HC Deb 23 July 2002 vol 389 cc842-3
12. Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test)

What recent discussions he has held with the Polish Government concerning their proposed accession to the EU. [69588]

The Minister for Europe (Peter Hain)

Foreign Office Ministers have met their Polish counterparts to discuss this matter on numerous occasions in recent months and the Secretary of State will be meeting the Polish Foreign Minister tomorrow.

Dr. Whitehead

Has my right hon. Friend had any discussions with his Polish counterparts specifically concerning the status of Kaliningrad following Poland's accession to the EU, and particularly in relation to arrangements for transits between Kaliningrad and Russia should Lithuania, too, join the EU subsequently?

Peter Hain

I am aware of my hon. Friend's close interest in, and family connections with, Poland and, therefore, of his expertise. We are in close contact with all the countries in the region, Poland included, as of course Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave, borders Poland as it does Lithuania. It is a difficult issue to resolve: meeting the Russians' concerns that citizens of Kaliningrad should have access to the rest of Russia while at the same time making sure that borders are secure and that the EU's external border—as it will be, after enlargement—is free from trafficking that might threaten extra crime waves.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

What discussions has the Minister had with his counterparts in Poland regarding Poland's expectations for receiving moneys for its agricultural policy?

Peter Hain

A lot of discussions.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Does my right hon. Friend share my disappointment that, on an issue such as Kaliningrad, which, classically and ideally, should be resolved by the EU rather than by individual member states, the French President saw fit to see Mr. Putin on Monday and therefore break ranks in many ways? That is really not helpful in terms of finding a suitable long-term solution to Kaliningrad and to a single EU external voice.

Peter Hain

I understand and agree with my hon. Friend's desire for a much stronger external policy for the European Union. It is important, however, that, in the absence of that, we all make every effort to try to crack this problem. The Danish presidency is seized of the need to engage on this matter, and the European Commission is in weekly discussion on Kaliningrad on behalf of the whole of Europe.

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham)

Further to the Minister's informative reply to the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), was he misquoted when he was reported as having said that the European Union should press ahead with enlargement even in advance of prior agreement on radical agricultural reform? Surely, unless the Fischler reforms are agreed, enlargement to the east will be totally unsustainable.

Peter Hain

It is much more complicated than that. If we allow countries—some of them are in the European Union—effectively to block enlargement because they want to protect their vested interests in the bloated and inefficient common agricultural policy, we will not secure that objective. We therefore need to complete the negotiations on the agricultural chapter, which are already 95 per cent. concluded. The tough 5 per cent. concerns direct payments, which is a serious issue for Poland as well. We do not want those negotiations, which I am sure can be satisfactorily concluded, to prejudice wider reform of the CAP—that is why we asked for a delay in the decision until the informal European Council in October or November—or to prejudice the wider process of enlargement. That process is crucial to the reunification of Europe and to getting countries, such as Poland. into Europe, which is where they should always have been.

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