Dáil Éireann - Volume 544 - 22 November, 2001
Written Answers. - EU Enlargement.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
 48. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the projected timescale for EU enlargement, embracing those countries in the first and second phases; and the monetary implications for Ireland in both instances. [29176/01]
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
77. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding further enlargement of the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29169/01]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
84. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government has given assurances to the countries that have applied for EU membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29416/01]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
85. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he proposes to take initiatives to prepare for EU enlargement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29417/01]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 48, 77, 84 and 85 together.
As I informed the house on 16 October, Ireland is a strong supporter of the current enlargement process for strategic reasons of peace and for economic reasons. It is the most important and exciting development for the European Union in the years immediately ahead. We look forward to welcoming the new member states into the European Union.
Enlargement will provide important economic opportunities for new and existing member states alike. Ireland stands to gain much from a greatly expanded marketplace with over 100 million new customers. Assured and free access to that new market will bring significant opportunities for this country. An enlarged EU can play an even more important and credible role in world affairs. Enlargement will also help to provide the opportunity to address outstanding issues on our continent, including organised crime and a better functioning relationship with Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union.
The tempo of the accession negotiations increased during the first half of this year and this momentum has continued during the Belgian Presidency. We have now reached a point where substantive and, at times, difficult issues are being addressed and real progress achieved. Negotiations are continuing in line with the Commission's road map strategy and the majority of candidate countries are proceeding well in their preparations for membership. This assessment is endorsed by the Commission in its strategy paper for the enlargement process, published on 13 November.
The Commission paper confirms that it should be possible to complete negotiations by the end of 2002 for ten of the 12 applicant countries. The objective set by the European Council in June 2001 at Gothenburg, that they should be able to  participate in the European Parliament elections of 2004 as members, is on course. Ireland fully supports this objective.
An important conclusion of the Commission strategy paper is that the financial perspectives agreed in Berlin in 1999, which provide the financial framework for the initial stages of enlargement, are adequate to accommodate the accession of up to ten new member states. Ireland welcomes this clear statement.
Among its enlargement-related initiatives, Ireland is participating in a number of multilateral schemes designed to help the applicant states in their efforts to adopt the acquis communautaire. The Government has also increased substantially the moneys available for the training of public servants and officials from the applicant countries at the Institute of Public Administration and University College Dublin. We have opened embassies in several of the applicant countries in recent years and hope to continue to open further embassies over the coming years. Finally, the President, Taoiseach and several Government Ministers, including myself, have been visiting many of the candidate countries.
With regard to assurances given to candidate countries, Ireland strongly supports the principle of differentiation in the accession process. This means that each candidate country should advance toward accession on the basis of its success in negotiations and preparations for membership.
Dáil Éireann 544 Written Answers. EU Enlargement.