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Luxembourg will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2005. This will be the 11th time since the founding treaties were signed that this honour and responsibility lies with the Grand Duchy.
The role of the Presidency has developed and changed with amendments to the treaties and successive accessions. In line with its traditions and beliefs, Luxembourg will take advantage of its six months’ Presidency to be at the service of the Union and to ensure that European integration is taken forward. In a Union with 25 members, which is soon to become 27 and more, it is in the interests of everyone within the EU to forge their common and increasingly interlinked destiny on a continuous basis.
Reinforcing the European Union also means providing it with the resources to become a knowledge-based society with a competitive economy that can also fulfil its citizens’ social and environmental ambitions. This is the objective of the Lisbon process and its mid-term review, which the Presidency is preparing to submit to the European Council in March, based on a Commission orientation report. This will mean relaunching the strategy, coordinated around its three pillars (economic, social and environmental), while identifying a restricted number of priorities. Simplifying the governance of the process will make the issues involved more accessible to everyone.
Side by side with the mechanisms specific to the Lisbon strategy, completion of the internal market remains an essential motor of European economic growth. Efforts to speed up and improve the transposition of directives must therefore continue apace. The Luxembourg Presidency will strive to ensure that this instrument of European integration, which is beneficial to both citizens and consumers as well as to economic operators and social partners, continues to generate positive effects. In addition, the emergence of new economic powers makes it essential for the European Union to establish a truly effective and integrated European internal market in order to be able to respond to competition on a worldwide scale.
Reinforcing the economic governance of EMU and clarifying the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact are other important objectives of the Luxembourg Presidency. The Presidency intends to successfully complete the examination of the pact by seeking to reach an agreement on its specific content in March.
All progress towards European construction requires adequate financial resources. The three-year strategic programme for 2004-2006 seeks to reach a political agreement in June 2005 on the financial perspectives for 2007-2013.
The Presidency intends to organise its work in order to meet this June 2005 strategic objective. This approach will enable the various legislative instruments included in the next financial framework for the end of 2005 to be adopted. In addition, it should enable the preparatory work essential for implementing the new generation of Community programmes starting from 2007 to be carried out in 2006.
The European Union will continue its enlargement under the Luxembourg Presidency. The Treaty of Accession with Bulgaria and Romania will be finalised with a view to its signature at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) to be held in April 2005. This signature will mark the end of the current accession cycle.
A new cycle encompassing the Balkan countries is currently being established on the basis of the conclusions of the Thessalonica European Council. Accession negotiations with Croatia should begin on 17 March 2005. The FYROM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) will forward its responses to the Commission questionnaire so that the latter’s opinion can be drawn up following the application for accession.
Preparations for accession negotiations with Turkey are unlikely to begin before summer 2005.
The importance of the Presidency’s external relations dimension has grown considerably, as has the European Union’s standing on the world stage, and its resulting responsibilities. The European Union’s objectives are well known: a world which is safer, more prosperous and more respectful of human rights. These objectives underpin the European Union’s external action, and a range of instruments combine to carry it through.
The Presidency will be responsible for implementing the European security strategy, adopted a year ago, a framework that encompasses the European Union’s external action. This strategy raises a number of fundamental choices to which the Presidency will have to give concrete expression.
One of the essential aspects of this strategy is the priority afforded to multilateralism, a system the European Union considers the best means of achieving its ambitious objectives.
At the WTO, the Presidency will seek the fastest possible conclusion of the work of the Doha Round, which is essential for developing the world economy and for drawing the developing countries into world trade.
The "Hague programme", which seeks to develop an area of freedom, security and justice, will act as a framework for the Luxembourg Presidency in Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) issues. This now means optimising operational cooperation among the 25 within a consolidating and continually developing legal framework. Work in the future will be organised with the support of the action programme to be formulated by the Commission, and which the Council should approve within the next six months.
For Luxembourg, all progress made in creating an area of freedom, security and justice also involves consolidating the four freedoms that underlie the great European project. Arising out of intergovernmental cooperation forming part of the Community framework throughout the treaties, the progress of the area of freedom, security and justice has now been marked out by the new Constitutional Treaty, the objective of which is the permanent removal of the "JHA exception." Luxembourg believes that from now on all work within the JHA Council should be carried out towards this end. Its work should aim to achieve the final large-scale phase for JHA, namely its full integration into European construction through flawless application of the Community method.
Moreover, 2005 will be a crucial year in view of the ratification of the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The entry into force of this new founding pact is conditional upon its ratification by each of the 25 Member States, most of which plan to bring their national procedures to a successful conclusion in 2005. Throughout the year, the different national ratification procedures will be very closely monitored, both for the Member States that submit the text concerned to their Parliaments, and in Member States where popular consultation is used. The results in both cases will be analysed in detail.
As in the past, the Luxembourg Presidency will work closely with the European Parliament, the Commission and the Secretariat of the Council to successfully conclude all these tasks.
The strategic objective of the March 2000 Lisbon European Council was to ensure that the European Union became "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion."
The March 2005 European Council will have to carry out the mid-term review of the Lisbon process based on a Commission orientation report due out in early February.
In particular, the Luxembourg Presidency will use this mid-term review in order to:
As highlighted by the Kok report, reforms to modernise the European socio-economic model are essential for achieving the aims of the Lisbon strategy: the sustainable well-being of citizens. This objective can be achieved only by developing synergies between the economic, social and environmental pillars, an original feature of the strategy which the Luxembourg Presidency wishes to preserve.
The Lisbon strategy is the most ambitious socio-economic reform package of recent years. The transformations that Member States seek under this strategy are such that they are unlikely to come to fruition by 2010. The Luxembourg Presidency proposes to confirm the target of 2010 as the date by which the Member States as a whole, in each area of the strategy, will have implemented the reforms in a self-sustaining manner demonstrating a notable change of trend.
A special place has been reserved for creating a European area of knowledge. Through its various dimensions, including the information society, innovation, research, education, training and lifelong learning, companies acquire new competitive factors. As consumers of services provided over the internet by the public and private sectors, citizens can take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern society throughout their lives, and can adapt to the requirements of the labour market.
In terms of the governance of the strategy and to rationalise existing processes, the Presidency wishes to further develop one of the main ideas in the Kok report in order to create national action programmes. These will add value by means of:
This new instrument will be effective only if its monitoring is ensured and if existing procedures are rationalised. An agreement on reducing the number of reports Member States have to produce on a regular basis is also desirable.
The Luxembourg Presidency also proposes to launch talks on the ways and means of streamlining the Open Coordination Method and on improving its monitoring. The Presidency believes that the sound functioning of the Open Coordination Method will be judged when the national achievement of objectives as defined in Community action plans converge.
Besides reviewing the number and governance of processes, between now and the spring European Council, the Presidency plans to initiate comprehensive talks on taking more account of Youth in the Lisbon priorities. While this does not involve creating a new instrument, it should draw together under the strategy the specific existing measures taken for youth and for balancing the stress placed on solidarity between generations.
The need to examine the rules of operation of the Stability and Growth Pact after five years of operation was underlined by the European Commission, which in its communication of 3 September 2004 showed possible ways to reinforce the economic governance of EMU and to clarify the implementation of the SGP.
During the second half of 2004, the Dutch Presidency took steps to set out policy orientations based on the Commission communication.
On these foundations, the Luxembourg Presidency intends to successfully conclude the examination of the SGP by seeking to reach an agreement on the precise content of each chapter heading defined by the ECOFIN Council, i.e.:
According to the Presidency, the examination of the pact should be concluded in the form of a European Council resolution and adaptations arising in terms of regulations and rules of conduct governing its application.
Since they were established in 1988, the financial perspectives have fully met their objectives: orderly development of EU expenditure, budget discipline and streamlining of the annual budget procedure. Recognition of this success and the wish for it to continue led the Member States and the European Parliament to conclude that the instrument should be formalised by including it in the draft Constitutional Treaty under the title of "multiannual financial framework."
The European Council took this into account in deciding the three-year strategic programme for 2004-2006. This programme makes provision in particular for the Council’s work to be carried out with a view to seeking a political agreement in June 2005 on the package of proposals concerning the next financial perspectives.
As the strategic programme specifies, this date was not adopted by chance. It was selected in order to enable different legislative instruments arising out of the next financial framework to be adopted by the end of 2005, and to ensure that preparatory work essential for implementing the new generation of Community programmes from 2007 is carried out in 2006. The date of June 2005 also makes it possible to guarantee the clear and secure progress of the 2007 budget procedure.
According to the Luxembourg Presidency, the reasons underlying the schedule of work determined by the European Council have lost none of their force and relevance. The Presidency consequently intends to organise its work during the first half of 2005 in such a way that the European Union’s strategic objective of reaching a political agreement in June of that year will be pursued resolutely.
Attention must accordingly be focused on two strands by taking full advantage of the detailed work carried out under the Dutch Presidency. Following the example of its predecessor, the Luxembourg Presidency will set aside the financial elements of the package of proposals for institutions of horizontal competence, and concentrate on ensuring that national positions gradually converge. Furthermore, it will actively pursue sectoral work on all the legislative proposals connected to the financial perspectives in order to put the British Presidency in a position to conclude the various legislative procedures.
In the area of enlargement, the Luxembourg Presidency will give priority to:
finalising the drafting of the Treaty of Accession with Bulgaria and Romania. On concluding the institutional procedure that includes referral to the European Parliament, the organisation of an official signing ceremony during the GAERC in April 2005 will bring the protracted work of accession negotiations to a close. These two applicant countries will effectively join the EU on 1 January 2007, though monitoring the transposition of EU law will be continued resolutely. The 16 and 17 December European Council clearly indicated the priority chapters for such monitoring.
initiating negotiations with Croatia on 17 March 2005, in accordance with the conclusions of the June 2004 European Council, which envisage opening talks in early 2005 with the recommendations expressed at the December 2004 European Council. These negotiations may begin, provided Croatia cooperates in full with the ICTY. This will mean preparing a negotiating framework from early 2005 that will determine the criteria for conducting the technical negotiations per se. Convening an IGC will signal the official start-up of the Commission’s process of screening the acquis prior to opening the technical discussions chapter by chapter.
beginning the preparatory work for negotiations with Turkey, following the conclusions of the December 2004 European Council. A detailed negotiating framework will probably be established during the second half of the year. It will then be a case of translating the concept of the three negotiating pillars advocated by the Commission into concrete terms and establishing the priorities of a working road map.
In parallel, existing agreements with Croatia and Turkey will have to be adjusted to the new circumstances of negotiations being opened with these two applicant countries. The Presidency will also bring the work on pre-accession instruments to a successful conclusion.
The Luxembourg Presidency intends to continue and reinforce the integrated approach of competitiveness and growth with the support of a European Commission reorganised to achieve this aim. The Presidency’s objectives include integrating policies, exploiting synergies, assessing the effects of legislation on competitiveness, etc.
Relaunching growth also means promoting the deployment of productive activities. In this respect, efforts focused on improving the regulatory environment must succeed if we wish to guarantee the long-term competitiveness of the European economy.
The Luxembourg Presidency intends to continue the work begun a year ago in the area commonly known as "better regulation." In a preliminary stage, its action will concentrate on the legislative simplification of existing EU law and on impact assessment of legislation in preparation and/or under negotiation.
The Dutch Presidency completed a preliminary exercise of identifying and proposing simplifications. The Member States should be consulted on a further list of proposals for simplification during the first half of 2005.
This systematic use of impact assessments by the Commission, the Council or Parliament relating to substantial amendments to Community legislation could have a considerable effect on European decision-making. The Luxembourg Presidency will assess the results of a pilot project on these issues and take account of the work in progress at the Commission on developing an integrated impact assessment methodology.
The Presidency will also continue work on the "better regulation" institutional agreement under the aegis of the high-level technical group that brings together the Council, the Commission and the EP in order to place the ongoing work on a coherent footing. In coordination with preceding and subsequent Presidencies, the Luxembourg Presidency established "better regulation" as a Presidency priority in two common letters, following a Kok report recommendation. This issue will certainly play a part in the Commission’s future contribution, which will underpin the mid-term revision of the Lisbon strategy in March 2005.
Ensuring economic continuity for the results of research and encouraging economic risk-taking are some of the best ways of promoting entrepreneurship in Europe. The Luxembourg Presidency intends to continue the efforts under way, to achieve this objective by promoting dossiers on intellectual and industrial property.
The Luxembourg Presidency will have to examine whether the conditions are propitious for relaunching the dossier on the Community patent. It is aware that no advantageous economic alternative to this project, currently in deadlock, exists. The proposal for a directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions must also be concluded successfully in 2005.
Preparations on the recent proposal on spare parts in the automobile sector will also begin under the Luxembourg Presidency.
A European Parliament opinion on unfair trading practices is pending under the Luxembourg Presidency, and the latter expects an agreement at second reading during the first half of 2005. It will also assess the possibility of continuing to examine the sales promotion regulation. The Commission having adopted, later than anticipated, an amended proposal for a directive on consumer credit in November 2004, the Luxembourg Presidency will have to analyse a new version of the draft directive.
The proposal for a directive on the internal market for services is a key initiative in terms of European economic growth, it has nevertheless caused a great deal of misunderstanding. The Luxembourg Presidency will endeavour to re-examine this proposal in a more objective light by delimiting the scope of the directive and specifying the range of the principle of the country of origin within this context.
The proposal for a directive on professional qualifications, which is currently in second reading at the European Parliament, could be adopted under the Luxembourg Presidency. This directive, which allows strict control of qualifications in the case of cross-border services, will apply in parallel to the directive on services.
The Presidency attaches particular importance to the new Social Agenda (2006-2010), which the Commission will submit in early 2005 and which will be closely linked to the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy.
Within this context, it will adopt the joint Council and Commission Report on employment, and the guidelines for employment and the recommendations arising out of the latter, in parallel with the broad policy guidelines on employment.
The Luxembourg Presidency will have to continue the work of the Dutch Presidency in the area of working conditions by amending the "working time" directive. It will do its utmost to reach a political agreement in order to find, together with a response to the problems caused by the SIMAP and Jaeger case law, a compromise eventually making it possible to resolve the issue of maintaining the "opt out."
The Presidency envisages a political agreement on the "recast" directive that seeks to encompass in a single instrument the directives that focus on equal employment opportunities, and on the proposal for a provision setting up a Gender Institute to be submitted in early 2005. It will monitor closely the Beijing action programme (Beijing + 10), specifically by means of a ministerial meeting to be held in Luxembourg on 4 February. This meeting will seek to deliver a strong political message in the light of the 49th Session of the UNO Commission on the condition of women to be held in New York from 28 February to 11 March.
As far as the coordination of social security systems is concerned, in a second reading the Presidency will negotiate the proposal for a regulation on the "2003 Amendments" to the regulations on coordinating social security schemes with the European Parliament.
A political agreement will naturally have to be sought on the proposal for a decision on the "PROGRESS" programme, which defines Community measures in terms of employment and social security within the framework of the new financial perspectives.
The Kok report identified research as a top priority of the mid-term revision of the Lisbon strategy. The Luxembourg Presidency intends to encourage specific actions initiated on the basis of the Commission progress report on the "3% action plan." Such actions help favour accumulated investment in R&D and innovation as well as human resources development in science and technology.
The Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FPRD7) is a major element in working towards the European Area of Research and Innovation. With a view to adopting FPRD7 within the time limits, the preparatory work will begin during the first half of 2005.
The development of measures to facilitate and favour the mobility of researchers and to clarify their status, as well as the stepping up of nanotechnology-related activities, will be given due attention. A second meeting of the Space Council in April 2005 will be an opportunity for fleshing out the framework agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency.
Since the European Union has reasserted its support for the Cadarache site for the international ITER nuclear fusion project, the Luxembourg Presidency will endeavour to enable the Council to take the decisions necessary to drive the project forward.
The Kok report identified education as one of the principal vectors for relaunching the Lisbon strategy, whose objective is to ensure that the EU becomes the most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010.
The Luxembourg Presidency will devote a great deal of attention to the proposal for an "integrated action programme in the area of education and lifelong learning" during the first half of 2005. Based on the work accomplished under the Dutch Presidency, the objective will be to move towards concluding the first reading. The Luxembourg Presidency will also lay particular stress on the issue of the integrated learning of a subject and a language.
Talks on the "Youth in Action" programme will be continued. Another important theme will be the updating of the Open Coordination Method and the objectives pursued in terms of participation and information for young people.
The "Culture 2007" and "MEDIA 2007" programmes will remain on the EYC Council agenda. The Luxembourg Presidency will also initiate the implementation of the work plan in favour of culture by addressing themes of intercultural dialogue and cultural tourism.
Aware of the sector’s potential contribution to achieving the Lisbon objectives, the Luxembourg Presidency will launch talks on the future eEurope 2010 action plan. In parallel, the Presidency intends to highlight the interest of high-definition television (HDTV) to stimulate the development of digital technology.
Preparations for the second stage of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will be held in Tunis in November 2005, should continue. Internet governance and the financing of ICT for development will be addressed at this meeting.
Improving quality and guaranteeing optimum safety will form the core of the Luxembourg Presidency’s concerns for developing the common transport policy.
As regards road transport, the work on the third railway package will continue. Attention will be focused on aspects dealing with the rights and obligations of travellers and quality requirements in the freight sector. At the same time, the Luxembourg Presidency will ensure that the Member States participate appropriately in the assessment entrusted to the Commission on implementing the common rail policy. In addition, the issue of taxing heavy goods vehicles for using road infrastructures (Eurovignette) will have to be resolved, and social harmonisation in the area of road transport will also be of concern.
In terms of air transport, the Luxembourg Presidency proposes to give priority to examining dossiers concerning passenger information on the identity of the air carrier and on the rights of passengers with reduced mobility. Special attention will also be paid to progress in the dossier relating to external relations and implementation of the ‘open sky’ policy with third countries, particularly the United States.
The Luxembourg Presidency will devote special attention to combating maritime pollution and ensuring port safety.
Energy efficiency is one of the conditions for balanced development within the framework of the Lisbon process, particularly as regards its environmental dimension.
The Presidency will also have to ensure the progress of the proposal for a directive on renewable energies, and to adopt the proposal on energy efficiency in end uses and energy services in June 2005.
In view of the progress of talks on the proposal for an eco-design directive and the proposal for a regulation on conditions of access to gas-transmission networks, the Presidency intends to bring these dossiers to a successful conclusion.
The development of trans-European networks in the energy sector and security of supply of electricity and investment in infrastructure must be included on the European agenda. The Presidency will endeavour to make progress in examining these issues.
It will also work to adopt a negotiating mandate on exchanges of electricity with Russia.
The Luxembourg Presidency will strive to reinforce the environmental dimension of the Lisbon process by establishing a clear vision in terms of strategies for combating climate change and associated objectives for reducing emissions.
The announcement that the Kyoto Protocol will come into force in early 2005, has relaunched the process. The introduction of a global, ambitious and equitable scheme (post-2012), will have to be prepared. This will include undertakings in terms of common yet differentiated efforts to reduce emissions according to the capacities and responsibilities of the parties involved.
As far as the legislative dossiers are concerned, the Luxembourg Presidency will try to reach an agreement with Parliament on the quality of bathing water and the sulphur content of marine fuels. The dossier on protecting underground water against pollution, the LIFE + regulation and the INSPIRE dossier will be priorities.
The Luxembourg Presidency will continue to examine the proposal for a regulation on chemical substances (REACH), which seeks to introduce a single integrated system for registering, evaluating and establishing restrictive measures for and authorisation of chemicals.An important stage in this dossier will be marked in early 2005 with the results of the impact assessment carried out jointly by the Commission and the industry. The Commission could amend its proposal without jeopardising it, since the European Parliament’s opinion is not expected until autumn 2005.
Insufficient physical exercise, imbalanced diets and alcoholism have an increasingly serious effect on the health of European citizens, particularly young people and children. "Healthy lifestyles" and "young people’s health", including the mental health of young people, will be the Luxembourg Presidency’s health priorities. Further priorities will be combating obesity and smoking with a view to defining Europe-wide actions based on experience acquired at national and international level.
The Presidency will strive to generate a European momentum in the treatment of rare diseases at a conference to be held in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg will continue its work on the two proposals that seek to introduce a European regulatory framework for nutrition and health claims and vitamin and mineral supplements. In addition, it will begin to prepare dossiers on paediatric medicines and medical devices.
Negotiations on the International Health Regulation will continue during the first half of 2005. The Presidency will endeavour to bring them to a successful conclusion for the WHO annual meeting in May.
The Luxembourg Presidency will continue the Council’s work to improve animal health and welfare, as well as public health. Based on the recent experience of Member States, a debate on the problems of coexistence between genetically modified and conventional crops is also planned.
The Presidency will continue to consolidate and defend the European model of agriculture based on competitive, sustainable and multifunctional farming spread throughout the whole European Union, including the less favoured regions.
Furthermore, the Presidency will seek to ensure that the regulation on rural development is adopted as soon as possible, in line with talks on the new financial perspectives. It will also strive to take the reform of the sugar sector forward, once the WTO’s position is known, and take due account of the interests of the European sector and producers in developing countries. The other legislative dossiers will include possible adaptations of the common markets for wine and for fruit and vegetables. Internationally, the various negotiations at WTO level will continue.
Work on reforming the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) will have to be focused by highlighting the development of sustainable fishing by means of conservation measures and by establishing the future Community fisheries control agency.
The Luxembourg Presidency will begin the monitoring of the Commission report on the sustainable development strategy to be submitted in February. Against this background, the Presidency intends to draw a line under the possible confusion between the sustainable development strategy and the Lisbon strategy, sustainable development not being the third pillar of the Lisbon strategy.
Sustainable development is a guiding principle that applies to EU policies as a whole, whether in terms of the economy, the social area, the environment, fisheries, agriculture, public finances, etc. The Luxembourg Presidency believes that in revising the sustainable development strategy, the Council in all its forms must emphasise the sustainable nature of its action.
In accordance with European security strategy, the EU aims to promote peace, democracy and stability by combating the causes underlying insecurity in the world. To this end, it will use all its instruments in a coherent and integrated manner.
These include the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which will have to be reinforced in line with this strategy.
The EU will pursue its objectives in cooperation with its partners within the framework of the multilateral system, based on international law and the United Nations Charter. The Union will confirm its leadership during the preparation of the High level meeting of September 2005, which will signal a reinforcement, if not a recasting, of the multilateral system.
This approach under the heading of effective multilateralism will also inspire the Presidency’s action in terms of promoting human rights, particularly within the context of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights.
It is also primarily within a multilateral context that the Union will implement its strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by supporting the action of the competent international organisations and the process of rendering existing treaties on disarmament universal. The Presidency attaches the utmost importance to ensuring the success of the Review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2005.
Under the Luxembourg Presidency, the EU will also continue intensive cooperation with other multilateral organisations such as OSCE and the Council of Europe, particularly in areas of common interest such as human rights and the rule of law. Within this context, the preparation of the third summit of the Council of Europe set for 16 and 17 May 2005 in Warsaw is particularly important.
The European Union will pay special attention to reinforce stability by promoting democracy in a number of regions of the world.
The EU will remain committed to the process of reform in the Western Balkans, whose future lies within the EU. Implementation of the Thessalonica agenda will continue to form the general framework of the Union’s action in the region with a view to taking the Stabilisation and Association process forward. Against this background, negotiations will be pursued with Albania with a view to concluding a Stabilisation and Association agreement. Negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as with Serbia and Montenegro will be initiated as soon as the conditions are met. The Presidency will initiate accession negotiations with Croatia on 17 March 2005, provided there is full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) will continue its preparations to return, during the first half of 2005, its answers to the Commission questionnaire that will underpin the latter’s opinion on Skopje’s application for accession.
Special attention must be paid to the situation in Kosovo, with a view in particular to re-examining the standards policy, scheduled for mid-2005. Under the Luxembourg Presidency, the European Union will maintain its global and coherent commitment to Kosovo, whose future lies within the EU, regardless of its status.
The Presidency will continue to work for closer relations with Russia, a strategic partner, because she is a major element of our security and prosperity. In accordance with the conclusions of the December 2004 European Council, the Presidency will endeavour to deliver a balanced package of four road maps based on common values and shared interests during the EU-Russia summit in May 2005.
Another major priority will be the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, by which the European Union will pursue the development of its relations with the neighbouring countries of the enlarged Europe. This policy will be realised by drawing up and adopting action plans with all the neighbouring countries concerned.
The Barcelona process will remain the main framework for a coherent set of privileged relations with countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The VIIth ministerial "Euromed" Foreign ministers conference will be held in Luxembourg in May 2005, and aims at conducting a comprehensive review of political, economic and cultural cooperation between the EU and its partners in the "Euro-Mediterranean" Partnership, as well as defining orientations on the future of the process.
The European Union will also remain committed to the Middle East peace process. Above all, it will strive for the implementation of the road map with the aim of establishing two states, Israel and a viable, democratic and contiguous Palestine, both of which will benefit from safe and recognised borders. The importance of a return to the negotiating table must be emphasised within this context.
The objective of a safe, stable, unified and democratic Iraq, which is thereby in a position to contribute to regional stability, will continue to be a major priority of EU action. To this end, the Presidency will continue the process currently under way of developing relations between the EU and Iraq. A crucial stage in this process will be the legislative elections scheduled for January 2005.
Particular attention will also be paid to the situation in Iran, especially in terms of combating nuclear proliferation and protecting human rights.
The EU will continue its efforts to conclude a free trade agreement with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council before the 15th Joint Council due to take place in Bahrein during the Luxembourg Presidency.
Another region close to the EU will continue to receive encouragement and support: Africa, with which the EU will continue to develop relations at all levels, whether with the African Union, subregional organisations or individual countries. Such dialogue will enable issues such as combating AIDS or the fate of child soldiers to be examined. Another priority will be crisis management and conflict prevention in the Great Lakes region and in Sudan. EU action will particularly seek to develop African peacekeeping capacity.
Furthermore, the Luxembourg Presidency will be fully committed to preparing the 12th ministerial meeting with the Rio Group countries, and the various ministerial meetings with the countries of the Andean Pact, Central America and Mercosur, and with Chile and Mexico, to be held in Luxembourg at the end of May.
The Luxembourg Presidency will also work towards fostering EU-Asia relations by means of dialogue and increased cooperation focusing on political issues such as the rule of law, terrorism and non-proliferation, and on economic and commercial issues, the environment, development aid and humanitarian assistance.
This dialogue will be developed at both multilateral and bilateral level. As regards the former, the Union will continue its cooperation with ASEM, ASEAN, ARF, the Shanghai Cooperation Council and SAARC. The ASEM ministerial meeting scheduled for May 2005 will offer an opportunity to consolidate existing dialogue and to plan future orientations. The EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting in March will examine questions linked to economic cooperation and integration and regional policy issues.
As regards the latter, emphasis should be placed on developing strategic partnerships with China, India and Japan, which will be achieved by means of a series of high-level meetings. An EU-Japan Summit should be held during the first half of 2005 and should enable dialogue on a range of global and regional issues to be developed further.
The Presidency will ensure that EU external policy is based more than ever on an effective and balanced transatlantic partnership. It is aware that in managing new challenges and threats at international level, the United States remains an irreplaceable partner for the European Union. Transatlantic cooperation will remain essential, particularly in regulating conflicts in the Middle East and the Balkans.
A concrete follow-up to the declarations adopted at the EU-United States Summit in 2004, particularly those relating to reinforcing the economic partnership, combating terrorism or the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will also have to be ensured. The EU-United States Summit of 2005, due to be held under the Luxembourg Presidency, will provide an opportunity to take stock of the initiatives under way and to reflect on potential new orientations.
President Bush’s visit to Brussels in February will be an exceptional event that will inject fresh momentum into EU-United States relations.
Important events have also been arranged with Canada during the Luxembourg Presidency. The summit with this country should enable the state of implementation of the Partnership Agenda adopted in 2004 to be examined. The Union will also continue its work with a view to reaching an agreement to boost trade and investment.
Promoting the aims of the European Union’s external action presupposes, in addition to a multilateral system and close relations with a number of partners, a strengthening of the instruments at the service of the European Union, particularly the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
The success of the of the EU-led mission ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovinia will be crucial within this context. During the first semester of 2005, a number of ESDP civilian operations will also be under way. They include, in particular, police missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the FYRoM and Kinshasa, as well as the mission to strengthen the rule of law in Georgia. The Luxembourg Presidency will be doing its utmost to ensure that these operations are successful and to prepare and plan new operations, as the need arises.
The Luxembourg Presidency will continue the work aimed at developing European military and civilian capabilities. The aim is to improve the EU’s effectiveness in crisis management. Interaction with the European Defence Agency, whose task is to facilitate the development of military capacity, will be an important factor.
At the beginning of 2005, the civil-military cell incorporated within the EU headquarters will begin its work, which will help strengthen the early-warning capacity, as well as the planning and execution of EU operations. Preparations will begin to set up an operations centre on 1 January 2006.
Continuation of the implementation of the Action Plan for civilian aspects of ESDP, inclusing the Civilian Headline Goal 2008, will be a priority of the Luxembourg Presidency, enabling civilian means to be planned more effectively. Against this background, facilitating the acquisition of materials and the system of signing public contracts, as well as resolving the recurring logistics problems with civilian missions, are all objectives.
The Luxembourg Presidency will also maintain dialogue with the general public and NGOs with a view to improving civilian crisis management.
Within the framework of the repayment schedule established by the Headline Goal 2010, the Luxembourg Presidency will complete the list of requirements for 2005, and prepare the new Headline Goal questionnaire.
Preventing conflicts requires, among other things, the capacity to react quickly. The Luxembourg Presidency will further the work on the EU’s rapid-reaction capabilities, and in particular on Batllegroups. A Batllegroups generation conference will be held in May 2005 in order to prepare the ground to help them reach their full capacity, which should be achieved in 2007.
Furthermore, the Luxembourg Presidency will follow-up on the evaluation of the European Capability Action Plan and on the studies to be carried out in support of a Global Approach on Deployability. This approach should improve strategic transport capabilities by supporting, in particular, Battlegroups and using the existing means to the best advantage in order to coordinate strategic transport.
With regard to implementing the EU training concept relating to ESDP, the Luxembourg Presidency will work on defining the working methods for the European Security and Defence College.
The contribution of ESDP towards combating terrorism will be developed within the conceptual framework agreed in November 2004.
The Luxembourg Presidency will seek to improve cooperation between the EU and international organisations, such as UNO, NATO, OSCE and the African Union, in a bid to foster efficient multilateralism, also through ESDP. The same approach will be applied to relations between the EU and its partners.
In the area of development cooperation, the fight against poverty will be the main objective of the Presidency programme. We shall take a stance against situations of marginalisation, exclusion, disease, inequality and poverty in a large number of developing countries, particularly in Africa.
Three priorities will be on our Presidency agenda: the Millennium Objectives, AIDS and policy cohesion.
In September 2005, a Summit will be held in New York to assess progress in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and to define the efforts which still have to be made to ensure that these objectives are reached by 2015. It is clear that if we really want to reduce extreme poverty and the number of people suffering from hunger by half, the international community must make substantial additional efforts with regard to Official Development Aid (ODA). Luxembourg, in its capacity as future Presidency, will have a key role to play in the preparatory work for this summit.
Under the Luxembourg Presidency, the European Union will in particular have to agree on the level of aid it will be able to make available after 2006. With regard to this matter, we may recall that during the Monterrey Conference the EU undertook to provide ODA of 0.39% of its gross national income until this date.
The fight against AIDS is another of our priorities. No fewer that 42 million people suffer from AIDS, of whom 39 million live in developing countries. Together with war, AIDS is the most terrible scourge the world had to face over the last 15 to 20 years of the 20th century. It remains one of the main challenges we will have to face in the years to come.
During its Presidency, Luxembourg will focus its action on a global strategy and on the balance between prevention and treatment of AIDS. To this end, the Presidency will seek to share the experience we are in the process of gaining, together with other European actors, through the Rwanda-based ESTHER project, which links two Luxembourg hospitals with two hospitals in Rwanda.
Progress with north-south relations is also dependent on policy coherence. The Luxembourg Presidency will examine the possible responses to the concerns of the poorest developing countries, especially with regard to agricultural markets, the decline of agricultural prices, food safety and rural development. Against this background, the work of WTO within the framework of the Doha Round merits particular attention, after a key framework agreement was adopted on 1 August 2004. It is important that the Doha Round leads to a genuine development cycle.
The programme determined by the European Council in Tampere in 1999 fell due in the spring of 2004. The "Hague Programme", which was adopted by the European Council on 5 November 2004, will enable the European Union to widen its joint approach in order to deal more effectively with cross-border problems in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).
The Luxembourg Presidency is the first whose work falls within the framework of the "Hague Programme." The Presidency’s work programme was prepared in close cooperation with the Commission, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, so as to guarantee the necessary continuity and consistency sought in the multiannual programmes for 2004-2006 and the operational programme for 2005.
The "Hague Programme" is balanced and identifies fairly the policy priorities to be followed until 2010.
The main objective of the "Tampere Programme" was to develop the normative framework in the area of JHA. It would be at this stage advisable to optimise operational cooperation in the 25 Member States within a legal framework which will consolidate and continue to develop over the years to come. The "Hague Programme" should largely meet this expectation.
For Luxembourg, all progress made in creating an area of freedom, security and justice also involves consolidating the four freedoms which form the basis of the great European project. After the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties, the opening of internal borders and the Schengen acquis integrated into the European Union, and in accordance with the conclusions of the Tampere, Laeken and Seville European Councils, the new Constitutional Treaty will show the way by highlighting the permanent removal of the "JHA exception" as an objective by generalising legislative procedures in all aspects of the treaty.
After the signing of the Constitutional Treaty, 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 the European construction through full application of the Community method.
Based on the ideas of freedom, security and justice, the "Hague Programme" indicates the European Union’s new strategy and comprises ambitious political directions in the area of Justice and Home Affairs.
Aimed clearly at the future entry into force of the new treaty, the "Hague Programme" places great emphasis on consolidating and strengthening the values on which the area of freedom, security and justice is based.
The new Constitutional Treaty served as a reference point to establish the European Union’s new ambitions and to define the main directions. Although the current treaties still determine the legal framework, reflections and preparatory work are envisaged within the area of Justice and Home Affairs, enabling harmonious transition when the new treaty comes into force. The Luxembourg Presidency has planned a political debate with the ministers for Justice and Home Affairs in order to enter into this process and work out a planning project.
The Council should approve the action programme that the Commission will work out under the Luxembourg Presidency. With the aid of a scoreboard, the programme should enable optimal organisation of the work up to 2010.
The European Council has also expressed a wish for the implementation of the measures adopted in the area of Justice and Home Affairs to be evaluated more effectively. Together with the Commission, the Luxembourg Presidency will undertake the initiatives required so that the first series of systematic evaluations can begin on 1 July 2005.
The Luxembourg Presidency will start to reflect on the possibility of enlarging the mandate for the European Observatory for Racist and Xenophobic Phenomena.
In accordance with the agreement reached by the European Council on 4 and 5 November 2004, the Luxembourg Presidency will be marked by the application of the procedure defined in Article 251 EC Treaty (qualified majority vote in the Council and co-decision with the European Parliament) to all measures relating to heading IV aimed at strengthening freedom, in conformity with the Nice Treaty, except in the area of legal immigration.
The Luxembourg Presidency will seek to ensure that this change will be made in continuity and an open spirit, in full cooperation with the European Parliament.
Work relating to the long-term resident status for refugees and those benefiting from subsidiary protection will begin as soon as the Commission has submitted its directive proposal.
Together with the Commission, the Presidency will ensure work is continued to create the appropriate structures linking the asylum services of the Member States and having to provide Member States with assistance in processing requests for asylum.
The Green Paper on the immigration of workers will be the subject of debates within the Council.
The Luxembourg Presidency attaches great importance to the external dimension of political asylum. Strengthening partnerships with the countries and regions of origin as well as those of transit is a matter that will remain on the European Union agenda.
The same applies to evaluating relations with third countries regarding the fight against trafficking in human beings and the fight against illegal immigration, on the basis of the report to be submitted by the Commission.
The European Union’s return and readmission policy is of particular importance to the Presidency. The joint efforts made in this area towards a harmonised approach will be continued resolutely, in particular by adopting new negotiation mandates for readmission agreements. The Council will initiate discussions on the minimum norms applicable to return procedures as soon as the Commission has submitted a proposal.
The Luxembourg Presidency attaches great importance to improving cooperation between Member States with regard to controlling common external borders. To this end, it will ensure that the European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at external borders is launched as scheduled, under the best conditions, on 1 May 2005.
The Presidency will seek to successfully round off negotiations on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders.
The introduction and use of biometric identifiers will be pursued so as to guarantee more effective identification of holders of travel and residence documents and to improve the securitisation of certain types of documents.
With regard to the policy on visas, particular attention will be paid to the reciprocity mechanism and consular cooperation, including the launch of a process which should help set up joint application centres.
The Luxembourg Presidency will focus resolutely on operational cooperation at European Union level in order to develop multilateral cooperation in addition to multiple bilateral initiatives. The development of a "European security" culture will enhance existing "national security" cultures. The Presidency intends to initiate reflections on the management of internal crises with a cross-border impact and will seek to inject a new dynamic into the task force of police chiefs, while opening the debate on the future of Europol and the issue of possible Europol operational competences. Within this context, the Presidency will also seek to begin preparatory work on setting up the Internal security committee referred to in Article III-261 of the Constitutional Treaty, so that it can be constituted as soon as the treaty enters into force. Special attention will also be paid to developing the European Police College (CEPOL).
The fight against terrorism remains a priority. The Luxembourg Presidency will consider the conclusions of the European Council of December 2004, and more particularly the approach to combating the financing of terrorism effectively. A genuine multidisciplinary approach must form the basis of European Union action taken to prevent terrorism. From 1 January 2005, SITCEN should be submitting to the Council strategic analyses of the threat of terrorists, on the basis of information from the Member States and Europol. In close collaboration with the EU anti-terrorism coordinator, the Luxembourg Presidency will do everything in its power to assist cooperation among all the actors involved.
To maintain a high level of security within the EU and to make progress in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the concept of information exchange based on the "availability principle" must be regarded as a major step forward in operational cooperation among police services. Related work will start at the beginning of 2005 and take into account the concerns of most Member States regarding the regulation of future exchange mechanisms. This will instil trust among States and protect our citizens against all risks of abuse.
During the first semester of 2005, Europol should be designated as the central office for prosecuting counterfeiting in euro in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1929.
The Europol Information System and SIS II (Schengen Information System, second generation) will both play a key role in any future integrated exchange and information-sharing concept. The Luxembourg Presidency will seek to ensure that significant progress can be recorded at the European Police Office. Development of SIS II will be monitored closely so as to respect the agendas established by the Council, particularly with a view to leading the 10 new Member States towards the second phase of Schengen cooperation. To attain this clearly defined objective by lifting the control of persons at internal borders, the process of evaluating the implementation of the Schengen acquis will be prepared during 2005 ready for launch at the beginning of 2006.
In the fight against drug abuse, the Luxembourg Presidency will begin to implement the new 2005-2012 strategy, which was approved by the European Council in December 2004.
The Luxembourg Presidency will continue efforts aimed at consolidating the judicial area based principally on mutual recognition and reconciling legislation.
In criminal matters, particular attention will be paid to developing the procedural guarantees vital to maintaining the right balance between requirements linked to legal proceedings and those relating to defence rights. This will enable the mutual trust among Member States and the trust of European citizens in legal Europe to be repaid.
As with police cooperation, improving information exchange backed by excellent relations between Eurojust and Europol represents a major challenge in operational cooperation.
Following the decisions of the European Council in 2004, the Luxembourg Presidency will do its utmost to reach a political agreement on the framework decision on traffic data retention and will seek to make substantial progress with negotiations relating to the framework decision on the European evidence warrant. In future, these two instruments should be of major importance in making the efforts to prevent and combat terrorist activities and organised crime more effective.
On the basis of the initiatives of the Commission, Austria and Belgium, the Luxembourg Presidency will begin discussions on sentencing and carrying out penalties in a common judicial area. In this context, the European Union should seek to achieve and introduce:
Extending the mutual recognition principle to include criminal sentences and disqualifications will be the next step towards the coherent and consistent development of the European judicial area, while respecting the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and solidarity. Through these initiatives, the idea of a "European criminal record" has finally taken root and effectively supplements the devices already in place for the pre-sentencing phase of the criminal procedure.
Civil law, and more particularly the cross-border aspects of the rights of the family, is of major importance as an area that affects the day-to-day life of European citizens.
The proposal to regulate the law applicable to Non-contractual obligations (Rome II) is one of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency, which will strive to steer discussions towards the adoption of a common position by the Council.
The regulation proposal leading to the creation of a European injunction to payment order procedure will be examined, with a view to forming a common approach among the Member States towards the main elements of the text.
The recent directive proposal from the European Parliament and the Council on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters is a feature of the Presidency programme, which will follow the first examination of this text.
In addition, the Luxembourg Presidency is waiting for the Commission to submit the initiative relating to small claims. Examination of this initiative will begin during the first term of 2005.
Under the Luxembourg Presidency, the negotiations held within the framework of other international areas will receive the Council’s full attention. In this respect, mention should be made of the work of the Hague Conference on the future convention relating to food obligations, as well as the convention project relating to the election of the place of jurisdiction.
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