The 13th Meeting of the President of the European Parliament with the Presidents of the Parliaments of the Countries Participating in the Enlargement Process started on 27 May 2002 in Riga (Saeima's Press Service)

02.12.2014. 19:09

At the first session of the meeting the representatives of the European Parliament and the parliaments of candidate countries discussed the current progress of accession negotiations.
In his opening address, the Chairman of the Saeima, Janis Straume, stressed the historic importance of the decision of the Laeken European Council to name 10 EU candidate countries which are expected to conclude accession negotiations already this year.
Analysing the course of accession negotiations, Mr. Straume mentioned socially and financially important negotiation chapters such as "Agriculture", "Financial and Budgetary Provisions" and "Regional Policy and Co-ordination of Structural Instruments". He also pointed out that progress in these chapters has already had an impact on public opinion in the EU candidate countries.
The head of the Latvian Parliament recognised the European Commission proposal on financing the enlargement as a good basis for further negotiations; however, it does not give a clear answer to the question how equal competition and development conditions will be ensured for Latvian farmers in the common market. "On the issue of quotas, the people of Latvia expect fair treatment on the part of the European Union. Currently, only 36 per cent of the population is in favour of our membership in the EU. The issue of quotas is closely connected with the results of the referendum," said Janis Straume.
The Chairman of the Saeima also emphasised that Latvia sees the European Union as a union of strong national states; therefore, in its institutional reforms it is important to take into consideration the equality between old and new, large and small member states, as well as the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
The Vice-President of the European Parliament, David Martin, reported on what the European Parliament has done to prepare for receiving new member states. He said that the European Parliament has expressed a strong positive stand on the issue of admission of new member states by 2004. In his opinion, Euro-scepticism - both in the member states and in the candidate countries - should not be viewed as a threat to the enlargement process, but rather as a challenge which is to be overcome by joint efforts. Of great importance in this process is to inform the public about the benefits of EU enlargement. The main task of the EU member states and candidate countries is to give the people exhaustive answers to questions that concern them the most in order to disperse doubts and fears about the impact of EU enlargement on their lives. Mr. Martin was convinced that 10 new countries would join the EU in 2004.
Elmar Brok, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Parliament, in his presentation emphasised the need to follow the road-map according to which the accession of new member states is planned for the beginning of 2004. He noted that at the end of the Danish Presidency the member states would have to make a decision about the signing of accession treaties with candidate countries and stressed the decisive importance of the Copenhagen criteria. Mr. Brok reassured the participants that no new criteria or requirements would be set for candidate countries. He said that the requirements set for the candidate countries should not be higher than the requirements set for the member states.
Speaking about the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe, Mr. Brok emphasised that the European Parliament should ensure constitutional conditions for the Convention to be able to complete its work by the end of 2003.
In the discussions, representatives of the parliaments of Poland, Lithuania, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic spoke about their countries- progress in the EU accession negotiations and about related issues. Klemensas Rimselis, a member of the delegation of the Lithuanian Seimas, said that the problem of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant should be solved by joint efforts after Lithuania-s accession to the EU. Toomas Savi, Chairman of the Estonian Riigikogu, in turn, called for a joint discussion on revoking the unfair decisions on quotas for agricultural produce. The future EU member states should be given equal opportunities with the current member states. Jozef Migas, President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, expressed concern about the impact of ensuring the security of the EU external border on the relations with neighbouring countries - Ukraine and Russia. Slovakia does not want this border to become an insurmountable obstacle in its relations with Russia.

Saeima's Press Service