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Honourable Members of the EU Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The European Parliament and the EU Presidency have a joint project. We share the same vision. We strive for a common goal.
The enlargement is the greatest political task of our generation. It is a challenge and an opportunity reaching beyond our own day.
The enlargement is, for better or worse, rooted in our common history, and it will have a decisive impact on the lives and opportunities of our descendants.
The enlargement marks the end of the tragedy of Europe that so marred the 20th century, and it is the gate to a common future for our peoples, in freedom, peace and prosperity.
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The history of Europe has been haunted by wars, crises and human suffering.
However, Europe and our European culture are also characterised by a unique ability to rise again, to rediscover itself; both to rediscover and redefine its values and aspirations.
The 20th century was a tragedy for Europe. Two horrible world wars tore our Continent asunder. The mayhem of the Second World War was followed by more than 40 years of Communist dictatorship in Central and Eastern Europe. For nearly half a century, we lived with an unnatural division of Europe.
Before the First World War, our Continent was characterised by optimism, self-confidence and faith in the future. These values were silenced by the thundering canons in August 1914, and they were trampled to death in the trenches of the Great War. We have never really recovered the optimism and faith in the future that characterised the first years of the 20th century.
The enlargement marks the beginning of a new era in the history of Europe. The enlargement can give Europe the dynamics and the drive that can create the basis for a new European consciousness. It is the key to the future of Europe.
After 90 years, 1914 to 2004, we can, at long last, close one of the darkest and most blood-stained chapters of European history.
It is a task that inspires, and a responsibility that demands our commitment.
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Against this background, I would like to thank this Assembly for its persistent and unconditional support for the enlargement project. This was expressed most recently at the plenary debate on 23 October, and demonstrated by the President of this Parliament to the European Council at the Summit in Brussels. On behalf of the EU Presidency, I would like to thank you for the clear and strong voice of support from the Parliament.
It is also against this background that I have the great pleasure of informing you all here today that the Brussels European Council confirmed the EU Member States’ full support for the enlargement.
We made a number of crucial decisions. They mean that the first round of the enlargement negotiations can be completed in Copenhagen in December.
The enlargement has by no means been secured. We still face a formidable task, and have only limited time at our disposal. We are negotiating with 27 countries, and we have 37 days in which to reach a result. Nothing can be taken for granted.
However, the tracks have been laid down for the continued negotiations. The EU Presidency and the EU Commission have a firm mandate for negotiation up to the Copenhagen Summit.
This gives clarity. For us in the present Member States, and for the candidate countries. They will not have to face a ”fait accompli”. We meet them with an offer of concrete negotiations. We meet them with a call to make the final, decisive effort.
There must be no doubt that the Danish EU Presidency is approaching the task with all our energy, and with an indefatigable determination to achieve results.
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The EU Presidency had three aims for the Summit in Brussels.
First, we wanted to reach agreement on the mandate for the closing enlargement negotiations with the candidate countries. That is, decisions on choice of countries, on the outstanding financial questions and on the last open institutional issues.
Second, we wanted to secure agreement on an EU Common Position on the question of transit between Kaliningrad and Russia, so that there is a clear mandate for the negotiations up to the EU-Russia Summit on 11 November.
Third and last, the EU Presidency emphasised conducting the Brussels Summit in accordance with the conclusions from Seville. These conclusions mean shorter and more focused meetings of the European Council.
It is with satisfaction that I note that, in all three areas, we achieved what we wanted.
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We succeeded in giving the Summit a form that reflected the spirit and conclusions of the Seville European Council. A brief meeting lasting approximately one day, with a concentrated agenda that had been carefully prepared, and which was drafted with the greatest possible transparency. The agenda for the Summit, with commentary, had been made available on the website of the EU Presidency in the weeks before the Brussels Summit.
Personally, I have placed great emphasis on ensuring that the Brussels Summit should become as focused and result-orientated as possible, and I am very pleased with the outcome. I find that we succeeded in establishing some procedures that will hopefully serve as inspiration for future EU Presidencies.
Also as concerns Kaliningrad, the EU Presidency achieved its goals in Brussels. The European Council endorsed the detailed conclusions on which the Foreign Ministers had reached agreement on 22 October.
This secures a mandate for the further negotiations with Russia. The EU line is clear. We wish to find a solution that takes Russia’s problems into account, and which, at the same time, respects Lithuania’s sovereignty and the rules of the Schengen co-operation.
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The enlargement was the main topic in Brussels. For the EU Presidency, it was of paramount importance to establish the framework for the further negotiations with the candidate countries. We made it very clear to all that now, and not December, was the time for the decisions to be made, and we had focused the agenda on exactly the key questions.
For these reasons, among other things, we made the necessary decisions. I am not here going to review the details of the conclusions from the Summit. The conclusions are brief, clear and speak for themselves. However, I do wish to highlight the most significant decisions.
The European Council approved the Commission’s recommendation on choice of countries. That is to say, ten countries: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, will be able to complete the negotiations by the end of this year.
As concerns Bulgaria and Romania, we decided to support these two countries in their endeavours to reach the goal of accession in 2007. The Copenhagen Summit will make concrete decisions on how we may strengthen their preparations for membership.
The message to Bulgaria and Romania is clear. The enlargement will continue. The EU is open to European countries that wish to become members, and which fulfil the requirements of membership.
We also sent a clear message to Turkey. The European Council is pleased with the progress Turkey has made in the direction of fulfilling the Copenhagen political criterion, and we call on Turkey to continue the reform process, not least in the form of actual implementation of the adopted reforms. We shall make new decisions concerning Turkey in Copenhagen.
In conjunction with the choice of countries, we discussed the question of monitoring and safeguard clauses. The European Council, also in this area, endorsed the Commission proposal with one adjustment: we extended the period during which the special measures are to apply from two to three years.
The European Council also reached a decision on the last outstanding institutional questions. These included the necessary adjustments in the light of the transition from 15 to hopefully 25 Member States. The Heads of State or Government adopted the compromise that the EU Presidency had already reached at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers on 22 October.
This means that also in this area, a clear negotiation mandate for the EU Presidency in relation to the candidate countries has been established.
The most difficult item on the agenda for the Summit in Brussels was the outstanding financial issues. However, we succeeded in reaching a result. We made three key decisions.
As concerns the direct payments, the European Council endorsed the Commission proposal: the phasing in will begin in 2004 with 25 per cent, and will be completed in 2013 at 100 per cent.
The phasing in will take place within a framework of financial stability. There will be a ceiling on the total annual market-related expenditure and direct payments in an EU with 25 Member States. These expenditures shall be kept below the 2006 figure, raised by 1 per cent per year. If inflation exceeds 1 per cent, there will thus be a real decrease in these expenditures.
Similarly, we reached agreement on the level for a total amount for the structural fund efforts in the new Member States. EUR 23 billion over the period 2004 to 2006. This is a minor reduction compared to the Commission proposal, which was EUR 25 billion.
Third, we solved the question of budgetary compensation. I find it very important that we established that no new Member State might have the experience of being in a poorer position during the period from 2004 to 2006 than it was in 2003. This is important, and a right message to send to the candidate countries.
In conclusion, allow me to mention that the European Council also had a meeting with the Chairman of the Convention on the future of the EU, former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. He reported on the work in the Convention. We shall meet the Chairman of the Convention again at the Summit in Copenhagen.
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”From Copenhagen to Copenhagen” stands as the motto of the Danish EU Presidency. It is the expression of a vision of contributing to a project and a process of a unique character, and the expression of a very concrete ambition to complete a task that has been placed in our hands.
The Summit in Brussels brought us one decisive step closer to Copenhagen, and at the same time it marked the final stop before the Copenhagen Summit.
What lies, then, on the way from Brussels to Copenhagen? What lies ahead of us during the next weeks? The answer is: hard work, persevering and intense negotiations.
We are already well under way. On 28 October, I met the Heads of State and Government from the candidate countries in order to give them a personal and direct account of the Summit in Brussels. The discussions at official level began the next day.
The European Council’s decisions in Brussels have created a basis for the further negotiations. However, it is clear that if we are to reach a result in time, it will require a great effort and will to compromise from all parties involved, Member States as well as candidate countries.
The European Parliament and the EU Commission have persistently been strong driving forces in the enlargement process. On behalf of the Danish EU Presidency, I wish to thank you for your good co-operation, and call for us to join forces, also in the coming weeks, to reach our common goal: completing the first round of the enlargement negotiations in Copenhagen in December.
In this connection, I am looking forward to participating in the great enlargement debate in the Parliament in two weeks, on 19 November.
I hope that we shall here be able to send a strong, joint message to the peoples and Governments of Europe that now is the time to complete ten years’ work; that now is the time to open the gate to our common future; that now is the time to make the crucial decision on the enlargement.
Thank you, Mr. President