Statement by the Minister of State for European Affairs, Joint Committee on European Affairs, 8 December 2004 Part II
Ireland actively participated in the negotiation of all these texts, including by adding language to the proposal on external policy which will strengthen the human rights input in the fight against terrorism. I would therefore commend these proposals to the Committee as making a practical contribution to many areas of the counter-terrorism project and as taking some important steps to further protect the public from the terrorist threat.
Financial Framework 2007-2013 The Council will consider the future financial perspectives as part of its preparations for the European Council, focussing in particular on the latest Presidency draft conclusions on this issue. In their current form, the draft conclusions take account of many of our key concerns. They recognise that the October 2002 agreement on the Common Agricultural Policy is part of the overall agreement, an issue consistently highlighted by us. The draft conclusions reflect our view that the main effort of cohesion policy should be directed towards reducing the disparities in development levels in the enlarged Union. They also refer to the benefit of EU expenditure in promoting the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. Furthermore, the draft conclusions highlight the need for the Union to have adequate means to enable it to meet its international responsibilities. We consider, in this regard, that the Union must be adequately equipped to play an international role on a par with its economic weight. . The Presidency’s conclusions also make reference to the Multi-annual Strategic Programme which sets a deadline of June 2005 for political agreement on this dossier.
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
Drugs Strategy 1005-2012 The European Council will take note of the EU Drugs Strategy for the period 2005 to 2012. This represents the Union’s effort to provide added value to existing national drugs strategies through the application of balanced measures in the areas of both demand and supply reduction. Its general aim is the attainment of health protection, well being and social cohesion while ensuring a high level of security for the general public. Ireland participated fully in the negotiation of the new Strategy and endorses its approach.
Immigration Integration Policy The JHA Council of 19 November adopted common basic principles for immigrant integration policy in the Member States. The draft European Council conclusions welcome these common principles as the basis for a comprehensive framework on immigrant integration. Ireland supports the overall approach as the best route to seek to address a growing challenge for Member States and for the Union as a whole.
External Affairs The European Council is expected to consider a broad range of external relations items reflecting the breadth and depth of the Union’s international engagement. The Presidency has indicated that conclusions may be adopted on Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, relations with the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East; the report of the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, relations with key partners such as the US and Russia, and recent developments in the European Security and Defence Policy. On Monday, Ministers will have an opportunity to review the draft conclusions on these items, which are currently being prepared by the relevant working groups in Brussels.
The Presidency has also indicated that, at the European Council, Foreign Ministers will discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East Peace Process. On the basis of this discussion, the European Council is expected to adopt declarations on each of these topics reflecting their importance for the Union. The text of these declarations is not available at this time. With your agreement, Chairman, I will comment on the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East Peace Process under the External Relations heading, as they are also full agenda items for Monday’s meeting.
International Cooperation The draft European Council conclusions emphasise the importance of ensuring a coherent contribution of Community Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to poverty eradication in all developing countries, with a particular need to increase the focus on the poorest, especially in Africa. The European Council is likely to confirm its full commitment to the need to make progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will also welcome the consultation of Member States by the Commission with a view to presenting to the GAERC in April 2005 concrete proposals on setting new and adequate ODA targets for the period 2009/2010.
Other issues Other issues listed by the Presidency for mention in the European Council conclusions are a Presidency initiative on Commonly Shared Values, enhanced Consular Cooperation and preparatory work on the European External Action Service.
Annual Operating Programme of the Council 2005 The second substantive item on the General Affairs agenda is the Annual Programme of the Council 2005 which has been drawn up by the incoming Luxembourg and UK Presidencies. The draft Programme, which has been sent to the Committee, sets out the challenges which face the Union in 2005 and then goes on to say how the two Presidencies intend to address them. The intention is to build on and implement existing strategies and policies. The following key priorities are listed in the draft Programme:
• Future Financial Perspective • The Lisbon Agenda • Common Agricultural Policy and Fisheries • Sustainable Development • Freedom, Security and Justice: Next Steps • Future accessions to the Union • Enhancing Global Stability and prosperity • The Constitutional Treaty: Preparing Entry into Force Official languages in the European Union The item on official languages in the European Union which is on the agenda at the request of Spain and Ireland will provide an opportunity to recall that the Government has tabled a proposal requesting that official and working status in the EU be accorded to the Irish language and to outline the proposal. Two weeks ago, on 24 November, Ireland formally tabled a proposal in Brussels, requesting that official and working status in the EU be accorded to the Irish language. In effect, the Government is proposing that certain key EU legislation (that adopted jointly by the Council and the European Parliament) would be translated into Irish. Under the proposal, the possibility of extending the range of documents to be translated into Irish would be the subject of a review to take place not later than four years after adoption of the current proposal.
The proposal requires the amendment of Regulation 1 of 1958, which governs the Union’s language regime, to include Irish as an official and working language of the Union. Amendment of this Regulation requires the unanimous approval of partners.
I will now turn to the items on this month’s External Relations Council,
EXTERNAL RELATIONS AGENDA AT THE COUNCIL Ministers will discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Middle East Peace Process, Iran, progress in the European Neighbourhood Policy, Darfur and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Perhaps the most pressing issue facing Ministers is the political situation in Ukraine. Monday’s meeting will see an exchange of views on the latest developments in Ukraine and it is likely that conclusions will be adopted. As I mentioned earlier, Ukraine will also be discussed at the European Council.Top