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Press Release
Transition of the Presidency of the EU Council: Jean-Claude Juncker and Jan Peter Balkenende meet in Senningen

Date of release : 01-01-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

On 31 December 2004, the eve of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the future President of the European Council welcomed the Council’s current President, Jan Peter Balkenende, for a meeting at the Château de Senningen in Luxembourg.

Following the natural disaster that has affected Southeast Asia and some regions of East Africa, the two heads of government exchanged information in order to coordinate aid efforts already under way as well as future action by the European Union.

Jan Peter Balkenende and Jean-Claude Juncker agreed that there would be three minutes of mourning in silence throughout the European Union, to be observed at noon on 5 January 2005. Flags will fly at half-mast.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker stated that "the Luxembourg Presidency will maintain close ties with its European representatives and those of the affected region in order to continue the European Union’s aid efforts. Many contacts have already taken place, including at the European and U.S. foreign minister level."

On 6 January 2005, the Luxembourg Presidency will take part in the extraordinary ASEAN Summit taking place in Jakarta.

The Luxembourg Presidency will follow up initially by scheduling various meetings at the ministerial and expert level.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is in the process of preparing to hold a special session of the European Union’s cooperation ministers. At this point, the meeting is scheduled for Friday, 7 January 2005, in Brussels.

At this coordination meeting, chaired by the Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Jean-Louis Schiltz, the European ministers and the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid will discuss efforts already undertaken by the Member States, the European Commission and the various international organisations. Above and beyond aspects related to purely humanitarian aid, Luxembourg will propose addressing reconstruction and rehabilitation issues for the affected regions at this meeting.

To have a more precise idea of the situation and to clearly identify the needs, Minister Jean-Louis Schiltz and European Commissioner Louis Michel will spend several days visiting the affected regions beginning 1 January 2005. All efforts must be coordinated with the UN, all of the humanitarian players involved as well as the local authorities. In this context, Minister Jean-Louis Schiltz met with Mr Jan Egeland, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and assured him of the support of the future Luxembourg Presidency.

On Saturday, 1 January 2005, Luxembourg’s Health Minister, Mars Di Bartolomeo, will hold a coordination meeting in Geneva with Mr. David Nabarro, Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), to coordinate health-related needs. Again in Geneva, Mars di Bartolomeo will hold meetings with senior officials from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It should be noted that the EU health ministers troika will also be attending the special meeting of the European Union’s cooperation ministers on 7 January.

Finally, the consequences of the earthquake will be one of the main agenda items at the next EU Council meeting of foreign affairs ministers on 31 January 2005.

This page was last modified on : 10-01-2005

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