Luxembourg, 21-22 June 19999008/99 (Presse 198)
2192nd Council meeting
- GENERAL AFFAIRS -
Luxembourg, 21-22 June 1999
Presidents: Mr Joschka FISCHER
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Mr Günter VERHEUGEN
Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany
For further information call 285.87.04 or 285.68.08
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
The Council warmly welcomed the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244, the full withdrawal of all Serb security forces, the end of NATO's air campaign, as well as the deployment of KFOR and the steps under way to establish the interim civil administration for Kosovo.
The Council attached the highest importance to all parties cooperating fully with KFOR and UNMIK (UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) in the implementation of UNSCR 1244. It urged the Kosovo Liberation Army to fully comply with UNSCR 1244, to honour the commitments it has made to NATO and to refrain from acts of violence against the Serb population. It also reiterated its call to all Kosovo Albanian factions to work together, on the basis of UNSCR 1244, for the future of their people.
The Council expects all residents of Kosovo to contribute to the creation of a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo. The return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes, and the assurance of security for all people in Kosovo, as well as bringing to justice the perpetrators of atrocities are high priorities of the international community. The Council was alarmed by the exodus of the Serb population from Kosovo and urged all Serb residents of Kosovo to return to their homes.
The Council attached the greatest importance to active and constructive Russian participation in the international community's efforts to restore security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo. Accordingly it welcomed the agreement on Russian participation in KFOR.
The Council noted that UNMIK was deploying in Pristina in order to fulfil its mandate set out by the United Nations, and emphasised that the EU would participate fully in the integrated structure with a substantial presence. The EU recalled its expectation that, in recognition of the major contribution to the stabilisation of Kosovo that the EU and its member States are making, an EU national be appointed as Special Representative of the Secretary General.
The Council invited the Presidency, together with the Commission, to convey to the UN Secretary General EU views on the mission and on the contribution the EU expects to make in assisting it to fulfil its mandate. The EU will shortly designate the head of the fourth pillar responsible for economic affairs and reconstruction.
The Council heard a report on the Commission's orientations on reconstruction in Kosovo, as well as on the creation of an agency to be charged with the implementation of Community reconstruction programmes and welcomed its intention to commence speedily the reconstruction process in Kosovo within the overall UNMIK effort in close cooperation with the International Financial Institutions. It noted that a damage assessment mission will be dispatched to the region, and invited the Commission to report further to the Council on reconstruction needs for the region, including the need for supplementary budget resources.
The Council welcomed the Commission's action to mobilise, for humanitarian assistance, the existing 196 MEURO reserve on the current European Community budget. In the light of the foreseeable needs, it invited the Commission to come forward, as soon as possible, with proposals for additional human and financial resources for refugee relief, return and reconstruction, including, as appropriate, transfer of funds from other budget lines or a proposal for a supplementary budget for 1999. Appropriate solutions will be needed for the following years.
The Council called on the Yugoslav authorities to release the three CARE aid workers jailed by a military Court in Belgrade on 29 May.
The Council condemned the mass killings of mostly civilian inhabitants of Kosovo. It emphasised the resolve of the Member States of the European Union to cooperate fully with ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) and to meet their obligations under relevant UNSCRs, particularly as regards the arrest warrants issued on 24 May 1999.
1. The Council notes that work has begun in the competent bodies with a view to formulating a comprehensive policy on the basis of the Communication by the Commission on the "Stabilisation and Association Process for the Countries of South Eastern Europe". This new process will be based on the existing Regional Approach and reaffirms the European Union's resolve to take up the challenge and responsibility to contribute to stability of the region. However, the objectives of this process can only be achieved if the peoples and governments of the region take active responsibility and make determined efforts. Ultimately, the future of the region lies in the hands of its peoples and governments. This process will help enable the countries in the region to create lasting peace, democracy, stability and prosperity, which are also central goals of the Stability Pact on South-Eastern Europe. In this context, the Council recalled the Conclusions by the European Council of 4 June 1999 in Cologne, in particular paragraph 72 thereof. The Council emphasises that the Stabilisation and Association process will also be a contribution to the future EU Common Strategy towards the Western Balkans.
2. The stabilisation and association process will focus on Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and on regional co-operation in South-Eastern Europe.
3. In the framework of its comprehensive policy on South-Eastern Europe, the European Union will introduce a new dimension to its relations to the region, namely the offer to the five countries in return for compliance with the relevant conditions of a tailor-made category of contractual relations: Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs). These agreements will be available for all the countries and will provide a more advanced relationship. These agreements will take into account the specific and evolving situation of each country and will be gradually introduced in light of the ability of each country to meet reciprocal, contractual obligations, as well as of its effective contribution to regional cooperation.
4. The Stabilisation and Association process will include, as appropriate:
- Stabilisation and Association Agreements;
- Autonomous Trade Measures and other economic and trade relations;
- economic and financial assistance, inter alia PHARE assistance, OBNOVA assistance, budgetary assistance and balance of payment support;
- assistance for democratisation and civil society;
- humanitarian aid for refugees, returnees and other persons of concern;
- cooperation in justice and home affairs;
- development of political dialogue.
The success of the stabilisation process will depend on the efforts made by each country to make full use of the support offered as well as on an effective combination of the various instruments listed above.
5. On autonomous trade measures in general, the Council confirms that the existing system of autonomous trade preferences, adjusted and enhanced as necessary, will remain important until contractual relations are established. It notes the Commission's intention, in the future, to split the existing system of autonomous trade preferences into separate trade preferences for each country in order to ensure a transparent and equitable share of these preferences between these
countries, and to prepare possible future negotiations for Stabilisation and Association Agreements.
6. The Council confirms, that its policy on conditionality of 29 April 1997 will continue to apply to the granting of autonomous trade preferences, PHARE assistance as well as to contractual relations. It is important that the objective criteria of the Regional Approach are applied in a way which provides the necessary incentives for each country to make progress in the Stabilisation and Association process.
7. The Council notes that the Commission will continue to prepare regular reports on compliance with the policy on conditionality of 29 April 1997. The Council expects to undertake its next conditionality review in November 1999. The Council charges its competent bodies to examine a review mechanism covering the instruments of the Stabilisation and Association process.
COUNTRY SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS
8. The Council reviewed the performances by the countries of the region in the light of the conditions set out in the Council conclusions of 29 April 1997 as well as of 31 May 1999. In this context, the Communication by the Commission on a Stabilisation and Association process for countries of South Eastern Europe has been taken into account.
9. There has been progress regarding the respect for democratic principles, human rights and market economy reform. However, large parts of the country remains marked by a lack of public order and security. The dialogue between the Government and the Democratic Party has contributed to an improvement of the domestic, political climate in Albania. The country has dealt admirably with the massive refugee influx from Kosovo and has cooperated efficiently with international organisations.
10. PHARE and other Community assistance will be continued with a view to achieving further progress in stabilisation, recovery, economic reform and democratisation in this country as well as to enhancing regional co-operation. The EU will continue, in particular, to support the re-establishment of a viable Albanian police in co-operation with the strengthened WEU Mission and, to enhance its Customs Assistance Mission, on the basis of the amended Customs Code. Budgetary assistance for refugee-related expenses is being provided. The Council welcomes the Commission's intention to implement, without delay, balance of payment support adopted recently and that macro-economic developments will be monitored closely by the Commission and the IFIs.
11. In accordance with its Conclusions of 26 April and 31 May 1999, the Council welcomes that the Commission will prepare, as soon as possible, a report on the feasibility of the opening of negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania. In the light of discussions on this report in Council, the Commission will then be invited to present recommendations for negotiating directives. In the interim, contractual relations will continue, based on the 1992 Cooperation Agreement and the connected Declaration on Political Dialogue, will be continued, and new working parties (on infrastructure and agriculture) will be established. The Council welcomes that the Commission, in accordance with its Conclusions of 9 November 1998, has presented a proposal aiming at the upgrading the bilateral trade regime towards regional standards. It instructs its competent bodies to examine it with a view to an early adoption by the Council.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
12. The Union notes progress in the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Agreements, in particular regarding the consolidation of state authorities. However, the situation in both Entities, in particular in Republika Srpska, remains to be improved. The attempted dismissal of the incumbent Prime Minister Dodik, as well as the non-recognition of the Brcko arbitration by Nikola Poplasen, have slowed the work of the joint bodies of BiH have prevented further progress. Conditions for the minority return in both entities need improvement, although return related violence has declined in recent months.
13. Bosnia and Herzegovina should continue to benefit from the autonomous trade preferences extended by the European Community. As in the past, it will be granted PHARE assistance related to reconstruction and institution-building needs, as well as in support of the peace agreements. PHARE assistance will be extended once the relevant conditions have been met by the authorities, at State and Entity level. It is hoped that sufficient progress will be made by the end of the next reporting period, in November 1999.
14. Opening of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina will be examined on the basis of reports by the Commission, when the country has met the relevant conditions. In the context of bilateral relations with BiH, and the future opening of negotiations, political and economic dialogue will be intensified. The Consultative Task Force will also play an important role. Opportunities to enhance co-operation in specific areas should be considered, and dialogue should be promoted, including at a regional level.
15. Over the past 6 months, political dialogue between the Government and the opposition has improved. However, on democratisation and human rights, in particular with respect to separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and on minority return, progress has been insufficient. The Government has failed to launch adequate information campaigns on the rights of persons wishing to return.
16. Croatia will continue to benefit from the autonomous trade preferences extended by the European Community. Further progress towards democracy will be necessary, inter alia, in the fields of media reform, electoral reform, and refugee return, in accordance with the 29 April 1997 conditions. The Council notes recent positive discussions on election and media issues. The Council expects that, if the present momentum of progress is maintained, Croatia will be able to benefit in the near future from the PHARE programme. The Council welcomes the Commission intention to target additional assistance on areas relevant to the development of democracy, economic regeneration of refugee return areas and education and invited the Commission to take all the necessary steps to open the Tempus Programme and the activities of the European Training Foundation to Croatia.
17. Opening of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Croatia will be examined, on the basis of reports by the Commission, when the country has met the relevant conditions. In the context of bilateral relations, and the future opening of negotiations, communication and exchanges of views might be intensified, including in a more structured framework e.g. political dialogue and a technical consultative task force.
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
18. Today, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia does not fulfil the relevant conditions for Autonomous Trade Measures, PHARE assistance or the Association and Stabilisation Agreement. Progress in respecting democratic freedoms and the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are key conditions to be met. In any event, progress in Kosovo will be important.
19. The Council will continue to support the Republic of Montenegro under its democratically elected Government.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
20. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to confirm its maturity with regard to democratic progress, separation of powers and protection of human rights. The continued presence of the "Democratic Party of Albanians" in the new Government demonstrates the willingness to develop a multiethnic and pluralistic society. The country has come under tremendous strain through the effects of the Kosovo crisis. The efforts made in coping with a massive refugee influx are commendable. The country should continue to fully cooperate with and grant access to international organisations and NGOs.
21. The country will continue to benefit from Community assistance, notably in the framework of PHARE. The eligibility of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for additional PHARE multi-beneficiary programmes will be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account their consistence with and value-added to the National Programme. Budgetary assistance for refugee-related expenses is being provided.
22. The Council notes the positive record achieved so far, as well as the country's compliance with the relevant conditions. It welcomes that, in accordance with its Conclusions of 8 and 26 April and 31 May 1999, the Commission has presented its report on the feasibility of the opening of negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with this country. The Council instructs its competent bodies to examine this report for its next session with a view to invite the Commission to present a formal recommendation for negotiating directives. The Council takes note, that in that case, the Commission will present a formal recommendation for negotiating directives before the end of July. In the interim, the Cooperation Agreement and the Agreement in the Field of Transport will continue to be implemented, and relations will intensify in that framework and in the framework of the Political Dialogue.
The Council emphasises the necessity to review the activities of ECMM in the light of changed circumstances in the region.
The Council instructs its competent bodies to review the role and mandate of the ECMM and invites the Commission to consult the current as well as the two preceding Presidencies on the cost and management of ECMM with a view to submitting, by the end of October 1999, relevant information on future costs and configuration of ECMM.
Furthermore, the Council and the Commission have agreed to make all efforts to identify, by the end of October 1999, wherever possible, savings of current Common Foreign Security Policy expenditure as well as the scope for transferring such expenditure to first pillar financing, where an EC legal basis exists. The forthcoming revision of the OBNOVA Regulation will be a first opportunity to pursue this actively.
The Council will decide, by the end of 1999, on the future of ECMM including questions of legal base and financing in the light of these reviews.
The Council heard a report by Commissioner BONINO on the latest developments concerning the humanitarian situation of Albanian Kosovars returning to their homes, both internally displaced persons as well as refugees located in Albania and FYROM. She also reported on the situation resulting from the exodus of Serbs from Kosovo.
MERCOSUR AND CHILI - NEGOTIATING DIRECTIVES FOR NEW AGREEMENTS
The Council reached political agreement on the questions still outstanding with regard to the negotiating directives - concerning the scope and calendar for the negotiations - for future agreements with Mercosur and Chili. The French delegation has given its agreement ad referendum.
ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT WITH EGYPT
The Council took note of the outcome of the latest talks with Egypt presented by the Commission, concerning the various issues still unresolved with regard to the conclusion of the negotiations with Egypt on a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, more particularly the agricultural aspects.
Following its discussions, the Council reached agreement on a global package enabling the negotiations with Egypt to be concluded. Accordingly, it invited the Commission to initial the Association Agreement on that basis.
The Council particularly welcomed the successful conclusion, after several years of negotiations, of this important agreement with a partner country which occupies a predominant place in the region, a few weeks after the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in Stuttgart.
The Council reached agreement on a Decision laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission which will replace the 1987 comitology Decision.
The new Decision will simplify the committee procedures, grant the European Parliament a right of scrutiny over the implementation of acts adopted by codecision and substantially increase transparency in comitology.
The Decision provides for criteria which will guide the legislator in the choice of committee procedure, while allowing for a certain degree of flexibility:
- the management procedure should be followed as regards management measures such as those relating to the application of the common agricultural and common fisheries policies or to the implementation of programmes with substantial budgetary implications;
- the regulatory procedure should be followed as regards measures of general scope designed to apply essential provisions of basic instruments, including measures concerning the protection of the health or safety of humans, animals or plants, as well as measures designed to adapt or update certain non-essential provisions of a basic instrument;
- the advisory procedure should be followed in any case in which it is considered to be the most appropriate and will continue to be used in those cases where it currently applies.
The simplification of committee procedures concerns especially the management and regulatory procedures, which will no longer have two variants each.
The most substantial change relates to the regulatory procedure. If the implementing measures the Commission envisages to adopt do not obtain the necessary majority in the committee, the Commission will present a proposal to the Council. The Council will no longer have the possibility to reject the proposal by simple majority (the so-called "double safety net" is therefore suppressed). If a qualified majority indicates its opposition to the text, the Commission will have to reexamine its proposal, and negotiations will have to continue in order to reach a compromise. The effectiveness of the decision making is guaranteed by the fact that after a time-limit to be fixed in each basic act, if the Council has neither adopted the implementing act nor indicated its opposition to it, the Commission can adopt the measures. (1)
The Decision provides for the involvement of the European Parliament in the implementation of acts adopted by codecision. If the European Parliament considers that an implementing measure that the Commission intends to take exceeds the implementing powers provided for in the basic act, it can indicate so to the Commission, which will have to reexamine the draft measures. In the framework of the regulatory procedure, the European Parliament is also granted a scrutiny right in those cases where, due to lack of agreement by the committee, the Commission refers to the Council a proposal on the implementing measures. The European Parliament will receive extensive information on committee procedures, so it can fully exercise its right of scrutiny.
Information to the public on committee procedures will be substantially improved. The rules on public access applicable to the Commission are made applicable to committee documents, a list of all the committees will be published in the Official Journal, and the Commission will publish an annual report on the working of committees. A public register will be set up containing the references of comitology documents, and the Commission has indicated that it intends to make available to the public the documents communicated to the European Parliament on comitology proceedings.
Finally, it is foreseen that provisions relating to existing committees should be adjusted to align them to the new procedures.
USE OF MODERN MEANS OF COMMUNICATION - VIDEO CONFERENCING
The Council took note of a Presidency report outlining the advantages and disadvantages that the establishment of a video network would bring about for the Council
The President concluded that there was agreement, in the context of the general improvement of the working methods of the Council according to the conclusions of the European Council in Cologne, for
- initiating multilateral trial runs in view of establishing a European Union video network,
- mandating the Permanent Representatives Committee to establish procedural rules and safeguards once the test phase is completed
- asking the General Secretariat to prepare for the setting-up of a PRIME-NET system also for Foreign Affairs ministers (bilateral secure telephone, fax and e-mail network, and, at a later stage, video-conference facilities).
BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION (BSEC)
The Council took note of a presentation by the Greek Minister, as President of the BSEC, of the "Platform for Cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the European Union" which the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the BSEC adopted at Tbilisi on 30 April 1999.
The Council looks forward to the next BSEC Ministerial Meeting in Thessaloniki on the 27th of October 1999 to which the Presidency and the European Commission will be invited.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
(Decisions for which statements for the Council minutes have been made available to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.)
The Council established the EU's position in preparation of the accession negotiations at Ministerial level to be held with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia on 21 and 22 June 1999.
Malta - Participation in enhanced political dialogue - Conclusions
The Council agrees to extend the current multilateral political dialogue with the CEECs and Cyprus to Malta. An enhanced dialogue on foreign and security policy issues with Malta will be beneficial to both parties and will allow Malta to familiarise and align itself with Common Foreign Security Policy instruments, as well as to cooperate fully with the Union in international fora.
Agreements with Switzerland
The Council approved the seven sectoral agreements with Switzerland, covering the free movement of persons, air transport, rail and road transport, public procurement, scientific and technological co-operation, mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment and agriculture, which were signed on the occasion of this session of the Council (see Press Release 9005/99 Presse 195).
South Caucasus - Conclusions
The Council notes that the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will enter into force on 1 July. It considers that it is important that the EU use the PCAs and all other means at its disposal to encourage the three states of the South Caucasus to commit themselves to an ongoing process of cooperation, with a view to overcoming their differences and enhancing their relations with the EU.
Further to the conclusions of the European Council of Cologne on 04.06.99, the Council expects that the meeting with the Presidents of the three countries to mark the entry into force of the agreements in Luxembourg on 22 June, and the Joint Declaration to be adopted on this occasion, will give an important impetus to this process of cooperation. (See also Press Release 9405/99 Presse 202)
In this context, the Council welcomes the Commission's Communication on the EU's relations with the South Caucasus under the PCAs. The Council considers that it is appropriate and timely to lay down broad strategic objectives for EU policy towards the region in the coming years. It concludes in particular that:
The PCAs offer a platform from which to address coherently political, economic and assistance-related issues. This will allow the EU to capitalise on the Communities' instruments in order to promote the prospects for peace, the strengthening of democratic processes and the protection of individual human rights, sustainable economic development both through enhanced bilateral and regional cooperation. These objectives should be reinforced through the political dialogue under the PCAs.
2. The EC's regional cooperation initiatives under the Tacis programme, in particular Traceca and Inogate, and its rehabilitation projects offer an opportunity to underpin the peace processes through progress on economic questions and on confidence-building. Within overall assistance to the region, priority should be given to measures of this kind. In the context of the regional cooperation, the contribution of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is of importance.
3. The Community should continue to use its bilateral assistance to reinforce economic and political stability in the three states. However, the objective must remain that of moving towards balanced, relationships based primarily on trade and investment, including further administrative reforms and reform of the financial services in the context of expanding economic relations with the Union and its partners in a wider European space of cooperation.
4. The Community should also help the three states of the region to prepare the ground for their longer-term development. Important progress has been achieved, but serious problems still need to be addressed concerning, inter alia, reinforcement of the rule of law, the administration of central government finances, the process of market liberalisation, the business climate, the restoration of open communications, and environmental protection. These factors have further aggravated instability in the Caucasus, which in turn poses a threat to European security. Therefore, dialogue under the PCAs and programming under the new Tacis regulation should take these issues into account. Adequate resources should be made available in order to contribute to the implementation of these tasks.
The governments of the three states should be encouraged to address the underlying cause of many of the problems they face by taking urgent steps to settle peacefully the conflicts in the region. The EC 's instruments should, as far as possible, be used to support the peace processes under the aegis of the UN (Special Representative of the General Secretary in Georgia for Abkhazia) and OSCE (the Minsk Group for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the Mission in Georgia for South Ossetia). Moreover, the effectiveness of EC assistance is directly connected to the development of the peace processes.
Thus the EU should be able to use its instruments to encourage rapid implementation of concrete confidence-building measures, but also to reflect progress on conflict resolution. The EU should also prepare for the further development of the region, and of its relations with the EU. With this in mind, the EU encourages all parties to undertake every possible effort towards resolving the conflicts.
The Council expresses satisfaction that the draft Joint Declaration entirely reflects these objectives.
Guidelines for selection of EU electoral observers
The Council approved common EU guidelines for the selection of electoral observers, setting minimum standards for participants in EU electoral missions, as well as additional criteria for long-term observers and mission leaders/team coordinators.
The observation of elections is an important component of the EU's policy of promoting human rights and democratisation throughout the world - the Council has already adopted in 1998 common guidelines on preconditions for the sending of EU observation missions as well as a Code of conduct for EU electoral observers.
Hungary - Participation in SAVE II Programme
The Council approved on behalf of the EU the draft decision of the Association Council with Hungary concerning the detailed procedures for this country's participation in the multi-annual programme for energy efficiency SAVE II.
ACP - Participation of observers in the post-Lomé negotiations
The Council agreed, in the name of the EU, to the participation as observers of the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau and the Marshall Islands to the negotiations on the successor regime to the Lomé Convention.
Preparation for the third WTO Ministerial Conference (Seattle, 30 November to 3 December 1999) - Conclusions
The Council, recalling its conclusions of 30 March, 30 April and 18 May 1998, welcoming the outcome of the discussions of EU Trade Ministers at their informal meeting in Berlin on 9-10 May 1999, and referring to the Presidency conclusions of the European Council in Cologne on 3-4 June 1999, reaffirmed the importance it attached to a new WTO Round of trade negotiations:
- for the strengthening of the multilateral trading system,
- as a guarantee against protectionism and unilateralism,
- as a stabilising factor in the management of international monetary problems, as for example in the case of the Asian financial crisis,
- for the positive effects that can be expected for global economic growth and increasing employment;
- for the inclusion in the new Round of sectors and issues of particular interest to developing countries.
For all these reasons, the Council reiterated its support for launching at the Third WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle a new comprehensive WTO Round encompassing a wide range of issues and agreed that the year 2000 is the right time to launch such a Round. A new Round is the best way to meet the challenges arising out of rapid and far-reaching economic change and increasing globalisation. Only a comprehensive approach can produce substantive and balanced results which will be for the benefit of all WTO members. By contrast, this would not be possible with a sectoral approach.
The Council also agreed on the importance of the EU playing a leading role in these negotiations.
The Council agreed that a new Round should be based on the principle of a " single undertaking", i.e. nothing is decided until agreement has been reached on all issues; all participants must accept and implement all agreements. The Council expressed the view that the objective should be for the Round to be concluded within three years.
The Council took note that some of the issues currently being discussed in Geneva might possibly be ready for decision or adoption at the Seattle Conference. However, the Council stressed that the overriding priority must be the decision to launch a comprehensive Round.
In the light of discussions so far on possible subjects for negotiation, the Council agreed on a number of elements for the relevant EU negotiating objectives, and invited the Article 133 Committee to examine these in further detail with a view to drawing up concrete EU proposals to be submitted to the WTO during the preparatory process in Geneva.
- With regard to agriculture, the Council agreed on the urgent need for further work and studies on the offensive and defensive interests of the EU in the light of the outcome of the Berlin European Council on Agenda 2000;
- With regard to the services sector, the Council agreed that the continuation of the negotiations on improved market access already foreseen in the Uruguay Round should be comprehensive, taking into consideration the specificities of certain sectors;
- The Council reaffirmed the EU's objective of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of tariffs across the non-agricultural field;
- The Council underlined the importance of including trade facilitation in the negotiations;
- The Council also underlined the importance for the EU of subjects at the interface between trade and other areas such as environment, competition, investment and labour/social standards. It agreed on the importance, for both developing and developed countries, of placing investment, competition and environment on the agenda of the new Round. It also reiterated the importance attached to the language of the Singapore Declaration on labour/social standards.
The Council underlined the importance of identifying other issues of particular interest to developing countries in order to establish a balanced overall package of negotiating topics in which all participants can identify possible gains in the negotiating Round.
- The Council agreed that further issues should be covered in the new Round, including public procurement, protection of intellectual property, the dismantling of non-tariff trade barriers, technical barriers to trade and possibly electronic commerce, and also agreed on the need to be open to issues which other WTO partners wish to raise.
The Council reaffirmed the importance it attaches to integrating the developing countries more fully into the open multilateral trading system with a view to stimulating economic growth through the expansion of trade. This calls for improved market access for developing countries in general, and free market access for the LDCs in particular, as formulated in the EU submission in Geneva on 2 June 1999, and for differential treatment of the developing countries with regard to the application of many WTO rules.
The Council stressed the importance of promoting dialogue with civil society with the aim of improving understanding of the benefits of the multilateral system so that the relevant legitimate interests and concerns of civil society are taken into account in the negotiations, and that the WTO's proceedings as a whole become more transparent.
The Council agreed to return to preparations for the Seattle Conference in October 1999 in order to take a decision on a comprehensive EU position for these preparations on the basis of a formal, substantial communication to be submitted by the Commission to the Council in July 1999. The new Round negotiations will be based on a mandate to the Commission which will be established in due course.
EU Market Access Strategy - Conclusions
1. The Council took note of the annual report on the implementation of the EU Market Access Strategy submitted by the Article 133 Committee. The Council welcomed the further progress which has been made in the expansion and use of the Market Access Database available to European exporters via the INTERNET and in the development of an across the board approach to market access barriers in third countries. The Council noted with satisfaction that a significant number of problems raised by European exporters had been solved.
2. Looking forward to the next phase of the Market Access Strategy, the Council endorsed the proposal by the Commission and the Article 133 Committee to launch a barriers removal programme, under which the Community will concentrate its efforts over the next 18 months on the removal of the priority cases, using to the full the various multilateral and bilateral instruments and opportunities at its disposal.
3. In identifying the priority barriers to be targeted under the barriers removal programme, the Council stressed the need to take into account the needs of small and medium sized enterprises and the interests of specific regions affected by particular trade barriers. The Council welcomed increased efforts to raise the issue of specific barriers to European exports within the framework of multilateral and bilateral instruments, including dispute settlement mechanisms, especially in cases of violations of relevant agreements. In particular, the Council called upon the Commission to make full use of the possibilities offered under the Europe Agreements and under the Accession Partnerships.
4. The Council endorsed the proposal to make full use of the Market Access database in the context of the preparations for the new WTO Round, in particular in areas such as tariffs, non-tariff barriers, services, investment, government procurement, intellectual property and trade facilitation.
Anti-dumping - magnesium oxide from China
The Council approved a Regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports from China of a form of magnesium oxide, namely natural caustic calcined magnesite which is processed from naturally occurring magnesium carbonate or magnesite.
The amount of the duty will be set at the same level as in Regulation (EEC) No 1473/93 (whose impending expiry led the Commission to review the situation, further to a request by EC producers), i.e. the difference between 112 euro/tonne and the net free-at-Community frontier price before customs clearance, if the latter price is lower.
Anti-dumping - magnetic disks from Indonesia
The Council adopted a Regulation re-imposing an anti-dumping duty of 41.1% on imports of 3.5" microdisks produced and sold for export to the EC by an Indonesian company, PT Betadiskindo Binatama.
In 1998 the Council had imposed a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of such microdisks (Reg. (EC) No 1821/98), but further to a request by Betadiskindo Binatama, which argued that it was not related to any of the producers in Indonesia subject to these duties, and that it had not exported this product to the EC during the period of investigation, the Commission initiated a review to determine whether this company should be considered as a "new exporter", and repealed the anti-dumping duty with regard to this company.
However, as the company concerned did not cooperate with the investigation, the Commission was unable to establish whether it was indeed a newcomer or calculate the level of dumping. The Commission therefore concluded that the duty should be re-imposed retroactively.
Switzerland - processed agricultural products
The Council approved a Regulation aimed at maintaining the existing level of reciprocal preferences with Switzerland regarding certain processed agricultural products, pending the conclusion of the negotiations on the EC/Switzerland Protocol on trade concerning these products.
These negotiations are necessary to adjust the Protocol in order to maintain the existing level of reciprocal preference, further to the amendments brought to certain trade concessions in implementation of Council Decision 94/800/EC concerning the conclusion of the agreements reached in the Uruguay Round negotiations (application of specific amounts to processed agricultural products in place of the previous variable components).
Iceland - processed agricultural products
The Council adopted a Decision concluding the Agreement with Iceland adapting Protocol 2 of the EEC/Iceland agreement concerning trade in processed agricultural products, i.a. to take account of the implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements and of the accession to the EU of 3 new Member States in 1995, and in order to improve the bilateral trade regime.
Kazakhstan - steel products
The Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, approved a Decision renewing for 6 months, until 31 December 1999, the autonomous trade arrangements with Kazakhstan concerning certain steel products covered by the ECSC Treaty, pending the conclusion of the negotiations on the renewal of the ECSC/Kazakhstan Agreement.
AGENDA 2000 *
Following the political agreement and the adoption of the common positions on 14 April 1999 on the basis of the Berlin European Council's overall agreement on 24/25 March 1999, and further to the opinions/resolutions of the European Parliament of 6 May 1999, the Council formally adopted the following nine Regulations:
- laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds ;
- on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ;
- on the European Social Fund (ESF) ;
- on Structural Measures in the Fisheries Sector (FIFG) ;
- amending regulation (CE) n° 1164/94 establishing a Cohesion Fund ;
- amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) n° 1164/94 establishing a Cohesion Fund ;
- on coordinating aid to the applicant countries in the framework of the pre-accession strategy and amending Regulation (EC) n° 3906/89 ;
- establishing an Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) ;
- on Community support for pre-accession measures for agriculture and rural development in the applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the pre-accession period (SAPARD)
It is recalled that the Berlin European Council agreed to set the overall amount to be entered under Heading 2 of the Financial Perspective in accordance with the principle of real stabilisation at 213 billion euros over the period 2000-2006, of which 195 billion is for the Structural Funds, including transitional support, and 18 billion is for the Cohesion Fund.
It was decided that 69.7% of the Structural Funds will be allocated to Objective 1 (mainly regions whose per capita GDP is less than 75% of the Community average), 11.5% to Objective 2 (industrial, rural and urban areas, as well as fishery dependent areas), and 12.3% to Objective 3 (this will apply horizontally to areas outside Objective 1).
In adopting the Regulation laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds, the Council also took note of the precise criteria to be followed by the Commission in allocating the credits according to the three Objectives.
With regard to the Community initiatives, it should be noted that to the three initially retained initiatives, namely INTERREG (cross-border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation), EQUAL (transnational cooperation to combat all forms of discrimination and inequalities in the labour market) and LEADER (rural development), a fourth was added called URBAN (economic and social regeneration of cities and urban neighbourhoods).
The Regulations concerning the Cohesion Fund, aimed at furthering economic and social cohesion in the Union as well as solidarity among the Member States, confirm the four current beneficiary Member States (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) as being eligible in the year 2000 (this eligibility is to be reviewed in 2003), according to the criteria of 90% of the Union average GNP per capita and a programme leading to the fulfilment of the conditions of economic convergence.
The Regulation on the European Social Fund sets out the five policy fields on which its activities will focus: developing and promoting active labour-market policies to combat unemployment; promoting equal opportunities for all in gaining access to the labour market; promoting and improving education and vocational training ; promoting a skilled, trained and adaptable labour force; improving women's access to, and position in, the labour market.
The Regulation on the European Regional Development Fund concerns financing assistance with a view to promoting economic and social cohesion by correcting the main regional imbalances and participating in the development and conversion of regions.
The Regulation on the Financial instrument for Fisheries Guidance will support actions in the fisheries and aquaculture sector and the industry processing and marketing their products, outside Objective 1 regions.
Concerning the pre-accession instruments, a general Regulation sets out the provisions aimed at ensuring the coordination and coherence between the assistance granted in the framework of the three instruments (ISPA, SAPARD and PHARE programme). The Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) will provide assistance in the area of economic and social cohesion, concerning environment and transport policies, in line with the objectives laid down in the Accession Partnerships concluded with each beneficiary country and the national programmes for the improvement of the environment and of transport networks. The Support for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD) Instrument will aim to contribute to the implementation of the acquis communautaire concerning the common agricultural policy and related policies and to solve priority and specific problems for the sustainable adaptation of the agricultural sector and rural areas in the applicant countries.
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
Progress report of the High Level Group on Asylum and Migration
The Council took note of a progress report on the proceedings of the High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration which was set up last December and whose mandate was approved in January 1999.
It is recalled that the Group is to establish cross-pillar actions plans that focus on migration and asylum policy for selected countries, taking account of any existing political, economic, development and humanitarian cooperation.
The progress report indicates that the Group has drawn up action plans with a regional approach for the five selected States, namely Albania and the neighbouring region, Afghanistan and the neighbouring region, Morocco, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Iraq, continuing on from the Action Plan of 26 January 1998 on the influx from Iraq and the neighbouring region.
The Working Group is to submit its final report including the updated action plans to the Tampere Special European Council in October.
Handbook for police cooperation in connection with international football matches
The Council adopted a Resolution concerning a handbook for international police cooperation and measures to prevent and control violence and disturbances in connection with international football matches.
Under the Resolution, Member States are requested to step up cooperation in controlling football hooliganism. To that end a handbook, annexed to the text, is made available to police forces as a European framework regarding the content and scope of police cooperation, police relations with the media, cooperation with those supervising fans and stadium admission policy.
The handbook sets out guidelines regarding:
- Preparations by police forces (organising authorities and police forces should involve police forces from participating countries in preparations, at an early stage);
- Organising cooperation between police forces (organising authorities and police forces should take into account requirements for the organisation of international police cooperation);
- Information management by police forces (organising authorities and police forces should take into account the requirements of police information management);
- Cooperation between police forces and stewards (organising authorities and police forces should bring in those supervising fans from participating football associations to assist in the job to be done and establish maximum cooperation with them);
- Checklist for media policy and communication strategy (police/authorities) relating to major (international) championships and matches (police forces should make use of the media policy checklist);
- Requirements for admission policy and ticketing policy (organising authorities should take into account the set of requirements for organisers in the area of admission policy, in particular in ticketing policy, ticket control and separation of rival groups of fans);
- List of documents previously adopted by the Council of the European Union (a list of decisions previously taken by the Council will give an idea of the measures taken hitherto).
(1) However, the Commission has stated that in the review of proposals for implementing measures concerning particularly sensitive sectors, in order to find a balanced solution, it will act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the Council against the appropriateness of an implementing measure.The Commission has made a statement of similar scope with regard to implementing measures under the management procedure.