Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

 

 

 

COUNCIL OF
THE EUROPEAN UNION

 

EN

8478/09 (Presse 83)

PRESS RELEASE

2936th Council meeting

Justice and Home Affairs

Luxembourg, 6 April 2009

President               Mr Jiří POSPÍŠIL
Minister for Justice of the Czech Republic
Mr Ivan LANGER
Minister for the Interior of the Czech Republic

 


Main results of the Council

The Council reached agreement on a general approach for a framework decision on prevention and settlement of conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings.

The ministers for justice held a first exchange of views on new proposals aimed at stepping up efforts in the fight against sexual abuse and exploitation of children and trafficking in human beings.

In the field of legal migration, the ministers for the interior continued the examination of a future instrument establishing a single permit and a common set of rights for foreign workers in the EU.

They took note of the outcome of the visit paid by a EU delegation to the new US Administration in Washington in March 2009.

Without debate, the Council adopted a decision transforming the European Police Office (known as Europol) into an EU agency. Europol's mandate is also being extended to all serious cross-border crimes in order to facilitate assistance to the member states in cross-border criminal investigations. A new director of Europol was appointed by unanimity.

*          *          *

In the field of the environment, the Council formally adopted the various legal acts configuring the climate change and energy package.

It also adopted without discussion a recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.


CONTENTS 1

PARTICIPANTS................................................................................................................................. 5

ITEMS DEBATED

Conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings................................................. 7

Sexual exploitation of children....................................................................................... 8

Trafficking in human beings................................................................................................ 9

Protection of vulnerable victims.................................................................................. 10

Single permit and common rights for foreign workers.................................... 11

EUROPOL.......................................................................................................................................... 12

Europol/Russia cooperation on information exchange.................................... 13

MIXED COMMITTEE....................................................................................................................... 14

OTHER BUSINESs............................................................................................................................ 16

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

               Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment............................................................................................ 18

               Compensation to victims of damage caused by aircraft and arising from acts of unlawful interference.................... 18

               European Criminal Records Information System................................................................................................................. 20

               EUROPOL/Israel cooperation agreement............................................................................................................................. 20

               Cooperation on preventing and combating crime............................................................................................................... 20

               EU agreements on a short-stay visa waiver with third countries..................................................................................... 21

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

               EU/Belarus................................................................................................................................................................................. 21

TRADE POLICY

               Anti-dumping measures - Steel ropes and cables - Castings............................................................................................ 22

DEVELOPMENT POLICY

               Mauritania - Consultations under the ACP/EU agreement................................................................................................ 23

               EU/ South Africa agreement on trade and development - Protocol on EU enlargement............................................... 23

               Economic partnership agreements with ACP countries - High level dialogue............................................................... 23

               Revision of the ACP/EU Cotonou agreement - European Investment Bank.................................................................. 24

FISHERIES

               Bluefin tuna – Recovery plan*............................................................................................................................................... 24

HEALTH

               Medicinal products - Supplementary protection certificate.............................................................................................. 25

ENVIRONMENT

               Climate-energy legislative package*..................................................................................................................................... 25

                Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants.................................................................................................. 26


PARTICIPANTS

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

Belgium:

Mr Jean DE RUYT                                                                                        Permanent Representative

Bulgaria:

Mr Mihail Raykov MIKOV                                                                          Minister for the Interior

Czech Republic:

Mr Jiří POSPÍŠIL                                                                                           Minister for Justice

Mr Ivan LANGER                                                                                         Minister for the Interior

Denmark:

Ms Birthe Rønn HORNBECH                                                                      Minister for Refugees, Immigration and Integration Affairs

Germany:

Mr Wolfgang SCHÄUBLE                                                                            Federal Minister for the Interior

Estonia:

Mr Rein LANG                                                                                              Minister for Justice

Mr Jüri PIHL                                                                                                 Minister for the Interior

Ireland:

Mr Conor LENIHAN                                                                                    Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, at the Department of Education and Science, and at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (with special responsibility for Integration Policy)

Greece:

Mr Patroklos GEORGIADIS                                                                        General Secretary, Ministry of the Interior

Mr Constantinos BITSIOS                                                                            General Secretary, Ministry of the Interior

Spain:

Mr Juan Carlos CAMPO MORENO                                                            State Secretary for Justice

Ms María Consuelo RUMÍ IBÁÑEZ                                                           State Secretary for Immigration and Emigration

France:

Ms Rachida DATI                                                                                         Keeper of the Seals, Minister for Justice

Italy:

Mr Angelino ALFANO                                                                                 Minister for Justice

Mr Nitto Francesco PALMA                                                                        State Secretary for the Interior

Cyprus:

Mr Louas LOUCA                                                                                         Minister for Justice and Public Order

Mr Neoklis SYLIKIOTIS                                                                              Minister for the Interior

Latvia:

Mr Reinis BĒRZIŅŠ                                                                                      Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of the Interior

Ms Inga SKUJINA                                                                                        Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Lithuania:

Mr Paulius GRICIUNAS                                                                               State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Luxembourg:

Mr Luc FRIEDEN                                                                                         Minister for Justice, Minister for the Treasury and the Budget

Mr Nicolas SCHMIT                                                                                     Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and Immigration

Hungary:

Mr Tibor DRASKOVICS                                                                              Minister for Justice and Law Enforcement

Ms Judit FAZEKAS LÉVAYNÉ                                                                  State Secretary (with special responsibility), Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement

Malta:

Mr Carmelo MIFSUD BONNICI                                                                 Minister for Justice and Home Affairs

Netherlands:

Mr Ernst HIRSCH BALLIN                                                                         Minister for Justice

Austria:

Ms Claudia BANDION-ORTNER                                                               Federal Minister for Justice

Ms Maria FEKTER                                                                                       Federal Minister for the Interior

Poland:

Mr Andrzej CZUMA                                                                                    Minister for Justice

Mr Piotr STACHAŃCZYK                                                                          Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior and Administration

Portugal:

Mr Rui PEREIRA                                                                                          Minister for the Interior

Mr João Tiago SILVEIRA                                                                             State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Romania:

Mr Dan NICA                                                                                                Vice Prime Minister, Minister for the Interior

Mr Gabriel TANASESCU                                                                             State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Slovenia:

Mr Boštjan ŠKRLEC                                                                                     State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Slovakia:

Mr Robert KALIŇÁK                                                                                   Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior

Ms Anna VITTEKOVA                                                                                State Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Finland:

Ms Tuija BRAX                                                                                            Minister for Justice

Mr Antti PELTTARI                                                                                    State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior

Sweden:

Ms Beatrice ASK                                                                                           Minister for Justice

Mr Tobias BILLSTRÖM                                                                              Minister for Migration

United Kingdom:

Mr Phil WOOLAS                                                                                         Minister of State for Borders and Immigration

Lord BACH                                                                                                    Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice

Mr Fergus EWING                                                                                        Minister for Community Safety (Scottish Government)

 

Commission:

Mr Jacques BARROT                                                                                   Vice-President


ITEMS DEBATED

Conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings

The Council reached agreement on a general approach for a draft framework decision on prevention and settlement of conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings ( 5208/09).

The agreement on the general approach (agreement awaiting the opinion of the European Parliament) followed a debate focusing on outstanding issues such as: the role of Eurojust in dealing with cases where the competent authorities could not reach a consensus; the interaction with rules of European Community competition law, and the implementation period for the new legislation.

In line with the ministerial discussions on 27 February 2009, the scope of the instrument has been restricted to situations where the same person(s) is (are) subject to parallel criminal proceedings in different member states in respect of the same facts, which might lead to an infringement of the "ne bis in idem" principle.

The framework decision contains the following measures:

                         a procedure for establishing contact between the competent authorities of Member States, with a view to confirming the existence of parallel criminal proceedings in respect of the same facts involving the same person(s);

                         rules on the exchange of information, through direct consultations, between the competent authorities of two or more Member States conducting such parallel criminal proceedings(s), with a view to reaching a consensus on any effective solution aimed at avoiding the adverse consequences arising therefrom.

The framework decision does not affect any right of individuals to argue that they should be prosecuted in their own or in another jurisdiction, if such a right exists under national law. 

This proposal is a joint initiative put forward by the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden last January .


Sexual exploitation of children

The Council held a first exchange of views on a draft framework decision aimed at improving the fight against sexual abuse and exploitation of children ( 8150/09).

The debate followed a Commission presentation on this proposal issued on 25 March 2009.

Member agreed to step up initiatives and measures to combat these crimes.

The new proposal, which is intended to replace the framework decision 2004/68/JHA, covers the following main priorities relating to:

                         criminal law: serious forms of child sexual abuse and exploitation currently not covered by EU legislation would be criminalised;

                         use of new technologies: new forms of sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the use of the Internet would be criminalised, such as "grooming" (on-line solicitation of children for sexual purposes);

                         criminal investigation and initiation of proceedings: a number of provisions would be introduced to assist with investigating offences and bringing charges, in the absence of reporting by the child victim;

                         prosecution of offences committed abroad: rules on jurisdiction would be amended to ensure that child sexual abusers or exploiters from the EU face prosecution even if they commit their crimes in a non-EU country;

                         protection of victims: ensuring that abused children have easy access to legal remedies and do not suffer as a result of participating in criminal proceedings;

                         prevention of offences: special programmes to be implemented throughout the EU and mechanisms to be adopted to block access to websites containing child pornography.


Trafficking in human beings

The Council held a first exchange of views on a draft framework decision aimed at strengthening the fight against trafficking in human beings ( 8151/09).

The debate followed a Commission presentation on this proposal issued on 25 March 2009.

Member states made a commitment to step up initiatives and measures to combat these crimes.

The new proposal, which is intended to replace the framework decision 2002/629/JHA, is aimed at improving the existing instruments used to combat trafficking in human beings and to provide victim support, including:

                         definition of the crime, aggravating circumstances and higher punishment;

                         extraterritorial jurisdiction making it possible to prosecute EU nationals for crimes committed abroad and to use investigative tools such as phone tapping and access to financial data;

                         special treatment of the victims in criminal proceedings including not punishing of the victims who bear the consequences of criminal activities;

                         higher standard of protection and assistance to the victims. Special protective measures are envisaged for children;

                         preventive measures aimed at discouraging the demand that foster trafficking.

The new proposal seeks to further reinforce the commitment by member states to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, most often women and children. The proposal will contribute to the approximation of national legislation in this field as well as to improving international law enforcement and judicial cooperation.

It covers all legal instruments governing decisions in relation to prosecution, victim support, prevention and monitoring.


Protection of vulnerable victims

The Council took note of conclusions drawn by the Presidency on a conference regarding the protection of vulnerable victims and their standing in criminal proceedings, held in Prague on 17 and 18 March 2009.

The conclusions can be found in 7855/1/09 .


Single permit and common rights for foreign workers

The Council held a political debate on a proposal to establishing a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in a member state and a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in the EU.

The exchange of views focused mainly on the scope of the directive and was conducted on the basis of a Presidency compromise text. The Council instructed its preparatory bodies to continue examination of the proposal with a view to concluding negotiations on the directive as soon as possible.

This proposal seeks to simplify admission procedures for the purpose of work, thus contributing to a better control of immigration. To that effect, it provides for a "one-stop-shop" system for third‑country nationals wishing to live and work in a member state. It envisages a single application procedure, thereby simplifying, shortening and accelerating the procedure, both for employers and for migrants.

The conditions pursuant to which the third-country national can be admitted are not defined in the proposal and remain a national matter. If granted, the permit to stay and work should be issued in a single act. The "single permit" will adopt the existing harmonised EU format for residence permits.

By acknowledging that legally employed third-country nationals contribute to the European economy in the same way as EU citizens do, the proposal further grants basic socio-economic rights on an equal footing with EU citizens. Equal treatment would include working conditions, health and safety at the workplace, education, vocational training, recognition of qualifications, social security, export of pensions, etc.

The proposal ( 14491/07), submitted by the Commission in October 2007, was the subject of extensive debates under previous Presidencies leading to a substantial level of agreement on a large number of provisions. It requires unanimity within the Council.

The European Parliament delivered its opinion in November 2008.


EUROPOL

- Appointment of new director

The Council adopted a decision appointing Mr Rob WAINWRIGHT (United Kingdom) as new director of Europol for a four-year period.

Mr WAINWRIGHT will replace Mr Max-Peter RATZEL (Germany), whose mandate as director of Europol expires on 15 April 2009.

- Establishment of Europol as an EU agency

Without discussion, the Council adopted a decision establishing the European Police Office, known as Europol ), under which Europol becomes a Community agency as from 1 January 2010 ( 8706/3/08) .

The change of status, which follows a political agreement reached by the Council in April 2008, is aimed at improving the operational and administrative functioning of Europol.

The decision also extends the mandate of Europol to serious criminality which is not strictly related to organized crime with a view to facilitating the support provided by Europol to the member states in assisting them in cross-border criminal investigations where involvement of organized crime is not demonstrated at the start.

Europol will be financed through the EU's general budget.

The role of the European Parliament in the control of Europol will also increase, and democratic supervision of Europol at European level will be enhanced.


A number of transitional provisions have been included in order to ensure a smooth transition.

The European Police Office (Europol) was created in 1995 on the basis of a Convention between member states.

It has its seat in The Hague, the Netherlands.

See also: http://www.europol.europa.eu/

Europol/Russia cooperation on information exchange

The Council exchanged views on the possibility of authorising Europol to enter into negotiations with Russia with a view to concluding an operational cooperation agreement.

It agreed to include this issue on the agenda of the next Ministerial Troika meeting in Kaliningrad in May.

In 2003, the Council approved an agreement between Russia and Europol which does not include the exchange of personal data.

In 2000, the Council included Russia on the list of third countries and non-EU related bodies with which the Europol director can enter into negotiations for conclusion of agreements.


MIXED COMMITTEE

In the margins of the Council, the Mixed Committee (the EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) took note of the state of play on the second generation of the Schengen Information System "SIS II", following the conclusions adopted by the Council on 26 February 2009 ( 6896/09).

In the framework of the SIS, the ministers of the Mixed Committee discussed conclusions on the development of the SIRENE Bureaux [1] . These conclusions were adopted by the Council today ( 8107/09).

The Mixed Committee was briefed by the Presidency and the Commission on the state of play regarding the deployment of the Visa Information System (VIS).

It also took note of information following the lifting of air border controls in Switzerland for the Schengen area on 29 March 2009. Land border controls with Switzerland were lifted on 12 December 2008.

The Mixed Committee was briefed on Schengen-related issues following the visit of Vice-President Barrot and Czech Minister for the Interior Langer to the United States on 16 and 17 March 2009.

Guantanamo

Ministers for the interior of the Mixed Committee exchanged views on the issue of Guantanamo. At the end, the Presidency summed up the debate along the following lines:

"Minister Langer and Commissioner Barrot reported to ministers on their successful trip to Washington. The US provided information to the EU and, on this basis, work can be taken forward.


At the EU/US summit in Prague on 5 April, President Obama asked for EU assistance to the closure of Guantanamo in the form of a EU supportive framework for resettling former detainees.

Ministers agreed to work towards a EU response to the closure of Guantanamo.

Decisions to accept detainees would be taken on a case by case basis and within the exclusive competence of the hosting member state. The member states will assess independently of the US the risk of receiving a particular detainee based inter alia on comprehensive information and intelligence received from the US.

As a result of Schengen rules, a decision to accept a former detainee by one member state would be relevant for other member states. Therefore consultation and information sharing between member states is needed. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland should be associated. For the first time, ministers had a discussion with Schengen partners on this issue.

Ministers tasked the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) to present a proposal on an EU framework under which member states could accept detainees. COREPER will also consider other opened questions such as a possible Memorandum of Understanding with the US.

The closure of  Guantanamo and the EU assistance would allow both sides to pave the way for strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism and justice and home affairs in the future.".


OTHER BUSINESs

e-Justice: overview of EU funds available

The Council was informed by the Commission of the current situation of the EU funds available for the e-Justice project. The launch of the e-Justice portal is scheduled for December 2009.

Financial crisis: "what can be done in the area of justice?"

As regards responses to the financial crisis, the Council took note of information provided by the Presidency and other Member States on the legislative and non-legislative measures and other actions undertaken in the field of justice to adapt relevant instruments to the new situation, as well as to counter some negative aspects of the economic crisis.

Conference on succession and wills in Europe

The Council was briefed by the Presidency on the preparations for a conference on succession and wills in Europe, to be held in Prague on 20 and 21 April 2009.

Information on the G-8 Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting

The Council took note of information provided by the Italian delegation on the upcoming G-8 ministerial meeting, to be held in Rome from 28 to 30 May 2009.


EU delegation visit to Washington on 16 and 17 March

The Council was briefed by the Vice-President of the Commission J. Barrot and the Czech Minister for the Interior I. Langer on the outcome of the meeting with the US Administration. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest, which included the visa-waiver programme and border and migration issues, the use of modern technologies, the state of ratification of the mutual legal assistance and extradition agreements, the Passenger Name Record data by air carriers and the closure of the Guantanamo centre. Both sides agreed on the usefulness of strengthening cooperation in transatlantic relations.

Third Global Forum on migration and development

The Council took note of information provided by the Greek delegation on the preparations for the Third meeting of the Forum to take place in Athens on 2 and 3 November 2009.

The Global Forum on migration and development is an inter-governmental and informal consultative process open to all states members and observers of the United Nations.

Public hearing: "European conscience and crimes of totalitarian communism: 20 years after"

The Council was briefed by the Presidency on the public hearing held at the European Parliament on 18 March 2009.


OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment

The Council adopted a decision approving the accession of the European Community to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the "Cape Town Convention") and its p rotocol on aircraft equipment ( 15013/08).

Compensation to victims of damage caused by aircraft and arising from acts of unlawful interference

The Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to negotiate a multilateral agreement on compensation to third party victims for damage caused by aircraft and arising from acts of unlawful interference or from general risk.

Development of the SIRENE Bureaux in the framework of the Schengen Information System - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"The Council,

Reaffirming that the SIS is a pivotal tool in securing the controls on persons at external borders and in enhancing security and justice within the Schengen area,

Taking note of the statistical analysis that shows that the total number of alerts in SIS has practically tripled in eight years; and that the number of hits has substantially risen, especially since 10 new participating States have joined,


Recognising that the Member States could nonetheless further optimise the operational contribution of SIS, whilst the growth in the workload of the SIRENE Bureaux related to the increase in the number of alerts and hits in SIS and also to other tasks (EAW, etc.) has not been covered by a corresponding increase in numbers of staff; this situation has a substantial negative impact on SIRENE's operational ability and should be dealt with expeditiously,

Acknowledging that in the near future a further increase in the number of alerts and hits as well as in the SIRENE workload should be taken into account and relevant measures undertaken,

Underlining that the training of SIRENE operators should be supported at EU level in order to achieve common qualification standards,

(1)          Welcomes the considerable contribution of the Schengen Information System, including SIRENE cooperation, in protecting the area without internal border checks, especially in the context of the enlargement of the Schengen area;

(2)          Welcomes the statistics on alerts and hits in the Schengen Information System and invites the SIS/SIRENE Working Party to provide them to the Council annually;

(3)          Calls on the Member States to take steps to further enhance the use of the Schengen Information System;

(4)          Notes the significant growth in the workload at SIRENE Bureaux and appeals to the Member States to take appropriate and prompt measures to cope with this development and to ensure the rapidity and high quality of cooperation between SIRENE Bureaux, especially in the area of manpower;

(5)          Strongly supports activities to establish common training for SIRENE operators in order to maintain high professional standards."


European Criminal Records Information System

The Council adopted a decision establishing a European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) ( 14571/08 ).

The creation of the ECRIS supplements the framework decision on the exchange of information extracted from criminal records between EU member states adopted on 26 February 2009 ( 13017/08 ), by laying the legal foundation for the development a decentralized information technology system for the exchange of information extracted from criminal records.

It sets out the elements of a standardised format for electronic exchange envisaged as well as general and technical implementing aspects of the information exchange.

EUROPOL/Israel cooperation agreement

The Council adopted a decision authorising the director of Europol to enter into negotiations with Israel with a view to concluding an operational cooperation agreement.

Cooperation on preventing and combating crime

The Council took note of the evaluation of the implementation of the Council Recommendation on agreements between police, customs and other specialised law enforcement services in relation to the prevention and combating of crime.

In its Recommendation of 27 April 2006 the Council recommended the EU member states to improve cooperation between their police, customs and other specialist law enforcement authorities in preventing and combating crime, by establishing formal agreements or other arrangements at national level. The Council wished to be informed within 3 years of the measures taken in response to the Recommendation (see EU Official Journal C 124 of 25.5.2006, p. 1).


EU agreements on a short-stay visa waiver with third countries

The Council adopted decisions authorising the signature of agreements on a short-stay visa waiver with Antigua and Barbuda ( 7514/09), the Bahamas ( 7522/09), Barbados ( 7518/09), Mauritius ( 7520/09), Saint Kitts and Nevis ( 7528/09) and the Seychelles ( 7526/09).

The agreements will be applied on a provisional basis pending completion of the procedures for their formal conclusion.

Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be bound by these decisions or subject to their application, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties.

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

EU/Belarus

- Human Rights Dialogue - Council conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"1.          The Council recalls its conclusions on Belarus from 16 March 2009, in which the Council looked forward to the launch of a Human Rights Dialogue with the Republic of Belarus.

2.           The Council notes that the objectives of the Human Rights dialogue with the Republic of Belarus are on the one hand to raise human rights issues in Belarus and in the European Union and, on the other hand, to discuss questions of mutual interest and enhance dialogue on human rights topics in multilateral fora.

3.           The Council decides to launch a structured Troika Human Rights Dialogue with the Republic of Belarus. The dialogue should be held at least once per year, with meetings convened alternately in the Republic of Belarus and in the European Union.".


- Restrictive measures

The Council adopted a common position extending for one year, until 15 March 2010, the restrictive measures against certain officials of Belarus adopted in 2006 and suspending for a period of nine months, until 15 December 2009, the application of travel restrictions imposed on certain officials of Belarus ( 7713/09 ).

The measures are intended to encourage the adoption and implementation of further concrete measures towards democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.

The Council will be monitoring the situation in Belarus and may consider the possibility of lifting the restrictive measures or, if necessary, of re-applying the travel restrictions. 

TRADE POLICY

Anti-dumping measures - Steel ropes and cables - Castings

The Council adopted regulations:

                         amending Regulation EC No 1858/2005 imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of steel ropes and cables originating, inter alia, in India ( 7662/09); and

                         amending Regulation EC No 1212/2005 imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of certain castings originating in China ( 7617/09).


DEVELOPMENT POLICY

Mauritania - Consultations under the ACP/EU agreement

The Council adopted a decision concerning the conclusion of consultations with Mauritania under the ACP/EU agreement ( 7857/1/09).

More details can be found in press release 8508/09.

EU/ South Africa agreement on trade and development - Protocol on EU enlargement

The Council adopted a decision approving an additional protocol to the agreement on trade, development and cooperation with South Africa, to take account of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU ( 16447/08 ).

Economic partnership agreements with ACP countries - High level dialogue

The Council approved the sending of a letter to the President-in-office of the ACP Summit concerning the level of consultations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) ( 8161/09 ).

The letter of reply follows the suggestion made by the President of Ghana, and current President of the ACP Summit, to hold ACP-EU Heads of State and Government consultations on the EPAs.

The Council shares the view that a global vision of the different developments at regional level is desirable and suggests jointly reviewing the best way to hold a political debate in high level meetings, during which it will be possible to ascertain the next steps to further deepen and accelerate the EPA process.

The 6th Summit of the ACP states took place in Accra, Ghana, in October 2008.


Revision of the ACP/EU Cotonou agreement - European Investment Bank

The Council adopted a decision on a Community position to be adopted within the ACP-EU Council of Ministers regarding a decision to revise Annex II to the Cotonou ACP/EU partnership agreement ( 7279/09).

The decision is aimed at facilitating European Investment Bank own resources lending to ACP countries subject to Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and other internationally-agreed debt sustainability initiatives, in line with similar provisions already applied through the Investment Facility.

FISHERIES

Bluefin tuna – Recovery plan*

The Council adopted a Regulation concerning a multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna ( Thunnus thynnus) in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean [2] ( 7116/09+ COR1 and 7598/1/09 REV1, 7598/1/09 REV1 ADD1 and ADD2). The plan transposes into Community law the decisions taken in 2008 by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), to which the Community is a contracting party.

The recovery plan provides for:

                         the establishment of national fisheries plans and the attribution of individual quotas to vessels over 24 metres long ;

                         the immediate freeze of fishing capacity of EU fleets at 2007-2008 levels before the establishment of programmes to reduce this capacity;

                         the shortening by four months of the fishing season for purse seiners (15 April-15 June);


                         a ban on the use of aircraft or helicopters for searching for bluefin tuna;

                         the establishment of specific quotas for sports and recreational fishing, chargeable to national quotas;

                         a ban on transferring tuna to farms without the prior authorisation of the fishing vessel's flag state;

                         an obligation to make video recordings during fishing and farming activities available to inspectors;

                         the establishment of a strict control framework for joint fishing operations.

HEALTH

Medicinal products - Supplementary protection certificate

The Council adopted a codified version of the regulation concerning the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products ( 3602/09 ).

The new regulation replaces the various acts incorporated into Regulation EC No 1768/92, while fully preserving their content.

ENVIRONMENT

Climate-energy legislative package*

The Council approved the climate-energy legislative package containing measures aimed at fighting climate change and promoting renewable energy.


The package is designed to achieve the EU's overall environmental target of a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gases and a 20 % share of renewable energy in the EU's total energy consumption by 2020.

For more information see press release 8434/09.

Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants

The Council adopted a decision establishing the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Community with regard to proposals for amending Annexes A, B and C to the Stockholm Convention at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva on 4 to 8 May 2009.

The Stockholm Convention was adopted in May 2001. The European Community and its Member States are parties to the Convention and its provisions are implemented in the EU law by regulation 850/2004 on persistent organics pollutants and by way of regulation 689/2008 concerning the export and import of dangerous chemicals.

 



[1]                SIRENE stands for Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry and outlines the main tasks of the "SIRENE Bureaux" established in all Schengen states. SIRENE Bureaux provide supplementary information on alerts and coordinate measures in relation to alerts in the SIS.

[2]               It amends Regulation (EC) No 43/2009 and repeals the previous plan adopted in December 2007 (Regulation (EC) No 1559/2007).


Side Bar