Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 36)



  Q20  Lord Boyce: Possibly working in the Quartet or not, do you think there is any scope for the EU to launch any small-scale confidence-building measures which could help to improve the situation?

  Mr Sawers: Yes, I think there are a number of areas where we can help. We are supporting the office of the Palestinian President, for example, in helping build up the structures around President Abbas so he can be more effective as President. We are helping with his security. We are working with the Americans on their security plan, and I am delighted to see the US administration have put in a bid to Congress for some $86 million worth of support for the Palestinian Security Forces, which is a significant advance in the American approach in terms of providing practical support alongside that from the European Union. There may be other ideas, and I do not know if David has some ideas.

  Mr Quarrey: I think there are things like the ESDP missions themselves, and I think particularly of Rafah. As John said earlier, it has not always been easy there but I think it has helped having some co-operation between the Israelis and the Palestinians there which will be useful in the long term because it helps to build confidence. I think if we can get things moving on the EU COPPS with the civil police again that will help build capacity as well. There is also a great deal of UK and EU activity which is working with civil society, which is aimed at education, which works on things like some tertiary education links, which also help around the margins perhaps but also help build confidence as well. I think there is a continuing important role for the EU to support that.

  Q21  Chairman: Do you think there is sufficient co-operation between the work which is being done by the Commission in the Middle East and Palestine and the role of the EU Special Representative who is representing the Council?

  Mr Quarrey: Yes, I think they have worked well together, for example, the EU position that has held since the election of Hamas last year, which has a tough political position based around the Quartet three principles, but then on the humanitarian side an approach through the Temporary International Mechanism, which is aimed at alleviating humanitarian consequences from our inability to deal with the PA Government, I think reflects a balanced approach and I think that reflects as well the Council Secretariat side and the Commission working together on this. As we look forward, hopefully, to progress on the political track, I think the Commission are very clear that they want to play an important role in that by supporting the development of viable Palestinian institutions. It has been the Government's view, and certainly the Prime Minister's view, that that is an essential part of future progress.

  Q22  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: There have been rumours about secret talks going on between the Israelis and the Syrians. Is there any truth in that? What do you think might come out of that and could the EU play any role in making that any better?

  Mr Sawers: I do not know anything about secret talks between Israelis and Syrians apart from what I read in the newspapers and I do not know whether those individuals are representing their respective governments or not. There has been an attempt by a number of countries, including our own, to persuade the Syrians to change their approach on a whole range of Middle Eastern issues, including their approach on Palestine, to end the house room they give to Palestinian terrorist groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas's military wing, and to support the policies of the international community. At some point there will need to be a negotiation between Israel and Syria on their own border and to establish a peace treaty between the two of them, but I think we should expect there to be efforts outside government to explore whether this is possible. As to what you are referring to, Lord Hamilton, I do not know whether that is the case or not and to what extent that is authorised but it is important for there to be some channels of communication with the Syrians in order to keep on reminding them what the international community expects of them and what is available to them if only they were to change their behaviour.

  Q23  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Perhaps I could just go back to something that came up in a recent question about the Council Secretariat and the Commission, but this is a wider question. Do you think that we are moving into a more hopeful period in which there is greater activity, at least for the preparation of a settlement in the Middle East if not for the immediate achievement of it, and that the three key players, the UN, the EU and the United States, have got negotiating teams that are properly structured to handle this sort of much more intensive involvement with Israel and the various Arab states and so on, because, looking at it from the outside, I think I am a bit inclined to answer no, they have not, to all three of them. The Americans seem to have nothing except periodic visits by Secretary Rice which are liable, of course, to be diverted if she is required to play a high profile role in some other part of the world, Iraq or whatever it is. The EU is doing pretty well with a kind of push-me-pull-you set-up, but is it really punching its full weight, is it really structured properly, and the UN has been virtually absent for some time in this Middle East but apparently the new Secretary-General wishes to play a more prominent role. I wonder what you think about whether the structures are adequate to the political aspirations that are being put on them.

  Mr Sawers: I do not entirely share your analysis, Lord Hannay, of the US commitment. I think there is very deep engagement at levels below Secretary Rice. The Assistant Secretary for the Middle East, the Deputy National Security Adviser pay regular visits and are constantly in touch with the parties. They and their teams are working full time on this issue, so it does go beyond, as you say, the occasional visits of Condoleezza Rice herself. I do not think there is yet in any of those three players, the US, the European Union and the United Nations, a plan for a new negotiating team; they have not got that far yet. Secretary Rice is planning to go back to the region again later this month. We should see what progress she can make then. If she is able to take this further and establish some negotiating process between the two sides then the sorts of negotiating teams that you are talking about I think will be necessary. On the European Union side, of course, there has been a proposal, of which we have been supportive, to merge the responsibilities of the Commission and the Council Secretariat in foreign policy so that there is a single figure, whatever the person is going to be called, who has the authority of the Council of Ministers and the financial resources and expertise of the Commission. That is an idea which is still out there and I think that would improve the European Union's cohesion and effectiveness on this sort of issue. For the European Union to speak with a single voice rather than two voices would be an advantage. On the United Nations side, I think it is the intention of the new Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to the Middle East and refresh that role, and I think that would be an important contribution as well, but I do not think we have got to the stage yet of negotiating teams for a new negotiation, although if the efforts bear fruit we may get there in the months to come.

  Q24  Lord Crickhowell: Following up on Lord Hannay's point, in an earlier report by this Committee we said, "We welcome the Commission proposal that there should be a high-level strategic planning meeting at the beginning of each Presidency between the Presidency, Commission and High Representative enabling issues of coherence and the overall direction of EU external action for the duration of the six month Presidency to be discussed, in order that the EU institutions and the Member States understand each other's priorities". The Minister in response said that that had happened under the Finnish Presidency. Has it happened at the start of the German Presidency as we enter the next phase?

  Mr Sawers: What has happened is that there have been intensive contacts between the German Government and the Commission and the Council Secretariat in advance of their taking up their Presidency, and there was a visit, as is usual at the beginning of the Presidency, by the Commission President and Dr Solana to Berlin to do precisely as you say, to co-ordinate at the highest level the priorities for the coming six months. I cannot say for sure, Lord Crickhowell, whether the Germans have followed precisely the practice of the previous Finnish Presidency, but I can assure you that there have been very close contacts and I think co-ordination is really rather good.

  Q25  Lord Anderson of Swansea: You have mentioned some of the operational instruments available to the EU: Rafah, COPPS and so on. Turning specifically to the financial side, in your judgment how effective have they been? What has been their impact in giving the European Union weight within the Quartet?

  Mr Sawers: It is difficult to say how much political influence you purchase with humanitarian assistance. I would not like to say there is a clear link between the two of them, but I think the European Union's generosity, the collective generosity of Europe, as I say, €680 million in 2006 alone, stands as a demonstration of our political commitment and of the level of popular support for European involvement in this, which has an influence with other parties and which means the European Union is able to do things vis-a"-vis supporting the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leaders that other actors are not able to do, so it does buy us some influence on that side of the equation.

  Q26  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Have the lessons been learned from other financial transfers? We learned, for example, from the IMF in 2003 that $900 million passed into the private coffers of the Palestinian leadership. OLAF, the anti-fraud section of the EU, was particularly ineffective in relation to dealing with that. We need more transparency; welcome the creative side of the Temporary International Mechanism, but have the lessons been learned in relation to the total misuse of EU taxpayers' money over the earlier period?

  Mr Quarrey: I think the lessons have been learned. As I mentioned the last time I was before the Committee, it is worth recording as well that the EU had suspended direct budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority before the election which brought Hamas to power precisely because of our concerns about how the then Fatah-run Palestinian Authority was using some of those funds and our concerns about maladministration and so on. We have been in this extraordinary position since then with the Hamas-led PA government and the Temporary International Mechanism replacing budgetary support during that time. There are very detailed controls within the Temporary International Mechanism which have been designed principally to ensure that the funds provided are not misused politically, if I may put it that way, in this current situation. I think we hope nationally and EU partners will hope that we can learn some of the lessons from the TIM and apply that to future funding when the situation is normalised between the EU and the PA. Quite how that will apply in practice, I could not honestly tell you at this stage, but I think there is a very strong feeling within the EU that funds in the past have either been abused and wasted or have occasionally have been used, for example, to fund projects which have later been destroyed by the Israelis. So I think there is quite a concern to ensure that the large sums of money that we will need to bring to deploy to support the required process are used properly and I suspect that some of the lessons we have learned from the TIM may contribute to that learning process for the next phase.

  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My question has been largely answered, my Lord Chairman, and I think it better to go on to the next one.

  Q27  Chairman: There is this question of the contribution of the EU bilateral relations, not only with Israel but also with the Palestinian and with other neighbouring states and international organisations, such as the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. How far has that been useful, as well as a direct input through the Quartet?

  Mr Sawers: My Lord Chairman, I think it is part of the fabric of the European Union's engagement in the region. The Arab League is a completely different organisation from the European Union but it is an organisation that brings together Arab countries as a whole and which has an important role in establishing the formal policies and positions in the Arab world which are held in very high regard, such as the conclusions of the Beirut Summit of 2002, where contacts between the European Union and the Arab world and the Arab League itself were influential. With the Gulf Cooperation Council there is the start of a political relationship. Given the common concerns that we have in Europe (with Iran and its growing and often malign influence in the region) we have a very large overlapping agenda with the Gulf Cooperation Council. They are also keen to see progress in the Palestinian question. It has been quite interesting: one development of the last year has been the way in which the United States has begun to engage and listen carefully to the views of the Gulf Cooperation Council and countries like Jordan and Egypt, collectively, as a sub-group within the Arab world, and I think they have had an influence on US thinking and US policy which has been very much compatible with European Union influence. Working more closely with these groupings, with these countries, helps advance a common approach to the problems with which we are dealing.

  Q28  Lord Lea of Crondall: When we were discussing the scope of what we will be doing, there was a view emerging, to some degree, that we could not help but look a little bit outside the peace process per se for exactly the reasons you have been describing. In what sense would you say that all the rhetoric from Tehran, for example, and somehow the casus belli of many other issues being to do with Israel, for implicating the Palestinians, or however one wants to decide it, is germane to this. If a crisis is emerging about Israel/Iran—nuclear weapons on one side, nuclear weapons are needed on the other side because there are nuclear weapons on this side, et cetera, et cetera—how far does all of that bear on what we are talking about?

  Mr Sawers: I think very significantly. When you visit Israel or, indeed, the Arab world, one of the greatest concerns—possibly in Israel the greatest concern—is not the Palestinians, Syria or the Arab world generally, it is Iran. The activities of Iran in supporting extremist groups in Arab countries—in the Lebanon, in Iraq, as we have seen—has raised the level of concern and certainly has raised the impact of the nuclear file and the implications for the Arab world and the Middle East as a whole should Iran succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons technology or, worse still, nuclear weapons themselves. The rhetoric of President Ahmandinejad is one thing: we cannot ignore it; is it very damaging; and it certainly would be wrong to assume that it is does not carry some meaning. I think it has raised again the concern that Israel's very existence could be brought into question by enemies in the region—a prospect which really has not been there for much of the last 35 years but was very much there in the early years of Israel's existence. We are deeply concerned about Iranian intentions, about Iranian behaviour in the region and about Iranian aspirations to develop its nuclear programme in ways which we are not convinced are entirely peaceful. We can only interpret Iranian activity on the nuclear file as being to acquire nuclear weapons technology and possibly nuclear weapons themselves and this would be deeply destabilising in the region. Whether the common concerns between Israelis and Arabs and Europeans and Americans will lead to faster progress on the Palestinian question is a matter of speculation, but I think is an added factor destabilising the region and an added concern for all the countries in the region, and, as we saw last summer in the conflict in the Lebanon, an Iranian armed group in the Arab world can set back the prospects for peace and for stability very severely. We are seeing this to a large extent in Iraq as well. I am not saying the problems in Iraq are entirely created by Iran, but Iran could take a very different approach which could establish much better prospects for establishing stability in Iraq than we have at the moment. I share Lord Lea's concern that there are new factors here which have a real bearing on stability and peace in the region which we have to address and we have to factor into our own policies.

  Q29  Lord Lea of Crondall: You mentioned the EU having a strong role (in Britain, France and Germany) vis-a"-vis Iran—although that has had its ups and downs—but, clearly, on our own inquiry here, when you say it can only complicate what is already a very complicated situation is to sort of spatch-cock in—which is probably the wrong expression, but I will use it—something to do with Israel and Iran, even though it is the elephant not yet recognised as being in the room.

  Mr Sawers: Lord Lea, we have to deal with life as it is. What we face now is an Iran which is posing an increasing threat to the security of the region and which is causing particular security concerns for the State of Israel because of its support for terrorist groups and because of its aspirations, as we see them, to develop nuclear weapons. Any Israeli prime minister and Israeli leader is bound to be deeply concerned by such activity. It is bound to be a factor. Obviously it would be much better if we had an Iranian leadership which was committed to a two-State solution, which was committed to countering terrorist groups and was not causing instability in the region, but that is not what we have got, and we have to deal with the Iran which presents itself.

  Q30  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: In the past the Lebanon has tended to be treated as a special case and not really part of the Middle East Peace Process: something which could not be dealt with in advance of the Middle East Peace Process but which would sort of slot in all right when it was done. The events last summer cast some doubt about whether that was very wise and the standoff that exists in the Lebanon seems to add to that doubt, but I am still not clear in my mind—and perhaps you could cast some light on it—how the Lebanese dimension is to be handled in a period when we are trying to make overall progress. The second question about Iran really follows on from your replies to Lord Lea. Having identified Iran as a major spoiler in all this, having identified it over the years as a country which has played quite a role and which is playing a bigger role in all this, how is that issue to be handled in practical terms if you are not talking to the country in question? The whole issue of talking to Iran has got itself snarled up over the nuclear matter. It does seem to me a trifle difficult to hope to get Iran into a more cooperative spirit if we are not even actually talking to them very much.

  Mr Sawers: With your permission, perhaps I could ask David Quarrey to answer the question on the Lebanon. On Iran, we have of course been talking to the Iranians throughout this period of difficulty and tension, even after the election of President Ahmadinejad 18 months ago. The combination of engagement and pressure on the Iranians is beginning to have an effect in Iran. We saw in the elections in mid-December that the hard-line faction did really rather badly and I think that is because of disenchantment with the policies of President Ahmadinejad's government.

  Q31  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Mainly economic, though.

  Mr Sawers: They are mainly economic, but the economic policies have largely failed. There is a good degree of economic incompetence on the part of the Iranian government that has contributed to them, but there is also great concern in the international community that companies and banks should not be associated with Iran and certainly should not do anything which might advance financing for terrorism or financing for proliferation. There is no money available for new investment in Iran at the moment, so their oil production is declining. It is even difficult for banks to be involved in normal business with Iran, so ordinary Iranian businessmen are having difficulty getting letters of credit and so on, and this is adding to the economic pressure on Iran. I do not think the popular support of the government's nuclear policy, in particular their stated policy of acquiring civil nuclear power, has diminished at all. What is getting across to the Iranians is that, if they want to have a more normal relationship with the rest of the world, including an economic and commercial relationship with the rest of the world, they have to address our concerns on issues like their nuclear aspirations. My Lord Chairman, Lord Hannay is alluding, I am sure, to the US policy of not talking to Iran. We have seen some progress there as well. The European policy has had some ups and downs. We made some good progress at one stage; we were then set back by the election of the new Iranian leadership. Our response has been to engage the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese more fully with our own approach and that has led to a change in the American policy. They are not yet talking to one another but Secretary Rice has said on behalf of the US Administration that if Iran meets the requirements of the Security Council and suspends its enrichment programme and most sensitive nuclear technology activities then the United States will engage with its partners in Europe and Russia and China in negotiating with Iran. As we have seen with the six-party talks with North Korea, to engage the United States in a multilateral process also provides opportunities for some bilateral contacts at the margins of those multilateral processes, so there has been a change in the US approach. The US and Iran have worked together on other issues, like Afghanistan. I was at a conference the other day in Berlin where the United States and Iranian representatives were taking part in the same meeting and contributing to the same objectives on Afghanistan. There are issues where the two countries need to have more contact, such as over Iraq, but I think this will happen step by step. If Iran meets its obligations under the Security Council Resolution then we will have direct contact between Iran and Washington on the most sensitive of issues, and I think that will be something to be welcomed, but the next step is for the Iranians to take.

  Mr Quarrey: On Lebanon, I would like first to note that, in the context of the Committee's inquiries, it was the strength of the EU's bilateral relations with Israel and the Lebanon last summer which allowed the EU to play the key role in bolstering UNIFIL, which was then the essential pre-condition to achieving the ceasefire. The EU's policy of building a more balanced relationship with Israel paid dividends in that context in helping achieve the ceasefire. In terms of how Lebanon is handled in the next phase of the context of the wider peace process, our best focus remains Security Council Resolution 1701, which, while it does not address in terms the issues that would need to be covered for peace between Israel and the Lebanon, I think the issues raised there, including Shebaa farms, the demilitarisation of Southern Lebanon, the control of legitimate armed forces of Lebanon across the whole country, are in fact the issues on which we need to make progress in order to create the conditions for peace between Israel and Lebanon. I think our focus is likely to remain on trying to implement 1701 so that the conditions are therefore improved for when we can achieve a wider peace process.

  Q32  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Since its inception in 1995, the Barcelona Process/Euromed has been relatively disappointing. Now we have a revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy, possibly to be concentrated on during the Portuguese Presidency in the second half of this year, how relevant is the revised European Neighbourhood Policy to the Middle East Peace Process?

  Mr Sawers: There is an important connection. At the tenth anniversary event under our presidency just over a year ago, a new direction in the Barcelona Process was established which is geared more towards support for modernisation and reform in the Arab world. Under the Commission's plans for spending the very generous sums of money available for the Mediterranean region, the proportion going to issues like good governance, education, private sector reform have gone up from 25% of the budget in the previous framework to over 50% in the new framework for the period 2007 to 2010. I think it is in these areas like education and good governance that we can establish better conditions in the Arab world for the sort of free debate; for more open societies; for more successful economies that lead to a more sophisticated policy towards the Middle East than we have seen in the past. It is an indirect link, but I think the level of commitment, and the commitment to modernise countries in the Mediterranean region; to help them pursue their own modernisation plans, is that much greater under the new scheme than it was under the old one.

  Q33  Lord Anderson of Swansea: As you have conceded, that is the regional context. What specifically does the process offer for Israel/Palestine?

  Mr Quarrey: Realistically, not a great deal at this stage. One of the things that has frustrated the Barcelona Process has been the fact that almost all, certainly high-level meetings end up in a rather sterile debate around issues to do with Israel Palestine—partly because the Israelis are there with their near neighbours, which they are not often. So far we have not found a very effective way of making then Barcelona Process contribute to the Middle East Peace Process. As John says, the contribution so far is indirect, but I think there is a powerful incentive in play. Perhaps one of the strongest forces for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the desire of each party for normalisation of their relations with the outside world. The EU by having an increasingly effective European Neighbourhood Policy is able to hold up the prospect of that normalisation, so it is useful as an incentive there, but the realistic answer to your direct question is that so far Barcelona has not made a very significant direct contribution.

  Q34  Lord Lea of Crondall: On one question—because you have had notice of it and commented on it indirectly—perhaps you would write to the Chairman if the statistics are complex, but I think it would be quite interesting to compare, if it is possible—and it must be possible in some way—the European Union sums of money going one way or another and the American. Some people say that the Americans provide the policy and we provide the money and it will be quite interesting to know how true that is.

  Mr Sawers: I am very happy to write to you, my Lord Chairman, to give you some details of the level of financial support that has been given. Lord Lea is correct in alluding to the point that the European Union gives much more generously to the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Authority than do the United States. The United States do have a substantial programme of support for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which is the main vehicle for humanitarian assistance. As I have mentioned earlier, they are bidding now for some more money to support Palestinian security operations, which is very welcome. The US assistance has traditionally, as we all know, gone to Israel, and they give very significant subventions to Israel in support of Israeli security—which are welcome in themselves and which contribute to Israel's own security and prosperity, which is an important factor here. In terms of total sums committed to the region, I think both the United States and the European Union give very generously indeed, but they give in different ways and to different parties, which has a bearing on the influence and role that each side can play politically. The American willingness to be active on the Palestinian side is gradually growing, and that is to be welcomed. As I have described, I think the European Union approach to Israel has become much more broadly based and much more sophisticated over the last five or 10 years than was the case beforehand. If I may say so, it is a bit of a caricature to think that the European Union pays the money but somebody else decides the policy. The fact is that we all have different roles in determining the policy and both the United States and Europe give very generously but in different ways.

  Chairman: That leads on very well to a question from Lord Hannay.

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I feel we have covered the ground.

  Chairman: In that case, I wonder whether we could come to a question on the Member States and the European Union, again from Lord Lea.

  Q35  Lord Lea of Crondall: We have been very impressed by the quality and range of the evidence we have had, but, it is often said that London and Paris are instinctively starting from different places. Could you say anything about that? The coherence of the EU must at some point along the line be greater if we have solidity of the general strategy—which is self-evident, but could you comment on it—by the Member States.

  Mr Sawers: I agree with that in principle, Lord Lea. Of course it is inevitable that there are going to be differences between the Member States and this Government and I personally would not want that situation to change. It is important that different Member States of the European Union can act in different ways and respond to their own particular political links with the region in support of a broad European Union policy to which all Member States are signed up. I think the existence of a common European Union policy towards the region is very important in harnessing the collective European effort. Yes, there are nuances. I have mentioned before that the German approach is quite close to the British approach. There are other countries, particularly in the Mediterranean who feel greater pressures and greater connections with the Arab world and the countries in North Africa than they do with Israel and the countries of the Gulf. But each country is able to use its links in different ways. Sometimes these differences have to be worked through; sometimes it means that the level of clarity in the European Union position is slightly less than it might otherwise have been. But I think the multiplicity of links and activities that European Union countries can bring among themselves—the role the French can play, the Germans, ourselves, the Central European countries, the Mediterranean countries, the Scandinavian countries—all bring something slightly different to the party. To harness that within a single policy I think is the right way to go. You mentioned French policy. French policy is quite influenced and driven by the character of the President in France and the President in France is going to change in the months ahead. I suspect French policy will evolve as well. We will see. But we have a common European approach and different national assets which we can use to deploy.

  Lord Lea of Crondall: Thank you very much.

  Q36  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Do you not think that is perhaps slightly complacent, given the extremely cogent arguments you advance for saying why the handling of Iran has been enormously improved by having a group of Member States who worked as a single team, effectively, with Solana. After all, in the past there were quite serious differences between Member States in policy towards Iran and that was thoroughly unhelpful: various Member States at various stages in the Iran saga of its relations with the outside world have actually gone at cross-purposes and so on. That is certainly true in the case of the Middle East Peace Process and certain activities by various Member States. Surely there does need to be a bit more—I am not saying a replication of the EU 3 to deal with the Middle East, which would be intensely irritating to countries who are not in the EU 3, but surely some approach that is a bit less: "Let a thousand flowers bloom"—or, rather, let 27 flowers bloom—"and it is all fine" is going to be needed.

  Mr Sawers: I do agree with that. As the European Union gets larger, the possibility of working and negotiating policies at 27 or more gets more and more difficult. We will find different groups of countries coming together with a common interest in different areas to take the lead role; subject, of course, to general support for the broad policy framework which they are pursuing. We have that on Iran, as you say, and there are informal mechanisms which we and the French and Germans and Italian and Spaniards use on this issue, the Middle East, and they are informal, they are at working level, but it is a way of clearing out some of the differences so that we can create a common approach. It is fair to say that, whereas 10-15 years ago the different efforts of European countries could often cancel one another out, I do not think that is the case any more. What happens is that we reinforce one another in the work that we do. The discipline of the Common Foreign and Security Policy actually helps that and there are informal mechanisms behind the scenes which help ensure that the differences of detail are hammered out behind closed doors.

  Chairman: Mr Sawers and Mr Quarrey, may I, on behalf of the Committee, say how very much we have appreciated the time you have spent with us this morning. As I said at the beginning, you are our first witnesses and you have certainly provided us with a very good basis for the remaining part of our study and also a rather clear position both of European Union policy and the role played in it by the UK. Thank you again very much indeed.

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