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The objective of the Lisbon process is to give the European Union the means to become a knowledge-based society with a competitive economy able to meet the social and environmental expectations of its citizens. At the European Council to be held in March, the Luxembourg Presidency will conduct an interim review of this process based on an orientation report from the Commission. The task will be to relaunch the strategy around the three pillars (economic, social and environmental) by identifying a limited number of priorities. Simplifying management of the Lisbon process will enable citizens as well as political, economic and social players to better understand what is involved.
Alongside the mechanisms of the Lisbon strategy, completion of the internal market remains an essential driver of European economic growth.
In this vein, efforts to accelerate and improve the transposition of directives must be maintained. The Luxembourg Presidency shall strive to ensure that this instrument of European integration, which benefits citizens and consumers as well as economic operators and corporate partners, continues to generate positive effects. The emergence of new economic powers means that setting up a real internal European market, which is effective and integrated, is now becoming an absolute necessity in order for the European Union to be able to face global competition.
Reinforcing economic governance of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and clarifying implementation of the stability and growth pact are two other important objectives of the Luxembourg Presidency, which aims to conclude the examination of the stability and growth pact and will seek to reach an agreement on its precise content in March 2005.
All progress on matters of European construction requires adequate financial resources. The three-year strategic programme of the Council for the period 2004-2006 provides that Member States shall reach a political agreement on financial planning for 2007-2013 in June 2005. The Luxembourg Presidency wishes to reach this strategic objective on schedule and will organise its work accordingly.
This approach should enable the various legislative instruments of the next financial framework to be adopted by the end of 2005. In addition, it should enable the preparatory work essential to setting up the new generation of Community programmes from 2007 onwards to be carried out in 2006.
The European Union will continue its enlargement under the Luxembourg Presidency.
The membership treaty with Bulgaria and Romania will be finalised with a view to signature in the margins of the General Affairs and External Relations Council to be held in April 2005. Once it has been signed, this will mark the end of the current accession cycle.
A new cycle, that of the Balkan countries, is being set up on the basis of the conclusions of the Thessalonica European Council. Membership negotiations with Croatia should commence on 17 March 2005. Following its membership application, the FYRM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) will submit its responses to the questionnaire from the Commission in order for the Commission to give its opinion.
Preparations for membership negotiations with Turkey are not likely to begin before early summer 2005.
The external relations dimension of the Presidency is expanding considerably as the European Union becomes increasingly important on the global stage. New responsibilities are arising from this development.
The aim of the Union’s foreign policy is to make the world safer, more prosperous and to ensure greater observance of human rights. A wide range of instruments is employed to achieve these objectives.
Through its external activities, the Presidency will be responsible for implementing the European Security Strategy adopted in 2003.
One of the primary focuses of this strategy is the priority given to multilateralism. The European Union perceives in this approach the best way to reach its ambitious objectives.
At the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Presidency will favour rapid conclusion of work on the Doha Round, which is essential to developing the global economy and integrating developing countries into global trade.
The Hague programme aims to develop the area of freedom, security and justice within the European Union. This programme will serve as a framework for the Luxembourg Presidency in JHA issues. The aim is to optimise operational cooperation among the 25 within a legal framework which will be consolidated and continue to evolve.
The organisation of future work will be structured around an action programme that the Commission has been assigned to prepare and which should be ready for approval by the Council within the next six months.
For Luxembourg, all progress made in creating an area of freedom, security and justice is also tantamount to consolidating the four freedoms (free movement of persons, goods, capital and services) that form the cornerstone of the great European project.
Initially, the political domain of JHA formed part of intergovernmental cooperation within the European Union. Through the various treaties, it is being progressively integrated into the Community framework. The area of freedom, security and justice is now having its way marked out by the new treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the objective of which is definitive removal of the ‘JHA exception’.
Luxembourg considers that, henceforth, all work within the JHA Council should be carried out towards this end. Furthermore, the work will aim to complete the final large-scale phase for the area of JHA, namely full integration into European construction through flawless application of the Community method.
Ratification of the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
Moreover, 2005 will be a pivotal year in view of ratification of the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. This new founding pact will enter into force only after ratification by the 25 Member States, most of which are aiming to complete their national ratification procedures during 2005.
Throughout the year, the various national procedures will be monitored closely. The results will undergo in-depth analysis, irrespective of whether the text is submitted for ratification by parliamentary vote or by popular consultation.
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