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Honourable Members of the European Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I last addressed this assembly at the enlargement debate on 19 November. It was a great and positive experience. I left with a strong and clear mandate for completing the enlargement negotiations.
I am pleased to appear before you today with an equally clear result. After long and difficult negotiations, the EU Presidency completed the negotiations with ten new Member States at the Summit in Copenhagen.
It is a shared dream that now comes true. It is a common goal that has now been reached. The European Parliament, the EU Commission and the Danish EU Presidency have fought together for the enlargement. It was also, therefore, a special pleasure for me that the President of the European Parliament took part in the closing solemn welcoming of the new members into our circle on Friday night.
The past six months of enlargement negotiations have been like a long-distance race, with many obstacles to surmount along the way to the goal. The European Parliament, the EU Commission and the Danish EU Presidency have completed the race together. We crossed the finishing line in Copenhagen. Side by side. Hand in hand. Thank you for your efforts. Thank you for your never failing support. Thank you for your support along the way.
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With the decisions in Copenhagen, we closed one of the darkest and most blood-stained chapters of European history. We closed a century ravaged by war and conflict. We bid a final farewell to the Europe of the Yalta Conference and the Cold War.
At the same time, we opened the door to a new era of European history. An era blessed by freedom, peace, growth and prosperity.
The Copenhagen Summit marked a pinnacle in the history of European co-operation, a triumph for freedom and democracy, and a gate to a better future for all our peoples.
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The enlargement was the main priority of the Danish EU Presidency. However, the Danish EU Presidency has achieved a large number of other significant results.
Ours has been an EU Presidency that made priorities. Clear priorities, but not low priorities. This is seen from our results.
Before I turn to the Copenhagen Summit, I shall present a brief account of a number of the other issues that the EU has solved over the past six months.
We have continued effectively the fight against international terrorism and strengthened the efforts against illegal immigration.
In the area of asylum, we have reached agreement on the so-called Dublin II regulation, which provides common rules for which country is responsible for processing a request for asylum.
We succeeded in reaching agreement on full deregulation of the EU electricity and gas markets.
We have achieved a breakthrough for EU transport policy. With the rules on the Single European Sky, we have secured the basis for fewer cancellations and shorter flight times, to the benefit of passengers, the environment and the airlines.
We have provided swift and effective joint responses to unexpected disasters. First, there was the flooding in Central Europe. The EU showed solidarity and adopted the establishment of a solidarity fund of EUR 1 billion to be used in connection with natural disasters.
Most recently, we have responded to the tragic sinking of the Prestige oil tanker. The EU showed capacity for determined action at short notice and adopted rules on, among other things, rapid phase-out of single-hulled oil tankers and increased inspection in the ports where tankers call.
We have achieved agreement on a scheme for trading in carbon dioxide quotas.
We have made progress concerning food safety through, among other things, common rules for labelling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms.
We have succeeded in reaching a solution, acceptable to all parties, to the issue of transit to and from Kaliningrad.
Last, I wish especially to mention the flexibility and will to achieve results that have characterised co-operation with the Parliament, among other things the work on the co-decision making and the budget procedure. For the first time in many years, we achieved real success in reaching agreement on major parts of the budget already in the first reading.
I wish to thank you for the good and constructive spirit that has characterised
co-operation between the European Parliament, the EU Commission and the EU Presidency.
Together, we have shown over the last six months that the EU is able to deliver the goods; that we, in spite of national, institutional and political differences, are able jointly to deliver results, to create a better and safer community for our citizens; to create better competitive terms for our enterprises, and secure increased influence for Europe in the world.
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I shall now turn to the proceedings of the Summit in Copenhagen.
We completed the enlargement negotiations with ten new Member States: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The negotiations were intense and difficult until the very end. It had to be so. This ensured that we finished with the right balance between the wishes of the candidate countries and what the present Member States considered feasible.
The hard negotiations on very specific issues, like milk quotas and money transfer are, at the end of the day, testimony to the fact that the EU is not a debating society that adopts empty declarations, but instead an effective negotiation forum, concerned with real business and real politics. To the advantage of all parties concerned.
The ten new countries will be able to accede with effect as of 1 May 2004. Before this, both the new and the present Member States must have completed their national ratification procedures.
The first part of this process, which in many countries will involve a referendum, is the finalisation of the accession treaty. The treaty is then to be submitted first to the EU Commission, next to the European Parliament and finally to the Council for approval, with a view to signing the treaty in Athens on 16 April 2003. I strongly urge that we in all three institutions do our utmost to comply with this timetable.
The conclusions from Copenhagen also concern the question of the participation of the new Member States in the institutions of the EU.
We establish that the ten accession states will be able to able to take part in the European Parliament elections in 2004 as members. In the accession treaty, it will be determined that the Commissioners from the new Member States will take their seats on the present EU Commission from their accession on 1 May 2004. After the European Council’s appointment of a new President of the EU Commission, the newly elected European Parliament may approve a new EU Commission, which is to take office on 1 November 2004.
This provides a sensible framework for this significant issue. Also here I must call for co-operation between the institutions on finding flexible solutions to ensure the best possible conditions for our new Member States.
With regard to Bulgaria and Romania, the conclusions are clear. The enlargement process will continue. We confirm that the goal is to be able to welcome the two countries as members in 2007.
The question of Turkey became a key issue in Copenhagen. We arrived at a balanced and realistic response.
We recognise the important steps that Turkey has taken in respect of fulfilling the Copenhagen Criteria. We call on Turkey to proceed energetically with its efforts to move ahead with its reforms. And we pledge increased EU sup-port to Turkey in these efforts.
If the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation by the Commission, determines that Turkey fulfils the political Copenhagen Criteria, the European Union will then initiate accession negotiations with Turkey as soon as possible.
In this way, a strong and positive message has been sent to Turkey. However, the initiation of accession negotiations remains unconditionally subject to the fulfilment of the political Copenhagen Criteria. This is the way it must be. Turkey must be treated on an equal basis with all other candidate countries.
Cyprus is to accede to the EU as a partitioned island.
However, there is also a realistic possibility that the parties will be able to find an overall solution to the Cyprus problem before 28 January 2003 on the basis of the proposal put forward by the UN Secretary General.
I urge the parties involved in the strongest terms to take advantage of this unique opportunity to resolve this tragic conflict. We all stand to gain from an immediate solution. None, though, has more to gain than the people of Cyprus.
In Copenhagen, we sent a clear message to the new neighbours of the enlarged EU. To the countries in the Western Balkans. To Russia, the Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. And to the countries south of the Mediterranean. The enlargement will not lead the EU to withdraw into itself. On the contrary, the EU will seek to strengthen relations with its new neighbours. This will happen both within the Union and through an extension of existing co-operation schemes.
At the Copenhagen Summit we could, furthermore, note agreement on the framework for the future agreement between NATO and the EU concerning the ESDP.
In conclusion, I wish to mention that the European Council also had a meet-ing with Chairman of the Convention and former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. He reported on the work in the Convention. The European Council agreed that the Convention should present the results of its work before the Summit in June 2003.
It was also made clear that the new Member States are to participate fully in the Intergovernmental Conference. Bulgaria and Romania will participate as observers.
With the enlargement achieved, the work in the Convention will become the crucial political task for the EU. We have enlarged the EU. Now, we must ensure that the EU of the future with more than 25 Member States will also be able to function effectively. We must simplify decision-making procedures and emphasise EU values. We must describe more precisely the division of work between the EU and nation states. We must expand the use of qualified majority voting and the co-decision procedure. And we must ensure that co-operation is transparent and under democratic control.
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The Danish EU Presidency is drawing to its end. We shall hand over the Presidency to Greece, with our best wishes of good luck and our compli-ments for fruitful Troika co-operation.
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Last, I wish once more to address my words directly to the Members of this house, and in particular to its President, Mr Pat Cox. The Parliament Presi-dent’s meeting with the European Council in Copenhagen was once again a constructive affirmation of the close relationship between the Parliament and the Council.
The Danish EU Presidency has placed great emphasis on meeting the Euro-pean Parliament with an outstretched hand and a willingness to co-operate constructively. It is with great satisfaction that I have observed that the Par-liament has approached us in the same positive spirit. We have had our dis-agreements, but co-operation has been characterised by a willingness to com-promise, to make progress and to achieve results.
This has been my experience here in this assembly, at our inter-institutional summits and at my meetings with the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents. And the Ministers of the Danish Government have confirmed this picture. I wish to thank the Parliament for your good co-operation.
Last, but not least, I wish to thank the Parliament for its unreserved support in helping to implement the Danish EU Presidency’s greatest task: the conclu-sion of accession negotiations with the first ten new Member States.
The decision in Copenhagen on enlargement marks the reunification of Europe’s peoples and states. The end to the tragic division of our continent. And the beginning of a new era in the history of Europe.
The Copenhagen Summit also marks the beginning of a new era for the EU. In Copenhagen, the EU successfully met the greatest challenge in the history of the Community.
After Copenhagen, the EU stands as the all-embracing framework within which to build the future of Europe. A co-operation based on shared values: freedom and a market economy. Community and social responsibility. Democracy and human rights. Co-operation that is effective and respects the unique national characteristics of our peoples and states.
The seed sown by the Union’s fathers in Europe’s war-torn soil almost fifty years ago has taken root. With the enlargement, their dream and visions have now become reality.
Our new Europe is born.
Thank you, Mr President.