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Promoting Democracy and Human Rights

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Europe) 4:34 pm, 13th October 2008

I am not going to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Most Governments in the world want something out of the EU: better access to the world's largest market, or a bigger slice of the world's largest development budget. Those can be powerful levers to start a human rights dialogue. The EU's flagship policy to promote democracy is enlargement, which holds the perhaps unique distinction of being the only EU policy that the House has consistently supported. I hope and am confident that that support will remain. The EU is the only international organisation with the ability to transform its own neighbourhood. I would like to highlight some successes of enlargement.

The House is well aware that enlargement has been an economic success, creating more jobs and high growth in both old and new member countries. Enlargement has increased our weight in the world and helps us to deal with the challenges of globalisation, from climate change to the current economic crisis. Enlargement is our most powerful tool for supporting democracy and respect for human rights across Europe. The Mediterranean accessions in the 1980s successfully anchored then fragile democracies in Greece, Spain and Portugal. The last enlargement reunited a Europe that had been divided by the cold war, and supported the growth of democracy from the ashes of totalitarian states, some with a truly dreadful human rights record. Today, the prospect of enlargement is a powerful incentive to improve human rights and governance in those countries that want to join the EU.

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