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Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on reading the Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. I refer her to part of the Presidency Conclusions dealing with the financial framework for 200713 and particularly I refer her to paragraph 34 because that leaves me with a sense of ambiguity. It states:
"The European Council endorsed the Commission proposal to maintain the ceiling for the own resources at the current level of 1.24 per cent of EU GNI".
However, my understanding was that it was part of the ambition of Her Majesty's Government, together with the Governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, to have that figure capped at 1 per cent. Is that a short-term proposalthat it should stay at 1.24 per centor is it a figure that applies to the period of the next financial perspective, 200713?
Within the detail of the financial framework, the Presidency Conclusions state:
"Policies agreed in accordance with the Treaty shall be consistent with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and solidarity. They should also provide added value".
I ask my noble friend to consider that at some time she may say to her Cabinet colleagues that when government departments produce explanatory memoranda on European Union matters, the statement of added value should be contained within it, so that we can ensure that a very useful idea is being pursued.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right. Six member states have argued for a budget of just 1 per cent of GNI. Broadly, we are happy with the progress made under the Dutch presidency. We see the presidency progress report as a fair reflection of the current state of play. However, it is our view that that is only the start of the negotiations. We believe that the priorities of the enlarged Union can be met within a budget of 1 per cent of EU GNI. So we believe that this progress report represents building blocks which contain a range of options that add up to a total budgetary package of 1 per cent of GNI or less. I shall draw the added value point to the attention of my Cabinet colleagues.
Lord Tugendhat: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that perhaps the greatest triumph of the European Union in its history has been the degree to which it has contributed to the spread of human rights, political stability, democracy and open markets over an ever-widening area of western Europe and now central and eastern Europe? We saw that with Germany and Italy first, with Greece, Spain and Portugal, later with the former Communist countries and now most spectacularly with Turkey. That is a visible demonstration of the enormous contribution to European well-being and thus to British well-being that the European Union makes.
Does the Minister also agree that all those who welcome the prospect of Turkish accession to the European Union, of which happily there are many on these Benches, should support the new constitution? The new constitution provides the flexibilityenabling groups of countries to move forward when other countries do not wish tothat is required in a larger and more diverse community. Far from being a straitjacket, it provides the suppleness and flexibility that will contribute to the success of the negotiations and, ultimately, to the success of Turkish membership?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, before I answer those two questions, it has been drawn to my attention that I said "OECD" in response to the point about the Ukraine elections. I should have said "OSCE". Obviously, I should not use acronyms.
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I totally agree with the noble Lord and the points made about the success of the European Union and, in particular, the points about the spread of political stability, the opening up of markets and human rights. That has had a major impact on the United Kingdom as well as other parts of the European Union. The growth of the European Union is a testament to the importance of those values and principles.
I agree also with the points made about the new constitution. We have argued long and hard that this is about finding the best way for a Europe of 25 and more to operate. It is important that we establish the values and principles that hold us together, but we need also to look at how we are going to implement the policies which are so important to us as a union. That is what the constitution seeks to do.
Lord Cobbold: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I am glad that the decision has been taken to open negotiations with Turkey, during which all the important issues can be considered. All noble Lords who participated in last Wednesday's debate supported that outcome. As I said in that debate,
"there is a strong argument for supporting a secular state embodying a moderate Muslim faith in an area of the world so beset by religious extremism. Making Turkey a prosperous secular democratic nation can, it is to be hoped, provide an example for others in the region to emulate".[Official Report, 15/12/04; col. 1337.]
Nevertheless, there are major uncertainties and risks involved in the process, which may involve some minor modification to the basic tenets of the draft constitution. So we shall all be watching with great interest the negotiations as they unfold.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I was aware of the debate. Although I was not present, I read the debate and the noble Lord's contribution in opening that debate. There are uncertainties, but one of the big issues is the important recognition that a country like Turkey, with its size and the developmental challenges within it, is seeking to join the European Union with the unanimous view from within the Union that negotiations should begin. The process of negotiations will give us an opportunity to discuss some of the issues raised by the noble Lord that are of concern to the populations in some other member states. But this is very positive and I think that the European Union made a very important decision over the weekend.
Lord Dykes: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that the Prime Minister's prospective visit to Israel and to the West Bank to see all the parties involved deserves full supportand, indeed, it is receiving full support throughout the United Kingdom? Although the Minister did not specifically refer to the possible February high-level conference to be held perhaps in London, does she further agree that that also needs support and that it will have more success if governments, other entities and all parties concerned do not try to set preconditions about the contents and agenda of that conference?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the issue of a high-level conference is still under discussion and its possible
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content is being discussed as we speak. I understand from my noble friend Lady Symons that the discussions are going extremely well. I think that the Prime Minister's work with others on the Middle East peace process deserves all our support.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that it was a very imaginative gesture to invite the UN Secretary-General to the meeting which she described, at a time when he is under a great deal of attack? Will she also say what role the European Union will take in the follow-up to the UN high-level panel's report, which was welcomed by the European Council; and will she confirm that the British Government intend to take a constructive and energetic lead in the implementation of those proposals?
Does the noble Baroness agree that while the European Council fortunately managed to skirt around a bit of brinkmanship on Cypriot objections to Turkey's application, it is not particularly encouraging that the president of Cyprus, on returning to his country, observed that although he had not exercised the veto on this occasion, there were 62 future occasions on which he would be able to do sothat being a reference to the 62 chapters of the negotiations? Would it not be better if the president of Cyprus focused on how he might contribute to settling the Cyprus problem, rather than on vetoing Turkey's application?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, on the issue of the EU and the visit of the UN Secretary-General to the Council, that was a very positive thing to do. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was a member of the high-level panel. The UK Government, as the noble Lord knows, welcomed the panel's report. We need to go through the recommendations in some detail, but we have given our full support to the Secretary-General. The Prime Minister gave that support in person to the Secretary-General.
I was at the UN not so long ago and discussed these issues with the Secretary-General. Our representative in New York has been very positive, as the noble Lord knows, in taking these issues forward.
On the other issue raised by the noble, Lord Hannay, with respect to Cyprus, we all welcome the unanimous decision over the weekend to begin negotiations. We will have to ensure that those negotiations are taken forward in a positive way by all members of the European Union.
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