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COUNCIL OF
THE EUROPEAN UNION

EN
C/07/236
13900/07 (Presse 236)
PRESS RELEASE
2823rd Council meeting
General Affairs and External Relations
General Affairs
Luxembourg, 15 October 2007
President Mr Luís AMADO
Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal
* The 2824th meeting on External Relations is the subject of a separate press release (13720/07).
Main results of the Council
The Council agreed on a strategy on "aid for trade", aimed at enabling developing countries, especially the least developed ones, to better integrate the world trade system and to use trade more effectively in the eradication of poverty. EUR 2 billion will be available annually from 2010, of which half will come from the European Community budget and half from the member states.
It approved a legal framework for payment services, aimed at reducing the costs of payments made within the EU. The framework complements an initiative by which industry will provide for a single euro payments area so as to enable money to move freely, regardless of geographical situation.
The Council also approved draft amendments to the "television without frontiers" directive.
The Council adopted a regulation extending for one year anti-dumping duties currently in force on imports of integrated electronic compact fluorescent lamps (CFL-i) originating in China, as well as on imports of the same product from Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam (13040/1/07).
The Council approved the ninth EU annual report on human rights, covering the period from July 2006 to June 2007.

CONTENTS1

PARTICIPANTS 5

ITEMS DEBATED

EU DISASTER RESPONSE 7

MEETINGS IN THE MARGINS OF THE COUNCIL 8

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

  • EU annual report on human rights 9
  • Euro-Mediterranean meeting 9
  • Relations with the Pacific Island Forum 9
  • Relations with Moldova - Cooperation committee 10

DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

  • Aid for trade 10
  • UN conference on trade and development 11

TRADE POLICY

  • Anti-dumping - Fluorescent lamps from China, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam 11

GENERAL AFFAIRS

  • Proceedings in the Council's different configurations 12

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

  • Jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters 12
  • Europol - Analysis files 13

FINANCIAL SERVICES

  • Payment services in the EU 13

CUSTOMS UNION

  • EU customs code 14

CULTURE

  • Television broadcasting activities 15

TRANSPORT

  • European Aviation Safety Agency 15

WRITTEN PROCEDURE

  • Immigration - readmission agreement with Moldova 16

APPOINTMENTS

  • European Economic and Social Committee 16

PARTICIPANTS

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

Belgium:

Mr Karel DE GUCHT Minister for Foreign Affairs

Bulgaria:

Mr Ivailo KALFIN Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Czech Republic:

Mr Alexandr VONDRA Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for European Affairs

Mr Karel SCHWARZENBERG Minister for Foreign Affairs

Denmark:

Mr. Per Stig MøLLER Minister for Foreign Affairs

Germany:

Mr Frank-Walter STEINMEIER Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Estonia:

Mr Urmas PAET Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ireland:

Mr Dermot AHERN Minister for Foreign Affairs

Greece:

Ms Dora BAKOYANNI Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Ioannis VALINAKIS State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Spain:

Mr Miguel Ángel MORATINOS Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation

France:

Mr Bernard KOUCHNER Minister for Foreign and European Affairs

Mr Jean-Pierre JOUYET Minister of State

Italy:

Mr Massimo D'ALEMA Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Cyprus:

Ms Erato KOZAKOU-MARCOULLIS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Latvia:

Mr. Artis PABRIKS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Lithuania:

Mr Petras VAITIEKŪNAS Minister for Foreign Affairs

Luxembourg:

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

Hungary:

Ms Kinga GÖNCZ Minister for Foreign Affairs

Malta:

Mr Richard CACHIA CARUANA Permanent Representative

Netherlands:

Mr Maxime VERHAGEN Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Frans TIMMERMANS Minister for European Affairs

Austria:

Ms Ursula PLASSNIK Federal Minister for European and International Affairs

Poland:

Ms Anna Elżbieta FOTYGA Minister for Foreign Affairs

Portugal:

Mr Luís AMADO Ministro de Estado, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Manuel LOBO ANTUNES State Secretary for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Romania:

Mr Adrian CIOROIANU Minister for Foreign Affairs

Slovenia:

Mr Dimitrij RUPEL Minister for Foreign Affairs

Slovakia:

Mr Ján KUBIŠ Minister for Foreign Affairs

Finland:

Mr Ilkka KANERVA Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ms Astrid THORS Minister for Migration and European Affairs

Sweden:

Mr Carl BILDT Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ms Cecilia MALMSTRÖM Minister for European Affairs

United Kingdom:

Mr David MILIBAND Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Mr Jim MURPHY Minister of State for Europe

Commission:

Ms Margot WALLSTRÖM Vice President

General Secretariat of the Council:

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

ITEMS DEBATED

EU DISASTER RESPONSE

The Council was briefed by the Greek delegation on the severe fires in Greece this summer.

Taking into account the recent devastation in some member states and recognising the need for the European Union to be able to respond effectively and in a timely manner to crises and emergency situations following natural disasters, the Council invited the Commission to continue to examine the issue and submit relevant proposals before the Council meeting on 10 December.

The relevant Council bodies will then pursue the matter further.

MEETINGS IN THE MARGINS OF THE COUNCIL

In the margins of the Council, representatives of the member states attended a meeting of the intergovernmental conference (IGC) on a draft reform treaty to amend the EU treaties, with a view to an informal meeting of heads of state and government in Lisbon on 18 and 19 October, which is expected to reach an agreement on the text.

The IGC is conducted under the responsibility of heads of state/government, assisted by ministers for foreign affairs, in accordance with a mandate set by the European Council in June (11218/07). The aim is to sign the reform treaty in December so as to allow sufficient time for the treaty to be ratified by the member states before the European Parliament elections scheduled for June 2009.

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

EU annual report on human rights

The Council approved the ninth EU annual report on human rights, covering the period from July 2006 to June 2007.

The report records the EU's human rights related activities with regard to third countries, action at multilateral level as well as important thematic issues. As in previous years, it also highlights various human rights issues within the EU.

The report will be available on the Council's web site:

EU Annual reports on human rights

Euro-Mediterranean meeting

The Council approved EU guidelines with a view to the 9th Euro-Mediterranean meeting of ministers for foreign affairs, to be held in Lisbon on 5 and 6 November.

The text will be forwarded to the Mediterranean partner countries and will be finalised after negotiations.

Relations with the Pacific Island Forum

The Council took note of preparations for an enhanced political dialogue with the Pacific Island Forum. Arrangements will be negotiated and finalised at an EU-PIF special consultative session in Tonga on 19 October.

The meeting will further address questions of regional security and good governance in the Pacific region, development and trade matters as well as sustainable development, as a preview of similar issues that should be included in future political dialogue meetings.

Relations with Moldova - Cooperation committee

The Council approved a position to be taken by the EU at the 8th EU-Moldova cooperation committee meeting, which will take place in Chisinau on 25 October 2007.

DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

Aid for trade

The Council agreed a strategy on "aid for trade" that includes clear figures on the amount of aid potentially available, as well as clear dates for when the funds will be available. The strategy is aimed at enabling all developing countries, particularly the least developed ones, to better integrate the world trade system and to use trade more effectively and in a sustainable way in the eradication of poverty.

The strategy enables the EU to make a substantial input to the forthcoming WTO global review on aid for trade in Geneva on 20 and 21 November 2007.

In total, EUR 2 billion will be potentially available every year from 2010: 50% of this comes from the budget of the European Community managed by the Commission, while 50% comes from the aid budgets of the member states.

The Council's decision comes at a crucial moment in negotiations on economic partnership agreements between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and regions. The Council agreed that the share of the aid for trade funds to be reserved to support the ACPs should be in the range of 50%: potentially, this could mean an annual increase in the range of EUR 300-400 million. The Council agreed that these funds should be available for needs prioritised by the ACP states, reflecting policy and programming decisions at country and regional levels.

(For more details see press release 13873/07).

UN conference on trade and development

The Council approved the European Union's key objectives and priorities for the 12th session of the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD XII), which will take place in Accra, Ghana, from 20 to 25 April 2008.

Preparatory negotiations will start in Geneva later this month.

TRADE POLICY

Anti-dumping - Fluorescent lamps from China, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam

The Council adopted a regulation extending for one year anti-dumping duties currently in force on imports of integrated electronic compact fluorescent lamps (CFL-i) originating in China, as well as on imports of the same product from Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam (13040/1/07).

The regulation extends the duration of anti-dumping measures imposed in 2001 ranging from 0 to 66,1 %.

The measures are aimed at addressing unfair competitive advantages resulting from the dumping of imports onto the Community market, by seeking an overall balance between the interests of consumers, producers and traders of energy-saving lamps, whilst taking into consideration environmental and energy consumption factors.

The decision follows an investigation carried out by the Commission pursuant to EU anti-dumping rules, which concluded that it is in the interest of the Community to continue the measures for a further adjustment period of one year.

The anti-dumping duties only cover alternating current voltage lamps, including electronic compact fluorescent discharge lamps functioning on both alternating and direct current.

The regulation also renews anti-dumping measures in force covering imports of CFL-i from Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam with a view to preventing the circumvention of the measures through those countries.

GENERAL AFFAIRS

Proceedings in the Council's different configurations

The Council took note of a report from the presidency on proceedings in its different configurations (13575/07).

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

Jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters

The Council adopted a decision on the signing, on behalf of the Community, of a convention with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters, which will replace the 1988 Lugano convention (12247/07).

The Lugano convention extended application of the rules of the 1968 Brussels convention on the same subject from the member states to three EFTA States: Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

In order to achieve the same level of circulation of judgments between the member states and the EFTA states concerned, the rules of the Lugano convention will be aligned with those of the regulation 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, which replaced the Brussels convention.

Europol - Analysis files

The Council adopted a decision amending a Council act of 3 November 1998 on rules applicable to Europol analysis files. (12850/07)

Implementing rules related to work files for the purpose of analysis by Europol required revision as a consequence of amendments to the provisions of the Europol convention as regards the opening of an analysis file and the collection, processing, utilisation and deletion of personal data contained therein.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Payment services in the EU

The Council adopted a directive establishing a legal framework for payment services, aimed at facilitating and reducing the cost of payments throughout the European Union (3613/07). The directive is adopted in first reading, under the codecision procedure involving both the European Parliament and the Council.

The directive, amending directives 97/7/EC, 2000/12/EC and 2002/65/EC, provides for:

  • enhanced competition by opening markets to all appropriate payment service providers.
  • harmonised market access requirements for non-bank payment service providers, "payment institutions", ensuring a level playing field and at the same time encouraging innovation.
  • introduction of a clear and simple set of harmonised information requirements for both providers and users, increasing market transparency.
  • standardisation of rights and obligations for users and providers of payment services, with emphasis on a high level of consumer protection.

It is aimed at complementing an initiative by which the payments industry has committed itself to establishing by 2010 a "single euro payments area" (SEPA), with integrated payment infrastructures and payment products enabling money to move freely between users, regardless of where they are situated.

The member states will have until 1 November 2009 to bring into force the provisions necessary to comply with the new framework.

CUSTOMS UNION

EU customs code

The Council adopted a common position on a draft regulation aimed at modernising the Community customs code (11272/07 and 13322/07 ADD1). The common position, which follows a political agreement reached by the Council on 25 June, will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading under the Parliement-Council codecision procedure.

The draft regulation is intended to replace the current Community customs code, which dates back to 1992, in order to adapt EU customs to changes in the international trade environment.

The future code addresses issues raised by the requirements of an electronic environment, the simplification of rules and the changing nature of the tasks performed by customs authorities. It is aimed at simplifying legislation and administrative procedures.

(For more details see press release 13871/07).

CULTURE

Television broadcasting activities

The Council adopted a common position on a draft directive amending certain provisions regulating the pursuit of television broadcasting activities. The common position will be sent to the European Parliament with a view to a second reading, under the Parliament-Council codecision procedure (10076/07).

(For further information, please see press release 13953/07).

TRANSPORT

European Aviation Safety Agency

The Council adopted a common position on a draft regulation aimed at extending the remit of the European Aviation Safety Agency (10537/07 + ADD1). The text will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading under the Parliament-Council codecision procedure.

The draft regulation provides for new responsibilities for the Agency, established under regulation 1592/2002 by which the agency was given certification and rulemaking responsibilities with respect to airworthiness.

The Council's common position modifies the Commission's proposal in particular as regards the following issues: essential requirements for licensing, operations and third-country aircraft; assessment bodies; new certification tasks for the agency; rulemaking and governance. The modifications are made in order to ensure that the new responsibilities and tasks contained in the new regulation are discharged in a way which provides for the highest level of safety oversight.

Whereas the Commission's proposal was drafted as an amending regulation, the Council drafted its common position as a consolidated text.

In addition, the common position includes some of the European Parliament's first-reading amendments that are acceptable in full to the Council.

The draft regulation is intended to repeal directive 91/670/EEC, regulation 1592/2002 and directive 2004/36/EC.

WRITTEN PROCEDURE

Immigration - readmission agreement with Moldova

The Council adopted by written procedure on 10 October 2007 a Decision concerning the signing of the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Moldova on readmission of persons residing without authorisation (12752/07) and decided to consult the European Parliament on the proposal for Council Decision on the conclusion of this agreement.

APPOINTMENTS

European Economic and Social Committee

The Council adopted a decision appointing Mr Gerfried GRUBER as a member of the European Economic and Social Committee in place of Mr Hans KLETZMAYR for the remainder of the latter's term of office, which runs until 20 September 2010.


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