European Community (Developments)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 6th December 1990.

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Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney 4:48 pm, 6th December 1990

I shall proceed for a little longer, and then I shall give way to my hon. Friend if he wishes to intervene.

The countries of eastern Europe rely to a substantial extent on the Community and the western world for help in bringing forward their reforms. Britain, particularly my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley, took the lead in encouraging reform in eastern Europe and stimulating international support for it. We recognise that the new democracies need trade as much as aid. That is why we have proposed, and the Community has endorsed, association agreements between the Community and Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. They will provide a framework for the sort of wide-ranging co-operation we want, with the eventual goals of free trade arrangements and a clear link with the Community.

The newly democratic countries face a serious economic problem as a result of the Gulf crisis and the rise in oil price. That subject is being, and will need to be, discussed. Without going into it in detail, I would simply say that we are clear that those new, pressing needs of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other such countries cannot be tackled simply by using the Community's resources. It will be necessary to bring in the resources of the entire Group of 24, including the United States, Canada and Japan. I think we should also bring in the resources of some of the Gulf countries which benefited substantially from the same process.