to accept that?  (Dr MacShane) Yes, we have already, the PM and other European Heads of Government have accepted President Putin's invitation to the EU Russian Summit in May and it will be in St. Petersburg, which is enjoying its 300th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the city. We warned the EU it will be G8 and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States previously linked to Russia who will be there, and that G8 participation was agreed at the G8 Summit last year in Kananaskis. So we are looking forward to a very major world event acknowledging Russia's desire, as expressed in President Putin's speech at the Bundestag last year, of orientating Russia more and more towards Europe.

  39. The Presidency's conclusion says in paragraph 24: "The enlargement will strengthen relations with Russia". Do you not think they are going to complicate them?  (Dr MacShane) I do not think so. For example, the enlargement process allowed us to find a solution to the Kalingrad question, which was very sensitive. It means that Russia now has common borders with the European Union. We must not forget, of course, the Ukraine and Belarus. It will mean that Europe can speak as one voice. I hope it will mean that some of the new Member States, who perhaps because of past history were rather nervous about how they handled Russia, can now do that collectively through Europe as well as bilaterally, and it means Russia has a very powerful world player to talk to, that is also a neighbour. This is clearly an optimistic interpretation, but the signals from President Putin are positive, and certainly I tend to work very hard in helping to promote good relations between our own country and Russia and more widely between the EU and Russia.

  40. Even extending to enlargement of the Caucuses and the question about the Greek situation?  (Dr MacShane) I have not heard the Greek evidence and clearly the next stages of enlargement—perhaps for a future Committee hearing, my Lord—will look at countries in South Eastern Europe that were not in the current debate. The Caucuses is a very broad area in terms of definition. I hope to be travelling there soon myself and perhaps in future hearings of this sort we can discuss this process at some of those visits, but it is undoubtedly an important issue. The point about the European Union is it should have an osmotic effect. It should allow countries and our neighbours to it to see the benefits of developing a market economy and obeying democratic rules and trying to protect society, respecting one's obligations to the environment that are common throughout the European Union, as I said by example rather than pre-set, and encourage people to move in a more progressive, market-friendly and socially responsible direction.

Chairman: Thank you very much, Minister. You have been generous with your time and it has been extremely informative. We thank you very much for being here.

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