HC Deb 07 December 1977 vol 940 cc1381-2
48. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the proposed enlargement of the EEC.

Dr. Owen

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Prime Minister's letter to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, published in the Official Report on 22nd November.

Mr. Marten

While being basically in favour of enlargement, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that the percentage of workers in agriculture in the countries that one hopes will join is 36 per cent. in Greece, 28 per cent. in Portugal and 23 per cent. in Spain? As compared with the British percentage of only 3 per cent. of workers in agriculture, will not that really heavily tip the advantage in favour of the vested interests in agriculture in the Common Market to the detriment of the United Kingdom?

Dr. Owen

It certainly would if one were to follow into Mediterranean agricultural products the same policy that exists predominantly for northern agricultural products. Therefore, it is the British Government's strong intention to resist any such increase, which could shift the agricultural budget from its present 70 per cent. of overall Community budget up to over 90 per cent.

Mr. Ioan Evans

As 70 per cent. of the budget is already going to agriculture, does my right hon. Friend agree that we shall have to abandon the CAP before we consider bringing in countries such as Greece, Spain or Portugal?

Dr. Owen

There is not quite such a well developed CAP for Mediterranean products. I do not believe that we can exclude doing something about Mediterranean agricultural products, but the price of doing so must be one of making changes in the rest of the CAP. That is why we attach such great importance to radical changes.

Mr. Townsend

What link, if any, does the right hon. Gentleman see between early settlement of the Cyprus dispute and the proposed enlargement of the Community?

Dr. Owen

Not very much. I do not think that the Cyprus dispute is in any way connected with the EEC. Good relations with some countries, such as Greece, which is an applicant to join, are important, but I do not think that anything can replace a better dialogue between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

Mr. Roper

Will my right hon. Friend confirm the considerable political advantages of enlargement, particularly by strengthening democracy in southern Europe?

Dr. Owen

Yes, Sir. I think that that is one of the central objectives and why one is prepared to pay a limited but reasonable economic price for enlargement. That price is to be carefully calculated, but the whole concept of the European Community is above all political.

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