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COUNCIL OF
THE EUROPEAN UNION

EN

C/04/343

Brussels, 13 December 2004

15460/04 (Presse 343)

PRESS RELEASE

2630th Council Meeting
General Affairs and External Relations
Brussels, 13 December 2004

President Mr Bernard BOT
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

* The 2631st meeting on External Relations is the subject of a separate press release (15461/04).

Main Results of the Council
The Council examined draft conclusions presented by the Presidency in preparation for the European Council to be held on 16 and 17 December, dealing in particular with the conclusion of membership negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania and the opening of negotiations with Turkey and Croatia.
It adopted measures, in implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1572, to restrict the provision of arms and military assistance to Ivory Coast and to impose a visa ban and freeze of assets on persons constituting a threat to peace and national reconciliation. It also adopted a visa ban on officials responsible for electoral fraud and for human rights violations in Belarus.
The Council endorsed a progress report on the EU strategy against proliferation of WMD and a list of priorities for its coherent implementation in the future. It also endorsed recommendations on export control systems for dual use goods.
The Council adopted conclusions on ESDP including approval of proposals for a civilian/military cell.
It adopted new provisions to take account of the expiry of the WTO's agreement on textile and clothing and adopted rules aimed at extending equal treatment between men and women beyond the workplace to other areas of everyday life.
The Council adopted rules requiring the use of facial image and fingerprint identifiers in EU passports and requiring Member States to stamp the travel documents of third country nationals when entering the EU, as well as a Directive laying down rules on the admission of students from third countries.
It also reached political agreement on provisions concerning the exercise of the Council Presidency including the order of presidencies from 2007 to 2020.

CONTENTS1

PARTICIPANTS 6

ITEMS DEBATED

PREPARATION OF THE DECEMBER EUROPEAN COUNCIL 8

OPERATIONAL PROGRAMME 2005 8

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES 8

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Ivory Coast - Arms embargo and visa ban 9

Belarus- Extended visa ban 9

Colombia - Council conclusions 9

Afghanistan - Council conclusions 10

Somalia - Council conclusions 12

Croatia – Stabilisation and Association Agreement 12

Relations with Mexico - EU enlargement 12

Relations with Jordan – EU enlargement 12

EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction 13

Human rights – EU guidelines 14

Fight against terrorism - External relations 14

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

ESDP - Council conclusions 15

Report on EU security and defence activities 15

Civilian crisis management - Headline Goal 2008 16

Training programme in security and defence matters 16

Cooperation with the OSCE – Crisis management 16

Africa – Guidelines on support to peace and security 16

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

Biometric identifiers in EU passports * 17

Stamps on travel documents of third-country nationals 17

Visas, asylum and immigration – Financial support to ARGO programme 17

Students from third countries – Conditions of admission 17

TRADE POLICY

Imports of textile products* 18

Trade statistics 18

India - Countervailing duty on imports of cotton-type bed linen 18

Switzerland – Tariff quotas for agricultural products 18

ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS

EU budget 2005 - PEACE II programme, decentralised agencies and reconstruction of Iraq 18

VAT - Austria - Expenditure on goods and services used for private purposes 19

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA

Amendments to the EEA Agreement 19

GENERAL AFFAIRS

Presidency of the Council * 19

Council activities 20

SOCIAL POLICY

Equality between women and men – Access to goods and services* 21

APPOINTMENTS

Committee of the Regions 21

PARTICIPANTS

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

Belgium:

Mr Karel DE GUCHT Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Didier DONFUT State Secretary for the European Affairs

Czech Republic:

Mr Cyril SVOBODA Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Denmark:

Mr Per Stig MØLLER Minister for Foreign Affairs

Germany:

Mr Joschka FISCHER Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Federal Chancellor

Estonia:

Ms Kristiina OJULAND Minister for Foreign Affairs

Greece:

Mr Petros MOLYVIATIS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Yannis G. VALINAKIS Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Spain:

Mr Miguel Angel MORATINOS CUYAUBÉ Minister for Foreign Affairs

France:

Mr Michel BARNIER Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ms Claudie HAIGNERÉ Minister with responsibility for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ireland:

Mr Dermot AHERN T.D. Minister for Foreign Affairs

Italy:

Mr Gianfranco FINI Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Cyprus:

Mr George IACOVOU Minister for Foreign Affairs

Latvia:

Mr Artis PABRIKS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Lithuania:

Mr Antanas VALIONIS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Luxembourg:

Mr Jean ASSELBORN Deputy Prime Minister, Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and Immigration

Hungary:

Mr Ferenc SOMOGYI Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Etele BARÁTH Minister without portfolio responsible for European Affairs

Malta:

Mr Michael FRENDO Minister for Foreign Affairs

Netherlands:

Mr Bernard BOT Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Atzo NICOLAÏ Minister for European Affairs

Ms Agnes van ARDENNE-van der HOEVEN Minister for Development Cooperation

Austria:

Ms Ursula PLASSNIK Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Poland:

Mr Włodzimierz CIMOSZEWICZ Minister for Foreign Affairs

Portugal:

Mr António MONTEIRO Minister for Foreign Affairs and Portuguese Communities Abroad

Mr Mário DAVID State Secretary for European Affairs

Slovenia:

Mr Dimitrij RUPEL Minister for Foreign Affairs

Slovakia:

Mr Jozsef BERENYI State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Finland:

Mr Erkki TUOMIOJA Minister for Foreign Affairs

Sweden:

Ms Laila FREIVALDS Minister for Foreign Affairs

United Kingdom:

Mr Jack STRAW Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Commission:

Mr José Manuel BARROSO President

Ms Margot WALLSTRÖM Vice-President

Ms Benita FERRERO-WALDNER Member

Mr Olli REHN Member

General Secretariat of the Council:

Mr Javier SOLANA Secretary-General/High Representative for the CFSP

ITEMS DEBATED

PREPARATION OF THE DECEMBER EUROPEAN COUNCIL

The Council examined draft conclusions prepared by the Presidency for the European Council meeting to be held in Brussels on 16-17 December.

The main items that the European Council is due to discuss are as follows:

  • EU enlargement: decisions on the conclusion of membership negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania and on the opening of negotiations with Turkey and Croatia.
  • Terrorism: review of progress in the fight against terrorism;
  • EU financial framework for 2007-2013: decision on principles and guidelines for further work aimed at enabling agreement on the new financial framework and related issues, including the system of own resources for the financing of the EU budget;
  • Justice and home affairs: EU Drugs Strategy 2005-2012;
  • External relations: a number of issues, including the Middle East Peace Process and Ukraine.

Work on the draft conclusions is likely to continue in the run-up to the European Council, in particular as regards external relations.

OPERATIONAL PROGRAMME 2005

The Council took note of the presentation by the incoming Luxembourg and United Kingdom presidencies of a draft operational programme of the Council for 2005.

The report covers the following issues:

  • Lisbon economic reform agenda;
  • Common Agricultural Policy and fisheries;
  • sustainable development;
  • justice and home affairs;
  • future accessions;
  • enhancing global security and prosperity;
  • Constitutional Treaty: entry into force.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

The Council took note of the presentation of requests by the Spanish and Irish delegations concerning the status of their languages within the European Union. It requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to examine the requests.

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Côte d'Ivoire - Arms embargo and visa ban

The Council adopted a Common Position concerning restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire aimed at implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1572(2004) (15437/04).

The Common Position provides for prohibitive measures as regards:

  • the sale or supply of arms by nationals of Member States or from EU territories;
  • the supply of technical assistance related to military activities;
  • provision of financial assistance or materials that may be used for internal repression;
  • entry into the EU of persons who constitute a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process in Côte d'Ivoire, or who are considered responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the freezing of those persons' funds and economic resources.

Belarus- Extended visa ban

The Council adopted a Common Position aimed at imposing travel restrictions on officials from Belarus responsible for the fraudulent parliamentary elections and referendum on 17 October 2004 and for human rights violations during subsequent peaceful political demonstrations in Minsk (15469/04).

The Common Position extends the list of persons established by Common Position 2004/661/CFSP and obliges Member States to take necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of the persons concerned.

The European Union travel restrictions will be extended to apply to Lidia YERMOSHINA, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission and Yuri PODOBED, Commander Minsk OMON.

Colombia - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"Recalling its conclusions of 10 December 2002 and 26 January 2004, and the London Declaration of July 2003, the Council reaffirmed the European Union's full support for the Colombian Government, notably in its efforts to establish the rule of law throughout the country and in its fight against terrorism and illicit drug production and trafficking. The Council renewed its support for the Colombian Government's efforts to reform the economy and increase social cohesion, in accordance with the Declaration of Guadalajara of 29 May 2004 of the Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and of the European Union. The European Union stands ready to cooperate with the Colombian government in these endeavours.

The Council expressed the European Union's total solidarity with the Colombian people and reiterated its concern over the grave human rights and international humanitarian law situation in Colombia, in particular as regards internal displacements. The Council called on all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and repeated its call on all illegal groups to cease all hostilities and engage in a negotiated peace process and to act accordingly. The Council welcomed the decision of the Colombian Government to pardon 23 members of the FARC. The Council reiterated its demand that the illegal armed groups that still detain hostages release them immediately and unconditionally.

Such an act could possibly be part of a humanitarian agreement which would hopefully contribute to the involvement of all parties in the peace process. The Council stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of those individuals, organisations or institutions, including human rights defenders, working for the promotion and protection of human rights, and of protecting the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, as reaffirmed in the Declaration of Guadalajara. The Council also commended the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia and urged a prompt implementation of its recommendations, as reflected in the Chair's statement on Colombia adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at its sixtieth session. The Council welcomed the meeting, scheduled for 15 December 2004, between President Uribe and representatives of civil society i.a. on the implementation of these recommendations as a sign of the Colombian government's recognition of the important role civil society has to play.

The Council reiterated its longstanding policy of support for the Colombian government in its search for a negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict, including through direct engagement with those illegal armed groups who may be prepared to negotiate a peace agreement. The Council called on the Colombian authorities for an early adoption of a comprehensive legal framework for the process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the illegal armed groups. Such a framework should be in conformity with international commitments and take into account the right of the victims to truth, justice and reparation.

The Council stressed its strong support for the good offices of the United Nations Secretary-General, and welcomed the engagement of the Organisation of the American States, the Government of Mexico and the Group of Friends countries, as well as the efforts of the Catholic Church in the processes towards peace in Colombia.

The Council stressed the European Union's willingness to assist in reaching a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict within the framework of a credible and comprehensive peace strategy, as previously expressed by the Presidency in its Declaration of 30 June 2004.

More specifically, the Council expressed the European Union's readiness to pursue an effective and result-oriented engagement. A more formal EU involvement could take place through timely political endorsement for the ongoing peace process once the Colombian Government has set out a comprehensive legal framework. In this respect the Council underlined that the European Union would have great difficulty in endorsing the peace talks as long as the illegal armed groups have not ceased hostilities. Following a gradual approach linked to developments on the ground, the Council also expressed its readiness to provide concrete and adequate financial support for the outcome of such talks once a comprehensive strategy concerning concentration, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the members of the illegal armed groups in the society has been defined.

The Council welcomed the decision by the Colombian government to convene a 'High-Level Follow-up Meeting of the July 2003 London Declaration Parties' in Cartagena de Indias on 3-4 February 2005. This would provide an excellent opportunity to monitor the implementation of the London Declaration of July 2003 as well as the way forward."

Afghanistan - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"The Council reiterates its satisfaction with the successful presidential elections held in Afghanistan on 9 October 2004. These elections were a milestone in the democratisation process in Afghanistan and clearly demonstrated the will of the Afghan people to see change. The Council now looks forward to the parliamentary, provincial and local elections to take place in 2005, and stands ready to assist the Afghan government and the UN in making these elections an equivalent success.

The EU will actively follow and support Afghanistan's democratisation process, including the forthcoming elections, taking into account lessons learned from the Presidential election and the recommendations of the EU Democracy and Election Support Mission (DESM), the OSCE Electoral Support Team, and the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB). The Council welcomes the Commission's intention to assess what form of mission would be appropriate for the parliamentary elections.

The Council strongly encourages President Karzai to seize this opportunity to form a cabinet prepared to tackle the important challenges facing Afghanistan. Some of the most pressing issues include strengthening of the democratic process, counter-narcotics, rule of law, security, reconstruction and development.

The Council underlines that the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs also affect the Member States of the European Union and their citizens. The EU and Afghanistan therefore have a common interest and commitment to ensure that counter-narcotics action becomes a central priority in Afghanistan.

The Council reaffirms the EU's long-term commitment to the reconstruction, development and stabilisation of Afghanistan. It believes that the Berlin work-plan, and its implementation by all parties, remains the cornerstone of international engagement and of reform efforts by the government of Afghanistan.

The Council agrees that future EU involvement should focus on the following priorities:

1. Support for the process of democratisation through the development of legitimate public institutions and strengthening the rule of law. In this regard, strong emphasis must be given to judicial reform. The development of democratic and moderate political parties will reinforce the role of the future Parliament and help Afghanistan to build a society promoting human rights for all, especially with regard to women, girl children and vulnerable groups. The EU will support the efforts of the Afghan government and people in addressing the issue of transitional justice.

2. Support for Afghan and international partners in their efforts against cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics. We must increase the risk and reduce the reward for those involved in the trade through a vigorous implementation plan that pushes forward the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy in 2005. Under such a plan, there will be increased activity in the area of Criminal Justice; the Counter-Narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) will fast-track the development of counter-narcotics cases within the criminal justice system. The early delivery of sustainable alternative livelihoods will also be given greater attention. The growing influence of the narcotics economy has been undermining efforts made by the international community to promote good governance and the fight against corruption, which are key priorities.

3. The promotion of security and stability through the build-up of the security forces (army and police) under civilian government control, and meaningful implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme. The EU Member States recognise the importance of the international military presence in Afghanistan and will continue to contribute in this regard.

4. Continued support for the reconstruction process by providing substantial financial and technical aid to the Afghan government, including through support for the development of an effective and comprehensive macro-economic and monetary framework. The EU will work for increased effectiveness of the Consultative Groups and to ensure better exchange of information among donors. The formulation of an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper can be an instrument in this regard. In parallel, the EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance where it is required, paying particular attention to those who most need support, such as returnees and displaced persons, and people with disabilities.

The Council stresses the importance of regional cooperation and encourages the further development of good relations between Afghanistan and its neighbours, building on the 2002 Kabul Declaration.

The Council is keen to ensure the early formalisation of EU-Afghanistan relations and is ready to develop political dialogue at ministerial level with the government of Afghanistan."

Somalia - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"1. The Council welcomed the successful outcome of the Somali National Reconciliation Conference and the establishment of the Transitional Federal Institutions as important steps towards sustainable peace, stability and the building of a transitional federal authority in Somalia.

2. The Council expressed its full support to the process of consolidation of those Institutions also through the creation of a secure environment.

3. The Council welcomed the endorsement by the Transitional Federal Institutions of the principles and objectives for structured co-operation with the International Community. The Council looks forward to the rapid activation of the joint structures for co-ordination and monitoring of the transitional phase, with the leadership of the UN as endorsed at the Stockholm meeting on Somalia in order to enhance the efforts towards reconciliation, reconstruction and development in Somalia.

4. The EU stands ready to examine positively requests of support to initiatives in the field of security by the African Union. The Council reiterated that the continued peace and reconciliation process is and must be Somali owned."

Croatia – Stabilisation and Association Agreement

The Council adopted Decisions approving the conclusion of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Croatia and the signature of a protocol to the Agreement in order to take into account the accession of the new Member States to the EU (15099/04 and 14310/04).

Relations with Mexico - EU enlargement

The Council approved a draft Decision, to be forwarded to the EU-Mexico Joint Council for adoption, on the adjustment of provisions on financial services agreed under the EU-Mexico Economic Partnership Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement in order to take account of the enlargement of the EU (13827/04).

Relations with Jordan – EU enlargement

The Council adopted a Decision approving the signing of a protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association with Jordan in order to take into account the accession of the new Member States to the EU (14994/04).

EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - Progress report and Recommendations on export control

The Council took note of a six-monthly report on the implementation of the EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and of a list of priorities for a coherent implementation of the strategy (15246/04).

The report notes progress achieved in the fight against proliferation of WMD following the adoption by the European Council in December 2003 of the non-proliferation strategy as an essential part of the overall European security strategy.

Particular focus has been given to:

  • the EU’s diplomatic action to promote and reinforce multilateral agreements;
  • fostering the role of the UN Security Council;
  • the release of financial resources to support projects conducted by multilateral institutions (IAEA and OPCW);
  • strengthening of export control;
  • integration of WMD concerns into the EU’s relations with third countries;
  • cooperation with the United States and other key partners.

The note submitted to the Council also draws attention to a list of priorities for a coherent implementation of the WMD strategy to be carried out by 2008.

The Council also noted recommendations on export control systems for dual use goods. These recommendations are aimed at improving the EU export control systems for goods that may be used either for civilian or military purposes (15455/04). The recommendations are based on the recognition that there is a need to adopt pro-active approaches in order to avoid access to dual-use items for terrorist actions.

These recommendations are summarised at the end of the following statement adopted by the Council:

"The Action Plan against Proliferation of WMD endorsed by the European Council in Thessaloniki in June 2003 includes a commitment to reinforce the efficiency of export controls in an enlarged Europe, and to successfully conduct a Peer Review of national export controls to disseminate good practices by taking special account of the challenges of enlargement.

The European Union’s rules for the control of exports of dual use items and technology (i.e. items and technology which may be used either for civilian or military purposes including the development of weapons of mass destruction) are contained in Regulation (EC) No 1334/2000. The Regulation lays down strict procedures for controlling exports of all dual-use items identified for control in the four international export control regimes and the Chemical Weapons Convention. It also provides the basis for Member States to control exports of any non-listed dual use item they consider presents proliferation risks.

As a follow-up to the Thessaloniki Action Plan and in implementation of the Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Member States, the Commission Services and the Council Secretariat have worked in close cooperation in order to prepare and contribute to the successful execution of the Peer Review process. The exercise has proved most useful and has contributed greatly to the enhancement of the efficiency of EU export controls. During visits which took place between February and July 2004, all Member States, assisted by a Task Force, had the opportunity to compare practices, learn from each other’s experiences and make suggestions for improvements.

Based on these suggestions and an analysis of national systems, the Task Force has made recommendations for follow-up to further improve EU export controls and thereby enhance Member States' capabilities to prevent access by undesirable end-users, including terrorists in third countries, to dual use items relevant for WMD purposes. Such recommendations, which are listed below, will be acted upon without delay.

Recommendations for strengthening the efficiency of the EU export control system:

  • ensure transparency and awareness of legislation implementing the EU system;
  • minimise any significant divergence in practices amongst Member States;
  • investigate the possibilities for adding controls on transit and transhipment;
  • provide assistance in recognition of dual-use items subject to control;
  • improve exchanges of information on denials, and consider the creation of a data base to exchange sensitive information;
  • agree best practices for the enforcement of controls;
  • improve transparency to facilitate harmonisation of implementation of controls on non-listed items (catch-all);
  • enhance interaction with exporters;
  • agree best practices for controlling intangible transfers of technology."

Human rights – EU guidelines

The Council approved a report on the implementation of EU guidelines on human rights dialogues with third countries.

The report presents an overview of the different types of EU dialogue on human rights and draws a list of key areas of concern aimed at helping the Union whenever a new human rights dialogue is initiated with a third country.

The Council adopted the EU guidelines on human rights in December 2001.

Fight against terrorism - External relations

The Council endorsed a report prepared by the Secretary General/High Representative in association with the Presidency entitled "Integrating the fight against terrorism into EU external relations policy".

The document responds to the request of the European Council of 17 and 18 June 2004, which emphasised the need to fully integrate the fight against terrorism into EU external relations policy and requested that concrete proposals be submitted to the December European Council on how to best achieve this.

Building on the work already carried out under the Netherlands Presidency, the report identifies areas where working methods can be improved and presents some suggestions in this respect. It is not intended to be a review of all counter-terrorism policy in EU external relations.

The Council also took note of a joint report by the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the Commission on counter-terrorism clauses in EU agreements with third countries.

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

ESDP - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"The Council adopted the Presidency report on ESDP and decided to submit it to the European Council.

The Council approved the detailed proposals for the implementation of the Presidency's document titled "European Defence: NATO/EU consultation, planning and operations" welcomed by the European Council in December 2003. These proposals will allow for the civilian/military cell to begin its work as scheduled, including the establishment of the capacity to rapidly generate, when needed, an operations centre for particular autonomous operations, which should be available by 1 January 2006 at the latest. The Council invites the SG/HR to take this work forward, including for training and exercising the operations centre at the earliest possible stage. The proposals also serve as a basis for agreement with NATO on the establishment of a small EU cell at SHAPE and NATO liaison arrangements to the EUMS. Recalling the European Council Conclusions of June 2004, the Council invites SG/HR to take work forward, as scheduled, on these points.

The Council reached agreement on the Civilian Headline Goal 2008, which establishes needs-driven goals to allow the EU to further define and build up the civilian capabilities it needs for future tasks and challenges by 2008 to respond more rapidly and effectively to crises. This Headline Goal sets out clearly the EU's ambitions for civilian ESDP over the coming years and will provide a firm basis to establish the capabilities needed to meet the EU's ambitions and the areas in which it should develop its capabilities further.

In order to fulfil the tasks and ambitions the EU has set itself in civilian ESDP, the EU will apply a systematic approach in the development of the necessary civilian capabilities. A Civilian Capabilities Improvement Conference at which Member States will confirm their commitments with a view to meeting the ambitions of the Civilian Headline Goal, as well as a capabilities improvement Plan, will have to be completed by the end of 2005."

Report on EU security and defence activities

The Council approved a report by the Presidency on the state of play on European security and defence policy and agreed to forward it to the European Council on 16-17 December (15547/04).

The report invites the incoming Presidency of the Council to continue work on the following activities:

  • preparation and implementation of civilian and military missions;
  • development of military and civilian capabilities and implementation of the EU Programme for the prevention of violent conflicts;
  • implementation of the Action Plan on the civilian aspects of ESDP;
  • implementation of decisions concerning EU/NATO relations;
  • finalisation under Headline Goal 2010 of the requirements catalogue in Spring 2005;
  • the operational role of the European Defence Agency;
  • EU rapid response capacity and further implementation of the EU Battle Groups concept;
  • follow-up of the European Capability Action Plan;
  • implementation of the EU Exercise Programme and the EU Training Concept under ESDP;
  • development of the contribution of ESDP to combating terrorism;
  • co-operation with international organisations;
  • implementation of the Action Plan in support to peace and security in Africa.

Civilian crisis management - Headline Goal 2008

The Council approved a report entitled “Civilian Headline Goal 2008” on civilian crisis management to be forwarded to the European Council on 16 and 17 December 2004 (15863/04).

The document develops the civilian dimension of the EU’s overall approach in using civilian and military means to respond to crisis management tasks such as conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict stabilisation, supplementing the four priority areas agreed by the European Council: police, rule of law, civil administration and civil protection.

Training programme in security and defence matters

The Council approved an EU training programme in the field of European security and defence policy for the years 2005 to 2007 (15959/04).

Cooperation with the OSCE – Crisis management

The Council approved a report prepared by the Presidency considering practical implementation of EU-OSCE cooperation in conflict prevention, crisis management and post –conflict rehabilitation (15387/1/04 REV1).

The report reflects two main goals: to strengthen the relationship and to reinforce the performance of the EU within the OSCE. The long-term objective for the EU is to preserve full implementation of OSCE values and standards in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The document also presents the financial contributions of Member States to the OSCE in 2003 and 2004 and an inventory of joint action programmes.

Africa – Guidelines on support to peace and security

The Council approved guidelines on implementation of EU support to peace in Africa (15542/1/04).

The guidelines make clear the need for EU action in Africa in support of peace and security to be undertaken on the basis of requests by the United Nations, African organisations or African States, while fully respecting African ownership. They tackle the following aspects: the required legal instruments to be considered, budgetary and management aspects and logistical and operational support.

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

Biometric identifiers in EU passports *

The Council adopted a Regulation requiring use of facial image and fingerprints in EU passports and travel documents with the purpose of protection against falsification and better identification of passport holders (15152/04 and 15918/04 ADD 1).[1]

The new provisions are intended to harmonise security standard features used in the production of EU passports and travel documents. Technical specifications provided for in the Regulation concern material and printing techniques, biographical data and protection against copying and counterfeiting. For security reasons, a single body in every Member State will be responsible for producing passports and travel documents.

Under the Regulation, Member States will be required to incorporate, in new issued passports, the portrait of the holder within 18 months, and fingerprints within three years.

Stamps on travel documents of third-country nationals

The Council adopted a Regulation on a requirement for Member States to stamp travel documents of third-country nationals when crossing the external frontiers of the EU (14709/04).[2]

The Regulation clarifies provisions of the Convention implementing the Schengen agreement and of the Schengen common manual concerning the harmonisation of practices in Member States when applying the obligation to systematically affix stamps to travel documents of third-country nationals at EU frontiers.

Visas, asylum and immigration – Financial support to ARGO programme

The Council adopted a Decision revising an action programme on cooperation in the fields of visas, asylum and immigration (ARGO programme) with a view to improving border controls and surveillance at EU external frontiers (15166/04).[3]

The ARGO programme was created by Decision 2002/463/EC to promote and support administrative cooperation at external frontiers for the period 2002-2006. Financial appropriations allocated to the ARGO programme activities were increased for the year 2004.

Students from third countries – Conditions of admission

The Council adopted a Directive laying down rules on the admission of third-country students in the EU for periods exceeding three months (14535/04).

The Directive also covers third-country nationals who apply to be admitted in a Member State for the purposes of pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service.

Some requirements to be taken into account by Member States for authorising admissions under the scope of the Directive will be: the validity of travel documents; parental authorisation; sickness insurance; guarantees on public security and health; proof of admittance in an education centre; resources to cover subsistence, study and return travel costs.

The new provisions will apply without prejudice to bilateral or multilateral agreements between Member States and third countries.

TRADE POLICY

Imports of textile products*

The Council adopted a Regulation adapting EU provisions on imports of certain textile products in order to take account of the expiry of the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) on 31 December 2004 (13962/04 ADD 1 and 13963/04).

The Regulation amends Regulations 3030/93 and 3285/94.

Amendments to Regulation 3030/93, which ensures implementation of the ATC, aim at eliminating quantitative restrictions for textile imports as regards WTO members with effect from 1 January 2005.

In addition, the new rules envisage:

  • the introduction of a time limited ex ante monitoring system for certain imports from China and of a customs-based ex post monitoring system for certain imports;
  • an end-of-year shipment regime for products shipped before the expiry of the ATC but released for free circulation in the Community after that date;
  • the maintaining of quantitative restrictions for non-WTO countries with which the Community has bilateral agreements;
  • other technical adjustments.

Trade statistics

The Council adopted a Regulation requiring the Member States to supply statistics on their balance of payments, international trade in services and foreign direct investment in order to better monitor economic developments in the EU (PE-CONS 3679/04).

The Regulation establishes a common framework for the systematic production of Community statistics to be transmitted to Eurostat in order to obtain comparable data between EU countries.

India - Countervailing duty on imports of cotton-type bed linen

The adopted a Council amending Regulation 74/2004 imposing a definitive countervailing duty on imports of cotton-type bed linen originating in India (15200/04).

Switzerland – Tariff quotas for agricultural products

The Council adopted a Regulation opening a duty-free Community tariff quota for certain agricultural products originating in Switzerland (13684/04).

ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS

EU budget 2005 - PEACE II programme, decentralised agencies and reconstruction of Iraq

The Council adopted a Decision (15511/04) supplementing the financing in the EU's 2005 budget as regards:

  • extension of the PEACE II programme for an amount of EUR 45 million;
  • subsidies to decentralised agencies for a global amount of EUR 40 million;
  • the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq for an amount of EUR 100 million.

The Decision was agreed with the European Parliament during a conciliation meeting on 25 November 2004.

VAT - Austria - Expenditure on goods and services used for private purposes

The Council adopted a Decision authorising Austria to exclude expenditure on goods and services from the right to deduct VAT when over 90% of the goods and services are used for the private purposes of a taxable person, or of his/her employees, or more generally for non-business purposes (14816/04).

14816/0414816/04

This special measure, which is a derogation from the general rules on turnover taxes defined in Directive 77/388/EEC, will apply until the end of 2009.

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA

Amendments to the EEA Agreement

The Council adopted six Decisions enabling the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee to adopt decisions amending EEA provisions in the fields of culture, education, youth, research and technical development, statistics and technical regulations (13661/04, 13666/04, 13736/04, 14109/04, 13671/04 and 13801/04).

GENERAL AFFAIRS

Presidency of the Council *

The Council gave its political approval to a draft European Decision of the Council laying down measures for the implementation of the European Decision of the European Council on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council (15865/04 and 15866/04).

The draft European Decision of the Council:

  • sets out the order of Presidencies of the Council as from 1 January 2007 and
  • lays down certain modalities concerning arrangements among Member States for the exercise of the Presidency.

The draft European Decision of the European Council on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council, as set out in Declaration No°4 of the Intergovernmental Conference on Article I-24 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, provides that the Council shall adopt a European Decision laying down implementation measures. Declaration No°4 also provides that the Council should begin preparing the Decision in question as soon as the Treaty is signed and should give its political approval within six months.

The draft European Decision of the European Council on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council set out in Declaration No 4 of the Intergovernmental Conference provides that the Presidency of the Council, with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration, shall be held by pre-established groups of three Member States for a period of 18 months. Each Member of the group shall in turn chair for a six-month period all configurations of the Council, again with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration, with the other members of the group assisting the Chair in all its responsibilities on the basis of a common programme. Members of the group may decide alternative arrangements among themselves.

The order in which the Member States will hold the Presidency of the Council as from 1 January 2007 is as follows:

Germany January-June 2007
Portugal July-December
Slovenia January-June 2008

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France July-December
Czech Republic January-June 2009
Sweden July-December

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Spain January-June 2010
Belgium July-December
Hungary January-June 2011

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Poland July-December
Denmark January-June 2012
Cyprus July-December

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Ireland January-June 2013
Lithuania July-December
Greece January-June 2014

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Italy July-December
Latvia January-June 2015
Luxembourg July-December

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Netherlands January-June 2016
Slovakia July-December
Malta January-June 2017

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United Kingdom July-December
Estonia January-June 2018
Bulgaria July-December

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Austria January-June 2019
Romania July-December
Finland January-June 2020

Council activities

The Council took note of a report on proceedings in its various configurations (15631/04).

SOCIAL POLICY

Equality between women and men – Access to goods and services*

The Council adopted a Directive aimed at implementing equal treatment between women and men outside the workplace, and extending the principle of equal treatment beyond the employment area to other areas of everyday life (14438/04 and 15622/04 ADD 1).

For further details, please see press release 15856/04.

APPOINTMENTS

Committee of the Regions

The Council adopted a Decision appointing Mr Gebhard HALDER, Landtagspräsident, Vorarlberger Landtag, as an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr Manfred DÖRLER for the remainder of his term of office, which runs until 25 January 2006.


[1] Under exceptions established by the treaties, Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be bound in the application of these measures and Denmark will decide within six months whether it will implement them in its national legislation.

[2] Under exceptions established by the treaties, Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be bound in the application of these measures and Denmark will decide within six months whether it will implement them in its national legislation.

[3] Under exceptions established by the treaties Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be bound to the application of this Decision.


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