Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Wider Europe

Delivered in Plenary - November 19th 2003

Mr President

When the wider Europe neighbourhood concept was first floated, I was largely sceptical of the bunching together of countries as disparate as Libya and Russia in one document. However, as the PPE - DE shadow rapporteur for the Ukrainian section, I now believe that sufficient differentiation has been achieved in Mrs Napoletano's report to produce a politically coherent document which provides a constructive approach through action plans for the challenges which lie ahead over the next five years as we digest the economic and political consequences of a Europe of 25 countries and the EU borders move eastward.

I particularly welcome the recognition of Ukraine's potential for eventual membership and the mention of Article 49. This could equally apply to Moldova, which is desperate to be given a helping hand by the EU to sort out the Transnistria question and be granted access to the stabilisation and association process. Russia will be key here and I welcome the recent summit which aims to develop our relations with the strategic partner country through a series of four common spaces.

Although I strongly condemn human rights abuses in Chechnya, I believe we have a vested interest in a table Russia under the firm leadership of President Putin and a common cause in fighting international terrorism. However, with due respect for the rule of law, it is a pity that criminal law is being used to rein in the power of the oligarchs, whereas a financial settlement to redress the questionable privatisation of the early 90s would have been far preferable.

I also welcome extending the remit of the EIB to the Western NIS. Belarus remains a problem, but we must engage in limited but constructive engagements in areas of mutual concern and I was delighted by the fact that my budget amendment to increase funding to the victims of Chernobyl was passed by this House.

Lastly, I agree with Mr Gahler that European public opinion would not support freedom of movement for the peoples of north Africa for the roreseeable future.