Written Answers. - EU Enlargement.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

29 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the state of EU enlargement negotiations; and if the five plus one agreement is likely to come under review. [22056/98]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

61 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress, if any, to date on EU enlargement negotiations. [22159/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 61 together.

The accession process was launched by the EU member states, the ten central and eastern European countries, and Cyprus on 30 March. Accession negotiations were inaugurated the following day with Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Cyprus. These candidates, known as the "ins" or the "five plus one" countries, have now submitted their negotiating positions on at least seven chapters of the Union acquis. Formal negotiations on these chapters will be launched at Intergovernmental Accession Conferences in Brussels on Tuesday next, 10 November. Concurrent with this process, the preparation of negotiations with the five other candidate countries known as the “pre-ins”— Slovakia, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, and Bulgaria — is taking place through intensive screening of their national legislation by the European Commission.

In common with our EU partners, Ireland is committed to EU enlargement and considers the opening of accession negotiations as a step forward towards creating a new Europe. At the General Affairs Council next week, the Commission will present reports on the progress made towards accession by all the candidate countries. Ireland believes that the conclusions of the Luxembourg Council are clear regarding the timetable for accession. However, we will await the Commission reports on each candidate before considering whether any changes to the accession arrangements are necessary or justified.