My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

Prorogation – in the House of Commons at 5:36 pm on 11th November 1999.

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Over the last year, my Government have played a leading role in the European Union. They have continued to strengthen bilateral relations with our partners. My Government have welcomed the entry into force of new treaty provisions, which strengthen the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy and have welcomed the appointment of the first High Representative. In cooperation with other Member States, they ensured a successful outcome to the Agenda 2000 negotiations that maintained the United Kingdom's budget abatement.

My Government have played a key role in preparing the European Union for the historic challenge of enlargement. They have also helped the applicant countries prepare for membership.

My Government welcomed the launch of the euro on 1 January. They have published an outline National Changeover Plan, which could be implemented should Britain decide to join. They have welcomed the appointment of a new European Commission, committed to reform.

My Government have maintained strong and modern defence for Britain based on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. They played a leading role in the decisions taken at NATO's 50th Anniversary summit in Washington to modernise further and prepare the Alliance for the challenges and opportunities it will face in the new century.

My Government launched an historic initiative at the Franco-British St. Malo Summit. This will make the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy more effective and will revitalise the Atlantic Alliance.

My Government launched an initiative at the British-Italian London Summit to improve the effectiveness of European defence forces. My Government have continued successfully to restructure the Armed Forces to meet the demands of the modern world.

My Government reaffirmed its commitment to support the United Nations by signing a Memorandum of Understanding declaring United Kingdom forces potentially available for United Nations' peacekeeping Operations and by announcing its intention to make an increased contribution to UN police operations.

My Government made a substantial and vital contribution to the success of the international community's diplomatic, political and military efforts to

halt and reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Following the end of the conflict, my Government have played an important role in reconstructing Kosovo and preparing it for free and fair elections.

My Government's political, military and financial commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina has continued to help build peace there.

My Government has supported the democratic transition in Indonesia and has played a leading role, including a military contribution, in the UN process to help bring self-determination to the people of East Timor.

Following the abolition of the death penalty under United Kingdom law, my Government signed and ratified the 6th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.

My Government have published a white paper proposing a new partnership with our Overseas Territories and offering British citizenship to their people.

My Government have negotiated new arrangements which re-establish links between the Falkland Islands and Argentina.

After extensive diplomatic effort by my Government, the Government of Libya finally agreed to hand over the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case. We are pleased that my Government subsequently reached an agreement on the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Libya.

My Government supported and welcomed the transition to democratic civilian government in Nigeria.

My Government have played a leading role in securing international agreement to reduce further the debt burden of very poor countries. My Government have put into place a strategy to increase the proportion of the United Kingdom's bilateral development assistance going to low income countries and to increase the focus of the multilateral agencies on the reduction of poverty. An Act has been passed to convert the Commonwealth Development Corporation to a public-private partnership enabling it to make a larger contribution to development by channelling increased private sector investment into the poorest countries.