Enlargement is possible without the Lisbon Treaty
Delivered in Plenary - 10th July 2008
Britain, my country, was one of three countries to join in the first wave of enlargement back in 1973. Since then, my party, the British Conservatives, has actively supported the enlargement process to the current 27 Member States.
Enlargement expands the EU single market, creating more opportunities for economic growth and trade. It creates more jobs and social stability, as well as projecting a greater EU voice on the global stage. Enlargement consolidates the EUís values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in those new Member States, as we have witnessed in the past with the former dictatorships of Spain, Greece and Portugal who then joined, and the Warsaw Pact former Communist countries, who have joined more recently.
For those who question the EUís movement towards ever-closer Union, enlargement should theoretically produce a wider, looser and more flexible Europe and more debate about the EUís future direction. President Sarkozy, as the President-in-Office, has recently raised the issue of enlargement in the context of the paralysis of the Lisbon Treaty, following its rejection by the Irish referendum. Mr Sarkozy has said that the next foreseen enlargement to Croatia could not happen without the Lisbon Treaty. I believe this is a mistake and it is an attempt to keep the Treaty alive.
I am convinced that a way can be found for Croatia to join the EU without the Lisbon Treaty. Indeed, there are undoubtedly other aspects of the Treaty where attempts will be made to implement them without the documents for ratification. It is now clear that Europeans want less focus on institutional tinkering and more on making the case for the EU by reconnecting with the people.
I personally support future enlargement to the Western Balkans and eventually to Ukraine, Moldova and hopefully a democratic Belarus. It is a tangible example of the good thing that the EU could bring to its peoples.