An inclusive Europe

May 2, 2005 - nr.1
Summary

No. 1, October 1997

On 12 June 1997 the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) was asked to compile an advisory report on the enlargement of the European Union. The Council was asked to consider the enlargement strategy, to list the countries whose accession would be most in the interests of the Netherlands from an economic, financial, political, etc. point of view, to describe the advantages and disadvantages of the accession of certain countries and to estimate the relevance of a timetable in the matter. The AIV looks at a number of important questions in this provisional report.

The importance of EU enlargement to the Netherlands can be described as the importance of a climate ensuring that:
a) countries in Central and Eastern Europe can form part of structures that guarantee peaceful international relations; and
b) The Netherlands can maintain relations with these countries in all the fields in which the Union is active.

The European Commission proposed that accession negotiations be opened with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. However, the Commission¹s opinions (avis) make it clear that there is still a great deal of work to be done, in both the countries with which the Commission believes negotiations can begin and those which do not yet satisfy the negotiation conditions. Drawing a distinction between the associated countries is a distressing procedure and will be perceived as such. Nevertheless, the AIV can understand the choices made in the Commission¹s avis. Although the AIV did not see it as its task to verify all the data on which the Commission based its conclusions, it would express a reservation. The suggestion that negotiations be opened only with Estonia in the first instance will drive a wedge between the Baltic States. The argument advanced by the Commission in support of this suggestion is that economic conditions in Latvia and Lithuania are not such as to allow negotiations to begin. However, the disparities in economic progress do not appear to be of a magnitude such as to justify drawing an a priori distinction between the Baltic States. The AIV is therefore of the opinion that special efforts will be required to prepare Latvia and Lithuania, too, for accession negotiations designed to admit the Baltic States to the Union either at the same time or in the quickest possible succession.

Not withstanding the foregoing, credible prospects of accession must be held out to the European countries which have concluded association and Europe agreements with the Union but which do not yet fulfil the criteria for opening negotiations. This should be done by providing them with financial and technical assistance and by affording them market access. Drawing a distinction between countries should not lead to the emergence of new divisions. No exceptions should be made to this rule, as the European Commission does in respect of Turkey. Turkey, too, should have a credible prospect of accession.

Enlargement will entail costs, which will largely be borne by the present EU Member States. The Commission assumes that enlargement can be funded within existing financial arrangements and that these will be sufficient to cover EU expenditure until the year 2006. The Commission hopes to avoid a prolonged debate on EU funding and to postpone, until after the new Member States have acceded, opening negotiati ons on rebates granted previously. For further discussion of the Commission¹s position in this matter, the AIV would refer to its subsequent report. However, the AIV would point out here that it is not possible to implement major policy changes without taking account of their financial implications.

An important point to be taken into account in considering the accession of new Member States is the extent to which they will be capable of applying the acquis communautaire in full within a reasonable time. In principle the acquis will apply in full in new Member States from their accession, unless agreement has been reached on exceptions. It is essential to the functioning of the Union, and in particular that of the internal market, that countries be able to apply the acquis. Once again the familiar question of widening versus deepening arises, with the slight difference that deepening implies not only strengthening the institutional structure but also the preservation (as far as possible and as soon as possible) of the acquis of all the Member States of the Union, including the new ones.

The AIV would point to the possibility of tension between the debate on the accession of new Member States and the necessary institutional reforms. Old and new Member States would feel tricked if in the future they were all members of a Union where little trace could be found of the old and new ideals and objectives. Every effort must be made to achieve a satisfactory outcome whereby the newly acceding countries comply with the acquis and the institutional structure is reformed. The importance of this - to both existing and new Member States - cannot be overemphasised. The political imperative of enlargement should therefore be used to the full for this purpose. The AIV believes that historical and political reality dictates that failure to achieve sufficient institutional reform or insufficient compliance with the acquis must not be al lowed to stand in the way of accession. The question of whether and if so to what extent this will involve falling short of a minimum limit should be examined in due course on the basis of the progress made by the internal and external negotiations and an as sessment of political priorities.

Advice request

Mr R.F.M. Lubbers
Chair, Advisory Council on International Affairs
Postbox 20061
2500 EB The Hague


Date:
12 June 1997
Ext.no. :
(348) 6212
Ref.:
DIE/AB-526/97

Re:
Request for advisory report on enlargement of the European Union
Unit:
European Integration Department


We should like to put before you a request for an advisory report on the enlargement of the European Union.

Enlargement is presenting the European Union with a historic challenge. The aim is clear: a stable, democratic, and prosperous Europe, for which six countries laid the foundations in Rome 40 years ago. Ten associated Central European countries, Cyprus and Turkey have applied to accede to the European Union. Norway, Switzerland and Malta may also be regarded as candidate countries, although a majority of the people of each of them has voted against joining the EU for the time being.

Enlargement has been discussed at a number of meetings of the European Council:
- Copenhagen (June 1993): the criteria
The Council concluded that a country may accede to the European Union if it has stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for the rights of minorities, if it has a functioning free market economy and can cope with competition within the EU. Candidate countries should also assume the obligations of membership and endorse the EU's political, economic and monetary objectives;
- Essen (December 1994): the strategy
The Council concluded that accession negotiations with Cyprus and Malta (note: in November 1996 the people of Malta voted against accession for the time being) should begin six months after the conclusion of the IGC. The structured dialogue was also initiated;
- Cannes (June 1995): the resources
The Council concluded that the financial resources for support to the process of social transformation in the countries of Central Europe via the PHARE programme would be linked to the duration of the EU's own resources decision;
- Madrid (December 1995): the calendar
The Council concluded that accession negotiations with Malta and Cyprus would begin six months after the conclusion of the IGC and expressed the hope that the first phase of negotiations with Central European countries would coincide with those with Cyprus and Malta. The Council also asked the Commission to issue a number of reports and documents shortly after the completion of the IGC:
* separate opinions (avis) on the applicant states, containing an analysis of the current situation in the state in question and an evaluation of its expected progress before accession;
* an impact study on the effects of enlargement on Community policy, particularly agricultural policy and structural policy;
* an overview of enlargement to supplement the avis and the impact study;
* a communication on the future financial frameworks of the EU, taking account of prospective enlargement.
- Florence and Dublin: these meetings of the Council confirmed the time frame for the enlargement process laid down at Madrid. The Commission assured the Council that the documents referred to above would be available immediately after the closure of the IGC. The Council meetings also welcomed the Commission's plans for a general reinforcement of the pre-accession strategy.

The Council will discuss these documents at the special enlargement summit which the Luxembourg Presidency plans to hold on 16 and 17 October 1997. On the basis of this, the European Council, meeting in Luxembourg in December 1997, will decide inter alia on the modalities for the accession negotiations. The enlargement process will then probably be launched with a group photograph. The Council will then adopt a negotiating mandate for the Presidency, supported by the Commission.

We Would therefore request the Advisory Council to advise the Government on the enlargement of the Union and the strategy to be adopted, taking account of the above-mentioned Commission documents. The Advisory Council should compile, before October 1997, a list of the countries whose accession would be of most benefit to the Netherlands in economic, financial and political terms. It could also outline the advantages and disadvantages associated with the accession of individual countries, and indicate the relevance of the timetable.

By December 1997, the Advisory Council should answer the following questions:
- What role should the Netherlands play in the enlargement process?
- Should the Netherlands support a particular country or group of countries, such as the Scandinavian countries or the Baltic states?
- The wording of the Copenhagen criteria is fairly general; what internal and external conditions must at all events be met by countries wishing to accede?
* Internal: what directives must the countries take on board? Only those in the fields of economic and financial affairs, agriculture, the environment, customs duties and indirect taxes? Or also those in the fields of industry, competition, social affairs, transport, audio-visual affairs, telecoms, energy and consumer protection?
* External: How can the Union ensure that tensions relating to cross-border minority issues and potential border disputes are nog brought into the Union on the accession of the applicant countries?
- Should a new Member State be able to exercise a veto in respect of later accessions?
- How can enlargement make the maximum contribution to stability in Europe and what is the relationship between EU enlargement and NATO enlargement?
- What are the potential consequences for European integration of enlargement? How can the Union cope with possible consequences?

One of the principal questions to be considered is that of relations with countries not included in the first group to accede. We would ask the Advisory Council to advise us, before December 1997, on the minimum elements to be included in a reinforced pre-accession strategy. Should the strategy be concerned more with the countries which need one last push to be able to accede, or should the focus rather be on countries that cannot form part of the first group because they have not yet accepted EU legislation? Is the idea of a permanent conference in combination with the PHARE programme, which since March 1997 has been fully concerned with preparing candidate states for accession, sufficient consolation for those left out of the first wave? Or should the EU come up with a new idea?

The advisory Council's report will be of great help in determining the Netherlands' standpoint for the European Council meeting in Luxembourg in December 1997, where enlargement and the enlargement strategy will be at the top of the agenda.


(signed)

H.A.F.M.O. van Mierlo
Minister of Foreign Affairs


(signed)

J.J.C. Voorhoeve
Minister of Defence


(signed)

J.P. Pronk
Minister for Development Cooperation


(signed)

M. Patijn
State Secretary of Foreign Affairs

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