Dáil Éireann - Volume 491 - 28 May, 1998

Written Answers. - EU Enlargement.

23. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress, if any, made on the application of Cyprus to join the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12397/98]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): The inclusion of Cyprus in the first round of EU accession negotiations was confirmed by the European Council, meeting in Luxembourg on 13-14 December. The accession process involving the 15 member states, the ten CEECs, and Cyprus was launched on Monday, 30 March, in Brussels. Intergovernmental conferences to begin negotiations with Cyprus and with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia, on the conditions for their entry into the Union and the ensuing treaty adjustments were inaugurated on the following day. At the same time as the Union is conducting accession negotiations with the five most advanced CEECs and Cyprus, the preparation of negotiations with Slovakia, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, and Bulgaria is being speeded up in particular through an analytical examination of the Union acquis, that is to say, the policies, laws, practices and obligations that have been agreed or that have developed to date within the European Union. The Commission will submit reports on the individual progress of all candidate countries to the Council later this year.

I had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Mr Kasoulides, yesterday at which we discussed the progress being made in the enlargement negotiations. As a small country, I believe Ireland's experience of membership of the Union may be of particular interest to Cyprus in the current phase of its relationship with the EU.