|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||30/11/95, Volume 1, Number 11|
EUROPEAN Liberals have added their voices to calls for the next wave of enlargement talks to open soon after the EU completes its renegotiation of the Maastricht Treaty.
They believe that those countries in Central and Eastern Europe “committed to meeting the necessary political and economic requirements for membership” should be treated like Cyprus and Malta. This would guarantee that accession negotiations would start no later than six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC). Such a timetable could see the enlargement talks opening before the end of 1997.
The commitment is part of a policy statement adopted by party leaders in the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR). Its ambitious programme for the future of the Union will serve as the Liberals' input into the IGC.
Uffe Elleman-Jensen, a former Danish foreign minister and ELDR chairman, insisted enlargement was “the right way to strengthen peace and stability in Europe” and that this would involve the unavoidable reform of EU farm policy.
The 20 Liberal leaders, whose parties command the support of 26 million voters, laid particular emphasis on a comprehensive information campaign to convince people of the merits of EU policies. They also highlighted the need for changes to Union decision-making.
But the recipe for a successful Union revealed a split within the Liberals' ranks, with more right-wing Benelux parties refusing to back the full declaration entitled “For an open Europe”. The opposition came from the Dutch Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD), Belgium's Parti Réformateur Libéral (PRL) and Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (VLD) and Luxembourg's Demokratesch Partei.
Their unease was prompted by leaders' demands that common foreign and security policy decisions be taken by a majority vote. They are also understood to have been unhappy with the agreement to campaign for visa, asylum and immigration policies to be made EU responsibilities.
Similar tension emerged in discussions on strengthening the rotating EU presidency. Support for a presidential team to share the extra burden sparked fears that smaller countries might be excluded from taking a lead in the exercise and led to the compromise that the principle of the presidency of each member state be maintained alongside teamwork.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Malta|