Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Goal of EU membership is incentive for reform for neighbouring states

29th November 2005

BRUSSELS, 29 November 2005 -- The EU must provide the incentive of future membership of the Union for neighbouring European countries if relations with such countries are to be effective and successful, Dr Charles Tannock MEP said today as MEPs on the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee approved his report on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

Dr Tannock, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in Brussels, said ruling out EU membership for countries like Ukraine and Moldova - or sending out mixed messages about how the EU sees long-term relations with them - would undermine the EU's goal of spreading democracy, enhancing security and creating a wider free trade zone.

Dr Tannock's report sets out the importance of an active partnership with countries on the EU's periphery. The report emphasises several priority areas of cooperation including trade arrangements, measures to tackle organised crime, the promotion of political dialogue and respect for human rights.

He also pointed out that the UK Conservative Party is one of the few major parties from the 'old' EU member states to publicly endorse Ukraine's membership of the EU.

Dr Tannock said:

"The ENP aims to establish a 'circle of friends' around the EU in which the essential tack of promoting and enhancing prosperity, stability and security is carried out in partnership and to mutual advantage.

"Some European countries on the edge of the EU see membership as a key strategic goal. Ruling out that possibility will undermine the ENP right from the start. Similarly, sending out mixed messages about how the EU sees long-term relations with these countries would damage the EU's credibility.

"We need to adopt a dual approach - insistence on reform and the highest standards of governance, but also encouragement and the incentive of full membership of the Union.

"The EU cannot afford to be a passive partner in its relationship with neighbouring states. In particular the ENP should focus on working together to tackle the threats of terrorism, organised crime and people trafficking."