§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's understanding of the meaning of the phrase "political union" in the Laeken declaration; and if he will cite the previous occurrences of that phrase in documents agreed upon by the European Council. 
§ Peter Hain
The term "political union" has been used at several European Councils to describe the unique political relationship that exists between members of the European Union, as set out in the European treaties. It has no formal definition, accepted by all, whether in Council meetings or elsewhere.
The term has appeared in a number of documents agreed by the European Council in the past: annexe I of the presidency conclusions of the Vienna European 273W Council 11–12 December 1998; and in conclusions to the Dublin, Rome and Maastricht European Councils in April and December 1990 and December 1991 respectively.