C/03/8 Brussels, 27 January 2003
5396/03 (Presse 8)
GENERAL AFFAIRS AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS(1)
2482nd Council meeting - EXTERNAL RELATIONS - Brussels, 27 January 2003
WESTERN BALKANS - Council conclusions 5
EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY 6
Operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 6
European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM) - Council conclusions 6
EU-AFRICA RELATIONS 7
CENTRAL AFRICA - Council conclusions 7
COTE D'IVOIRE - Declaration by the Council 8
CONFLICT PREVENTION - council conclusions 8
MIDDLE EAST (including IRAQ) 9
NORTH KOREA 10
EC'S APPROACH TO THE DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA NEGOTIATIONS CONCERNING AGRICULTURE 10
ANY OTHER BUSINESS 10
EU-OSCE relations 10
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
WESTERN BALKANS - Council conclusions
The Council heard presentations from the President and the High Representative about their recent visits in the Western Balkans, as well as by Commissioner Patten in particular on SAP (Stabilisation and Association Process) developments. Delegations welcomed the policy paper for the Western Balkans drawn up by the Presidency in the perspective of the Thessaloniki EU-Western Balkans Summit in June. Following its discussion, the Council adopted the following conclusions:
"FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (FRY)
The Council welcomed the recent progress on Serbia and Montenegro's Constitutional Charter and Implementing Law, and urged their early parliamentary approval and their full implementation. It called for the rapid finalisation of the Action Plans on internal market, trade and customs that would allow further progress towards the EU.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The Council welcomed the formation of governments at the State and Republika Srpska levels, and looked forward to the prompt formation of the Federation government.
It urged the BiH authorities to proceed rapidly with the implementation of the reforms necessary for progress in the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), including the establishment of a single state-level customs and VAT system.
CO-OPERATION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA (ICTY)
The Council welcomed that former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic will appear before the ICTY. However it noted with concern that co-operation by FRY with ICTY remained insufficient.
The Council reiterated that all countries and parties in the region must co-operate fully with ICTY, including through the rapid transfer of all those indicted for war crimes still remaining on their territories. Recalling that respect for international law was an essential element of the SAP, the Council reiterated that failure to co-operate fully with ICTY would seriously jeopardise further movement towards the EU."
EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY
"Following the letter from President Trajkovski inviting the European Union to take over the operation in FYROM, which is based on the UNSC resolution 1371, and in light of the European Council conclusions of Copenhagen, the Council adopted a Joint Action with a view to an early take-over of the mission, based on agreed arrangements with NATO. To this end, the EU has intensified planning and preparations in consultation with the FYROM authorities and with NATO.
The take-over of the mission by the EU will underline the Union's pledge to a stable and secure FYROM, committed to fully implement the Framework Agreement and determined to make further progress towards European integration in the context of the Stabilisation and Association process."
The Joint Action provides that, based on arrangements with NATO and subject to a further decision by the Council, the Union shall conduct an EU Military Operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the request of the FYROM government, in order to ensure the follow-on to the NATO operation "Allied Harmony". The operation shall be carried out with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, on the basis agreed with NATO. The Council will appoint an EU Operation Commander. NATO will be invited to agree that Admiral R. Feist (Germany), Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (D-SACEUR) be appointed EU Operation Commander, and that the EU Operational HQ be at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE).
The Council also adopted, without debate, a decision establishing an operational financing mechanism to provide for the financing of the shared costs of the EU operation in FYROM. The Treaty on European Union foresees that operational expenditure arising from decisions on operations with military or defence implications is chargeable to Member States. The mechanism established is intended to cover the part of the operational expenditure to be jointly financed The remaining operational expenditure will be chargeable to each participating State individually.
"The Council welcomed the successful start of the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM) on 1 January 2003, the first operation under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The EUPM, which follows on from the UN's International Police Task Force, is now fully deployed throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council congratulated the 500 police men and women from 33 States participating in this EU-led mission on the occasion of the official inauguration of EUPM on 15 January 2003. It noted in particular the close cooperation underway between the EUPM and international organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the OHR whose High Representative is also EU Special Representative.
The Council welcomed the commitments made publicly by the new government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to work with the EUPM in achieving the goal of sustainable policing arrangements under BiH ownership in accordance with best European and international practice. The Council underlined that Rule of Law reform is a crucial prerequisite for Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress towards Europe."
Over lunch, Ministers continued their discussion on EU-Africa relations in the context of preparations for the second EU-Africa Summit scheduled to take place in Lisbon on 5 April.
Ministers, over lunch, discussed the situation in Zimbabwe and the renewal of the targeted sanctions (including a travel ban) in place against the Zimbabwean authorities, which expire on 18 February 2003. In this context, the question of exemptions to the travel ban was raised, in particular in view of the notification made by France to partners ahead of the Franco-African Summit on 20/21 February in Paris.
Ministers tasked the Committee of Permanent Representatives rapidly to pursue work on the draft Common position renewing the targeted sanctions, with particular attention on the procedure for granting exemptions to the sanctions regime.
It is recalled that the measures in place include an embargo on the sale, supply or transfer of arms and technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities and an embargo on the sale or supply of equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as a travel ban on and a freezing of funds, financial assets and economic resources of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and those bearing a particular responsibility for the observed violations.
CENTRAL AFRICA - Council conclusions
The Council heard presentations by the Belgian Minister, following his recent trip to Central Africa, and by EU Special Representative Ajello on the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement. Following its discussion, the Council adopted the following conclusions:
"The Council is convinced that there is no alternative to the global and inclusive Agreement on transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002, if peace and stability are to be re-established in the Congo. It strongly urges all parties to complete in good faith the negotiations on the points still outstanding and to set up with all speed the institutions required for transition. To that end, a "road map" should swiftly be drawn up comprising a precise agenda and clear deadlines.
The Council welcomes the UN Secretary-General's decision to renew the mandate of Special Envoy Mr Niasse. It will be giving him its full support. It also reiterates its complete support for the MONUC.
The Council calls for an immediate stop to the armed conflict and the violence. It condemns in the strongest terms the atrocities recently committed in the East of the country, particularly in the Ituri region. Those responsible must be brought to justice.
The Council will be following closely the peace process in the Congo and is prepared to assist transition to free and transparent elections by the deadlines laid down in the Pretoria Agreement.
It requests the EU Special Representative, Mr Ajello, to keep the PSC regularly informed of developments in the situation and to make specific proposals for back-up measures for the said transition. In this context, the Council reaffirms its willingness to support the transition, as soon as its institutions are in place, with projects of the European Union and its Member States that are designed in particular to promote aid to the population, the strengthening of State structures, the economic reconstruction of the country and DDRRR projects."
COTE D'IVOIRE - Declaration by the Council
Over lunch, the French Minister briefed his colleagues on prospects following the agreement among political forces in Côte d'Ivoire. The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"The European Union warmly welcomes the agreement reached by the Ivorian representative political forces on 24 January, following the round table held in Linas-Marcoussis from 15 to 23 January at the invitation of the President of the French Republic.
The European Union encourages the Ivorian parties to remain in the spirit of concord and national unity which they demonstrated on 24 January and to implement in good faith the agreement they signed, in all of its aspects.
The European Union welcomes the endorsement of that agreement by the Conference of Heads of State on Côte d'Ivoire convened in Paris on 25 and 26 January under the chairmanship of the President of the French Republic, the United Nations Secretary-General and the chairman of the African Union. The European Union calls for full implementation of the regional confidence-building measures in the framework of ECOWAS.
The European Union, whose participation in the follow-up committee was called for by the Ivorian round table, alongside in particular the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS, is ready to take on its responsibilities in that framework. Like the international community as a whole, the European Union will seek to ensure that the agreement of 24 January is implemented in full.
The European Union emphasises its commitment to supporting the implementation of the agreement reached at Linas-Marcoussis by appropriate instruments at its disposal."
CONFLICT PREVENTION - council conclusions
"In its ongoing work in implementing the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts endorsed by the European Council in Göteborg, the Council took stock of the challenges ahead.
The Council tasked the Political and Security Committee to keep a close watch on those situations which could require particular attention in the coming months and to make recommendations for enhanced EU action as necessary. The competent early warning bodies of the Council Secretariat and Commission will continue to support the PSC in this task.
The Council underlined the need for member states to play their role in early warning by ensuring a flow of information to the competent bodies of the Council Secretariat."
Following the discussion among Ministers, the Presidency made the following statement:
"The EU Member States had an in depth discussion of the Middle East Peace Process against the background of the further deterioration of the situation on the ground and the upcoming Israeli elections. Grave concern was expressed for yesterday's extensive Israeli military operations in Gaza, which regrettably resulted in a great number of casualties. Terror and violence must end. It was stressed that the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the two parties to drive the peace process forward and to support to this end the efforts of the Quartet. EU Member States continue to support the need for a speedy implementation of the road map which is endorsed by all four participants in the Quartet. In the wake of the London meeting Palestinian reforms must also be speeded up, notably by holding an early meeting of the Quartet Reforms Task Force. The EU Member States welcomed the Egyptian efforts to promote progress on security issues and to ensure a sustainable truce. The Presidency announced its intention to travel to the region at the beginning of February."
Ministers also discussed the situation regarding Iraq. The Council adopted the following conclusions on Iraq:
"The Council, deeply concerned about the situation in Iraq, reaffirms that its goal remains the effective and complete disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The Council fully supports the efforts of the UN to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council, in particular with UNSCR 1441 of 8 November 2002. The resolution gives an unambiguous message that the Iraqi Government has a final opportunity to resolve the crisis peacefully.
The Council therefore urges the Iraqi authorities to engage in full and active cooperation with UNMOVIC and IAEA. The Iraqi authorities must, as an imperative, provide the inspectors, without delay, with all additional and complete information on questions raised by the international community. The Council expresses its appreciation for the work accomplished by the inspectors so far and reiterates its confidence and full support for Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei to complete their mission in accordance with UNSCR 1441. It welcomes their intention to continue and intensify their operations.
The Council recalls that it stands ready to engage all necessary efforts to answer the needs of UNMOVIC and IAEA in personnel and practical means.
The Council underlines the fundamental importance of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in accordance with the relevant international instruments. The Security Council has a key role to play in these endeavours.
The Council reaffirms the role of the UNSC in the implementation of UNSCR 1441. The responsibility of the UNSC in maintaining international peace and security must be respected."
The Council welcomed the envisaged meeting between the permanent members of the Security Council, and on the one side and the EU, Japan and the two Koreas on the other side.
The Council agreed on the sending of a high-level EU Mission to Pyongyang, provided that the mission would be received at the highest level and that close coordination would be continuously maintained with the US and other main partners on the mission.
Preparation for such a mission will be pursued by the Presidency and the High Representative.
EC'S APPROACH TO THE DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA NEGOTIATIONS CONCERNING AGRICULTURE
Following a broad exchange of views, the Council gave its support to the Commission's Proposal for Modalities in the WTO Agriculture Negotiations. This will enable the Commission to table the EC position in Geneva and to pursue negotiations on this basis.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Over lunch, Ministers had an exchange of views on EU-OSCE relations, at the request of the Netherlands as new Chairmanship in office of the OSCE.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Relations with Russia
The Council took note of the Presidency Work Plan on the implementation of the Common Strategy of the EU on Russia.
The Presidency proposes a number of specific priorities under the following headlines for the work plan during the first semester of 2003:
- consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and public institutions in Russia;
- integration of Russia into a Common European Economic and Social Area;
- cooperation to strengthen stability and security in Europe and beyond;
- addressing Common challenges on the European Continent.
Relations with Ukraine
The Council took note of the Presidency Work Plan on the implementation of the Common Strategy of the EU on Ukraine.
In line with the Common Strategy, each Presidency presents a work plan with specific priorities for the implementation of the Common Strategy. The priorities of the Greek Presidency for the first semester of 2003 are the following:
- consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and public institutions in Ukraine;
- support for strengthened cooperation between the EU and Ukraine within the context of EU enlargement;
- support for the economic transition process in Ukraine, including its integration into European and world economy;
- cooperation to strengthen stability and security in Europe;
- cooperation in the field of environment, energy and nuclear safety;
- cooperation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs.
Relations with the Mediterranean region - implementation of the common strategy
The Council took note of the Presidency's priorities for implementing the EU's Common Strategy on the Mediterranean region from June 2000 under its three chapters: the political and security, the economic and financial as well as the social, cultural and human chapters. The Greek Presidency intends in particular to take the Barcelona Process forward on the basis of the principle of universality and by increasing the sense of joint belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Furthermore, the Presidency intends to give special priority to the implementation of the Valencia Action Plan adopted at the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Valencia on 23 and 24 April 2002.
The Council adopted a Regulation repealing Regulation (EC) N° 1705/98 regarding the interruption of certain economic relations with Angola in connection with the activities of UNITA (doc. 5273/03). The decision, which is required due to the existence of Community competence in the field, follows from Common Position 2002/991/CFSP of 19 December 2002 lifting restrictive measures against UNITA and repealing previous Common Positions on sanctions against Angola.
The Council adopted a Regulation concerning certain restrictive measures in respect of Somalia (doc. 15464/02). The decision, which is required due to the existence of Community competence in the field, follows from Common Position 2002/960/CFSP of 10 December 2002 concerning restrictive measures against Somalia. The regulation prohibits the provision of financing for arms sale, as well as of advice, assistance or training related to military activities directly or indirectly to any person, entity or body in Somalia.
Dual-use items and technology
The Council adopted a regulation amending and updating Regulation (EC) No 1334/2000 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use items and technology. The latter Regulation implements internationally agreed dual-use controls, including the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group and the Chemical Weapons Convention. It requires dual-use items (including software and technology) to be subject to effective control when they are exported from the Community.
The regulation adopted today updates and consolidates the annexes, in particular Annexes I, II and IV in order to take account of changes adopted by the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime during the years 2001 and 2002.
Financing of operations having military or defence implications
The Council approved a document on contributions by third States to the financing of operations having military or defence implications, as well as models for Council decisions on:
- the establishment of an operational financing mechanism to provide for the financing of an EU operation having military or defence implications;
- the establishment of pre-financing procedures for the financing of an EU operation having military or defence implications.
Fighting Rural Poverty - Council conclusions
1. WELCOMES the Commission's Communication on Fighting Rural Poverty and recalls the joint Statement by the Council and the Commission on the European Community's Development Policy from November 2000, which underlines the importance of food security and sustainable rural development as one of the six priority areas of Community development assistance activities.
2. STRESSES the importance of pursuing rural development objectives within the framework of the World Food Summit (WFS) and the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) Declarations and in the context of national and regional development strategies and of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, as well as in cooperation with the leading international institutions, including United Nations agencies, operating in favour of the fight against rural poverty
3. NOTES that this Communication is the product of intensive consultation between experts in the Commission and Member States on policies and approaches to rural development and sustainable natural resources management in developing countries. It calls on Member States and on the Commission to continue working together on these issues, bearing in mind the importance of strengthening good governance at all levels through the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, of the primary role of women in poverty reduction and rural development and of the sustainable use and conservation of agricultural diversity.
4. INVITES the Commission to report on progress in the implementation in the Annual Report on European Community's development policy and the implementation of the external assistance, especially on the steps taken by the Commission to contribute to coordination, coherence and complementarity as stated in the above mentioned Joint Declaration."
The Council adopted four texts amending a number of anti-dumping measures to avoid an excessive amount of anti-dumping duty being levied in situations in which imported goods have been damaged before entry into free circulation. In these cases, the specific duty will be reduced by a percentage which corresponds to the apportioning of the price actually paid or payable.
The texts concerned are the following:
- Regulation amending the anti-dumping measures imposed by Council Regulation (EC) N° 495/98 and by Council Regulation (EC) N° 2413/95 on imports of ferro-silico-manganese originating in the People's Republic of China and Ukraine;
- Regulation amending the anti-dumping measures imposed by Council Regulation (EC) N° 299/2001 on imports of potassium permanganate originating in the People's Republic of China;
- Regulation amending the anti-dumping measures imposed by Council Regulation (EC) N° 1603/2000 on imports of ethanolamines originating in the United States of America;
- Regulation amending the anti-dumping measures imposed by Council Regulation (EC) N° 1824/2001 on imports of gas-fuelled, non-refillable pocket flint lighters originating in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.
Grain oriented electrical sheets from Russia
The Council adopted a regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of certain grain oriented electrical sheets originating in Russia (doc. 5202/03). Following an enquiry by the Commission, a the duty is imposed on imports of grain oriented cold-rolled sheets and strips of silicon-electrical steel with a width of more than 500 mm. The rate is fixed at 40,1% of the net, free-at-Community frontier price before duty.
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
Following the political agreement reached on 28 November 2002, the Council formally adopted the Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers in Member States (doc. 15398/02).
The Directive establishes minimum standards of reception conditions for asylum seekers in the European Union which are deemed sufficient to ensure them a dignified standard of living. It contains specific provisions on residence and freedom of movement, family unity, schooling and the education of minors, employment and access to vocational training.
The Directive covers all third-country nationals and stateless persons who make an application for asylum at the border or in the territory of a Member State, as long as they are allowed to remain on the territory, as well as to certain family members.
Access to justice in cross-border disputes
The Council adopted the Directive to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes (doc. 13885/02).
This Directive seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice. Accordingly, all persons involved in a civil or commercial dispute within the scope of this Directive must be able to assert their rights in the courts even if their personal financial situation makes it impossible for them to bear the costs of the proceedings. Legal aid is regarded as appropriate when it allows the recipient effective access to justice under the conditions laid down in this Directive.
Legal aid should cover pre-litigation advice with a view to reaching a settlement prior to bringing legal proceedings, legal assistance in bringing a case before a court and representation in court and assistance with or exemption from the cost of proceedings.
The United Kingdom and Ireland have given notice of their wish to take part in the adoption and the application of this Directive. Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application.
Protection of the environment through criminal law
The Council adopted the Framework Decision on the protection of the environment through criminal law (doc. 13421/02).
According to this instrument, each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the conduct referred to in the Framework Decision is punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties including, at least in serious cases, penalties involving deprivation of liberty which can give rise to extradition.
These criminal penalties may be accompanied by other penalties or measures, in particular the disqualification for a natural person from engaging in an activity requiring official authorisation or approval, or founding, managing or directing a company or a foundation, where the facts having led to his or her conviction show an obvious risk that the same kind of criminal activity may be pursued.
Slovenia Conformity assessment of industrial products
The Council adopted a Decision approving the agreement between the Community and the Member States, on the one hand, and the Republic of Slovenia, on the other hand, on an additional Protocol to the Europe Agreement on association between the parties, relating to conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products. (Docs 15383/02 and 11467/02)
The Protocol, signed in Brussels on 26 November 2002, is aimed at the elimination of technical barriers to trade in respect of industrial products, by means of the progressive implementation by Slovenia of national law which is equivalent to Community law. It provides for the mutual acceptance of industrial products and of the results of conformity assessment of those products.
(1)SYMBOL 42 \f "Symbol" \s 10 The 2483rd Session on General Affairs is reflected in a separate press release (doc. 5397/03-Presse 9)
(2) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.