§ 5. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)
If he willmake a statement on progress in implementing Agenda 2000. 
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Ms Joyce Quin)
Legislation implementing the vast majority of the Agenda 2000 package has now been agreed. The whole package was supported by the European Parliament in May. Much of the legislation will come into force from 1 January 2000. The Berlin summit deal on the budget and on policy reform made provision for enlargement. Pre-accession aid of 3 billion euro a year will be available to help the candidates to prepare for accession. Substantial structural funds will also be available for new member states joining between 2002 and 2006.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Not unnaturally, there has been a great deal of publicity in the United Kingdom for the Government's huge success in achieving funding under 955 objectives 1, 2 and 3 and also in achieving the safety net. That is especially appreciated in Wales. However, there has not been much publicity for what has been done on the other side of the coin—the progress towards enlargement itself. Will my right hon. Friend enlighten us on that matter?
§ Ms Quin
In relation to preparation for enlargement, the Government and the EU are doing a great deal. In particular, Departments throughout Government are working with their counterparts in the applicant countries to prepare those countries in specific policy matters. I especially commend to the House the twinning scheme which links our Departments with several Departments in applicant countries. In the second round of twinning, we have won more successful schemes than any other country.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)
Is not the prerequisite for entry to the EU, the ability to join the single currency, a serious impediment to the applicant nations of central and eastern Europe? They should have been allowed to join long since. The Berlin wall fell almost 10 years ago; is it not true that the EU has demonstrated itself to be a rich man's club—more interested in protectionism and feathering its own nest than in showing itself as a true community of outward-looking nations to which the countries of eastern and central Europe are welcome?
§ Ms Quin
The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that this year is the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. However, I do not draw the same conclusions from that as he does. There is much to rejoice over in the transformation that has taken place during the past 10 years. I am very pleased that the countries of the EU—including our own—have built up so many political and economic relations with countries that were formerly behind the iron curtain. Indeed, the whole process of enlargement and the funds that have been attached to it should show that we are serious in ensuring that we build a constructive relationship with the countries from which we were formerly divided.
§ Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)
Although I accept that the Minister herself has visited the applicant countries for EU membership, when will the Government address the deficiency in their senior members' visits to such countries on behalf of the UK? Is it not true that, after two and a half years of Labour Government, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has not visited any of the applicant states? Why is that? Why was priority given to south America and Australia? Is it not true that the Prime Minister has not yet been able to visit any of the applicant states, either? Bearing in mind the fact that Ministers in countries comparable to the UK have kept a high profile, and have advanced the interests of their commerce, in the applicant states, when will the matter be addressed?
§ Ms Quin
While I appreciate my hon. Friend's strong commitment to the countries of central and eastern Europe, his information is not up to date. There have been many ministerial visits—in fact, I think that there have been five ministerial visits to Poland in the past month. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has visited all 956 the applicant countries. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has visited certain of the candidate countries and plans to do more: his recent visit to Poland was cancelled, but for a reason that hon. Members on both sides of the House should understand, which is the situation in Northern Ireland. Ministerial contacts across the board have improved dramatically over the past year and I hope that my hon. Friend welcomes those efforts. We shall undertake more visits, but our engagement with applicant countries is already at a very high level.
§ Mr. Archie Norman (Tunbridge Wells)
Does the Minister consider it satisfactory that, in the financial forecast developed after the Berlin Council to meet the Agenda 2000 objectives, the financial forecasts for EU budget payments go up by 12 per cent. between 2000 and 2004? Does she consider it satisfactory that, at a time when people are concerned about extravagance and waste in the Commission, the only line in the six years of those forecasts that continuously rises faster than inflation is expenditure on the EU' s administration itself?
§ Ms Quin
I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman does not welcome the financial package that was agreed at Berlin, which stands in stark contrast to the financial packages agreed by the Conservative Governments in 1992 and 1988, under which overall expenditure soared and the bill to the taxpayer was considerable. The most recent round of financial negotiations is the first time such expenditure increases have not resulted. We got a satisfactory solution that included generous receipts to this country in terms of structural funds, but kept well within the ceiling of 1.27 per cent. of EU GNP.