Note:Your browser doesn't correctly display this page because of a bad stylesheets interpretation. This is probably due to an old browser version.

[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
 Version française        

You are here : Home > News > Speeches > June 2005 > Statement by the President of the Council, Nicolas Schmit, on the preparation of the European Council summit on 16 and 17 June 2005
Print this page Send this page

Statement by the President of the Council, Nicolas Schmit, on the preparation of the European Council summit on 16 and 17 June 2005

Date of Speech : 08-06-2005

Place : Strasbourg

Speaker : Nicolas Schmit

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : European Parliament plenary session

The European Council, which will begin its work on 16 June, will discuss two issues that are crucial to the future evolution of the European Union: the process of ratification of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and the finalisation of a political agreement on the financial perspectives (2007 - 2013).

After intensive debates, French and then Dutch citizens have rejected the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. The reasons for this negative vote are multiple, and even contradictory. Many of us have expressed our disappointment and our regrets as regards these referenda. But a democratic debate has taken place and we naturally have to respect the democratic choice of an unquestionable majority of French and Dutch voters.

Mr President, I have to remind you of the massive vote in favour of the treaty by the European Parliament on 12 January 2005. It was based on the hope and the conviction that the European Union, after its enlargement by ten new members, could strengthen its democratic base, operate more efficiently and more transparently, root its future firmly in the shared values that are so dear to us and, finally, obtain the full trust of its citizens.

Ten countries have ratified the treaty, one of them, Spain, by referendum. Here too we must respect their democratic decision.

But the votes in the Netherlands and in France, two of the founder members, have nevertheless created a new situation that we have to face. These votes reflect anxieties, aspirations and expectations, as well as disappointments.

Alas, European unification does not appear to be that mobilising programme, which, for decades, has made it possible to rebuild our continent in peace and prosperity before reconciling it through enlargement.

Has hope changed sides? Is Europe drawing its inspiration from anxieties and incomprehension?  Is the social unease that many of her citizens feel in the face of problems such as unemployment, which has lasted for too long, being directed against her?

I do not think so. The message received is a dual one: dissatisfaction with Europe, as it stands and as it functions, and yet, at the same time, for a very large proportion of its citizens who said “no", a still strong belief in the European ideal and the need for such an ideal, in a Europe that acts differently in a constantly changing world.

The European Council must listen to the messages given after a democratic debate that has certainly been lacking for too long.

All those who have justified their choice by a hypothetical “plan  B", must realise that there is no easy way out of a situation that is most certainly complex.

Today we have to acknowledge that Declaration 30, an attachment to the Treaty, nevertheless foresaw a situation in which, at the end of the ratification period, several countries might fail to conclude the procedure.

We must also take into consideration the fact that ten countries have successfully completed the ratification procedure, while more than half the Member States have still not expressed an opinion. It is not easy to deprive these peoples and these parliaments of a democratic debate and of the possibility of expressing themselves in their turn.

Nor should we forget that the treaty is a result of an overall compromise, that it has its own coherence – and thus it is difficult to retain one aspect without the other. The European Council must now make a collective, in-depth analysis of the situation before defining clearly how the process should continue.

One thing is certain: the European Union must not slide into a form of uncertainty, immobility or, even worse, into a state of paralysis.

Our institutions work and our decision-making capacity is intact, even if it is evident that the provisions of the Treaty of Nice are inadequate, given that the Union and the Member States need to accept the political, economic and social challenges with even greater urgency.

Citizens are expecting concrete action and a more intensive focus on their preoccupations, both in economic and social terms and, in particular, in terms of their security. The world is wondering about the future of the Union, which for a long time has fascinated many peoples around the globe.

The European Council must, therefore, broaden its analysis. It can no longer restrict itself to procedural issues, when expectations are, above all, political. Political Union must remain our goal. The construction of a true European democracy remains the only means of achieving it.

It is in this context that the negotiations on financial perspectives take on a very special meaning. Failure and an inability to reach an effective compromise would be a signal both to our citizens but also mostly to the outside world, of a dangerous stalemate. These financial perspectives do not, perhaps, reflect all the ambitions of all the parties, but they will enable the Union to act in the interests of competitiveness, of employment and cohesion, for better protection of the environment, internal security and a more active international role. On the other hand, the fact of adopting them now, despite our differences, will give the Union the political stimulus that it urgently needs today.

After yesterday’s debate, the vote to be expressed by your Parliament on the resolution later-on may thus send out a signal of the utmost importance. Be assured that the Presidency will do all it can to facilitate a compromise that is acceptable to all.

Together with these two determining issues, other dossiers that are of no less importance to our citizens will be submitted to the Council:

We now need to give concrete expression to the re-launching of the Lisbon Strategy in the interests of growth and employment. To this end, and in compliance with the new approach agreed in March, the European Council will have to approve the Integrated Guidelines (IG) for Growth and Employment 2005/2008. Thus, on the basis of the work of all the sections of the Council concerned, the implementation of the macro and micro-economic policies and employment policies can be based on 24 IG.

As a result of these IG, this autumn Member States must set up coherent national action plans (NAP) in favour of growth and employment. This will not be a mere formal exercise, but an initiative involving all the players concerned and, in particular, parliamentary authorities, as well as the social partners

I would also like to say that, in line with the decision taken in March, the European Council will be asked to approve a declaration on the guidelines for sustainable development. It should make it possible to adapt a new sustainable development strategy, hopefully before the end of 2005.

The European Council must also examine certain important chapters of the implementation of the area of freedom, security and justice.

More than ever, we must show that the Union is capable of responding effectively to the expectations of its citizens.

Now, the citizens of Europe are, quite rightly, expecting the European Union to adopt a more effective joint approach to trans-border problems, such as illegal immigration and human trafficking, as well as terrorism and organised crime.

Last November we adopted the Hague Programme, which indeed sets priorities for the coming five years with a view to establishing a true area of freedom, security and justice.

In line with this, an action plan will be submitted to the next European Council, which expresses the objectives of The Hague Programme in concrete terms.

With respect to this, the Presidency intends to emphasise that it is vital for the Member States to implement these different measures in an effective manner and within the deadlines.

The European Council will, in particular, review the efforts made to combat terrorism. Yesterday’s European Parliament debate called for an urgent and overall reaction. It should, in particular, identify certain priority areas of action for the coming months, such as police and judicial cooperation, the work in progress on the prevention of terrorist recruitment, combating the funding of terrorism and also the strengthening of civil protection capacity, especially in the fight against bio-terrorism threats that were also discussed yesterday.

Finally, some important issues regarding external relations must be dealt with at the European Council.

I would especially emphasise the preparations for the next UN summit in September 2005 in New York. We believe it to be crucial that this summit reaches a balanced and ambitious outcome, which will allow for reform of the UN so that it is able to respond more effectively to the multi-dimensional threats and challenges identified in the report drafted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This summit must raise priority issues, such as the creation of the Commission for the consolidation of peace, the prevention of conflict, the fight against terrorism, the adoption of the principles for the use of force and also the capacity of the United Nations to maintain peace.

With a view to this summit, the Council recently came to an agreement on the fixing of new objectives as regards official development assistance and the un-tying of aid. We hope that an agreement on new innovative sources of funding for development will soon be finalised.

Among the other international issues, the preparation of the international Conference on Iraq, organised jointly by the European Union and the United States, to be held on 22 June in Brussels, will be discussed. In addition to the implementation of a new framework for the coordination of aid efforts, it will also confirm the leading role of the Iraqi government during the current transition period.

Thank you very much.

Related links

This page was last modified on : 08-06-2005

Top Top