Dear President of the European Parliament,
Dear President of the European Commission,
Dear Secretary General and High Representative,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to this dinner in the old gardens of Tivoli. It marks the beginning of the Danish Presidency of the European Union.
We have been preparing for the Presidency for a very long time. Now we are eager to get started. We have many challenges in front of us. There is no need to invent new priorities. We will be a working presidency focussing on the important tasks on the agenda.
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Enlargement of the European Union is the greatest issue. 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 the summit of enlargement. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
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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.
I base my confidence not least on your track records. I will mention a few examples:
First, the fantastic work accomplished by the Commission to help along the enlargement negotiations. The determination of the Commission has been instrumental in bringing us to the point where we are today: Almost ready to conclude negotiations with up to ten candidate countries.
Second, your tireless endeavours, Javier, have proved invaluable in giving our common foreign and security policy a voice and a face. When Europe’s voice is increasingly heard in world affairs, it is not least due to you.
Last but certainly not least, I wish to mention the indispensable partnership of the European Parliament in driving through the necessary reforms: More jobs, a cleaner environment, an economy able to stand its ground in the global competition. The European Parliament will also be an important link with European citizens when it comes to explaining the benefits of the enlargement.
Our cooperation is essential for successful solutions to the challenges we face. To deliver we need two things. Strong priorities and strong partnerships. I look forward to our partnership during the Danish Presidency and I am confident that we will succeed.