It is a great pleasure to welcome you here on Marienborg before the start of the Youth 2002-project on the future of Europe. Your visit to Denmark is coinciding with the beginning on the Danish Presidency of the European Union. It gives us an opportunity to exchange views on your wishes and ideas for the future of Europe and our visions as Presidency.
[Interventions by representatives from Youth 2002]
Thank you for your interesting interventions and visions for the future of Europe. I can assure you that the debate on the future of Europe is also very much on my mind. I share many of your visions and concerns.
It is important to involve you - the youth - in the formal discussion on the future of Europe. I welcome the initiative of the Convention on the Future of Europe to hold a special Youth Convention in July. And I am looking forward to the results of this meeting. I know Youth 2002 is expected to make an important contribution.
It is the intention of the Danish Government to seek to follow up on the work of the Youth Convention and the Youth 2002 project. The Minister of Education is examining the possibilities of having a Youth Convention meeting in Denmark during the Danish Presidency.
The greatest issue on the agenda for the Danish Presidency is the enlargement of the European Union. The enlargement goes to the heart of what the European Union is all about: Freedom, peace and prosperity. Building a better future for all of us.
We must take this historic opportunity to reunite the Europe that was earlier divided. To create one Europe.
Up to ten candidate countries are expected to be ready for membership by the end of this year. The EU is determined to conclude enlargement negotiations with all candidate countries that are ready.
We will do our utmost to fulfil this ambition and make the summit in Copenhagen in December the summit of enlargement. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
The challenges ahead are many. And difficulties will inevitably occur. I am confident, however, that we shall overcome them together and produce the progress expected by the European citizens.
Enlargement is a continuous process. Some countries will not be able to conclude negotiations this year. A special effort should be made to strengthen their membership perspective. We will also continue efforts to bring Turkey closer to the EU.
The door remains open, also to the countries of the Balkans. They chose the path towards Europe when they entered the EU Stabilisation and Association Process. And we will strengthen cooperation with Russia and the other new neighbours of the Union.
You are here for two weeks to prepare a joint proposal for a possible future European Constitution. I look very much forward to hearing your conclusions when the two weeks are over. It is a great opportunity to exchange views, meet likeminded young people from all over Europe and even make lasting friendships. The 13 Danish folk high schools will be the perfect setting for this occasion.
I hope that you will fulfil your mission. It will be hard work but also a useful experience and a lot of good memories to bring back home. I wish you success with your important project on our common future.