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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Jean Asselborn outlines priorities to the Council of Europe

Date of release : 12-01-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

On 12 January 2005, the current President of the Council of the European Union and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean Asselborn, outlined the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

During his speech, Jean Asselborn made a plea for "effective multilateralism" in order to meet the challenges facing the European Union and its international partners. In particular, the President of the Council spoke out in favour of a stronger institutional cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe in the "construction of a united, democratic, stable and prosperous Europe".

By way of introduction, Minister Asselborn outlined the tasks awaiting the Luxembourg Presidency during the first six months of 2005: mid-term revision of the Lisbon process, political agreement on the financial perspectives of the European Union for the period 2007-2013, signature of an accession treaty with Romania and Bulgaria and an adaptation of the Stability and Growth Pact. The Luxembourg Presidency is also counting on Croatia’s full cooperation in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with a view to launching accession negotiations with this country on 17 March 2005.

The Presidency will closely monitor the ratification procedures for the Constitutional Treaty in the Member States of the European Union. Referring to the Treaty as a "remarkable breakthrough in relations between the European Union and the Council of Europe", the minister predicted that "the integration into this Constitution of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, greatly inspired by the Convention in Strasbourg, would strengthen the legal protection of human rights within the European Union." The European Union’s planned accession to the European Convention on Human Rights "will enable us to avoid the risks of incoherence inherent in a multiplicity of systems," he added.

Addressing the European Union’s external relations, Jean Asselborn called for "effective multilateralism" in the search for a world that is "more stable, more prosperous and more respectful of human rights". With this objectuve in mind, the Luxembourg Presidency will seek to "further strengthen the dialogue and cooperation with partner international organisations of the EU, such as UNO, NATO, OSCE and the Council of Europe".

On the subject of reinforcing institutional cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe, Jean Asselborn underlined that this collaboration should be founded "on an equitable and egalitarian basis between the two organisations". To achieve this aim, the minister called for the permanent presence of a representative of the Commission at the Council of Europe.

Touching on relations between the EU and its neighbours, Jean Asselborn stated that the Luxembourg Presidency would continue to work towards closer relations with Russia by means of a "strategic partnership based on common values and interests". In May 2005, Luxembourg will strive in particular to conclude an agreement on the "four spaces" of cooperation between Russia and the European Union (the economy; freedom, security and justice; external security; research, education and culture).

In the Balkans, the Luxembourg Presidency will pursue with determination the process of European integration of the countries of the region. However, Jean Asselborn warned that the Council of Europe should not be reduced to "an antechamber of the EU" and that the work carried out in Strasbourg should serve as a basis for achieving common objectives, particularly a strengthened regional cooperation among the countries of southeastern Europe.

"The aim of a Europe that is more active on the global scale and committed to managing conflicts, a more coherent, political and visible action, binds the Council of Europe and the European Union in a spirit of complementarity," said Jean Asselborn. He identified four priority areas in which the two organisations could complement each other:

- trafficking in human beings;

- fight against terrorism;

- education in the promotion and protection of human rights;

- involvement of young people in public life in Europe.

In conclusion, the President of the Council stated that Europe, in the broader sense, must acquire the necessary means to achieve its ambitions and reiterated that "only multilateralism and respect for international law can guarantee the progress we all wish to achieve".

This page was last modified on : 14-01-2005

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