AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - THE UK, EU ENLARGEMENT AND UKRAINE

01.10.11




The UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, made an important speech during the Eastern Partnership in Warsaw on 29 September.  Key sections include:

“It is in the EU’s clear interests to offer meaningful integration to [our Eastern] neighbours, including through full EU membership, where the criteria are rigorously met…  So the UK is clear: ‘no’ to a planned pause after Croatia.  Any European nation that meets the eligibility criteria must be welcome to apply for EU membership.”

“Of course, it would be totally wrong to lower the bar for membership.  But we can help nations straining to reach it, using integration to support reform.”

“On the Eastern Partnership, let me get one thing straight: the UK does not see these agreements as an alternative to EU membership…  Which I know is a concern for some.  We do not see these agreements as a dead end.  They are not a downgrading.  On the contrary, they are a very real deepening of our ties.  A down-payment towards membership for those who seek it.”

“Where states have taken decisive steps, and maintained momentum we now see maturing democracies, consistent stability, higher growth.  Real reform works.  It’s half-measures and token gestures that create the worst of all worlds - autocracy, crony capitalism.   Where, without proper democratic controls, power cannot be kept in check.  No transparency, so no end to corruption.  No accountability, so no means of restraining vested interests.  No rule of law, so no foreign investment.  Nor can you create the environment for honest businesses to thrive.”

“We want our partners to build on progress already made.  Like Ukraine.  A country with 8 million more people than Poland, but an economy only a third of the size.  Energy, agriculture, access to major markets, enviable human resources…  Ukraine has what it takes to become a European giant, but only if it builds a dynamic market economy coupled with a vibrant democracy.  

So there can be no backsliding.  In order to attract wealth, foreign investors must be confident of decent protections under Ukrainian law and in Ukrainian courts.  In order to complete negotiations with the EU – negotiations that could revolutionise Ukraine’s economy - we must see fair elections, a free press and a guarantee that opponents of the Government are not persecuted for their views.  Otherwise EU parliaments will find it very difficult to ratify the agreement that is now tantalisingly close.”

Read the whole speech: it’s good stuff.  

Leigh Turner

 



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