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European Single Market

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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5.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many of the measures so far agreed for the creation of the single European market have yet to be implemented by the United Kingdom, and what is the comparable figure for other member states.

The United Kingdom, with Denmark, has the best record of implementing single market measures. Of the 95 measures that should by now be in force, only 13 remain to be implemented in the United Kingdom. That figure is twice as good as the average for other member states. The country with the next best record to that of the United Kingdom is the Federal Republic of Germany. I am arranging for a full list to be printed in the Official Report.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his promotion, and I wish him well. I thank him for those figures. Do not they show that we are true and honest leaders in the creation of a single European market? Does he agree that Labour would sell its soul and that of the nation over Europe—this time for a few deutschmarks, but usually for a lot less?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I thank him for his remarks. The United Kingdom was very much the first and strongest supporter of the single European market, has been consistent in implementing its measures, and is the most effective in enforcing them. We continue to take a lead in ensuring that the single European market is carried through to a successful completion. We know that the Opposition's hearts are not in it because they do not support the underlying philosophy of the single market.

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his new post. Does he believe that the European Commission should be extremely active in promoting adherence to the single European market in all member countries and in bringing to book any country that fails fully to co-operate, or if the Commission does so, will the Secretary of State accuse it of bullying and interference in the affairs of sovereign states?

I believe that member countries should implement measures to which they have agreed. However, I am in favour of the minimum of government at all levels.

I join others in congratulating my right hon. Friend on his new appointment. Does he agree that implementation in Europe ought to be followed by enforcement, and that that can be effective only if all the people of a country in which directives are implemented have been consulted as part of the approval process of their national Government and of the Council of Ministers? Does not that provide a clue to the way in which we can help other European countries more quickly to incorporate the directives into their own legislation and to implement them?

My hon. Friend makes an important and valuable point. It has always been a tradition in this country that laws are passed after consultation and discussion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh?"]—and we want to see the maximum consultation and discussion about European as well as domestic measures as they pass through the House.

Does the Secretary of State agree or disagree with the view of his predecessor that economic and monetary union will be a disaster—yes or no?

As I told the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown), I entirely support the Government's policy on that issue and had a hand in formulating it. One Friday morning a little while ago, I made a speech elaborating my views in an interesting debate initiated by a Labour Member who does not share the views of the Opposition Front Bench and in which we watched the divisions in the Labour party open very wide.

Following is the information

Comparable figures for other member slates are

Number

Denmark13
Federal Republic of Germany15
France21
Ireland23
Spain26
Netherlands27
Luxembourg30
Belgium32
Greece35
Portugal44
Italy55