It has been said by some that this Bill lacks substance, that this is a perfunctory debate and that it has little significance. I think that could not be further from the truth. For our actions here in the House this evening demonstrate beyond any discernible doubt that up to and until the point that we leave the European Union, we will continue to use our rights and obligations as full members of that institution, demonstrating that in the United Kingdom the European Union will retain the closest of friends, the strongest of allies and the most dependable of partners.
In that spirit, with our desire to do the right thing by our neighbours and echoing the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday when she reaffirmed our commitment to a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for Europe, it is right that we approve the decisions of the European Union Council. Few other single acts could better signal our desire for a peaceful and prosperous Europe than the granting to Serbia and Albania of observer status in the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency.
We cannot forget that it was less than 20 years ago that British and other NATO troops were deployed in the Balkans in the midst of an horrific conflict that we hoped we would never see the likes of in Europe again. While I am sure that all in this House would agree that more should and could be done, with the Council of Europe among others, regarding the pursuit of war crimes in Serbia, and on judicial reform, anti-discrimination policies, illegal migration, organised crime and protections of fundamental freedoms, it is surely a mark of the huge progress made in all these areas by the respective countries that the Council of the EU has seen fit to recommend that they be granted observer status as part of their EU candidate status.
Using our rights and obligations to the full until we leave, as we should, it is right that the UK supports Albania in its accession efforts and Serbia in its reform projects. Our giving consent to these—