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From Copenhagen to Copenhagen – making it happen
Madam President, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to address the Summit of the Baltic Development Forum 2002. Not least because this event is taking place in Copenhagen, my country’s capital, in the run-up to a decisive moment in European history. A moment which will mark a turning point in our own Baltic history.
Because, two months from now I hope and, indeed, expect that the present members of the European Union will conclude negotiations here, in Copenhagen, with 10 applicant countries. A successful conclusion will lead to the expansion of our European family, with the new members joining us in 2004. Such a historic event will result in fundamental changes affecting not only Europe as a whole but the entire future of the Baltic region.
And, talking about the future, I would like to thank the group of Baltic city mayors for the resolution, dealing with the economic potential for the Baltic Region, presented to me a few moments ago.
The resolution concerns the fundamental prerequisites for growth, and how we can achieve them. It defines four main areas on which we should concentrate: knowledge-sharing, improving higher education throughout the region, integration and interchange between clusters of excellence and an integration of our infrastructure.
And I am of the same opinion. These are the things we need to do if we are to create the best environment for entrepreneurship and growth.
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Turning to the Baltic Development Forum Summit, I would like to start by saying to the organizers “Good Timing”.
Only four days ago the Commission presented their annual progress reports on the 13 candidate countries. Only 11 days from now the European Council will meet in Brussels for a decisive Summit.
So we are in the middle of a period critical to all of us who wish to conclude negotiations by the end of the year - and I think I can safely say that really does include all of us here today.
The Chairman of the Baltic Development Forum, the former Danish Foreign Minister, Mr Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, has stated his view on future priorities for the Baltic Sea Area. The five areas are:
• A optimal framework for regional and international investments and business; • A sound economic and physical environment based on the principle of sustainable development; • Intelligent and regionally-coordinated transport infrastructure; • Increased investments in research and knowledge circulation; • Active civic participation and strong democratic institution-building.
As you can hear, there is a great deal of similarity between the ideas contained in the resolution presented by the Baltic mayors and the priorities identified by the Baltic Development Forum. The importance of coordinating our infrastructure and sharing the results of our research is rightly highlighted as essential for vigorous growth, spurred on by a knowledge-based economy. And we must not forget the principles of sustainable development and active participation in society, by all citizens. Both essential if we are to ensure sustainable growth and full public support.
If there is one vital factor in securing positive development in the Baltic region it is the creation of the right framework for business and trade. For although we politicians can do many things, we cannot dictate economic development. Former regimes have tried - and failed. What we can do, though, is to create conditions in which the desired development can take place. Do this, and our commerce will thrive.
Historically, Denmark has always had the interests of the Baltic region at heart. And this is no different today. The promotion of good relationships between all the nations of the region remains one of our major priorities.
I believe that one of the most important factors in building these relationships, a sound economy and optimism for the future, is the accession of the Baltic States and Poland to the European Union.
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Which brings me to what it’s all about. The absolute, number one priority of the Danish Presidency - the enlargement.
From Copenhagen to Copenhagen – making it happen.
We have been presented with a magnificent, historic opportunity, and a crucial historic obligation. After years of division, years of squabbling, reunification is in sight. The Europe which was carved into separate pieces following the First and Second World Wars finally has a chance to become whole again. A chance to secure the freedom, peace and stability which our continent needs, and deserves.
I won’t deny that Danish Presidency's goal is ambitious: the completion of the accession negotiations with up to ten new Member States by December. This requires that the Danish EU Presidency maintains a steady course. It also requires that the other EU Member States and the candidate countries live up to their responsibilities. If not, we run the risk that the time schedule will start to slide. And we have a deadline to meet.
Three basic principles will help us toward our goal: • Negotiations should be concluded by the end of 2002. Failure to do this could mean missing the deadline - postponing enlargement for years; • Negotiations should be concluded with those countries that are ready; • No country should be asked to wait for other countries.
In the progress reports published only four days ago the European Commission concluded that 10 countries should be in a position to close accession negotiations by the end of this year. These 10 countries will technically be able to fulfill all the Copenhagen criteria by the end of 2003, and therefore able to accede to the European Union by 2004. Later this month, at the Brussels Summit, I anticipate that EU leaders will endorse the Commission’s analyses and recommendations.
The other major matter for discussion in Brussels is a proposal concerning budgets and agriculture. It is vital that the EU Member States reach an agreement. It is my earnest hope that EU leaders will live up to their responsibilities and make the necessary compromises. Once again, failure to do so will jeopardize the timetable.
But let’s be optimistic and assume that all goes well. Reaching the necessary compromises at the Summit in Brussels will allow us to initiate the concluding round of negotiations.
I have invited the Commission and leaders from the candidate countries to Copenhagen for a meeting on the 28 October to discuss the outcome of the Brussels Summit. This should mark the start of the final phase of negotiations leading up to the decisive European Council Meeting in Copenhagen in December.
I know that some Member States are concerned that the enlargement will be excessively costly. So, what figures are we actually looking at?
Between 2004 and 2006 the total cost of enlargement is estimated at around 40 billion euro. That is, roughly the same as the EU currently spends on agriculture in one year. On a yearly basis this represents about 0.1 per cent of the total annual production of the EU - or approximately 10 cents, one tenth of a Euro, per EU citizen, per day.
A small price to pay for a united Europe.
Dispute over such an amount must not, and cannot, stand in the way of a historic decision which could change the face of Europe for ever.
But, although optimistic, I am not blind to the fact that there are other, significant challenges on the road ahead towards an agreement at the Copenhagen Summit.
I think we all know the three main issues: Cyprus. Turkey. The Irish referendum.
These three issues are all matters concerning either EU members or applicants to the EU. But there is another matter which has considerable bearing on the ambitions of at least one of the countries represented here today. I am, of course, alluding to the question of Kaliningrad. It is a thorny problem and has been at the forefront of discussions between the EU and Russia during recent months. The EU is willing to work constructively with Russia in order to find an acceptable solution for all parties concerned. But any solution must respect Lithuanian sovereignty. It must not delay or impede Lithuania in taking up full membership of the Schengen agreement. And it must not undermine the security of the external border of the EU.
However, we have a common interest in ensuring that the major Russian centres bordering the Baltic Sea; Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad, become involved in the increasingly integrated Baltic economic system.
Kaliningrad has great need of initiatives and investments. A need which, in recent years, has been met by both the EU and individual donors, such as Denmark, who, as the largest donor, has contributed around 20 million Euro during the last 10 years. The Northern Dimension of the EU awards Kaliningrad great priority, and the Commission has tabled a specific Kaliningrad Fund to supplement the assistance already provided. The aim is to improve the economic prospects for Kaliningrad, enabling it to play its natural and important role in the economic co-operation around the Baltic.
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Madam President, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
As we know, enlargement negotiations are far from concluded. The most difficult part is yet to come. But hurdles are there to be cleared. The Danish Presidency took up the baton and intends to win this race.
The Baltic is as significant for the countries in Northern Europe as The Mediterranean Sea is for Southern Europe. For centuries it has been the centre of flourishing trade and great wealth - though also a centre of rivalry and war. For much of the last century the Baltic defined the divisions of the Cold War. Communist dictatorships on the one side - free democratic nations on the other. Now the picture’s changed. We are all free, democratic nations. I know that the future patterns of trade, investment and economic development will reflect this. Our star is on the rise.
Today, we stand at the threshold of a new Europe. We must fulfill the promises we have given each other. We must seize this historic chance and finalize the enlargement negotiations before the end of 2002. I believe that this will be the most important contribution we will ever make. And how many politicians and decision-makers can say that?
We face a joint challenge and a joint opportunity. And we will succeed. No longer just neighbors - we will become the Baltic family.
Thank you for your attention.