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Distinguished Members of the European Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a very great honour for me, on this day, to address this distinguished Assembly. It is with special pleasure that I do so in the capacity of President of the European Council, for the purpose of presenting the priorities of the Danish EU Presidency. I look forward to the ensuing debate on the tasks that lie ahead of us.
The European Parliament is a significant and constructive force in the development of the European co-operation, and I am convinced that this will be very much true in the coming months, as we face a number of decisions that are crucial to the future of the EU. The Danish EU Presidency therefore invites and welcomes close co-operation with the European Parliament.
The Danish Presidency wishes to strengthen the co-operation among the institutions of the EU. I know that the European Parliament shares this wish. We shall endeavour to promote contacts and co-operation between the institutions. We intend to organise summits between the Parliament, the Commission and the Presidency prior to the meetings of the European Council in Brussels and Copenhagen.
We are facing major decisions in which we all share. The Presidency will exercise efficiency and flexibility, and looks forward to fruitful co-operation. We must adopt a new budget. Also in this respect, the Presidency invites the parties to constructive negotiations that focus on results.
Denmark attaches great importance to the work in the European Parliament. The Presidency will be well represented at all plenary assemblies. Minister for European Affairs Bertel Haarder, who is a former Member of this House, will be playing a key role.
However, also a number of other Danish Ministers will participate in plenary debates in the coming months. I shall myself deliver an account to the Parliament after the Brussels European Council, and a final report at the end of the Presidency after the Summit in Copenhagen. In addition, I shall participate in the great debate on the enlargement, which is to take place on 19 November.
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We have entitled our programme, ”One Europe”. With this title, we emphasise the importance we place on the enlargement and the broader co-operation on our Continent. The programme contains detailed descriptions of our goals and plans in the individual areas. Today, I shall concentrate on the main themes.
The headlines are as follows:
First: The enlargement of the EU: from Copenhagen to Copenhagen. We must make decision on the enlargement of the EU at the Summit in Copenhagen in December.
Second: Freedom, security and justice: we must reinforce the fight against terrorism, crime and illegal immigration.
Third: Sustainable development, economically, socially and environmentally. We must endeavour to ensure that economic growth progresses hand in hand with environmental protection and the creation of jobs and employment.
Fourth: Food safety. We shall endeavour to improve food safety, review the agricultural policy and innovate the common fisheries policy.
Fifth, and last: the global responsibility of the EU. We must strengthen the common foreign and security policy, strengthen the close ties between Europe and the USA, and endeavour to conclude a global agreement between the richest and the poorest countries in the world.
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The Seville European Council made a number of decisions on the framework for the work of the Council in the light of the enlargement. I welcome these decisions. We shall endeavour to implement them to the greatest extent possible already during the Danish Presidency. This applies, not least, to the Council decisions on greater transparency. It is a general ambitions of the Danish EU Presidency to ensure the highest possible degree of transparency concerning our work.
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The enlargement of the EU is the most important task of the Danish Presidency. I shall deal with this important topic more fully at a later point in my presentation. However, allow me first to comment on the other topics in the programme of the Presidency.
Besides the enlargement, the Danish Presidency places great emphasis on managing the considerable EU agenda that also lies ahead of us. We shall especially focus on four areas.
First, we shall endeavour to promote greater freedom, security and justice.
The Danish Presidency intends to give high priority to combating cross-border crime and to implementing the EU action plan for fighting terrorism. Further, we shall stress the development of strong international co-operation, not least with the USA.
The Presidency will also follow up on the conclusions from the Seville European Council on asylum, immigration and border control. The Seville Council made a number of forward-looking, concrete and balanced decisions, which constitute a good basis for the work during the Danish Presidency.
Second, the Danish Presidency will endeavour to promote sustainable development. This applies economically, socially and environmentally.
We shall give priority to the implementation of the internal market and the development of the economic co-operation of the EU Member States. A strong and competitive European economy is the prerequisite for growth, welfare, job creation and sustainable development. We must be able to fulfil our role in the competition of the global market place, not least in relation to the USA.
Next, the Danish Presidency will focus on food. We shall endeavour to secure food safety. Food safety, from the field to the table, is a highly important task for the EU. During the Danish Presidency, we shall endeavour to achieve concrete improvements in this area.
The discussions on reform of the common agricultural policy will, similarly, be initiated during the Danish Presidency. We intend to place considerable priority on this work and endeavour to make as much progress as at all possible. However, this is a discussion that must be conducted independently of the enlargement negotiations. We are not going to create new conditions for the enlargement.
Furthermore, the Presidency will give priority to the work of formulating a new common fisheries policy for the EU Member States. This is an extensive and complicated task. The Commission's proposal constitutes a good and serious basis for the further work in this field.
The global responsibility of the EU is the final headline of the Danish Presidency.
The EU has a special responsibility for promoting peace and stability in a world that is getting ever more interconnected. This applies, not least, to the fight against international terrorism, and the efforts to reduce poverty.
The development of the common security and defence policy (ESDP) will be continued during the coming six months. As a consequence of the Danish opt-out in the area of defence policy, the work concerning the military aspects of the co-operation will be chaired by Greece. We shall endeavour to ensure flexible and efficient co-operation between the two Presidencies in this area.
The Danish Presidency will be characterised by a number of high-profile international summits.
The EU will assume a key role at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. We shall co-operate on the basis of the policy framework formulated at the Seville Summit. The Danish Presidency intends to secure the most ambitious result possible. The goal is a forward-looking global deal to which both rich and poor countries will be committed. A global deal through which the rich countries offer the poor countries better opportunities for development through free trade and increased development assistance. In return, the developing countries are to make real commitments to good governance, that is, democracy, respect for human rights and open and free access to information.
At the ASEM Summit in Copenhagen in September, the relations between Asia and Europe be developed further.
We shall also seek to strengthen the relations with Russia and the new neighbours of the EU towards the east: the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. There is a need for formulating a new policy in relation to these countries.
The special situation concerning Kaliningrad must be resolved, based on the Schengen acquis. It ought to be possible, on this basis, to find a reasonable understanding with Russia.
The EU - Russia Summit in Copenhagen in November will be a significant step forwards in this process.
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The most important task during the coming six months is to complete the negotiations on the enlargement of the EU by up to ten new Member States. It was in Copenhagen in 1993 that the conditions for accession to the EU were defined, and it may now be in Copenhagen in 2002 that the negotiations on the enlargement will be completed. From Copenhagen to Copenhagen.
The goal is to complete the negotiations for all the applicant countries that are ready within the present year. This will make it possible for these countries to accede to the EU in 2004, and thus prior to the next elections for the European Parliament.
At the same time, we wish to make progress in the negotiations with the countries that will only become ready for membership at a later date, and we wish to strengthen relations with the neighbours of the EU, new neighbours as well as old neighbours.
I shall follow three principles in the negotiations on enlargement:
First, we must maintain the requirement for clear criteria to be met in order to obtain accession to the EU. I hope that this will apply to ten countries. However, I shall not make compromises on requirements of principle.
Second, no country must wait for others. The countries are of different sizes, but not as concerns their rights or obligations. If only some, and not all ten countries are ready by December, we shall conclude the negotiations in Copenhagen with those that are ready. No country that is ready ought to wait for a country which is not.
Third, we must maintain December 2002 as a decisive and binding term. All experience shows that the EU is best at handling one great task at a time. The coming six months have been dedicated to the enlargement. Subsequently, new tasks will demand our full attention. In 2003 we must conclude the discussions in the European Convention on the future of the EU. 2004 will be dominated by the Intergovernmental Conference and the elections for the European Parliament; and in 2005 and 2006 we must determine the framework for the next budget period.
I am not saying that it is now or never. However, if we do not grasp this opportunity, we run the risk that the enlargement will be significantly delayed. We have a moral and historic obligation to achieve a good and positive result.
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However, there are a number of obstacles. We must clear them away.
First, there is the issue of financing. This applies especially to the negotiations on agriculture, Structural Funds and the Budget. The Commission has presented a balanced and sensible proposal.
Several Member States find that the proposal is too expensive. At the same time, the candidate countries indicate that the proposal is inadequate. In my opinion, the Commission has struck the right balance with its proposal.
At the Seville Summit, we adopted an ambitious time schedule. It means that at the beginning of November, at the latest, the EU will have to inform the candidate countries of a joint position on the issue of direct support to farmers. The Danish EU Presidency will keep to this ambitious time schedule.
The second key issue is the question of Cyprus. Cyprus has done well in the accession negotiations. Cyprus is the country that has closed most negotiation chapters – 28 out of 31, and as a candidate country, Cyprus has a right to accession once the country is ready.
However, at the same time, it is a problem that the island remains divided. The Helsinki European Council determined that a solution to this problem would be an advantage, but not a condition for accession. At the same time, it was emphasised that a final decision will be taken on the basis of all relevant factors. The Danish Presidency will continue the work on this basis. All parties involved, on both sides, should do their utmost to find a solution as swiftly as possible.
Third, the Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty is an unknown factor. Approval and ratification of the Nice Treaty is a prerequisite for completion of the enlargement process within the determined deadlines. The negotiations are taking place on the basis of the provisions of the Nice Treaty. Another ‘No’ vote in Ireland will jeopardize the entire process. With this in mind, I welcome the declaration on Irish neutrality made at the Seville Summit. Europe has sent a clear and positive message to the Irish people.
I will not hide the fact that we are facing considerable challenges. But no-one should doubt the determination, the commitment and the resolve of the Danish Presidency.
A good starting point has been created. This is not least the result of the tireless efforts of the candidate countries and the Commission over more than ten years. However, the Danish Presidency will continue to work on the basis of the results achieved by previous Presidencies, including for instance, the immense progress achieved by the Spanish Presidency.
Ten years of negotiations. Ten years of hard work that have borne fruit. Ten years of expectations that we cannot allow ourselves to disappoint. We must live up to the promises that we have given each other. We must meet the deadlines we have set for ourselves. We must seize the historic opportunity with which we have been entrusted.
More than forty years of Communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe resulted in an unhappy and artificial division of Europe. It is this dark chapter of European history that we now have the opportunity to close.
The time for grand speeches is over. We must now put our words into action. Now is the time for us to fulfil our promises.
“One Europe” is the motto of the Danish Presidency. One Europe for all our peoples. One Europe as the framework for future co-operation for the benefit of all. One Europe with freedom, peace and prosperity.
The Danish Presidency will do its utmost to undertake this and other tasks we have been entrusted. We cannot do it alone. We need the help of all our partners.
After the Second World War, great Europeans like Schumann, Monet and Spinelli created a vision of a Europe without war and united in co-operation. This dream has come true for us in Western Europe. The enlargement represents an opportunity for us to extend the freedom, peace, stability and prosperitywe know to cover also the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. We must handle this task in the spirit that characterized the founders of European co-operation. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by details, but have the courage and will to lift up the historic vision and the task we face.
I appeal to all to consider the enlargement of the EU in this historical perspective. I appeal to all that we seize this historic opportunity to reunite the Europe that for so long has been divided.
I state my appeal for close co-operation with the European Parliament to realise the most crucial political task of our generation: to welcome the new democracies of Eastern and Central Europe into the European Union.
Thank you, Mr President.