Cover Image
close this bookThe Courier N 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)
close this folderCTA-bulettin
close this folderNews round-up
View the documentThe convention at work
View the documentGeneral information
View the documentEuropean community

European community

Extract from a speech by Sir Leon Brittan on the enlargement of the EEC

Vice-President of the Commission, Sir Leon Brittan, recently delivered a speech to the Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland on the EC’s enlargement. Here are some extracts:

‘When the two inter-Governmental Conferences conclude, at the end of this year, it will be possible to focus more clearly on the question of Community enlargement because applicants will have a clearer idea of what their commitments would be within the European Community.

The EC has already received several applications for membership; and a number of other countries, from the Balkans to the Baltic, and even further north, have made no secret of the possibility that they might apply in due course.

The Community has grown increasingly outward-looking. There can be no question of turning away applicants provided they are economically, politically and geographically suited for membership, and provided that they are willing and able to take on the full obligations involved.

The Treaty of Rome, indeed, requires the Community to take this approach. Article 237 states clearly that ‘any European state may apply’ for membership, and the whole Treaty is founded upon a determination ‘to lay the foundation of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’. The signatories explicitly call, and I quote, ‘upon other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts’. The Community cannot begin negotiations with potential new members until after decisions have been reached at the present Inter-Governmental Conferences and alter the Single Market comes fully into effect at the end of next year. Thereafter, however, negotiations can begin, and I have no doubt that the Community will quickly expand.

Strenuous obligations of EC membership

Community membership, however, involves extremely strenuous obligations which need to be carefully considered by those contemplating membership.

When Britain joined the EC in the early 1970s few, I think, had really understood the political and legal import of the step which was being taken. Consider, for example, the fact that Community law takes primacy over national law. This can have consequences which are hard for a fiercely independent country to accept. In a recent case, the British Parliament passed an Act designed to prevent fishermen from other Member States, and notably Spain, from undermining the system of fishing quotas by registering their fishing-boats in the UK, though they landed their catches elsewhere. The Act was intended to close a loophole in an agreed Community policy, yet it was clumsily drafted, and undeniably discriminatory. In consequence, the British Law was recently struck down by the European Court. As simple as that.

If the obligations of Community membership were onerous when the UK joined in the early 1970s, they have become even greater in the intervening years. And the current Inter-Governmental Conferences will push up the stakes even higher. In the case of Finland, for example, membership would require very large reductions in agricultural support, especially if the Common Agricultural Policy is reformed as I hope and expect. The Community’s commitment to free movement of people and its early attempts to begin coordinating immigration policy at a Community level could require drastic amendment of your current laws in this area. And so on.

Community membership, then, is a momentous step for any country. But nor do I want to over-estimate the problems. Too much, I suspect, has been made of neutrality as a potential obstacle to membership. Neutrality is a concept which needs to be reassessed in any case in the new Europe, taking account of the new climate of East/West cooperation, and the continuing development of CSCE which was signed in this very hall in 1975. I suspect that the arrangements eventually devised for a Common Foreign and Security Policy will have the flexibility to cope with a wide range of different circumstances.

Overall, I expect the Community to expand, as I have said, and I wholeheartedly welcome the prospect. Previous accessions have served to galvanise the European Community. By contrast, it has been least effective when it has turned in upon itself.

Equally, however, the Community must be clear - as it has perhaps not been clear enough when previous accessions took place - that it must be taken as it is found. Concessions to new members must not put the Community’s achievements at risk. The Community’s whole strength resides in the fact that it is so much more than an inter-governmental organisation. If it is to retain its particular character as it takes on new members, it must refuse to compromise its supranational powers: indeed it will almost certainly need to adapt and strengthen its distinctive institutions if it is to retain its dynamism as a much larger organisation.

Special relationships with the Community

Because Community membership is such a big step, it is not surprising that attempts have been made to find mutually beneficial relationships falling short of full membership.

The negotiations over the establishment of a European Economic Area are the most elaborate experiment of this kind to date, and they have demonstrated the very great difficulty of the endeavour. On the one hand, it is hardly surprising that the EFTA countries, now under Finland’s able chairmanship, have argued that they must have a real say in future decisions which will govern their economic environment. On the other, it is natural that EC members resist any dilution of their powers and prerogatives in favour of countries which, by definition, as far as these negotiations are concerned, do not wish to take on the full obligations of membership.

The negotiations have been hard, but they are now nearing their conclusion, and I very much hope that they will succeed.

The other major experiment in privileged relationships falling short of EC membership is the negotiation of so-called Europe Agreements with a number of emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. These Agreements go far beyond anything attempted in traditional Trade and Cooperation Agreements. They include, for example, economic, scientific and cultural cooperation, and frameworks for regular high-level political exchanges. Through these agreements; through more generous trade access provisions which will, I hope, be decided soon by the Community’s Council of Ministers; and through the Community coordination of assistance programmes to these countries on behalf of the whole of OECD, the European Community wants to encourage and accelerate the process of transition in Central and Eastern Europe to stable and prosperous free market democracies.


The European Community has shown how the advantages of nation states can be preserved while overcoming the disadvantages and strident nationalism which have caused so many wars, and so much bitterness over the centuries. As old national, regional and ethnic tensions begin to resurface in the former Soviet Union, after years of suppression, it may be that the Community offers a model which will have relevance for those countries, too.

Max Jakobson ended his excellent bock Finland: Myth and Reality, with the words: ‘There is no alternative to integration; but neither is there an alternative to the nation state. The contradiction cannot be resolved: we must live with it’.

I agree with the first half of that proposition: there is no alternative to integration or to the nation state. But the European Community has done better than merely to live with the contradiction. It has channelled it into a unique and successful construction.


‘Illegal fishing must end’ says Vice-President Marin

Mr Manuel Marin, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for fisheries policy and development cooperation, addressed the international Ministerial Conference, held in La Toja (Spain) on 9-10 September 1991, on the theme of world fisheries in the 1990s.

In his address, Vice-President Marin stressed the priorities of EC fisheries policy in the 1990s:

‘Firstly, the need to conserve fishery resources to enable them to be exploited adequately on a long-term basis.

The conservation and management of resources must form the core of Community fisheries policy. We must protect fish today to protect the livelihood of fishermen tomorrow.

Secondly, the need for structural readjustments, accompanied by financial assistance to reduce the fishing fleet in line with available resources. The Community will have to cut the overcapacity of its fleet in Community waters, whilst at the same time taking account of the needs of those regions which are heavily dependent on fishing.

Thirdly, the need to reach agreements on the organisation of markets and marketing which provide the necessary support to Community producers.

Finally, the need to secure and develop access to fishing grounds outside the Community fishing zone to help reduce trade deficits’.

Mr Marin also stressed the need for a new generation of fisheries agreements between the EC and third countries:

‘The new fisheries agreements must form an essential part of our common fisheries policy as well as an instrument for the promotion of our cooperation policy.

We can therefore talk of a second generation of fisheries agreements which vary in certain respects from previous agreements.

Externally the agreements could and should change in line with the economic development of those countries offering fishing opportunities. Internally, the agreements should increase the co-responsibility of those enterprises benefiting from the exploitation of resources in the waters of third countries.

The main aim would be to increase the effectiveness and appeal of agreements which are vital for the future of the Community fishing industry’.

Speaking to the 40 national delegations and to the international press, Vice-President Marin forcefully stated the need to end all illegal fishing in the international waters:

‘Illegal fishing must end in all the seas, because that is a necessary pre-condition for the establishment of a reliable control and surveillance of fishing activities throughout the world. All coastal countries, international organisations and interested parties should cooperate in this field’.


European HDTV on show in all the pavilions of the Avenue de l’Europe

Presenting European HDTV (high definition television) to the widest possible audience at the Seville Universal Exhibition in 1992, is the objective of an ambitious project put forward by the Commission, at the initiative of Mr Jean Dondelinger, Member responsible for audiovisual and cultural affairs, and adopted at Seville on 27 September by the Member States’ Commissioners-General responsible for the exhibition.

‘The project’, as Mr Dondelinger put it after the meeting, ‘will help to give practical form to the policy decision taken by the Council of the Communities to promote the European HDTV standard throughout the Community and with the assistance of the Community.’

Concerted action by all those concerned, but especially the Member States, manufacturers, producers and broadcasters, Retevision and Expo ‘92, will ensure that HDTV is present in all the pavilions in the Avenue de l’Europe. This will be a first-time achievement in Europe and indeed in the world, for tomorrow’s television, whether it follows the European or the Japanese standard, has never been presented in the form of an integrated project reaching such a large audience for such a long time. The Community pavilion alone is expecting more than 2 million visitors in the exhibitions’s six months.

Television material will be produced using the new standard at the Exhibition site itself and broadcast through a network linking the thirteen pavilions; those who wish to do so will be able to see HDTV images via HD-MAC optical readers and HD projectors. Among other things, as soon as the Exhibition opens on 20 April 1992, this European network will be showing the video film ‘Europe rediscovered - the return of Colombus’, produced according to the European high definition standard by the Commission.

Like the Winter Olympics at Albertville and the Olympics at Barcelona, the Seville Universal Exhibition will both be a source of spectacular images and provide a show-case where Europe’s HDTV capacity can be revealed to the world.


Joint declaration on the Baltic States

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the European Community, representatives of the Commission and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met in Brussels on 6 September 1991 to mark the restoration of the sovereignty and independence of the Baltic States.

On this festive occasion, the EG representatives warmly congratulated their Baltic colleagues on the resumption of their rightful place in the international community. They regarded their meetings as a seal on the establishment of diplomatic relations with them. They also stressed the willingness of the European Community as such to establish diplomatic relations with the three Baltic States. The EC Ministers expressed their readiness to help the Baltic States become members of all relevant international organisations at the earliest possible date.

The Community foreign ministers and Commission representatives reiterated their willingness to explore together with the three States, all avenues to assist them in their democratic and economic development. They stated their readiness to see the Baltic States participate in the Group of 24 and benefit from the European Community’s Phare Programme. The Commission will have early discussions with the authorities of the Baltic States about the conclusion of trade and economic cooperation agreements with the Community.

The Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States declared the commitment of their countries to democracy based on the respect for human rights and the rule of law and to a market-oriented economy, social justice and environmental responsibility, together with the other principles contained in the CSCE Helsinki Final Act and Paris Charter. They pledged that their countries, in their efforts to liberate themselves from the legacy of the past, would strive to settle all outstanding issues in a process of open and constructive dialogue, mindful of the need for future cooperation between all States in Europe.

Declaration on Yugoslavia

The European Community and its Member States remain committed to a successful outcome of the Conference on Yugoslavia. They call on all Yugeslav parties to share this commitment with them. They acknowledge Lord Carrington’s invaluable contribution both in chairing the Conference and in bringing about a new cease-fire agreement.

The Community and its Member States have long recognised that a new situation exists in Yugoslavia. They consider it self-evident that this calls for new relationships and structures. They reiterate that it is entirely up to all people living in Yugoslavia to determine their own future. The Community and its Member States will accept any outcome that is the result of negotiations conducted in good faith.

It is the fervent hope of the Community and its Member States that any negotiated settlement will be of a comprehensive nature and will contribute to the security and prosperity of all the peoples of the Balkans and of Europe as a whole.

The Community and its Member States wish to reiterate the basic principles to which they have subscribed from the very beginning:

- the unacceptability of the use of force;

- the unacceptability of any change of borders by force, which they are determined not to recognise;

- respect for the rights of all who live in Yugoslavia, including minorities;

- the need to take account of all legitimate concerns and aspirations.

The Community and its Member States welcome the cease-fire agreement concluded at Igalo in the presence of Lord Carrington on 17 September 1991. They have taken note, however, of the joint statement by Lord Carrington and the Presidents of Croatia and Serbia and the Minister of National Defence to the effect that the Igalo agreement constituted the last chance for a de-escalation and a cessation of actual warfare, without which there could be no meaningful negotiation on the future of the peoples concerned.

The Community and its Member States call on all parties concerned to refrain from any political or military action which might undermine the Conference on Yugoslavia. The continuing violence in particular puts the continuation of the Conference at risk.

The Community and its Member States regret that the EC monitoring mission is no longer able to perform its task in full. They therefore welcome the fact that the WEU is exploring ways in which the activities of the monitors could be supported so as to make their work a more effective contribution to the peacekeeping effort. It is their understanding that no military intervention is contemplated and that, before a reinforced monitoring mission is established, a cease-fire would have to be agreed with a prospect of holding, and that all Yugoslav parties would have to have expressed their agreement.

The Community and its Member States would wish to have the opportunity to examine and endorse the conclusions of the study. They also intend to seek the support of the nations of the CSCE and, through the UN Security Council, the international community as a whole.

Statement on Zaire

The Community and its Member States are deeply concerned about the critical situation in &e. They deplore the course of events and launch an urgent appeal to restore peace and security in the country. The Community and its Member States are convinced that political initiatives designed to bring about democracy are the only way to satisfy the aspirations of the people. They therefore urge bath the Government and all political and social forces to do their utmost to reach an agreement on the political future of Zaire, in which the rule of law, the organisation of free elections and respect for human rights are guaranteed.

The Community and its Member States also stress the importance of overcoming the social and economic impasse in order to improve the deteriorated living conditions of the people of Zaire.

Statement on the Middle East peace process

The Community and its Member States reaffirm their full support for the Middle East peace initiative promoted by the United States and the USSR. They welcome the agreement in principle of all parties to the dispute to the approach proposed by the US Secretary of States Mr Baker. In this respect they also welcome the positive attitude of the Palestine National Council. They hope that this emerging consensus will open the way to an early resolution of the problem of an authentic Palestinian representation. They do not believe that any formula on this issue can be held to prejudice negotiations on substantive issues such as the status of Jerusalem.

The Community and its Member States continue to attach importance to the adoption by both sides of confidence-building measures designed to create the right climate for successful negotiations. They underline the importance they attach to a suspension of Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Territories including East Jerusalem, and welcome the willingness of Arab States to freeze the trade boycott of Israel in return for this.

They reaffirm their strong disapproval of the ‘Zionism is Racism’ Resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly which they believe should be consigned to oblivion.

While reaffirming their well-known positions of principle, the Community and its Member States confirm their determination to give all possible support to efforts to convene a Middle East Peace Conference and their determination to play an active role as a full participant in such a Conference alongside the co sponsors.

They believe that an unprecedented opportunity to create peace between Israel and the Arabs now exists and they call on all parties to show the flexibility and imagination necessary to grasp this.