Resolution on the Regular Report from the Commission on Czech Republic"s progress towards accession (COM(98)0708 C4- 0111/99)

Official Journal C 219 , 30/07/1999 P. 0443


Resolution on the Regular Report from the Commission on Czech Republic¨s progress towards accession (COM(98)0708 - C4-0111/99)

The European Parliament,

- having regard to Czech Republic's application for membership of the European Union, tabled on 17 January 1996,

- having regard to the opinion of the Commission on this application for membership (COM(97)2009 - C4-0381/97),

- having regard to the Commission Regular Report of 17 December 1998 (COM(98)0708 - C4-0111/99),

- having regard to the composite paper - Regular reports from the Commission on progress towards accession by each of the candidate countries of 17 December 1998 (COM(98)0712 - C4-0107/99),

- having regard to its resolution of 4 December 1997 on the Commission's communication 'Agenda 2000 - for a stronger and wider Union¨ (COM(97)2000 - C4-0371/97) ((OJ C 388, 22.12.1997, p. 17.)), and its resolutions of 11 March 1998 ((OJ C 104, 6.4.1998, p. 110 and p. 113.)) on assistance to the applicant countries in central and eastern Europe in the framework of the pre-accession strategy (COM(97)0634 - C4-0010/98 - 97/0351(CNS) and on the proposals for Council decisions on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the accession partnerships (COM(98)0053 - C4-0130/98),

- having regard to the decisions taken at the European Councils of Luxembourg (12 and 13 December 1997), Cardiff (15 and 16 June 1998) and Vienna (12 and 13 December 1998),

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy (A4-0157/99),

A. having regard to the fundamental importance, for both parties, of the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union,

B. whereas the general elections held in June 1998 put an end to a period of political and institutional instability in the Czech Republic, during which the process of bringing that country's legislation into line with that of the European Union had encountered particular problems,

C. stressing that, in any event, there has never been any doubt about the firm European commitment of the main Czech political forces who have found common ground in accession to the European Union, as demonstrated by the tangible pursuit of the objectives contained in the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis Communautaire,

D. noting the European Commission's assessment, contained in its 'screening' document on the process of the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union,

1. Welcomes the fact that the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union was never called into question during the recent period of political and institutional instability and that there is national consensus on this objective;

2. Notes that the Czech Republic satisfies the fundamental spirit of the 'Copenhagen criteria' on accession but stresses that the timing of Czech accession to the EU will depend primarily on the rapidity with which the Czech Republic resumes the momentum required to ensure adoption of the acquis and the strengthening of related enforcement and implementation structures, which are conditions for early accession to the EU;

3. Welcomes the measures undertaken by the Czech Government following the Regular Report of the European Commission of 17 December 1998 which evaluated the progress in the preparations by the Czech Republic for the accession to the EU; and notes that the Czech Republic has confirmed that it took seriously the analysis of the European Commission and is therefore endeavouring to speed up the dynamics of its preparation for accession;

4. Stresses the need to revise the law on citizenship, the application of which the Commission defines as 'problematic';

5. Calls on the Czech Government to promote a substantial improvement of the legal system and above all to solve the problems caused by the shortage of judges and their training;

6. Stresses once again the importance of protecting minorities and promoting their fundamental rights; is still concerned at the Czech Government's failure to take any substantial action as regards the Roma minority, despite the 'Action Plan' and the institutional bodies set up to deal with the problem; calls on the Czech Government to promote practical measures for the economic and social integration of the Roma;

7. Calls on the Czech Government, in the same spirit of reconciliatory statements made by President Havel, to repeal the surviving laws and decrees from 1945 and 1946, insofar as they concern the expulsion of individual ethnic groups in the former Czechoslovakia;

8. Stresses the need, as with all the applicant countries, to strengthen anti-corruption measures; is convinced of the importance of the measures taken by the Czech Government to this end and requests that they be applied by a sufficient number of qualified staff, especially in the Ministerial Committee for the Protection of Economic Interests chaired by the Prime Minister;

9. Is deeply concerned at the sharp rise in unemployment in the Czech Republic, which according to the Commission's assessment is mainly due to the slowdown in economic activity combined with the period of political and institutional crisis and the effects of industrial restructuring and privatisations which are in any event connected with the accession process;

10. Calls on the Commission and the Czech Government to counter the social costs associated with the process of economic and financial restructuring with enhanced social and economic accompanying measures, in order to permit balanced economic growth from a social point of view; supports the German Presidency proposal to extend the scope of the Phare programme to the social field;

11. Calls on the Commission and the Czech Government to give consideration to the social and cultural aspects of the reforms in the Czech Republic resulting from the application for accession and to step up efforts to inform public opinion about the impact of European integration;

12. Acknowledges the efforts made by the Czech Government to launch the process of privatising the banking system and notes its declared intention to complete this process by the year 2000; shares the Commission's concerns regarding the need to modernise the Czech financial system and make it more transparent, in order to lead it towards productive rather than speculative investment for the benefit of businesses;

13. Is convinced that accession to the Union should involve for the Czech Republic - among other things - a far-reaching reform of fiscal policy;

14. Notes the Commission's assessments concerning the lack of progress in many areas of adapting the Czech Republic's legislation to the Community acquis, especially in the field of freedom of movement of persons and goods;

15. Stresses the importance which the Czech Government must assign, in particular, to the internal reform of legislation on reducing and abolishing state aids, anti-trust policy, the protection of data and the banking system for managing 'saving accounts';

16. Urges the Czech Government to take substantial measures in the field of environmental protection, in particular to protect the quality of water and combat industrial pollution;

17. Notes, in regard to the Czech Republic's technical, political and, particularly, legal handling of such a comparatively large risk factor as the Temelin nuclear power plant, that the issue of nuclear safety - including the demand to close down unsafe plants which cannot be upgraded to the high standard of technology in the European Union - has been raised on several occasions by the Member States, the Commission, the Council and the European Council in the context of enlargement of the Union and that it has been taken into account in their decisions and is also covered by the accession partnership with the Czech Republic;

18. Draws the Commission's attention to the fact that PHARE funds for cross-border cooperation will best promote models of development through partnership in the regions bordering on the EU if they are deployed in conjunction with Interreg;

19. Calls on the Commission suitably to involve decision-makers at regional and local level as well as the social partners and NGOs in the budgeting and management of PHARE and ISPA funds and in that way also to facilitate cross-border cooperation between PHARE countries;

20. Stresses that accession to the European Union should not be seen only as an expedient economic process but also as participation in a political project; therefore expects the Czech Republic to participate fully in the deepening of European political integration and the democratisation of the Union's institutions, as well as full acceptance of the principles of the CFSP and other efforts involved in building a Europe capable of doing justice politically to its responsibilities;

21. Advocates that representatives of the parliaments of the applicant countries be permitted, over and above the existing exchange of information and ideas in the joint parliamentary committees, to attend meetings of European Parliament committees as observers when matters relevant to accession are being dealt with;

22. Reiterates its belief that each applicant country should be judged on its own merits and on its progress in the accession negotiations;

23. Calls on the Council and the Commission, in cooperation with the Czech Government, once screening has been completed, the negotiating platforms fully worked out, and the second regular report published in autumn 1999, to draw up a specific timetable for the accession negotiations and their possible completion;

24. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Government and Parliament of the Czech Republic.