The Edinburgh Summit: What the leaders of Europe agreed

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The Independent Online
The British likened their task at the summit to the solving of the Rubik's Cube puzzle. They can claim to have dealt with the immediate set of interlocking problems that were threatening to hold up progress on the development of the European Community. Andrew Marshall and Sarah Lambert describe the deals that were struck in Edinburgh

IMMIGRATION

THE DEAL: An expose of the EC's migration policies, and a sharply worded warning that racist attacks will not be tolerated.

DETAILS: The importance which member states attach to protecting all immigrants from racist attacks was stressed and national governments urged to implement policies aimed at integrating legal immigrants. All are resolved to show greater vigilance and to introduce education and legislative measures to counter rising xenophobia. Special mention was made of the problems in the former Yugoslavia, but action is likely to be tempered by an awareness of the social and economic strain of accepting huge flows of migrants. The statement warned that the situation was likely to last into the next decade, and deplored the fact that at a time when the divisions in Europe are ceasing to exist, the trend towards unity is marred by acts of aggression.

UPSIDE: The statement marks the EC's growing awareness of the scale of the immigration problem, and that policies must be better co-ordinated to containt it and curb racism.

DOWNSIDE: The Declaration does not suggest any concrete policy initiatives, and pays only lip service to the idea that the problem of assimulating immigrants should be more fairly shared through the Community. It is unlikely to change anything at all, though the fact that the subject merits a special mention is, at least, encouraging that the issue is finally on the political agenda.

YUGOSLAVIA

THE DEAL: The Edinburgh summit condemned the government of Serbia in the strongest terms and recommended that new initiatives be taken in Bosnia- Herzegovina.

DETAILS: The heads of government issued a declaration urging the UN Security Council to reconsider the use of 'all reasonable means' to enforce a 'no-fly zone' over Bosnia: this would imply the use of military force if it was deemed necessary.

The statement favoured the creation of safe havens for Bosnian Muslims, and suggested sending a United Nations peace-keeping force to Kosovo and dispatching observers to the border between Serbia and Bosnia.

In a separate declaration, the Twelve condemned the rape of Muslim women in detention centres, which they said must be closed. A special monitoring team is to be sent to Bosnia to investigate the allegations of rape.

UPSIDE: The declaration maintains the pressure on Serbia and indicates the Community's readiness to back further UN action. Serbia is told in no uncertain terms that the Belgrade government is held accountable for atrocities and cannot expect the international community to sit back forever.

DOWNSIDE: The carnage continues. The limitations of common declarations on foreign policy are clearly exposed.

PARLIAMENT

THE DEAL: Agreements on EC institutions.

DETAILS: Germany gets 18 new members of the European parliament, to reflect the impact of German unification. There was an increase in the total number of seats, from 518 to 567 in 1994. France, Britain and Italy got an extra six seats, but parity between the EC's leading states was broken: Germany now has 99 to 87 for the others. But MEPs vote in political groupings, not in national blocs, so this does not spell German domination.

France wanted something in return for this, and so the sites of EC institutions were also discussed. From now on the Parliament will keep its plenary sessions in Strasbourg, its secretariat in Luxembourg and its offices in Brussels. The other institutions stay where they are.

The sites for new institutions were not decided, but it was established that countries which do not have an institution will get priority in any new discussions. The European Central Bank and its precursor, the European Monetary Institute, are the pick of the crop. It still seems set to go to Germany, probably to Bonn.

UPSIDE: One of the duller arguments has been resolved. Britain can say it has a chance of getting the ECB, and the others can hope that such prizes as the Trade Mark Office are within their grasp.

DOWNSIDE: Putting the Parliament in three cities costs a fortune and is an administrative nightmare. The ECB decision needs to be taken fast to establish that it will actually happen.

EAST EUROPE

THE DEAL: Steps to broaden links with eastern Europe.

DETAILS: The association agreements that the EC has struck with eastern Europe were welcomed as the basis of a new relationship. More importantly, the summiteers agreed that at the Copenhagen summit in June they will set out a path for membership of the EC for eastern Europe, probably focusing on Poland, Hungary and whatever comes out of Czechoslovakia. On Russia, the summit was cautious, noting that the situation was still very fragile. Negotitations have begun on a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement, and this may lay the basis for the same relationship with Moscow as with the central and eastern European countries.

UPSIDE: This shows that the EC is moving out of its navel-gazing phase and preparing to engage with its real problems to the east. Talking about membership is an important signal to the emerging democracies and market economies not to lose hope.

DOWNSIDE: This should have been done earlier. The association agreements are not open enough to allow eastern European countries to benefit from Western markets. And the example of Yugoslavia shows that the EC is still riven with disagreement.

GROWTH

THE DEAL: A European growth initiative.

DETAILS: Against a background of slowing growth and the possibility of Europe-wide recession, boosting the economy and lowering unemployment was a priority. A new European Investment Fund has been set up to help fill the 'missing links' in European infrastructure, and a new temporary lending facility established with the European Investment Bank. These should create projects totalling 30bn ecu ( pounds 24bn), once private funding has been attracted, according to the British presidency. This is open to doubt. Britain says simply that the 'gearing' - the amount by which borrowing exceeds capital - is high.

UPSIDE: Something was achieved, at least, and the project may help boost confidence. High- profile projects could bring in new money and enthusiasm. Britain argues that the scheme maintains the right balance between private and public sector.

DOWNSIDE: Too little, too late will be the verdict of some economists. Others will see it as another way of wasting other people's money on vast projects that are not needed.

ENLARGEMENT

THE DEAL: Negotiations on enlargement of the EC begin on 1 January 1993.

DETAILS: At the Lisbon summit in June the EC agreed that talks with new members could not begin until both ratification was complete and the budget had been settled. This has been relaxed: the budget is safe, so talks can start and ratification will follow.

Sweden, Austria and Finland are in the first group to start talks. As soon as the Commission's verdict on Norway is clear, then they can also begin negotiations. A cloud hangs over Switzerland, which has rejected the European Economic Area in a referendum. Since this essentialy widened the single market to include the Swiss, and they could not accept it, can they accept the EC? What about Maastricht?

The new states are all well off and their entry will make funding the EC much simpler for the rich states that are now in the Twelve. But they bring plenty of problems: all but Norway are neutral; they have problems with agriculture and regional policy; and opinion in each has been turning against the European Community.

UPSIDE: The rich guests are on the way: roll out the red carpet. Enlargement gives a signal that the EC is open, not just for business but for new members. Most have views on the Community similar to Britain's - they should be potential allies in budget battles, for instance.

DOWNSIDE: Will the guests arrive? And what baggage will they bring with them? The negotiations could be tricky and the EC may find itself re-examining its finances, its decision-making and its policies.

BUDGET

THE DEAL: A new seven-year framework for the EC budget.

DETAILS: The new future financing agreement dictates the maximum the EC can spend in the next seven years. This is capped at 1.27 per cent of Europe's total wealth in 1999, rising from 1.2 per cent in 1993. There is no increase in this from 1993 to 1994, though the amount of cash will rise since the EC's wealth will, with luck, go up. Britain had originally pitched for a three-year freeze, and a ceiling of 1.25 in 1999. On its own, going up from 1.25 per cent to 1.27 per cent would not have been enough. So the summiteers raided the contingency fund, set at 0.5 per cent of GDP in the original British plan, and put the cash into spending categories. This is an often used budget trick. The new money goes primarily to EC structural spending, which is aimed at bridging the economic and social gaps between rich and poor countries and regions. A new cohesion fund for Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland will get 15.15bn ecus ( pounds 12bn) over seven years. And other structural funds grow from 20.85bn ecus in 1993 to 30bn in 1999. Over the seven years, the amount of cash going to the main structural fund plus the cohesion fund will double, a key target of the 'poor four'. The EC gets its cash from member states, mainly from VAT and a sum calculated on the basis of national wealth. The weight of the latter is to be increased, which makes funding fairer and should reduce the slice of EC funding paid by Britain.

UPSIDE: If you are Spanish, Portuguese, Irish or Greek, almost boundless. But it is good for the EC as a whole to remove this from the agenda. The final package is less costly than other versions. Britain kept its rebate. And it also unlocks the way for new members.

DOWNSIDE: If you are German, British, Dutch or French, not so good, as all this has to be funded by the rich countries. The removal of the contingency fund could cause problems, though the EC is often underspent anyway.

SUBSIDIARITY

THE DEAL: New papers on subsidiarity and transparency.

DETAILS: The headline-grabbers in the package are that pieces of EC legislation are to be dumped, amended or reviewed. This will cause a row, as some of the legislation will be seen as important by some interest groups, and others will suspect Britain of trying to re-nationalise policy in areas such as the environment, where it has felt the sting of Commission criticism.

Behind the headlines is an analysis of what subsidiarity means. There is a three-stage test to pass for new and existing legislation: First, does the EC have the power to act? If it does, is it impossible to achieve the desired objectives at national or local level? If so, what is the minimum necessary? British officials have been trumpeting this for weeks.

The EC is also to open its doors a little wider. There will be open council sessions for discussion of work programmes and the first discussions of new proposals. Votes in the Council of Ministers will be published. Laws will be clearer and simpler, and the press will be kept better informed.

UPSIDE: It is (almost) possible to understand subsidiarity after reading the document. It seems to represent a change of attitude, and certainly shows a willingness to get to grips with the issues on the part of the European Commission.

DOWNSIDE: The most interesting parts of the documents are very dense and may not help resolve the rows that bedevil the EC. Indeed they might create new ones. And how much is window- dressing? The least dense parts are not very interesting. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose?

DENMARK

THE DEAL: Measures to pave the way for a second Danish referendum.

DETAILS: Edinburgh's first and arguably main achievement was to put some momentum back in Maastricht by agreeing on a package of documents on Denmark. These underpin its exclusion or special status in some areas of EC activity: principally defence, citizenship, monetary union, and immigration. They also clarify parts of the treaty that had confused or upset Danish voters and emphasise that in some areas member states can have higher standards than those set out by the EC - things like environmental protection and social affairs. The documents fall into four areas: sections of the summit's conclusions are designed to appeal to Danes, including the new agreements on subsidiarity and openness. There are also two separate declarations by the European Council, without any judicial force; three declarations by the Danish government; and a 'decision'. This 'decision', for anybody without a degree in European law (and some with), is a puzzling thing. It is legally binding, the summiteers insisted, but there seems some uncertainty over whether it is effectively another treaty, or just a clarification of the treaty. It seems likely it gets its force by being a free-standing agreement under international law, in which case it gets its force by being within the jurisdication of the International Court. This is supposed to pave the way for a fresh referendum - before April or May, according to Danish ministers. This would mean that, assuming Britain ratifies, the Maastricht treaty could finally enter into force. Before then, three questions will have to be answered. Will Denmark's opposition parties buy it? Some clearly will not and said so in Edinburgh. Will there be a legal challenge that disrupts the ratification process, and perhaps even forces other states to ratify a new treaty? And will Danish voters buy the package that was made to measure in Edinburgh?

UPSIDE: This was a considerable triumph. Nobody had been sure whether or not a package could be negotiated that kept the Danes and the federalists together, since the latter did not want the treaty dismembered. It should mean that, in the traditional summit rhetoric, 'the EC moves forward as 12'.

DOWNSIDE: It might not work. It sets a precedent that states can force their partners to concessions, perhaps not helpful on the eve of talks with new members. And it leaves the Danes in a difficult position if they cannot get ratification through: other states threatened that they would have to leave the Community.

(Photograph omitted)

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