Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL

C/03/105

Luxembourg, 14 April 2003 8220/03 (Presse 105)

2501st Council meeting - EXTERNAL RELATIONS - Luxembourg, 14 April 2003

President : Mr Anastasios GIANNITSIS, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic

    * The 2502nd session on General Affairs is the subject of a separate press release

    (doc. 8221/03 Presse 106)

CONTENTS (1)

PARTICIPANTS 5

ITEMS DEBATED

WIDER EUROPE / NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD 7

WESTERN BALKANS - Council conclusions 7

EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS 10

MIDDLE EAST 10

NORTH KOREA 10

BELARUS - Council conclusions 11

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY 12

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION - Council conclusions 12

LIBYA 12

NEGOTIATIONS AT THE WTO 13

OTHER BUSINESS 13

     SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME 13

     HUMAN RIGHTS FOLLOWUP TO DURBAN MEETING 13

     CUBA - Council conclusions 13

     AFGHANISTAN 14

    ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

ENLARGEMENT

  • Admission of ten new Member States I

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

  • Burma/Myanmar - Council conclusions II

  • Indonesia - Council conclusions VI

  • Afghanistan - Council conclusions VIII

  • Generalised tariff preferences X

  • Small Arms - Albania X

  • CFSP - Annual report to the European Parliament X

  • ACP - East Timor XI

  • Estonia - Slovakia - Conformity Assessment for industrial products XI

  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - Heavy goods transit XI

  • Accession Partnership with Bulgaria XI

  • Accession Partnership with Romania XI

  • Accession Partnership with Turkey XI

TRADE

  • Antidumping measures - Stainless steel fasteners XII

ECOFIN

  • New member of ECB Executive Board XII

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

  • Facilitated transit documents * XII

AGRICULTURE / ENVIRONMENT

  • Fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe XIII

RESEARCH / EXTERNAL RELATIONS

  • Scientific and technological co-operation XIII

INTERNAL MARKET

  • Fertilisers * XIII

INSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

  • Discovery of phonetapping devices in the Justus Lipsius building complaint XIV

  • Comitology procedure XIV

  • Appointments - CEDEFOP XIV

DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE

BUDGET

  • Financial perspectives and enlargement XV

fisheries

  • TACs and Quotas for 2003 * XV

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Louis MICHELDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ms Annemie NEYTSMinister, attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Agriculture
Denmark :
Mr Per Stig MØLLERMinister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Friis Arne PETERSENState Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Germany :
Mr Joschka FISCHERFederal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Federal Chancellor
Greece :
Mr Anastasios GIANNITSISDeputy Minister for Foreign Affairs
Spain :
Ms Ana PALACIO VALLELERSUNDIMinister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Ramón DE MIGUEL Y EGEAState Secretary for European Affairs
France :
Mr Dominique de VILLEPINMinister for Foreign Affairs
Ms Noëlle LENOIRMinister attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for European Affairs
Ireland :
Mr Dick ROCHEMinister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for European Affairs
Italy :
Mr Franco FRATTINIMinister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Roberto ANTONIONEState Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Luxembourg :
Ms Lydie POLFERMinister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Netherlands :
Mr Jaap de HOOP SCHEFFERMinister for Foreign Affairs
Austria :
Ms Benita FERRERO-WALDNERFederal Minister for Foreign Affairs
Portugal :
Mr António MARTINS da CRUZMinister for Foreign Affairs and Portuguese Communities Abroad
Mr Carlos COSTA NEVESState Secretary for European Affairs
Finland :
Mr Erkki TUOMIOJAMinister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Jari VILÉNMinister of Foreign Trade

Sweden :

Ms Anna LINDHMinister for Foreign Affairs
United Kingdom :
Mr Denis MACSHANEParliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

* * *

Commission :

Mr Günter VERHEUGENMember
Mr Pascal LAMYMember

* * *

General Secretariat of the Council :

Mr Javier SOLANASecretary-General/High Representative for the CFSP

ITEMS DEBATED

WIDER EUROPE / NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD

Open debate

The Council held a policy debate on the "Wider Europe" initiative and the Union's relations with its Eastern and Southern neighbours. The Permanent Representatives Committee will oversee further work so as to enable the Council to return to this subject at a forthcoming meeting.

The "Wider Europe" initiative is based on the conviction that the EU's enlargement on 1 May 2004 which represents a historic step for the European continent also presents a unique opportunity to strengthen co-operation and interdependence with those countries that will soon find themselves at the Union's frontiers. At its meeting on 18 March, the Council took note of a communication from the Commission on this theme.

The enlarged European Conference, a multilateral forum bringing together the EU and other European States that share common values, will also discuss the Wider Europe initiative at a meeting in Athens on 17 April, following the signature of the Accession Treaty by the 15 existing and 10 new Member States on 16 April.

The Council's debate highlighted the need to take account of the specific situations within individual Eastern and Mediterranean neighbours and relations between them while strengthening co-operation and interdependence. There was broad agreement amongst delegations on the need for a differentiated approach and the use of benchmarking to assess progress towards established objectives. The debate further confirmed that criminality, including human trafficking and illegal immigration, as well as the promotion of human rights are important issues that will require careful examination in the framework of future work on "Wider Europe".

Some delegations considered that the structure of the European Conference, which was established in 1997, will require review. In the light of views expressed by some delegations on the financial dimension to the Union's relations with neighbouring countries, the Presidency suggested that further discussion would be required on the use of existing instruments.

The Presidency also emphasised that discussion on the Wider Europe initiative should not prejudge the question of future EU membership.

WESTERN BALKANS - Council conclusions

The Council reviewed the latest developments in the Western Balkans inter alia in the light of a report by High Representative Javier Solana on his recent visit to Serbia and Montenegro and adopted the following conclusions:

    "SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

The Council welcomed the accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the Council of Europe and expressed its expectation that the country would honour fully the commitments and obligations undertaken upon accession. It took this opportunity to reiterate its strong support for the new state union, the full functionality of which remained a key element for further rapprochement towards the EU and the stability of the region.

The Council reiterated its support for the continued efforts of the Serbian government under the new Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic to break up organised crime structures in the country and welcomed recent important achievements in this field, including progress in solving the Stambolic case.

The Council welcomed the proposals by the High Representative and the Commission on ways to provide further EU support to Serbia and Montenegro in implementing the reforms allowing for further progress towards the EU. It invited the competent bodies to rapidly examine these proposals with a view to early decisions.

    SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO/KOSOVO

The Council called on all concerned, particularly the Kosovo Assembly, to refocus their attention on the "standards before status" policy. It expressed its full support to the efforts made by UNMIK to transfer competencies in fulfillment of UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework in an inclusive process. The Council recalled the importance it attributes to a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on practical issues of mutual interest. It urged all parties to refrain from unilateral acts jeopardizing the objective of a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo.

The Council welcomed the efforts of the EIB and UNMIK to establish a framework for effective lending for projects in Kosovo, which will in no way prejudge any future decision on the final status of Kosovo. In this context and within the framework of UNSCR 1244, it confirmed that Kosovo is covered by the mandate for Central and Eastern Europe, as set out in Council Decision 2001/778/EC amending Decision 2000/24/EC.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

The Council supported the actions taken by the High Representative Lord Ashdown concerning the ORAO affair on the illegal export of weapons to Iraq and its aftermath. It welcomed President Sarovic's resignation, by which he accepted his political responsibility for this case.

Given the importance of further progress within the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), the Council expressed support for the preparation by the Commission of a feasibility study on the opening of negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, the Council urged all authorities and political parties to redouble their efforts for the implementation of the necessary reforms.

REGIONAL CO-OPERATION

The Council recalled the importance it attached to regional co-operation, which constitutes one of the main elements of the SAP. In this respect it welcomed the outcome of the South Eastern Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP) Summit in Belgrade on 09 April 2003 and commended the SEECP members' commitment to further enhance regional co-operation, with concrete initiatives.

STABILISATION AND ASSOCIATION PROCESS REVIEW

The Council welcomed the Commission's second annual report on the Stabilisation and Association Process for SouthEast Europe and invited the competent bodies to prepare recommendations ahead of future Council conclusions and the Thessaloniki EU-Western Balkans Summit.

COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

The Council, in order to support, with concrete actions, the efforts already undertaken by the countries of the region concerned to fully co-operate with ICTY, decided to adopt a Common Position, with which measures to prevent entry into or transit through the EU will be applied against individuals who assist ICTY indictees. It instructed its competent bodies to act accordingly.

The Council is actively considering further measures.

EU MILITARY OPERATION IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

The Council welcomed the launch of the EU military operation "Concordia" in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) on 31 March 2003, following the NATO operation "Allied Harmony". This operation provides further tangible proof of the EU's full commitment to fYROM and the further development of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)."

CROATIA

"On 20 February 2003, the President Mr. Stjepan MESIC and the Prime Minister Mr. Ivica RACAN of the Republic of Croatia, have presented the application of Croatia for accession to the European Union (doc. 6991/03 ELARG 19 COWEB 28).

The Council decided to implement the procedure laid down in Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. Accordingly, the Commission is requested to submit to the Council its opinion on this application."

EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS

The Council examined relations between the European Union and Russia in view of the EURussia Cooperation Council on 15 April in Luxembourg and the EURussia summit scheduled for 31 May in St Petersburg. It requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to oversee work on the preparation of the St Petersburg summit in the light of the Council's discussion.

The Council also approved recommendations prepared by the Permanent Representatives Committee as a result of an indepth assessment of both the EURussia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the EU Common Strategy on Russia, covering both structures of cooperation and ways of achieving more concrete results. In the course of the discussion, delegations underlined that it was time for the EU-Russia relationship to become more results-oriented, with the emphasis on substance rather than structures.

MIDDLE EAST

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East in the light of developments, reiterating concern about ongoing violence, notably recent events in Gaza. They also noted the progress in the process for the appointment of a Palestinian Prime Minister and the formation of a Palestinian government as well as the consensus reached in the Quartet that the road map finalised by the Quartet last December would be released and presented to the parties once the PA's Prime Minister and his cabinet were confirmed by the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Ministers also discussed the situation in Iraq in the light of unfolding events, as well as prospects for post-conflict arrangements. Following the 20-21 March European Council's underlining that the UN must continue to play a central role during and after the conflict, Ministers held an exchange of views on which specific forms this UN role could take in terms of both the UNSC's action and the UN's concrete involvement on the ground, notably in the light of past models. They also held an initial discussion on which types of EU instruments, beyond humanitarian assistance, could be put to use in post-conflict Iraq in the framework of a satisfactory international legal framework.

NORTH KOREA

The Council held an exchange of views in the light of the European Council's suggestion that a special Council session on North Korea be held with neighbouring countries. It noted that the positive signals made by North Korea in recent days on the question of a multilateral framework for dialogue should be encouraged. The Council agreed to review the issue at a later stage in the light of further developments.

BELARUS - Council conclusions

The Council held a brief exchange of views and adopted the following conclusions:

"The Council of the European Union has taken note of the intention of fourteen Member States to take the necessary national measures in order to lift the ban on entry into their territories of the President of Belarus, the Head of the Presidential Administration, the Prime Minister and four Government ministers as well as the Chairman of the Committee of State Security, decided in November 2002. These visa measures will be lifted as a response to the positive assessment by the Head of Mission of the OSCE office in Minsk of the effective functioning of the office, which received a broad support among participating States of the OSCE Permanent Council, and the recommendation of the Netherlands, as Chairmanship in Office of the OSCE, to the EU Member States concerned that the criteria for the lifting of the visa measures are fulfilled.

Furthermore, the Council of the European Union considered the situation of democracy and human rights in Belarus and adopted the following statement:

EU STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN BELARUS

    1. Recalling the conclusions of the Council of 15 September 1997, the EU reiterates once again the hope that Belarus will take its place among European democratic countries, not least since Belarus will become a direct neighbour after EU enlargement.

    2. The EU remains seriously concerned at the continuing deterioration of democracy and respect for the rule of law in Belarus as well as the non-fulfilment of Belarus' international commitments. Serious violations of human rights and recurrent restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the Government of Belarus are in clear contradiction of European democratic standards.

    3. The EU also recalls that in March 2002 President Lukashenko pledged that all efforts would be made in order that Belarus should become a fully-fledged member of the Council of Europe and regrets that this pledge has not yet been fulfilled.

    4. The EU considers the flawed conduct of the local elections held on 2 March 2003 and the arrest and imprisonment of a number of the participants in the recent peaceful demonstrations in Minsk as further setbacks for the evolution of democratic reforms.

    5. The EU has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment of opposition politicians, journalists and intellectuals as well as to improve the media situation in Belarus and to co-operate with international organisations in accordance with their international commitments.

    6. The EU notes the constructive co-operation of the Government of Belarus with the recently re-established OSCE office in Minsk. The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to continue with this approach thereby ensuring the necessary conditions for an effective and unimpeded operation of the OSCE office.

    7. The EU will continue to work closely with the OSCE and other international partners to contribute to the development of genuine democracy and full respect for human rights in Belarus. The EU remains committed to providing support and assistance to Belarusian civil society.

    8. The EU has made clear its desire to enhance its relations with its Eastern European neighbours on the basis of shared interests and common values. The development of closer relations between the EU and Belarus will depend on Belarus' effective implementation of further reforms, its willingness to respect its international commitments and to adopt European standards of democracy and human rights. Substantial progress in democratic reform and respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights will be considered by the EU as a new starting point for discussions on the improvement of its relations with Belarus."

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

Over lunch, Ministers took stock of developments in the ESDP, notably following the launch on 31 March of the first-ever EU-led military operation, "Operation Concordia" in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They also held an exchange of views on recent initiatives aimed at strengthening the European security and defence policy, including the Belgian initiative for a mini-summit, on which they were briefed by the Belgian Minister.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION - Council conclusions

"The Council had an in-depth discussion of the issue of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction on the basis of a document from the Secretariat and the Commission and contributions by Member States. The Council reaffirmed the paramount importance of an effective policy against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Council instructed the Secretary General/High Representative, in association with the Commission, and the Political and Security Committee, to continue work on:

    - a global threat assessment (notably by the Sitcen);

    - a long term strategy;

    - the options presented in the document as well as contributions by Member States with a view to making concrete proposals for submission to the European Council."

LIBYA

The Council examined relations between the European Union and Libya with regard to illegal immigration. It agreed that an expert mission should examine the situation and report back to the Council which will then evaluate the situation in the light of technical and political criteria.

NEGOTIATIONS AT THE WTO

The Council heard a report by Commissioner Pascal Lamy on the ongoing World Trade Organisation negotiations under the 2001 Doha Development Agenda and held a detailed exchange of views on the EU's draft initial offer on services, in particular on the temporary movement of persons in connection with the provision of services.

The Council noted a broad understanding among Ministers for the need to make rapid progress and to achieve results that are attractive to developing countries. In view of the few remaining political and technical difficulties expressed by some delegations, it invited the Article 133 Committee to examine them and to come forward with appropriate solutions as soon as possible.

OTHER BUSINESS

 SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME

At the request of the French delegation, the Council heard a report by the Commission on the latest developments regarding SARS. The Commission has been closely monitoring the situation through its communicable diseases network.

The Commission referred to the proposed creation of a new European Centre for Disease Control as well as to the possibility of local consular cooperation, for instance on the question of the delivery of visas in affected areas.

  • HUMAN RIGHTS FOLLOWUP TO DURBAN MEETING

The Council took note of concerns expressed by the Belgian delegation regarding the followup to the declaration and plan of action agreed at Durban in September 2001, which is currently being discussed at the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR 59).

  • CUBA - Council conclusions

"The Council condemns the recent actions of the Cuban authorities, notably the executions, the large-scale arrests of dissidents, the unfair trials and the arbitrary and excessive sentences imposed. It calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners. These latest developments which mark a further deterioration in the Human Rights situation in Cuba will affect the EU's relationship with Cuba and the prospects for increased cooperation. The Council will keep the situation under close review."

  • AFGHANISTAN

Over coffee, Ministers held an exchange of views with Mr Abdullah Abdullah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, on the situation in the country. They welcomed Minister Abdullah's presence, reflecting the EU's longstanding commitment to Afghanistan. While there were concerns about developments in the field of security, they noted that there were positive developments in reform and reconstruction. (2)

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

ENLARGEMENT

Admission of ten new Member States

The Council formally decided on the admission of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia to the European Union.

Its decision clears the way for the signature of the Treaty and Act of Accession in Athens on 16 April 2003. After completion of the ratification procedures, the ten Acceding States will become members of the Union on 1 May 2004.

The ten Acceding States are part of Europe's shared history, heritage and culture. Their accession is part of the fifth enlargement process in the Union's history. In this context, the Union will continue active negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria with a view to welcoming them to the Union in 2007. Moreover, the accession strategy for Turkey will be strengthened.

Today's decision signals the beginning of a new era throughout Europe, allowing the Union to further realise its objective to build one Europe underpinned by the ideals of democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, the full respect of human rights and the free market economy.

The decision marks the end of a thorough negotiation process, which started in 1998 for Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, and in 2000 for Malta, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia. Accession negotiations were concluded at the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002.

The enormous task of drafting the 4900 pages of the Treaty and Act of Accession in each of the 21 languages was finalised in early 2003.

Finally, as of 17 April 2003, the Union is pleased to welcome the acceding States as active observers in the work of the Council and its preparatory bodies.

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Burma/Myanmar - Council conclusions

    "1. The European Union has been following events in Burma/Myanmar with careful attention and continuing concern. The Council has previously expressed its willingness to support a substantive process of national reconciliation, leading to the restoration of a democratic order and greater respect for human rights in Burma/Myanmar.

    2. The European Union shares the view of a number of international partners that the best interests of the people of Burma/Myanmar continue to be served in current circumstances by a balanced approach of carefully calibrated sanctions towards those responsible for obstruction of reform and progress, together with significant humanitarian support to ensure that the ordinary people of Burma/Myanmar suffer as little as possible as a result of the damaging policies of their government.

    3. The Council welcomes positive developments that occurred after the last strengthening of sanctions imposed in April 2000 such as:

    • The release from de facto house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2002 and the freedom of movement within the country enjoyed by the leader of the national league for democracy;

    • The release from prison of a number of persons detained for political activities;

    • The visits to Myanmar by the special envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar and the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar during the past year and the cooperation extended to them by the Government of Myanmar. However, the Council expresses concern over the serious breach of trust resulting from the placing of listening devices the room used by the special rapporteur to interview political prisoners;

    • The continued cooperation with the international committee of the Red Cross and the slight improvement in the conditions of detention;

    • The recent visit by an Amnesty International delegation to Myanmar;

    • The appointment of an ILO liaison officer;

    • The growing awareness of the government of the need to combat the production of opium in Myanmar;

    • The dissemination of human rights standards for public officials and some ngos and ethnic groups through a series of human rights workshops, but stresses that such activities need to lead also to concrete efforts to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

    4. At the same time the Council firmly states that these steps are by far not sufficient to address the economic, humanitarian and political problems that afflict the country. In particular the Council expresses its grave concern about:

    • The ongoing serious violation of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, of the people of Burma/Myanmar;

    • The continued refusal of the government to enter into a genuine political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders; the harassment and attempted intimidation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and opposition activists by the authorities of Myanmar, supported by the union solidarity development association (USDA);

    • The practice of extrajudicial killings; reports of rapes and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the armed forces; torture; renewed instances of political arrests and continuing detentions, including of prisoners whose sentences have expired; systematic use of child soldiers;

    • The violations of human rights suffered particularly by persons belonging to ethnic minorities, women and children, especially in non-ceasefire areas;

    • The situation of the large number of internally displaced persons and the flow of refugees to neighbouring countries;

    • The ever-increasing impact of the human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) on the population of Burma/Myanmar; and, despite the beginning of an increased awareness, the still insufficient response of the Myanmar authorities to the progressively more critical HIV/AIDS situation in Myanmar.

    5. These continuing concerns have caused the Council to roll over the existing sanctions for 12 months. The Council also agreed to extend the list of persons subject to the visa ban and the freeze of assets, to further amend and strengthen the arms embargo and to implement this decision on or before 29 October 2003, unless the Council decided otherwise.

    6. The Council can find no credible reason to account for the failure of political will on behalf of the Burma/Myanmar authorities to agree to a definitive timetable for the return to democracy. Many of the essential elements required for a substantive process of national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy are in place. The ceasefires agreed with many of the ethnic insurgent groups have increased the stability of the country and the Council notes that other insurgent groups have indicated a willingness to enter into discussions aimed at ending the armed conflicts. The national league for democracy and other democratic groups continue to make clear their willingness to move forward in partnership with the authorities to tackle the economic, humanitarian and political problems.

    7. The European Union fully supports the attempt by the United Nations Secretary-Generals' special envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, to help build confidence and cooperation with all sections of Burmese society, including with regard to humanitarian assistance issues. The European Union will continue to give every support and assistance to Tan Sri Razali Ismail in this regard.

    8. The Council stressed its resolve to intensify contacts with EU dialogue partners in Asia, in particular China, India, Japan and ASEAN, on how best to support progress on the issues of good governance, economic reform in Burma/Myanmar.

    9. In pursuit of this approach, the EU will as a first step explain to the Burma/Myanmar authorities that if substantive progress is not made on the key issues of the national reconciliation process, namely the commencement of a substantive dialogue between the authorities, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic movement, the release of political prisoners, complete freedom of action and movement for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and a reduction of the violence and human rights violations in Burma/Myanmar, in particular in the ethnic minority areas, it will then implement on or before 29 October 2003 measures set out in the common position.

    10. The measures would broaden and strengthen of the scope of the travel ban and asset freeze to include further members of the military regime, the military and security forces, the military regime's economic interests and other individuals, groups, undertakings or entities associated with the military regime who formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede Burma/Myanmar's transition to democracy. At the time of implementing those measures, the European Union will also consider further targeted economic measures that may be appropriate, taking into account its desire not to take measures which impact on the poor in Burma/Myanmar.

    11. The Council stressed the potential reversibility of existing provisions of the common position. The European Union would react with speed and goodwill to the irreversible commencement of a substantive process of democratic reform in Burma/Myanmar and clear commitment to address human rights concerns. In such a case, the European Union would be ready to re-evaluate the measures included in the Common Position. Such a process would make possible new and stronger links between Burma/Myanmar and the European Union. The European Union is willing to take forward dialogue and cooperation contributing to the opening or strengthening of any such process.

    12. The Council reaffirmed its strong commitment to the territorial integrity of Burma/Myanmar and stressed the natural role that the armed forces will have to play in a future democracy in that country.

    13. An exception to the ban on high-level visits will be made in the common position and a troika delegation will be sent to Burma/Myanmar at a political level on the condition that it will meet the appropriate leadership of the country. The troika's mission will be to explain the view of the European Union to all sectors of Burma/Myanmar society, including Senior General Than Shwe, the Senior Leadership of the State Peace and Development Council, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of the ethnic minorities, on the necessity of early action to bring about substantive political, humanitarian and economic change.

    14. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to working with the United Nations and non-governmental organisations to help address the humanitarian needs of the people of Burma. To this end, it introduced a provision in the arms embargo to allow the export of certain military rated equipment for humanitarian use by United Nations personnel.

    15. European Union humanitarian assistance is not conditional on the political situation. It will continue to be based on identified needs and the availability of suitable mechanisms for ensuring that it reaches the most vulnerable part of the population in a transparent and accountable manner, in collaboration with all interested parties, including the NLD. European Union assistance is currently provided for a broad range of programmes including: Child Immunisation, Basic Education, Water and Sanitation, Reducing Drug Production, Support for Refugees and Internally Displaced People, and for the Protection Work of the International Committee of the Red Cross. A particular effort is currently being made to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Burma/Myanmar, with significant funding being provided for the joint plan of action for HIV/AIDS in Burma/Myanmar that is co-ordinated by the United Nations and for related programmes being implemented by non-governmental organisations.

    16. The Council also reaffirmed its firm commitment to supporting the efforts of the International Labour Organisation to bring about the permanent elimination of the use of forced labour in Burma and the implementation of the International Labour Organisation's Article 33 measures that came into force in December 2000. The Council expressed its concern that forced labour remains widespread and systemic in Burma/Myanmar. The European Union will continue to attach the utmost importance to events in Burma/Myanmar.

    17. The European Union will continually assess whether action is taken to address political and human rights concerns as well as economic reform. In particular the European Union will assess the extent of humanitarian access given to non-governmental organisations and the United Nations; progress with the release of political prisoners, especially the elderly and the sick; continued and improved cooperation with the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, and the International Labour Organisation; substantive political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of the other democratic groups.

    18. The situation will be kept under close and continual review. The Council stands ready to respond quickly and proportionately to developments in Burma/Myanmar be they positive or negative."

Indonesia - Council conclusions

    "1. The Council expressed satisfaction with the dialogue between the EU and Indonesia and reaffirmed EU's aspirations to build a closer partnership between the two parties and further strengthen political dialogue, e.g. by increasing contacts and arranging ad hoc high-level contacts in the margins of regional meetings. The Council confirmed the EU's support to Indonesia's territorial integrity and to the ongoing process of democratisation. It reiterated its attachment to a democratic, stable, united and prosperous Indonesia. It welcomed the constitutional amendments, which were important steps towards strengthening democracy in Indonesia. It confirmed the EU's readiness to assist Indonesia in support and observation of the 2004 presidential and parliamentarian elections.

    2. The Council expressed its solidarity with Indonesia in fighting terrorism and recognised the serious challenges the country is facing. The Council welcomed the significant steps taken by the Indonesian government following the severe terrorist attacks in Bali and indicated that preparatory work was already being carried out to put into practice the commitment of the Union to support the Indonesian government in the fight against terrorism and in further assisting the important reforms of the police forces. It welcomed the progress of investigations into the Bali bombings. The Council encouraged the government to accede to all twelve UN conventions on terrorism, further strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies, and actively pursue close co-operation with regional and international partners, including the UN Counter Terrorism Committee, to fight terrorism. The Council welcomed the establishment of regular contacts between European and Indonesian counter-terrorism experts. It confirmed the EU's offer of financial and technical assistance in the area of fighting terrorism (assistance in the implementation of UNSCR 1373). It stressed the importance that the government further pursues its commitment to human rights and to ensure stability and security in Indonesia, with full respect for the law.

    3. The Council recognised the achievements made by the Indonesian Government to stabilise the economy and in the area of decentralisation. The Council welcomes the priority given by the government to further deepen economic reforms, and it confirmed the EU's willingness to support these efforts, in particular in the field of poverty alleviation and sustainable management of natural resources. It calls upon the government to increase its efforts in finalising the poverty reduction strategy and to ensure that the exploitation of national resources is put on a sustainable footing. It further urges the government to address humanitarian needs, including those of internally displaced persons.

    4. The Council urged further progress in addressing political, judicial, and legal reforms - all areas to which the government has attached high priority. An effective judicial system, good governance and a clampdown on corruption are fundamental to a democratic and constitutional state and essential to the above mentioned stabilisation and reform of the economy. The Council encouraged the Indonesian government to ensure that the anti-corruption mechanisms are operational.

    5. The Council recognised that embedding the security sector in a democratic society, as well as improving its accountability still present a major challenge to the government and underscored the importance of progress in the professionalization and modernisation of the Indonesian armed forces and police.

    6. The Council reaffirmed the importance it attaches to the promotion and protection of human rights in Indonesia. It also urges the Indonesian authorities to maintain the moratorium on the death penalty. While recognising positive developments such as the establishment of permanent human rights courts, the Council strongly encourages the government to actively address human rights problems in the country, namely by ensuring that those courts begin operations as soon as possible. In particular, it stresses the importance of bringing all perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. In this respect, it expressed its disappointment regarding the way the ad hoc tribunal on East Timor functioned, which did not result in a substantiated account of the human rights violations occurred in 1999. It encourages the government to address the deficiencies of this tribunal, so as to ensure that justice will be done.

    7. The Council also emphasised the importance of actively promoting peaceful solutions to the internal conflicts, whether separatist or sectarian in nature in Central Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Papua, Aceh and Central Kalimantan. The Council welcomed the signing of an agreement for the cessation of hostilities in Aceh (9 December 2002) and believes that its full implementation in letter and spirit is but an essential first step for an ending of persisting violence and separatism. In light in particular of recent worrying developments in Aceh, which appear to threaten seriously the continued implementation of the agreement, the Council called upon both sides to honour fully their obligations and to restate publicly their unconditional commitment to the agreement. It remains convinced that lasting peace will not be sustainable without concrete actions towards fair and democratic elections in Aceh in 2004 in accordance with a review of the NAD law. Being one of the co-chairs of Tokyo Conference on the reconstruction of Aceh, the EU reiterates its financial assistance to the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement and its willingness to assist a post-conflict Aceh.

    Although sporadic violence continued in Central Sulawesi and the Moluccas, the Malino I and Malino II Agreements constituted very positive steps forward, which, however, needed further support to be effectively implemented. The Council stressed the importance of full implementation of the letter and spirit of the Special Autonomy Laws (SAL) in Aceh and in Papua. With regard to the latter, the Council emphasised the need for clarification of the relation between the SAL for Papua and the recent Presidential Decree, and expressed its concern on the delays on the Indonesian side in accepting international support for the implementation of SAL.

    8. The Council noted the important role of Indonesia in furthering regional co-operation, including on regional security and thereby contributing to the stability and prosperity of south East Asia.

    9. The Council welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between East Timor and Indonesia and encourages further development of good bilateral relations between the two countries.

    10. In order to enhance mutual understanding and respect between the citizens of the EU and Indonesia, the Council encouraged a broad people-to-people dialogue and cultural interaction, reaching out to parliamentarians, religious groups and civil society. It would continue to follow developments in Indonesia closely."

Afghanistan - Council conclusions

    "1. In the present international situation, the Council stresses the importance of maintaining the focus on Afghanistan and reiterates its strong commitment to substantially contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and to the full implementation of the Bonn Agreement. The Council welcomes the important progress made to date by President Karzai and the Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA). However, the Council expresses concern over the humanitarian situation, as well as the inadequate level of security outside Kabul.

    2. The Afghan Development Forum and the Afghan High-Level Strategy Forum demonstrated the ATA's commitment to developing and coordinating ambitious development goals and strategies. The Council welcomes the proposals for reform and the presentation of verifiable benchmarks as set out in the national development budget, presented by the ATA at the high-level strategy forum, and undertakes to support the ATA priorities included in that document. The Council reiterates its long-term commitment to work with the ATA and its successor, elected by democratic elections in 2004, to deliver the successful implementation of the development priorities and strategies with a view to reducing poverty all over the country, providing livelihoods for returning refugees and building a stable, democratic Afghanistan in keeping with the 2001 Bonn Agreement.

    3. The Council invites the ATA, in close consultation with the international community, to take further steps to ensure the full implementation of the Bonn Agreement in the coming 14 months, and welcomes the fact that the ATA is in the process of developing benchmarks and timelines to ensure the full implementation of this Agreement.

    4. The Council considers that a number of challenges remain to be addressed by the ATA with the concrete assistance of the international community. These include the drafting and ratification of a new constitution that meets international standards and sanctions the obligation for Afghanistan to uphold its international commitments, notably in the area of human rights and the rule of law, and in conformity with the international treaties signed by Afghanistan, following a process of popular consultation. They also include the holding of free and fair elections by June 2004, through which a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully representative government can be established.

    The Council notes the role of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in developing the new Constitution and encourages UNAMA to give all assistance needed in the preparation of the elections. The Council also stresses the importance of institutional reforms in the security, administrative, judicial, financial and socio-economic domains including the mainstreaming of gender awareness and the protection of human rights into ATA policy, as well as the urgent need to fight the illicit production and trafficking of drugs.

    5. The Council underlines that security continues to be a major concern. The Council fully supports ISAF, which has played a critical role in improving the security situation in and around Kabul and expresses its appreciation to Germany and the Netherlands for taking over the command of ISAF III for six months. The Council underlines that lasting peace and stability will depend on extending security outside of Kabul, and on the establishment of an effective and genuinely national multi-ethic Afghan army, as well as functioning police and border forces, reform of the justice sector and the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants. The Council notes in this context the establishment of provincial reconstruction teams and is looking forward to further assessing the impact of these teams.

    6. The Council reiterates the importance of democratic values, pluralism and the respect for human rights, including the rights of women, children and minorities. The EU urges the establishment of a constitutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights, especially with regard to women and girls. The Council epresses its strong support to the work of the AIHRC and underlines the usefulness of having a permanent, robust presence of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as a gender rights adviser with UNAMA in support of the AIHRC. Further, the Council commends Afghanistan's accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the ratification by the ATA of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women on 5 March, 2003.

    7. The Council welcomes the Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations signed by the ATA and the governments of China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Kabul on 22 December 2002, and calls on the signatories of the Declaration to work together to promote security and cooperation in the region. The Council remains committed to assist in its implementation. The Council also appeals to all the countries in the region to co-operate with the international community in the fight against terrorism, extremism and narco-trafficking.

    8. The Council reiterates the EU's commitment, in co-operation with the United Nations, to help Afghanistan eliminate the opium trade through accelerated implementation of reconstruction programmes, including in poppy-growing areas, development of law-enforcement institutions, and provision of alternative livelihoods.

    9. The Council invites the High Representative and EUSR Vendrell to continue to follow closely the implementation of the Bonn Agreement commitments and, in co-operation with the Commission, to make recommendations for further actions that the EU may undertake in support of the ATA."

Generalised tariff preferences

The Council approved a compromise agreed on by the Permanent Representatives Committee on two draft Regulations aimed at amending and implementing Regulation 2501/2001 on the scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) for the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004. The two Regulations will be adopted by the Council without further discussion before 12 May, after finalisation of the texts.

Under the agreed compromise:

  • Regulation 2501/2001 is modified so as to allow any beneficiary country facing an economic crisis to be exempted from the removal of tariff preferences ("graduation") in sectors where they face a decrease in real terms of at least 3% in gross domestic product (GDP). This "financial clause" will be applied to graduation but not to de-graduation (i.e. the re-establishment of tariff preferences). The date set for graduation to apply is 1 November 2003 and for de-graduation 1 January 2003. Tariffs on graduated sectors will be reintroduced in two phases: 50% on the date on which graduation commences and 50% six months later.

  • A joint Council and Commission statement on the GSP and the fight against drugs emphasises that encouragement be given in the long term to profitable crops as an alternative to the drugs crops in the countries concerned. The Council and the Commission consider it necessary, under the review of the GSP that will start on 1 January 2005, to re-examine application of the graduation principle, including the possible adjustment of the graduation system for crops other than drugs.

Small Arms - Albania

The Council adopted a decision on the implementation of Joint Action 2002/589/CFSP with a view to a European Union contribution to the destruction of ammunition for small arms and light weapons in Albania. The decision provides for a contribution of 820,000 euros for actions in this field, in the framework of a project managed by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency. (doc. 7753/03)

CFSP - Annual report to the European Parliament

The Council approved its annual report to the European Parliament on the main aspects and basic choices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the financial implications for the EU's general budget. The Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 on budgetary discipline and the improvement of the budgetary procedure requires the Council to forward such a report to the EP once a year. (doc. 7038/03)

ACP - East Timor

The Council approved the position to be adopted by the Community within the ACP-EC Council of Ministers regarding the request presented by the Democratic Republic of East Timor for accession to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement signed at Cotonou in June 2000. (doc. 7679/03)

The position approved by the Council is favourable to East Timor's accession, subject to a specific temporary arrangement regarding financial assistance.

Estonia - Slovakia - Conformity Assessment for industrial products

The Council adopted decisions on the conclusion of a Protocol on conformity and acceptance of industrial products under the Europe Agreements establishing an Association between the EC and their Member States, on the one hand, and, respectively, the Republic of Estonia and the Slovak Republic respectively, on the other hand. (docs. 7341/03, 7343/03, 14872/02)

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - Heavy goods transit

The Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Community and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia concerning the system of ecopoints to be applied to regulate the transit of heavy goods traffic of FYROM through Austria. (doc. 11920/02)

Accession Partnership with Bulgaria

The Council adopted a decision on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with Bulgaria.

Accession Partnership with Romania

The Council adopted a decision on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with Romania.

Accession Partnership with Turkey

The Council adopted a decision on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with Turkey.

TRADE

Antidumping measures - Stainless steel fasteners

The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation 393/98 which imposed a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of stainless steel fasteners and parts thereof originating in the People's Republic of China, India, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand. The Regulation amends the rate of duty established for Kundan Industries Limited and Tata International of India. (doc. 7844/03)

ECOFIN

New member of ECB Executive Board

The Council recommended that Ms Gertrude TumpelGugerell be appointed member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank for a term of office of eight years with effect from 1 June 2003. (doc. 8090/03)

The Recommendation shall be submitted for decision to the Heads of State or Government of the Member States which have adopted the euro, after consulting the European Parliament and the ECB Governing Council.

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

Facilitated transit documents *

The Council adopted a Regulation establishing a specific Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) and a Facilitated Rail Transit Document (FRTD) and amending the Common Consular Instructions and the Common Manual. (docs 7531/03 and 8195/03 ADD 1)

The Regulation is aimed, in the light of the accession to the Union of new Member States, at taking into account specific situations which may occur as a result of enlargement, and sets out the relevant legislation to avoid problems related to the crossing of the EU's external border. It addresses, in particular, situations where third country nationals must necessarily cross the territory of one or several Member States in order to travel between two parts of their own country which are not geographically contiguous.

The Council also adopted a Regulation on uniform formats for the FTD and FRTD. (doc. 7533/03)

AGRICULTURE / ENVIRONMENT

Fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe

The Council decided to authorise the Commission to take part in the Fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, to be held in Vienna on 28, 29 and 30 April, on behalf of the Community and alongside Member States and to sign the acts resulting from it, on condition that signing by the Commission does not imply any commitment to joint actions which are not within the Community's sphere of competence. (doc. 8224/03)

RESEARCH / EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Scientific and technological co-operation

The Council decided to authorise the Commission to negotiate agreements on scientific and technological co-operation between the European Community and, respectively, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia.

INTERNAL MARKET

Fertilisers *

Public deliberation

The Council adopted a common position on the draft Regulation recasting several Directives that have until now made up Community legislation setting out common rules on the placing on the market of fertilisers. The text will be sent to the European Parliament for a second reading under the co-decision procedure. (dos. 12733/02 and 5149/03 ADD 1)

The proposal follows on from the Commission's communication on simpler legislation for the internal market (SLIM) by clarifying and simplifying the existing legislation. The most prominent feature is the change of legal instrument - from Directives to a Regulation - in order to achieve a uniform application of this technical set of provisions.

INSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Discovery of phonetapping devices in the Justus Lipsius building complaint

The Council approved a decision authorising the Deputy SecretaryGeneral of the Council to lodge a complaint on its behalf against person or persons unknown with the Chief Public Prosecutor at the Brussels Court of Appeal with regard to the discovery of phonetapping devices in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. The complaint will be based on the relevant provisions of the Belgian criminal code, in particular article 314bis.

Comitology procedure

The Council adopted, in public deliberation, a common position on a draft Regulation on comitology provisions laid down in acts which are subject to the codecision procedure with the European Parliament. This common position will be forwarded to the EP for a second reading. (doc. 11253/1/02 REV 1)

Furthermore, the Council adopted two Regulations on comitology provisions laid down in Council acts which are subject to the consultation procedure and based, respectively, on unanimity or qualified majority voting within the Council. (doc. 12933/02 and 12932/02)

The Commission submitted to the Council in December 2001 four draft Regulations on provisions relating to committees which assist the Commission in the exercise of its implementing powers. These proposals are aimed at bringing the current legislation in this respect into line with Council decision 1999/468/EC. It should be noted that only the first is subject to the codecision procedure and thus to public deliberation.

Appointments - CEDEFOP

The Council appointed Mr José Carlos Frias Gomes Member of the Management Board of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) as the Portuguese Government representative for the period from 14 April 2003 to 5 March 2006.

DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE

BUDGET

Financial perspectives and enlargement

The Council approved on 14 April two Decisions of the European Parliament and the Council on the adjustment and revision of the EU's financial perspectives in order to take account of the Union's enlargement with the accession of 10 new Member States.

The Council also approved a statement declaring in particular that the budgetary figures mentioned in annex to the Accession Treaty are without prejudice to the rights of Parliament and the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 on budgetary discipline and procedures. The statement notes agreement on a revision of the heading of the current financial perspective relating to internal policies, providing for an increase of 480 million euros for the 20042006 period, of which 50 million euros for 2004, 190 million euros for 2005 and 240 million euros for 2006.

The text on the revision of the financial perspectives was approved by qualified majority, the Belgian delegation voting against.

fisheries

TACs and Quotas for 2003 *

The Council adopted on 10 April by qualified majority a Regulation amending Council Regulation 2371/02 on Total Allowable Catches and national quotas for European fisheries in 2003. The Irish delegation voted against and the Belgian delegation abstained.

(doc. 8209/03 and 8341/03)

________________________

(1) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.

(2) The Council adopted conclusions on Afghanistan (see below page VIII)


Side Bar

My account

Manage your searches and email notifications


Help us improve our website