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From 10 to 12: Enlarging the European Community to Include Portugal and Spain (December 7, 1984)

In this speech to the Bundestag, Chancellor Helmut Kohl explains why it would be in the national interest to quickly conclude accession negotiations with Spain and Portugal and to make membership for them possible by January 1, 1986. He points out that the inclusion of these southern European states in the European Community would to strengthen their democracies. Nonetheless, agricultural policy remained a sticking point and Community interests collided with national ones.

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Policy Statement by Chancellor Helmut Kohl before the German Bundestag on December 7, 1984

[ . . . ]

The enlargement of the European Community to include Spain and Portugal was the focus of the European Council. I would like to state once more that here in the German Bundestag – also in the last session of the legislature – we have declared again and again, in complete unanimity, that it is our wish to keep the promise made by the democrats of Europe to the democratic parties and forces in Spain and Portugal and to offer them, after their return to the free world from an authoritarian or dictatorial regime, the opportunity to join the Community as quickly as possible.

When we repeatedly expressed this very generous promise, we were all well aware that the path to the accession of Spain and Portugal would be filled with great difficulties. Despite these problems, I would like to declare once more in the name of the federal government that it is our declared objective and wish that the scheduled date of January 1, 1986, be met; it must and can be met.

As can only be expected in such a context, economic interests are at the center of discussion in negotiations on the treaty-documents. I would like to stress once more to the German public: I believe that the interests that individual countries are introducing in this context are thoroughly understood. Whoever understands the significance of the fishing industry for our French and Spanish neighbors, for instance, knows that it is only too likely that difficulties will arise when discussing the future development of this important sector of the European economy.

The important thing is whether, for the sake of the most important objective, one is ready to summon up goodwill and the willingness to make compromises. At this European summit in Dublin, we had a serious, somewhat heated discussion on the issue of wine surpluses in the EC after the accession of Spain and Portugal. This, too, of course, is a question of great interest for an important segment of our population. In recent days, I have occasionally heard: they’re just arguing about wine. I would like to point out that the subsistence of thousands of vintner families is profoundly influenced by this development and that is it obviously the task of a government to arrive at compromises that protect its own justifiable self-interests but also tie in with the obligation to serve the common goal. After some bitter experiences regarding European agrarian policy, our goal must be to achieve concrete limitations on the costly wine surpluses in time, before Spain – that is, another major wine producer – joins the Community.

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