Brussels, 26 January 2004
5518/04 (Presse 25)
2558th Council meeting - General Affairs - Brussels, 26 January 2004
* The 2559th meeting on External Relations is the subject of a separate press release
(5519/04 Presse 26)
Council Operational Programme for 2004 Public debate 6
Progress of work in other Council Configurations 6
STATUTE FOR MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 6
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
european security and defence policy
employment and SOCIAL policy
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
The Governments of the Acceding States were represented as follows:
NOTE: The acceding countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia) align themselves on the conclusions on the European Security Strategy, Conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa, Conflict Prevention and South East Asia.
Council Operational Programme for 2004 Public debate
The Council held a public debate on the Council's annual operational programme, submitted by the incoming Irish and Dutch Presidencies for 2004. The debate concentrated in particular on the European Security Strategy and on conflict prevention especially in Africa.
Setting out the challenges to be addressed in 2004, the programme aims at building on the work of the Greek and Italian Presidencies during 2003, covering the economic reform agenda and justice and home affairs, as well as external relations. With the European elections and a new European Parliament and Commission taking office during the year, it prioritises and focuses the legislative programme so as to enable goals to be achieved within the shorter timeframe available, including making a success of the EU's enlargement on 1 May.
Progress of work in other Council Configurations
The Council took note of a progress report from the Presidency on work under way in the Council's other configurations, covering meetings held since the last report on 8 December. (5428/04)
The Presidency's report draws the Council's attention to preparatory work to be carried out within the Council's different configurations for the Spring European Council to be held in Brussels on 25 and 26 March. It emphasises the need for timely decisions in the light of the legislative timetable leading up to the European Parliament elections from 10 to 13 June.
The report also highlights the results of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council on 5 December, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 17, 18 and 19 December, the Environment Council on 22 December, and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 20 January.
STATUTE FOR MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
The Council examined a draft Decision of the European Parliament on the Statute for Members of the European Parliament. In conclusion to the discussion, the President of the Council indicated that he would report to the Parliament the absence at this stage of the qualified majority necessary for the Council to reach a political agreement on the text.
In June 2003, the Council indicated that it could not give its approval to the draft Statute as approved by the Parliament and in December the Parliament proposed a number of amendments. The Parliament requires an opinion from the Commission and the approval of the Council acting by qualified majority in order to adopt the Statute. Rules and conditions relating to the taxation of Members require unanimity within the Council.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
european security and defence policy
EU Police Mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Operation "Proxima")
The Council adopted a Joint Action amending Joint Action 2003/681/CFSP on the European Union Police Mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (EUPOL "Proxima") (5453/04).
Under the amended Joint Action, a maximum of EUR 6.555 million for per diems for mission personnel for 2004 will be financed out of the Community budget. Operation "Proxima" was launched on 15 December 2003.
European Security Strategy Council conclusions
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"The Council welcomed the Presidency's plans to take forward the implementation of the European Security Strategy on the basis of the European Council Conclusions in December 2003. Work in this area will focus on the four areas identified by the European Council for initial action:
effective multilateralism with the UN at its core;
the fight against terrorism;
a strategy towards the region of the Middle East and
a comprehensive policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Recalling the EU-UN Joint Declaration of 24 September 2003, the Council also welcomed the forthcoming meeting between the Presidency and the Secretary General of the United Nations at which EU-UN co-operation and EU support for effective multilateralism will be discussed."
EU Special Representative Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Following a political agreement reached in November, the Council adopted a Joint Action appointing Mr Søren JESSEN-PETERSEN as the new European Union Special Representative in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in replacement of Mr Alexis BROUHNS (5365/04). Mr JESSEN-PETERSEN will take up his duties on 1 February 2004.
Sudan Strengthening of the arms embargo*
The Council adopted a Regulation aimed at strengthening the embargo in force since 1994 on the supply of arms, munitions and military equipment to Sudan, given the ongoing civil war there (5405/04 + 5404/04 ADD 1).
The Regulation complements a Common Position adopted by the Council on 9 January as regards technical and financial assistance that are of Community competence.
The Common Position and Regulation are aimed at consolidating existing measures under the embargo, extending it to cover armsrelated technical assistance and financial assistance for arms supplies, whilst allowing for exceptions for humanitarian reasons and for mine clearance operations.
Development co-operation Gender equality Public deliberation
The Council reached political agreement on a draft Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on promoting gender equality in the Community's development co-operation policies, strategies and interventions (11923/03 + 16168/03). A Common Position will be adopted at a forthcoming session and sent to the Parliament for a second reading under the co-decision procedure.
The draft Regulation provides for Community financial assistance and expertise aimed at promoting gender equality in all development co-operation policies and actions in developing countries.
Relations with the Mediterranean region Presidency priorities
The Council took note of the Presidency's priorities for implementing the EU Common Strategy on the Mediterranean region (5313/04).
The Presidency intends to advance relations by concentrating on political and security, economic and financial and social, cultural and human partnership aspects. Its priorities include:
Relations with Russia EU Common Strategy
The Council took note of the Presidency's work plan regarding implementation of the EU's Common Strategy on Russia (5376/04).
Two main priorities concern extension of the EURussia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement to include the EU's new Member States as from 1 May and an assessment report of all aspects of EU relations with Russia.
Relations with Ukraine - EU Common Strategy
The Council took note of the Presidency's work plan regarding implementation of the EU's Common Strategy on Ukraine (5378/04).
The work plan is based on the principal objectives of the Common Strategy adopted by the European Council at Helsinki in December 1999.
Relations with Mexico Adjustment of agreements Rules of origin
The Council adopted a Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with Mexico aimed at adapting the EUMexico Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement, the Agreement on Mutual Recognition and Protection Designations for Spirit Drinks and other agreed provisions. The adjustments will aim at taking account of the EU's enlargement on 1 May.
The Council also adopted a Decision on the position to be taken within the EUMexico Joint Committee regarding rules of origin (5241/04).
European Economic Area Adjustment of regulations and provisions
The Council approved a draft Decision aimed at adjusting provisions under the EUEFTA Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) as regards technical regulations, standards, testing and certification, audiovisual services and telecommunications services (5178/04). The draft Decision will be forwarded to the EEA Joint Committee for adoption.
Conflict Prevention Council conclusions
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"The Council underlines its commitment to carrying forward an active EU conflict prevention policy. The development of CFSP and ESDP is an important element contributing to the EU's conflict prevention objectives as set out in the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts, endorsed by the European Council in Gothenburg in June 2001.
The Council notes that the Presidency has put forward ideas aimed at enhancing the EU's approach to conflict prevention which include an increased focus on early warning leading to early preventive action and on longer term conflict prevention strategies drawing on all tools at the EU's disposal.
The Council takes note of the Presidency's intention to submit a report on implementation of the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts to the June 2004 meeting of the European Council."
Africa Conflict prevention, management and resolution* - Council conclusions
The Council adopted a Common Position aimed at supporting the prevention, management and resolution of violent conflicts in Africa by strengthening African capacity and means of action in this field (5267/04 + 5268/04).
The Common Position supports peace-keeping in Africa, enabling regular assessment of potential violent conflicts and presenting policy options for early action.
The Council also adopted the following conclusions:
"The Council adopted a revised Common Position on conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa. The adoption of this Common Position underlines the importance which the European Union attaches to its relationship with Africa. The EU sees Africa as a key strategic partner and is deeply committed to assisting Africa and its regional organisations, including in developing a comprehensive policy in the field of conflict prevention. The Council stresses the need to shift from crisis management, focusing on ongoing or imminent crises, to conflict prevention in a long-term, peace-building sense. This requires an integrated approach, working through all EU external action instruments so as to define comprehensive preventive strategies.
The main features of the Common Position are support for and enhancement of Africa's peace keeping capacity, regular assessment of potential violent conflicts in Africa and presenting policy options for early action.
The Council noted that two years after the adoption of the Common Position, progress has been made in most of the areas relating to conflict prevention in Africa, although much remains to be done. In particular, the Council welcomed the progress made over the last two years by the African Union in establishing a continental architecture for peace and security and the ratification of the Protocol on the establishment of the Peace and Security Council. The Peace and Security Council will strengthen Africa's capacity in the prevention, settlement and resolution of conflicts and foster African ownership and solidarity. A positive and increasing role is played by subregional organisations in Africa. In this context, the Council also welcomes the establishment of a Peace Facility in support of African Peace Keeping operations, which will markedly boost African capacities to restore peace in Africa.
The Council welcomed the close co-operation and co-ordination between the EU and the UN in respect of crises in Africa and is determined to build further on this. A particular example of this successful co-operation was the EU led Operation Artemis which was a UN mandated force deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2003. The EU is ready to build upon this successful operation.
The Council noted that follow-up work on the revised Common Position should be informed by its ongoing implementation of the June 2001 EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts. Consideration of how the Union might better respond to emerging crises will be particularly important in this regard."
South East Asia Commission's communication Council conclusions
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"1) The Council welcomes the Communication from the Commission on "A New Partnership with South East Asia". In line with the conclusions of the EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting held in Brussels in January 2003, the Council acknowledges that the economic, political and strategic dynamics of South East Asia require that the Union's long-established partnership with the region be reinvigorated. Therefore, the Council fully supports the objectives of the Communication and pledges to work with the Commission where appropriate towards their implementation, in particular in areas within its competence. In so doing, the Union should aim at improving the existing framework of relations with South East Asia and the substance of these relations.
2) The Council recalls its conclusions on the overall Asia Strategy adopted in 2001: "Europe and Asia A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships" and recalls that this Communication noted the necessity to "build on and amplify this framework through our sub-regional strategies…". The Council welcomes this South East Asia Communication as one such sub-regional strategy.
3) The Council appreciates the emergence of a broad and modern policy agenda with regard to South East Asia, and broadly endorses the six strategic priorities set out:
supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism;
promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance;
mainstreaming justice and home affairs issues;
injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations;
continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries;
and intensifying dialogue and co-operation in specific policy areas.
In addition to the six priorities in the Communication, the Council stresses the importance of fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery in the region.
4) The Council confirms the EU's essential interest in a stable and democratic South East Asia. The Council also reaffirms the EU's support for the territorial integrity of the nations of South East Asia. The Council therefore urges that specific and active attention be given to fostering peace and security in the region and to conflict prevention. The Council welcomes the stabilising and conflict preventing function of sub-regional organisations like the Mekong River Commission. The improvement of regional stability and security is also the best way to address the problem of WMD proliferation as laid down in the EU Strategy against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
5) The Council welcomes the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II), adopted by the Ninth ASEAN Summit on 9 October 2003, and its plan to achieve an ASEAN Community by the year 2020 which would rest on the three pillars of the "ASEAN Security Community", the "ASEAN Economic Community" and the "ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community". The Council underlines the ambition of these plans and stands ready, together with the Commission, to support these integration efforts inter alia by making European Union experience in the field available to the ASEAN side and especially to the ASEAN secretariat.
6) The Council supports the Commission's call for rebalancing the overall relationship with South East Asia by offering the possibility of bilateral agreements with interested countries whilst confirming the strong EU commitment to support the process of ASEAN integration.
7) The Council stresses the EU commitment to supporting and enhancing regional co-operation to fight terrorism and to share its experience in the fight against terrorism. The EU is prepared to consider support for any willing country in the region in the context of the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1373 and relevant UN conventions. The EU encourages its partners in South East Asia to combat terrorism with a comprehensive strategy, including on issues of political, socio-economic and financial governance. Recalling the January 2003 Joint Declaration on Co-operation to Combat Terrorism, adopted by the 14th EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the Council emphasises the importance of implementing its provisions without prejudice to the respect by the countries concerned for basic human rights and peaceful political opposition.
8) The Council stresses the importance of the EU's commitment to an integrated approach in its external relations with South East Asia, whereby trade and investment matters are inherently linked to issues of good governance, human rights, poverty reduction and the rule of law. In this regard, the Council recalls the inclusion of the 'essential element' clause in the Union's conclusion of co-operation agreements with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and calls upon the Commission to make full use of this clause in promoting co-operation in the field of human rights, as a complement to the dialogue on this matter as well as to ensure its inclusion in possible new agreements with countries in the region. The Council stresses the need to support and strengthen civil society in the region.
9) The Council recalls the importance it attaches to the International Criminal Court and encourages those South East Asian countries which have not yet acceded to the Rome Statute to do so as soon as possible. The EU stands ready to share with South East Asian partners its experience in the matter.
10) The Council appreciates, in particular, that this more mature relationship with South East Asia includes justice and home affairs issues, such as the fight against organised crime, against trafficking in human beings, money laundering, counterfeiting, drugs and migration. In that respect, the Council recalls the European Council of Seville of June 2002 which urged that any future agreement concluded with a third country "should include a clause on joint management of migration flows and on compulsory readmission in the event of illegal immigration". The Council therefore urges that any bilateral agreements with countries in South East Asia contain adequate provisions on migratory flows and on readmission.
11) The Council underlines that, in accordance with its conclusions of 17 November 2003, it intends to include a non-proliferation element in the EU's relations with South East Asia.
12) The Council agrees that South East Asia will increasingly be one of the most dynamic growth engines of the world economy and recognises therefore the Union's interest in closer trade and investment relations with the region. The Council welcomes the New Partnership's offer to take trade matters forward through a proposed trade action plan, the Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI), pursuant to the 1980 Co-operation Agreement between the EC and ASEAN member countries.
13) The Council notes that the achievement of sufficient progress in implementing the proposed trade action plan, TREATI, and the demonstration of mutual economic interest could pave the way for entering into a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN. The Council emphasises that the commitment to TREATI, which was made before the fifth WTO Ministerial in Cancun, is not linked to any specific outcome of the WTO talks. The Council further asks the Commission to study, once ASEAN has taken further significant steps towards economic integration, the implications of a comprehensive and ambitious FTA with ASEAN, giving due weight to economic benefits in the context of the EU's multilateral and regional trade policy and the capacity of ASEAN to enter into such an agreement.
14) The Council stresses that the multilateral system should remain the EU's number one priority to harness globalisation and to deliver on the EU's trade policy objectives. It therefore underlines the importance of putting the WTO negotiations back on track and moving the multilateral system forward by further market opening and strengthened multilateral rules. The EU and ASEAN should therefore pool their efforts to effectively make progress on all parts of the Doha Development Agenda in order to ensure that the results of the negotiations are balanced and to the benefit of all members.
15) The Council welcomes the Commission's efforts to improve the quality and timely delivery of EC external assistance to South East Asia through better multiannual strategic programming. In this context, the Council welcomes the introduction of "twinning" arrangements in co-operation with South East Asia. Member States undertake to facilitate the involvement of their own institutions in these arrangements.
16) In the fight against poverty, the Council also welcomes the introduction of the concept of trilateral co-operation. This can be an efficient means of bridging the development gap between the richer and poorer countries of South East Asia, and promote regional solidarity, in line with the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). The Council stressed the EU's commitment to promote development in East Timor and Papua New Guinea within the framework of EU co-operation agreements.
17) The Council encourages an intensified EU-ASEAN dialogue in the areas of environment (especially the protection of tropical rain forests), technology and education.
18) The Council agrees that, with South East Asia's diversity, the Union should anchor its dialogue and co-operation with the region in a flexible framework. It notes that whilst the EC-ASEAN Co-operation Agreement of 1980 and fora like ASEM, ARF and bilateral relationships currently provide useful opportunities for dialogue and co-operation, the New Partnership strongly recommends that efforts should be made for rationalisation and specialisation of agendas proposed under each forum.
The Council hopes the ARF will become a more effective instrument for regional peace and security, evolving from confidence building towards preventive diplomacy and ultimately conflict resolution. The Council welcomes the fact that the EU and Cambodia will co-chair the ARF-ISG in 2004-2005.
19) The Council welcomes the recent opening of four new Commission delegations in South East Asia, which will contribute to the strengthening of relations with the region and the countries concerned, and to the smooth implementation of the New Partnership.
20) The Council warmly welcomes the launch of a new visibility strategy in the Communication and stands prepared to co-operate with the European Commission along the lines suggested in the Communication. When implementing the strategy, the Commission should closely involve the Council and keep it informed of the main stages foreseen. The Council suggests that this strategy should lead to enhanced awareness of the European Union and EU visibility in South East Asia. The Council suggests that this strategy should be brought to the attention of and discussed with South East Asian partners, in particular with a view to its effective implementation.
21) The Council recalls that the overall Asia/Pacific Strategy should be updated whenever necessary and by 2004 at the latest. The Council agrees that the Communication on a New Partnership with South East Asia should be updated as soon as necessary."
Denied boarding compensation for airline passengers* - Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Regulation, in accordance with a joint text agreed with the European Parliament within the Conciliation Committee, on the introduction of common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of being denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights (PE-CONS 3676/03 + 15632/03 ADD 1). The Irish and United Kingdom delegations voted against and the German delegation abstained.
This Regulation updates Regulation EEC/295/91, notably by strengthening the rights of passengers in the event of being denied boarding or cancellation of their flights, and providing them with assistance. It will enter into force 12 months from the date of its publication in the Official Journal in a few weeks'time.
Promotion of co-generation Public deliberation
The Council approved all the amendments adopted by the European Parliament in second reading concerning the Directive on the promotion of co-generation based on useful heat demand (16164/03). The act has therefore been adopted as amended by the Council in agreement with the European Parliament.
This Directive is a key component of the EU's strategy for energy efficiency and energy savings and for contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions. It also aims at improving security of energy supply. It provides for a regulatory framework for the promotion and development of the simultaneous generation in one process of heat and electrical and/or mechanical power.
The new legislative act includes provisions concerning the electricity grid system and tariff issues, as well as on the definition of power-to-heat-ratio and co-generation units. By introducing harmonised provisions throughout the Community, it aims at overcoming current divergences whereby some Member States already have support schemes and targets for co-generation whilst others still have no provisions on electricity production from co-generation.
Greenhouse gas emissions Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change (PE-CONS 3685/03).
The Decision's objective is to enable the Community and the Member States to comply better with their monitoring, assessment, registering and reporting duties required under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)(1) and the Kyoto Protocol(2), both aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to stabilised levels.
This Decision will replace Council Decision 93/389/EEC(3).
Packaging and packaging waste* - Public deliberation
The Council adopted by a qualified majority a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, previously agreed with the Parliament within the Conciliation Committee (PE CONS 3697/03 + 5304/04 ADD 1 + ADD 2).
The Austrian and Netherlands delegations voted against the Directive.
This Directive amends Directive 94/62/EC which harmonises national measures on the management of packaging and packaging waste in order to prevent or reduce its impact on the environment, while ensuring the functioning of the internal market. Amendments concern new targets for recovery and recycling of waste for a subsequent five-year phase; material specific targets for recycling of certain package waste materials; definitions for mechanical, chemical and feedstock recycling; the clarification of the definition of "packaging".
employment and SOCIAL policy
Co-ordination of social security systems* - Public deliberation
The Council adopted a common position on a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on co-ordination of social security systems (15577/03 + ADD 1 + 5240/04 + ADD 1).
Under the codecision procedure, the common position will now be forwarded to the European Parliament for adoption of its recommendation on second reading.
The Regulation will co-ordinate the national social security systems in order to remove obstacles to the free movement of persons. The intention is to allow European citizens to move freely within the Community, either for study, leisure or professional reasons, without losing their social security rights and protection.
The Regulation will replace the rules currently in force (contained in Regulation 1408/71) with simpler, updated rules.
Civic participation of European citizens
The Council adopted a Council Decision establishing a Community action programme aimed at granting financial support to bodies working in the field of active European citizenship and at promoting civic participation (16294/03).
The objectives are to bring EU citizens closer to the EU institutions and to intensify the links between citizens of different countries, in particular by way of town-twinning schemes.
EC/Côte d'Ivoire Fishing Agreement
The Council unanimously adopted the Regulation extending for a one year period, from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004, the fishing Protocol between the Community and the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (13970/03 + 13950/03).
This Agreement provides for allocation to three Member States - France, Spain and Portugal - of licences for demersal fishing and tuna fishing off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire. If licence applications from these Member States do not exhaust the fishing opportunities, other Member States can apply for licences.
The EC will pay for the period 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004 a total amount of € 957 500, of which € 275 000 will be financial compensation to be paid by 31 December 2003.
The remaining 71% (€ 682 500) will be for measures targeted on developing the fishery sector in Côte d'Ivoire (scientific and technical programmes, surveillance, institutional support to the fishery administration in its formulation of development policies and strategies for fisheries and aquaculture, study awards, training periods etc.).
The Council approved a list of topics on which the Presidency proposes to hold public debates at Council meetings during the first half of 2004, and a list of the main legislative proposals subject to the Parliament-Council codecision procedure on which the Council may hold public deliberations. (5229/1/04 + 5294/04)
(1) Approved by Council Decision 94/69/EC (OJ L 33, 7.2.1994, p. 11).
(2) Approved by Council Decision 2002/358/EC (OJ L 130, 15.5.2002, p.1).
(3) OJ L 167, 9.7.1993, p.31.