§ Lord Moynihan
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress has been made on European Union enlargement negotiations; and what entry dates they anticipate for new members of the European Union. [HL46]
§ Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
The Government remain committed to continuing progress towards EU enlargement. Substantive accession negotiations were opened on 10 November with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia in seven chapters of theacquis. We hope the Vienna European Council will stress the importance of further progress in the negotiations between now and the Cologne European Council in June. Vienna will also consider the Commission's reports on the candidates' preparations for eventual accession. We are broadly supportive of the Commission's conclusions that, while much progress has been made, none of the less-advanced applicants is yet ready to start negotiations.
The speed of progress towards accession depends on the candidates' individual circumstances. Some of the candidates are aiming for 2002. The UK has not set formal target dates. But we are working hard for rapid progress, and to avoid any artificial delays.