Priorities of the Danish Presidency – From Copenhagen to Copenhagen

Adress by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, DUPI-conference, New Members - New Deal? June 14, 2002

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On the first of July Denmark takes over the Presidency of the European Union. The Presidency will be the greatest foreign policy task for a Danish Government in many years. Preparations have been going on for a long time. We believe we are ready for the task. We are eager to start working.

The Danish Presidency will be different from most other presidencies. Not because it will be Danish. But because the EU agenda for the second half of 2002 is an extraordinarily heavy one.

The enlargement negotiations with countries of Central and Eastern Europe together with Cyprus and Malta is the most important task during the coming 6 months. But the Danish Presidency will also give priority to the wide range of other important questions on the EU agenda.

The EU must be able to produce significant results to the benefit of European citizens. And Europe must live up to its global responsibility and take part in the formulation of solutions to global problems.

Our efforts will concentrate on five areas:

· Enlargement of the EU. I will expand on this issue below.

· Safety and security - the fight against international terrorism and cross-border crime.

· Sustainable development, economically, socially and environmentally.

· Safe food. We will work on the Mid-term review of the Common Agricultural Policy, a new fisheries policy and food safety.

· Finally, we focus on our global responsibility in terms of relations with third countries, security, trade and development policy etc


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As I said, our top priority is enlargement. It will be up to the Danish Presidency to conclude enlargement negotiations with up to 10 new Member States. We have formulated that ambition as a completion of the circle “From Copenhagen To Copenhagen”. This is also the headline for a part of this conference. It was in Copenhagen in1993 that the basic principles for the enlargement process were defined. And we now have a chance to conclude negotiations in Copenhagen by the end of this year.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the new European democracies formulated visions of becoming members of the European Union. Responsible politicians in Western Europe supported these aspirations. Traditionally, the European continent has been characterised by war and conflict between neighbouring states. We have a historic and moral obligation to seize the present opportunity to create peaceful co-operation across the entire continent.

But enlargement of the EU not only means living up to political declarations and moral duty. It is also about more trade and higher economic growth in our societies. I am convinced that enlargement will help produce stronger growth in the new Member States. Competition will become stronger and productivity will increase in all countries – also the present Member States. One of the most important factors behind this development will be a strong increase in trade between existing and future members of the Union. I firmly believe that enlargement constitutes a “win-win situation”. Everybody will benefit from enlargement.


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Nevertheless, it will be a difficult task to actually close negotiations by December. Candidate countries as well as existing Member States must be willing to compromise. A successful outcome of the negotiations in Copenhagen requires the commitment of all involved. This includes a clear focus on the part of the Presidency. But the will and energy of the Presidency is not enough. All Member States as well as candidate countries need to contribute.

I will follow three principles for the conclusion of negotiations:

- First of all, negotiations should be concluded by December 2002. Even a small delay in negotiations risks delaying the whole process considerably. All experience show that the EU is only capable of addressing a limited number of major tasks at the same time. In 2003 we will have to finalise the work in the Convention in preparation of the next Inter Governmental Conference. In 2004 the IGC will occupy the agenda and in 2005-2006 we will have to reach an agreement on the next financial perspectives. Therefore, the window of opportunity for enlargement is only open for a few months.

- Secondly, negotiations should be concluded with those countries that are ready. We hope to welcome all 10 countries. But we cannot compromise on the basic criteria for membership.

- Thirdly, no country should be asked to wait for other countries. That would not be fair. If only some of the 10 countries are ready, we should conclude with them.

Difficult concrete issues in the negotiation process will need to be overcome before we can conclude negotiations in Copenhagen. At least three questions are of particular importance:

First of all, there is the question of distribution of benefits and the sharing of costs. This question is particularly relevant in relation to negotiations on agriculture, structural funds and budget. The Commission has prepared a very balanced and reasonable proposal.

A number of Member States find that proposal too costly. At the same time, candidate countries say that the proposal is unsatisfactory and that they are being discriminated against. This only confirms that the Commission has indeed struck just about the right balance.

Secondly there is the question of Cyprus. Cyprus is doing very well in the accession negotiations. Cyprus is the country, which has closed most negotiation chapters – that is 27 out of the 31. Cyprus as a candidate country has a right to join when it is ready.

At the same time, the division of the island poses a problem. The European Council in Helsinki addressed the issue. It said that a solution to the problem would be an advantage but not a precondition. It also said that a decision on the accession of Cyprus would be taken taking all relevant factors into account. We will proceed on that basis. All parties – on both sides – need to make an effort in finding a solution.

Thirdly, there is question of the second Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty. Ratification of the Nice Treaty is a political necessity for the enlargement process to be concluded. Negotiations on the enlargement take place on the basis of the Nice Treaty. A new no would jeopardise the whole enlargement process.

These hurdles are indeed impressive. But this should not lead us to lose focus. We have a historic opportunity to unite our continent by finalising enlargement negotiations in December. The Danish Presidency will do its utmost to achieve that result. But enlargement is a joint challenge and a joint opportunity. We cannot afford to miss it.

When we conclude negotiations with the countries that are ready we must not forget those that are not. Already now we know that this group will include Bulgaria and Rumania. For these countries we will have to formulate new and realistic road maps for continued negotiations with the European Union. Other possible elements in a package from the European Council in Copenhagen could be increased pre-accession assistance and maybe a target date for a second enlargement round if reforms are continued in these countries. The first wave of enlargement will not be the last. Countries will still be accepted as members when they fulfil the criteria.

By the same token, future negotiations with more countries should be opened in accordance with the principles decided by the European Union. This is not least relevant for Turkey. The European Union acknowledges that Turkey has made progress in complying with the political criteria established for accession, in particular through the recent amendment of its constitution. But more needs to be done. Turkish Negotiations with the EU can only be opened if and when Turkey fulfils all the necessary criteria.


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Enlargement must be seen in a greater context. The present enlargement process of the European Union will move the borders of the Union further to the east. I do not have the answer here and now as to how far this process will go on in the future. But the question about where the external borders of the European Union will be in 50 years is really not the most interesting one. The process and how to avoid new dividing lines in Europe is much more interesting.

The benefits of Enlargement must not stop at the new external border. That would not be consistent with the aim of constructing the European Union as a project of peace, stability and prosperity for the entire continent.

The Danish Presidency will pay attention to relations with Russia and our “new neighbours”: Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

We will need to formulate new policies towards these countries. Building on the existing programmes we must stimulate a healthy political and economic development in these countries. Working on a closer relationship between the EU’s internal market and their economies seems to me as one of the most fruitful ways to proceed.

We will also have to address the specific issues pertaining to Kaliningrad. After enlargement of the European Union with Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad will be an enclave in the Union. This raises questions concerning transit of persons and goods. The European Union and Russia have a visa-regime in place vis-à-vis each other. We need to build on the Schengen acquis. This raises a difficult problem because Russia views the situation differently. I hope that we can reach an agreement with Russia based on the Schengen acquis.


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The Northern Dimension is a tool already at our disposal to supplement enlargement. With active Russian engagement and participation, this instrument has the potential to expand cooperation and promote integration between Russia and the EU.

More specifically, the Northern Dimension can contribute in a number of fields. To mention but the most important ones:

- Better framework conditions for private business

- Active cross-border cooperation

- Border management

- The environment

- The fight against crime and

- A special attention to development of the Kaliningrad region.

We have a historic opportunity to unite our continent by finalising enlargement negotiations in December. The Danish Presidency will do its utmost to achieve that result. But we need the co-operation and assistance of everybody involved to succeed. Enlargement is a joint challenge and a joint opportunity. Allow me to stress once again: We cannot afford to miss it.

Thank you for your attention.

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