Activities of the Finnish Presidency
Delivered in Plenary - 18th December 2006
First I wish to congratulate the Finnish Presidency on completing Romanian and Bulgarian accession.
However, unlike most speakers in the House, I am glad Mr Vanhanen maintained unanimity on justice and home affairs, an area seen by countries, particularly my own United Kingdom, as one of delicate national sovereignty. I am also grateful he accepted some of my reportís amendments on higher duty-free allowances coming into the European Union from third countries by air or sea.
The Council was also right to suspend eight chapters of the Turkish accession process, but now more must be done to help end the isolation of the Northern Turkish Cypriot community. I agree that it is also right to get tough and speak toughly with Russia. It is also a great idea to negotiate free trade agreements with Asian democracies such as India.
Lastly, enlargement in the Western Balkans, in particular Croatia, is now a German Presidency priority, but we do not need a full-blown EU Constitution to achieve that.