|Datum nieuwsfeit: 18-12-2000|
|Bron: Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken|
|Zoek soortgelijke berichten|
Datum 18 december 2000 Auteur Pieter de Gooijer
Kenmerk DIE/733/00 Telefoon +31.70.348.6132
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Betreft Programma Zweeds EU-Voorzitterschap
Zeer geachte Voorzitter,
Overeenkomstig de daarover bestaande afspraken zend ik U bijgaand kopie van het werkprogramma van het inkomende Zweedse Voorzitterschap van de Europese Unie.
De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken,
PROGRAMME OF THE SWEDISH PRESIDENCY
OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
1 JANUARY to 30 JUNE 2001
On 1 January, 2001, Sweden will for the first time assume the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. Sweden's foremost ambition is to serve the interests of the whole of the Union and its citizens, to ensure openness and continuity and to carry the issues on the EU's agenda forward.
Three areas share top priority on the Government's agenda: Enlargement,
Employment, Environment. These three Es will be distinguishing features of
the Swedish Presidency.
The major task for the European Union today is to prepare for its approaching
. This is a historic opportunity to consolidate peace, freedom, democracy and prosperity in Europe. Sweden's objective is to attempt to pave the way for a political breakthrough in the negotiations. Each of the candidate countries' own ability to adopt and apply the
will determine progress in this area. The successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental conference on institutional issues at the summit meeting in Nice means that the Union has now made the necessary internal preparations to be able to welcome new members as from the end of 2002 in accordance with the conclusions of the Helsinki summit.
, economic growth and social cohesion are the EU's most important economic and social objectives and constitute a top priority issue for the Swedish Presidency. Sweden will act to promote an efficient and ambitious follow-up to the meeting of the European Council in Lisbon and to ensure that the summit meeting in Stockholm contributes to further progress in areas such as employment, economic reform, innovation/IT, education, social security and welfare.
The challenge is to meet the major demographic changes the Union faces with dynamic policies.
EU cooperation in the area of the
and sustainable development should be intensified. This will involve a change of the time frame envisaged and a focus on preventive action. It is essential that a strategy for a long term adjustment of EU policy to ensure ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development will be adopted at the meeting of the European Council in Göteborg. During the Swedish Presidency, the process of integrating environmental considerations into all EU areas of cooperation will be further developed and advances made in the preparation of the EU's sixth Environmental Action Programme.
is one of the cornerstones of EU cooperation. If all the opportunities can be effectively utilised, the long-term competitiveness of European business and the opportunities for growth will be promoted, leading in turn to growing prosperity and employment. At the same time, tougher competition will lead to lower prices and will strengthen the position of consumers. Efforts to improve food safety will continue.
concerns must inform all EU cooperation.
Cooperation to create a
region marked by freedom, safety and justice
will be intensified. The Union's crime policy will be built on three cornerstones: preventing crime, combating crime and redressing the consequences of crime. The EU's policy on migration must be characterised by respect for the right of asylum, solidarity and humanism.
The EU plays an important role in the sphere of
foreign and security policy
. Sweden aims to promote a Union that displays solidarity and takes an active role internationally - a Union that is open to the world around it and that stands for democracy, respect for human rights, the principle of states governed by law, gender equality, free trade, cultural diversity and environmental consern. During Sweden's Presidency, efforts to enhance the EU's capacity in the areas of crisis management and conflict prevention will continue. Prominence will be given to relations between the Union and Russia. Particular attention will be paid to developments in the Balkans and the Middle East. Relations between the EU and the United States will be strengthened.
If it is to be capable of meeting new challenges and fulfilling its citizens' expectations, and if an enlarged Union is to function efficiently, the EU must become
more open and modern
. The new, open forms of cooperation with established common goals will be safeguarded. It is essential that European cooperation be characterised by cost efficiency and budget control
Here both the national parliaments and the European Parliament have an important role to play in ensuring that the measures taken throughout the Union enjoy public support and legitimacy.
AN ENLARGED UNION
The enlargement of the Union is a historic task. It is ultimately a matter of consolidating the foundation for peace, freedom, democracy and prosperity in Europe. Contributing to the successful realisation of enlargement will be accorded the highest priority by the Swedish Presidency.
In its annual revision report, the Commission shows that considerable
progress has been made in the candidate countries in the past year. In
particular, a large part of the
has been incorporated into the candidate countries' national legislation. Much work remains to be done, however, above all regarding the implementation and application of the
During the Swedish Presidency, the enlargement process will enter a new phase of concrete negotiations, involving a number of difficult areas. Sweden's objective is to attempt to pave the way for a political breakthrough. This means, among other things, endeavouring to provisionally close as many chapters as possible in the negotiations with all the candidate countries. For the countries that have made the most progress in the negotiations, this also involves some of the most difficult chapters. For the countries that began negotiations in 2000, the intention is to try to open as many chapters as possible. Those that have advanced furthest should have opened negotiations in all areas early in 2001 in accordance with the conclusions of the Feira summit meeting.
The negotiations will be conducted in accordance with the principles established at the Helsinki and Nice summit meetings. Each of the candidate countries' own ability to adopt and apply the
will determine progress in the negotiations. This work will be based on the principle of differentiation.
To succeed in attaining our goal, all the parties involved must contribute. The candidate countries must continue vigorously to implement the necessary reforms. For their part, the Member States must be prepared to contribute constructively to taking the negotiations forward. At the same time, it is essential that enlargement enjoys broad support in the Union. The Commission plays a central role in facilitating this process.
The successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference on
institutional issues at the summit meeting in Nice means that the Union has
now made the necessary internal preparations to be able to welcome new
members as from the end of 2002 in accordance with the conclusions of the
Attention will continue to be focused on the Union's relations with Turkey as a candidate country and that country's endeavours to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria for joining the EU. Human rights issues will be accorded continued attention. During its Presidency, Sweden will continue the work of carrying out the various parts of Turkey's pre-membership strategy.
FULL EMPLOYMENT AND HIGH GROWTH IN A COMPETITIVE UNION
At it's meeting in Lisbon in March 2000, the European Council established a new strategic goal for the Union: the creation within a decade of the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world with the potential for sustainable economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. It was established at the same time that full employment should be a goal of the Union's economic and social policy.
The Lisbon strategy entails the implementation of a broad spectrum of
measures, relating to employment, economic reform, innovation and IT,
education, social security and welfare. The potential of modern technology
- IT, biotechnology, environmentally friendly technology - as a driving force for development will be utilised. Concrete measures and timetables have been established for essential economic reforms. In several areas the new, open method of coordination defined at Lisbon will be used. This form of cooperation is guided by common objectives but with national decision-making authority maintained. Initiatives are drawn up jointly by the Member States and the Commission. The goals will be achieved with the aid of indicators and by means of peer review.
These measures are to be followed up at annual spring summit meetings, the first of which is to take place in Stockholm in March 2001 during the Swedish Presidency. The Stockholm summit must show both Europe's citizens and the world that the Union's objective defined at Lisbon is being taken seriously and that the work of modernising the European model continues.
The anticipated demographic development of Europe is a growing challenge.
Low birth rates and a growing proportion of elderly people threaten to
substantially increase the maintenance burden of the working population from
about 2010 onwards. This demographic development must be met by broad
policies that include, among other things, a review of pension systems and
systems for health and medical care and care of the elderly, improved
conditions for families with children and measures to attain higher labour
force participation. Such policies must also influence the general focus of
fiscal policy in order to reduce public debt. The Presidency intends to take
the initiative for a discussion of these issues, aiming to reach a political
agreement on a programme of necessary measures.
Several issues bearing on demographic change and of importance to full employment will be discussed at the summit meeting in Stockholm. These include gender equality, lifelong learning and quality of work. Other issues concerning modernisation of the European social model will also be discussed at the Stockholm summit,
efforts to ensure sustainability and quality in the pension systems.
Efforts in the employment area in the spring of 2001 will be carried forward on the basis of the Union's goal of achieving full employment and the readiness of Member States to consider the establishment of national employment goals. The Swedish Presidency will encourage Member States to formulate such goals, focusing on the employment rate.
The concept "quality of work" is of central importance in the area of employment. Sweden would like issues such as good working conditions, a flexible work organisation, skills development, diversity, gender equality, measures to counter all forms of discrimination in working life, to be viewed as a means of promoting growth and employment and not only from the perspective of the individual. It is very important that the social partners actively participate in endeavours to achieve quality of work.
The Swedish Presidency intends to promote measures for a good working
environment, employee participation, employee rights and social security.
This work is conducted,
in the Council for Employment and Social Policy. Work on different proposals for directives, such as employee involvement in the European company, information to and consultation with employees and proposals for directives in the field of the working environment will be carried forward. In the gender equality sphere the Presidency will continue work on the proposal for the revision of the Equal Treatment Directive.
A social agenda
A new social agenda for the Union was adopted at the meeting of the European Council in Nice. It sets out the Union's priorities in the social policy sphere for the years ahead. It is based on common values held by Member States in several important areas - more and better jobs, employee protection in a changing economy, gender equality and measures against poverty and discrimination. It also deals with the modernisation of the social security systems and social issues in an enlarged Union. There is strong momentum to encourage high labour force participation, to counteract social exclusion and poverty and also to facilitate the adjustment to an increasingly ageing population. Improved opportunities to balance professional and family life are of central importance, particularly as increased participation of women in the labour force is essential from a gender equality perspective.
During the Swedish Presidency, a first follow-up of the social agenda will be conducted at the summit meeting in Stockholm. Furthermore, work on the various proposals included in the agenda will be taken forward. In this context, it is particularly important to emphasise pensions, parental insurance systems and measures against all forms of discrimination, including measures to ensure society is accessible to people with disabilities. The principle of Design for All will be established to ensure increased access to goods and services. Work on an agreed EU strategy with common goals for the modernisation of the social security systems and exchange of information between Member States will be carried forward during the Swedish Presidency. In the light of demographic developments particular attention will be given to the discussion on the social importance and sustainability of pension systems.
The competitiveness of the European business and industry
Sweden attaches great importance to strengthening the competitiveness of the
European business and industry. In addition to measures in the employment
and social fields, this presupposes a business climate that promotes
investment and the establishment of new and growing enterprises. The
stimulation of entrepreneurship and access to highly qualified labour
combined with the ability of enterprises to adopt and exploit new technology
are crucial to this development. Other crucial factors are open and
efficient markets that offer competition on equal terms. These factors
stimulate creative thinking, inventiveness and efficiency in companies,
along with diversity and lower consumer prices. The Swedish Presidency will
continue the work to improve the business climate, modernising competition
rules, abolishing barriers to trade and integrating sustainable development
into economic policy.
Education and research
Increased broadly based investment in universal education and vocational training of high quality are preconditions for achieving the new strategic goals for the Union's work set out in the conclusions of the Lisbon summit. The report of the Education Council to the European Council in Stockholm should lay the foundation for a comprehensive strategy aimed at creating a learning Europe and raising the general level of knowledge in the Union. In this strategy, Sweden would particularly like to contribute to progress in equipping young people and adults to be able to utilise the potential of information and communication technology and in developing the different components of lifelong learning. Sweden intends to contribute to the successful implementation of the action plan for e-Learning. The importance of equality between women and men will also be emphasised in this context. Another objective is to complete the preparation of the Commission's proposal for a recommendation on mobility for students, researchers and teachers, and to follow up the action plan approved by the European Council in Nice.
Research is increasingly crucial to development, renewal and employment and will be accorded high priority during the Swedish Presidency. Efforts to create a European research area through voluntary cooperation and networking will be reported at the summit meeting in Stockholm in March 2001. Negotiations on the EU's sixth framework programme for research will be initiated during the Swedish Presidency. The framework programme will contribute to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of European research.
Coordination of EU economic policy
The Broad Economic Policy guidelines constitute the central instrument for the coordination of economic policy in the Union. They apply to all EU countries and will indicate the direction of policy each year. A well balanced macroeconomic policy will be combined with efforts to enhance the efficiency of the labour market and of the markets for goods, capital and services. In the future, the general guidelines will focus to a greater extent on effects of structural policy and reform in order to promote growth in the longer term. Under a new procedure which the Swedish Presidency will be first to implement, the guidelines have also been broadened, offering Heads of State and Government opportunities to provide political guidance at the spring meetings of the European Council. As President of the EU, Sweden will emphasise transparency, dialogue and democratic support for the coordination of economic policy.
Pact on Stability and Growth
Stable prices and sound public finances are the basis for sustainable growth and high rates of employment. Economic sustainability in the EU needs to be strengthened. Strict application of the undertakings in the Pact on Stability and Growth is therefore crucial. A report on the contribution of public finances to sustainable growth and employment will be presented at the summit meeting in Stockholm. The report will deal with tax and government transfer systems, public expenditure, and the sustainability of public finances, particularly in the light of the EU's ageing populations.
EMU and the single currency serve to promote stability and economic integration. It is vital to the European Union that the euro prove a success. The Swedish Presidency will take active measures to ensure that the monetary union continues to develop favourably. In January 2002, euro bank-notes and coins will be introduced in the countries participating in the EMU. As President of the EU, Sweden will contribute to ensuring that their introduction runs smoothly.
External trade policy
There is a close link between the EU's external trade policy and economic growth and employment in the Union. Trade policy is of major importance for the modernisation of the Union's economy and for the Union's consumers. Open trade based on reliable and fair rules also promotes stability and development outside the Union and has significance for the developing countries. One of the main priorities of the Swedish Presidency will therefore be to encourage the EU to speed up developments towards concrete liberalisations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The best way to achieve this is through a new round of negotiations in the WTO. It is particularly essential to promote modern growth industries and to make efforts to ensure that the trade system contributes to sustainable ecological and social development and promotes human rights in working life.
The internal market and consumer interests
The internal market is one of the cornerstones of EU cooperation. Economic reform is essential if we are to be able to utilise all the opportunities that the internal market offers to contribute to the long-term competitiveness of the European business sector and growth opportunities for companies. In this way, growth, prosperity and employment within the EU will be promoted.
Sweden intends to take various steps to promote an efficient internal market that operates in the interests of consumers. The aim is that the internal market should offer concrete advantages in the form of more safe products and services at competitive prices. The legal and economic interests of consumers will be promoted and protection against health hazards and hazardous products enhanced. In this way, consumers will acquire greater confidence in the Union and the internal market.
Sweden would like to contribute to better marketing rules and stronger monitoring of the internal market. Each Member State should also draw up its own national action programme for consumer policy. An important issue close to the hearts of consumers which the Swedish Presidency will highlight is the promotion of world-wide parallel imports of goods with protected trademarks. Parallel imports, that is to say the freedom to sell brands through distribution channels other than the trademark proprietor's own, are currently only permitted in the EU/EEA area.
Sweden intends to devote attention to intellectual property law - i.e. copyright, trademarks, patents, particularly Community patents, and design registration - one of the internal market's most crucial areas. Intellectual property rights will be of growing importance for growth, not least against the backdrop of new technology.
An important issue that Sweden intends to pursue during its Presidency is the formulation of clearer and simpler rules for the internal market. Simplification of rules is of major importance
for the business climate.
As presiding country, Sweden will strive to ensure that the European Parliament and the Council can adopt the new package of legislation on public procurement not later than June 2001. The Swedish Presidency wants the solutions arrived at for the internal market to have an impact on EU relations with other countries and trade agreements affecting the Union. A strategy for the integration of sustainable development and environmental protection into the internal market will be presented to the European Council in Göteborg in June.
Financial services and risk capital
The Swedish Presidency will give high priority to the action plans for financial services and risk capital. These measures constitute essential components of an effective, integrated internal financial market. Such a market can propel growth and employment without compromising the requirements of maintaining financial stability and a high standard of consumer protection. In the area of financial services, Sweden will continue to strive for reform of the regulatory framework, focusing on a speedier and more efficient legislative process in the EU. The Lisbon summit identified additional key areas with a view to strengthening the internal market,
continued deregulation of the energy, telecommunications and transport markets. The new strategies for reforming rules and removing barriers to services are other important aspects.
In the taxation area, priority will in general be accorded to measures to improve the functioning of the internal market. This is necessary in view of internationalisation and rapid technical developments. Work is in progress to adjust the rules for value added tax and also for energy and other selective taxes. In this context, work on a directive concerning value added tax and e-commerce may be mentioned in particular. In the area of direct tax, efforts to counter harmful tax competition are of central importance. The tax package will be carried forward in accordance with the timetable and the conditions set out at the European Council in Feira. Within the framework of work on the directive on tax on savings, among other things, talks
will be initiated at the earliest opportunity with important third countries. Work on the tax package will be reported to the European Council in Göteborg. Special efforts should also be made to improve exchanges of information and other administrative cooperation in order to prevent tax fraud and tax evasion, and draw up more effective rules for the collection of taxes.
The energy sector is of strategic importance for the competitiveness of industry, security of supply, and protection of the environment. Sweden attaches considerable importance to opening the energy markets and accelerating development of the internal energy market (electricity and gas) in accordance with the conclusions of the meeting of the European Council in Lisbon. Great importance is also attached to the Commission's green paper on security of supply. Work will continue on the directive on promotion of electricity production based on renewable sources of energy. This issue is of importance both for the internal energy market and for the transition to a diversified and ecologically sustainable energy system. Sweden will continue efforts to integrate environmental considerations and sustainable development into energy policy, focusing on security of supply, competitiveness and protection of the environment.
Telecommunications and IT
The significance of telecommunications and IT for growth and employment is steadily increasing and special attention will be devoted to this area at the meeting of the European Council in Stockholm.
Greater ability to exploit the new technology is crucial if we are to provide effective communications services for citizens, create new, and develop existing, businesses in goods and services, and promote innovation and research and development in Europe. Furthermore, the European telecommunications and IT industry needs to be able to assert itself in the face of tough global competition.
In order to contribute to effective competition in the telecommunications sector, work will focus on the formulation of Community legislation on electronic communication during the Swedish Presidency. Sweden will follow up the Commission's eEurope initiative and the Action Plan adopted at the meeting of the European Council in Feira. At the summit meeting in Stockholm, a first report will be discussed on the contribution of this action plan to the development of a knowledge-based society and the priorities that should be established for its continued implementation. The Presidency will energetically strive to ensure that the new information society and all the new technology are available to all and that the new information technology is fully utilised in all sectors of society.
Transport is of major importance for citizens and the development of society. The Swedish Presidency aims to actively contribute to the development of efficient, economically viable transport systems for people and businesses which are sustainable in the long term. The impact of transport on economic growth, regional development, health and the environment must be taken into consideration when Community law is formulated. Sweden intends to work for the completion of an efficient internal market in the transport sector characterised by uniform conditions for competition. This calls for improved application and observance of existing rules. Sweden will continue efforts to integrate environmental considerations and sustainable development into transport policy and prioritise measures that enhance security, availability for all and accessibility throughout the transport sector. Sweden wants to help ensure that full advantage is taken of the positive effects of IT and other new technology in the transport sector, particularly to achieve improvements with regard to safety and the environment.
Agriculture and fisheries policy
The need for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy remains. The Agenda 2000 objectives proposed by the Commission were: to improve the efficiency of the Common Agricultural Policy thereby making European agriculture more market oriented and competitive, to introduce targeted measures to achieve regional, rural development and environmental goals, to strengthen the EU's position in preparation for the upcoming WTO negotiations, to expedite enlargement and to stabilise expenditure on agriculture. In order to achieve these goals, Sweden intends during its Presidency to work for continued reform in relevant areas such as the market regulations for olive oil and sheep and goat meat. An additional priority issue applying to both agricultural and fisheries policy is the continued integration of environmental considerations. In the fisheries policy area, priority will also be accorded to the negotiations on the next development programme for the fishing-fleet with a view to adapting fishing capacity to fish resources for the period 2002-2006. A broad debate will be conducted on the Commission's green paper on the common fisheries policy.
The Swedish Presidency will seek to intensify international cooperation and economically, ecologically and socially sustainable forestry in all parts of the world. Cooperation within the framework of the Union's forestry strategy will be further developed and increased importance will be attached to the role of forestry as a producer of renewable raw materials and commodities.
Regional and structural policy
The Commission's second report on economic and social cohesion in the Union will be an important contribution to the discussion on future regional and structural policy. Discussion on these matters will commence during the Swedish Presidency.
A UNION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
EU cooperation represents considerable advantages in the context of safeguarding the environment and promoting sustainable development. EU efforts to fulfil the new objectives and rules of the Treaty of Amsterdam in these areas should be intensified. A strategy for long-term adjustment of EU policy to the needs of ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development will be adopted at the meeting of the European Council in Göteborg. The guidelines for this strategy should be discussed on the basis of a proposal presented by the Commission. An essential aspect of efforts to achieve sustainable development is mainstreaming environmental considerations in the EU's various policy areas. This work should be further developed during the spring and confirmed at the summit meeting in Göteborg.
A new Environmental Action Programme
Sweden will carry forward preparations for the EU's sixth Environmental Action Programme. The Programme will serve as a guide for the ecological aspects of work on sustainable development and should constitute one of the foundations for the overall sustainable development strategy. It should aim in particular to support endeavours to integrate environmental considerations into the EU's various policy areas. The Programme, which is to apply for the next ten years, should focus on clear and well reasoned environmental goals and indicators.
The climate issue
The climate issue is high on the EU agenda. Endeavours to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases have implications for large sections of the economy, business life and society, both at European and international levels. High priority will continue to be accorded to climate issues during the Swedish Presidency. Efforts will focus on concluding the discussion on outstanding issues following the meeting of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November 2000 and to carry EU work in this area forward.
A rapidly expanding chemicals market and the fact that we know too little today about the danger of many substances and lack effective tools for taking immediate protective measures, call for a new chemicals policy. Sweden will therefore strive to achieve agreement on a new chemicals strategy. The precautionary principle and the substitution principle (that hazardous substances should as far as possible be replaced by less hazardous ones) are essential starting points in this context.
To reduce the strain on our health and the environment caused by products,
we need to consider the environmental requirements that should be imposed on
the entire life cycle of goods and products. An ecocycle approach is
urgently needed. Work on the formulation of an environmentally oriented
Integrated Product Policy (IPP) will therefore be moved forward during the
The Presidency wants to see progress in the work on the development of a system of traceability and clear labelling of genetically modified organisms.
International environmental work
The EU is an important partner in international environmental cooperation. Sweden will strive to ensure that the EU makes an effective and goal-oriented contribution to the UN high-level conference to be held in 2002, ten years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and thirty years after the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. A forward-looking follow-up of, inter alia,
Agenda 21 will be undertaken at this meeting.
A UNION CLOSE TO ITS CITIZENS
EU cooperation has developed over time to comprise more and more issues of importance to each individual citizen in his/her everyday life. In addition to employment, consumer issues and sustainable development, it is the ambition of the Swedish Presidency to draw attention to other areas that concern each and everyone of us living in the EU today.
A gender equality perspective must inform all EU activities, particularly in the area of employment. Gender equality is about democracy and justice, about according women and men equal worth. It is also about equal division of economic and political power. One of the most important goals is that women and men should have equal access to employment and thereby support themselves. This involves studying the extent to which the structure of tax, benefits and social insurance systems encourages or deters women from engaging in gainful employment, removing unwarranted pay differentials between women and men, and taking measures to ensure that women and men are able to combine gainful employment and family responsibilities. Efforts to develop methods for comparisons between countries in the gender equality sphere will be pursued. Both women and men must take part in gender equality endeavours. The matter of men's involvement in particular will be highlighted. The Swedish Presidency will also accord priority to the work of combating violence against women.
The Swedish Presidency intends to strengthen the Union's profile in the area of public health issues. The new health strategy is a vital instrument in this work. The public health framework programme should be adopted and efforts to ensure a high standard of health protection intensified. Sweden wants to actively contribute to a Community strategy to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol. Tobacco and blood safety are other important issues. The Presidency will also devote attention, among other things, to efforts to prevent drug abuse among young people.
Safe food products
The connection between food production methods and the quality of food is incontrovertible. Food production should be ethical, safe, and sustainable from an environmental, economic and social perspective. During Sweden's Presidency, priority will be given to steps to promote a comprehensive view of the animal and human food chain. Thanks to the Commission's White paper on food safety, many essential issues will be on the agenda in the spring of 2001. They concern improved labelling of food that might cause allergic reactions and labelling of genetically modified food, additives, animal feed, the health of livestock and common hygiene rules for all food. In addition to these legislative initiatives, the proposal for a general food law and the establishment of a European food authority is of particular interest. Future developments relating to BSE will be closely followed.
Safeguarding diversity in the cultural sphere and in the field of audio-visual media is a prioritised task for the Swedish Presidency. The role of culture in the public debate should be emphasised. Considerable attention will be given to the media sector, among other things, public service radio and TV, film and new media. The situation of children and young people in the new media landscape will be highlighted. Issues relating to culture and employment are an interest common to European countries, and Sweden will draw attention to conditions for artistic expression. Cultural life should be accorded an important role in strengthening integration, bridging national differences and launching regions at the international level.
In the light of the work in progress on a White paper on youth policy and the situation of young people in Europe today, Sweden intends to emphasise the importance of young people's influence in the Union and the value of young people's own initiatives. Furthermore, Sweden wants to draw the attention in the work of the Council to the importance of young peoples' creative ability and entrepreneurship.
AN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
The Swedish Presidency will actively pursue ongoing work to gradually establish an area of freedom, security and justice. A particularly urgent task is to strengthen the EU's common endeavours to fight crime and thereby increase citizens' safety, and also to develop a common asylum policy based on humanity and a strict application of the Geneva Convention. Sweden will strive to ensure that the opportunities the Treaty of Amsterdam provides for cooperation in the area of justice are grasped and that the decisions taken at the special summit meeting in Tampere are followed up.
Work in the field of justice may be divided into crime policy and civil law cooperation. Crime must be reduced - the EU provides the opportunities to achieve this. The objective is to formulate an effective, human and well balanced crime policy in the Union. Cooperation will build on the corner-stones of preventing crime, combating crime and redressing the consequences of crime. This work must obviously be based on respect for the equal value of all humans. The Swedish Presidency will continue to play an active role in introducing crime prevention aspects into European cooperation. Efforts to strengthen the status of crime victims in the legal process will continue. Sweden will also accord priority to the work in progress to enhance cooperation in criminal justice across national boundaries. Our aim is that judgements and court decisions pronounced in one Member States should be valid and enforceable within the entire Union. The establishment of the cooperation body, Eurojust, in which prosecutors from all EU Member States are to cooperate in international criminal investigations, will be high on the agenda. Special effort will also be devoted to fighting serious environmental offences and combating trafficking in human beings, particularly women and children. Measures against money laundering and other types of economic crime will be pursued actively as will issues concerning IT crime. Sweden will also strive to counter drug abuse by taking measures to reduce both the supply of and demand for drugs.
The crime policy area also comprises police cooperation with the aim of
enhancing police ability to solve crimes. Initial steps taken to endow
Europol with greater powers in the fight against,
economic, environmental and IT crime will be followed up. Police cooperation should also be strengthened by intensifying the exchange of information. Cooperation in police training matters within the framework of the European Police Academy will commence. The operative entry of the Nordic countries into cooperation under the Schengen Treaty will be implemented.
Regarding cooperation in the area of civil law, Sweden is particularly interested in making progress in issues that are crucial to the ordinary citizen. The realisation of the internal market presupposes that the rights of people and businesses have legal force across national borders. Measures to simplify and speed up execution of judgements in other Member States are important in this context. Cooperation between courts of law in the Union when evidence is to be taken in another Member State will also be improved. Another high priority issue is the establishment of networks which, inter alia, will give citizens easy access to information about the court procedure in Member States and concerning the material rules that apply, for example in connection with purchasing products or leasing a holiday home.
Migration and asylum policy
In the field of migration and asylum policy Sweden attaches particular importance to continuing work on a general, European migration strategy based on the Treaty of Amsterdam. In accordance with the conclusions of the meeting of the European Council in Tampere, Sweden intends to work during the period of its Presidency for the continued development of a common EU policy in the asylum and migration field, in which humanity, solidarity, and respect for the right to seek asylum will be the foundation.
Conditions for the reception of asylum seekers are particularly important. The goal is to create good conditions for the reception of asylum seekers in all EU Member States. The Swedish Presidency wants to focus on the special needs of particularly vulnerable groups - such as the needs of children and of women who have been exposed to sexual violence.
The Swedish Presidency will also aim for the adoption of common rules on temporary protection in situations of mass exodus.
Furthermore, Sweden will make an active contribution to the formulation of
uniform minimum standards governing the rules for asylum procedures. Another
essential task is to establish minimum norms for protection within the EU,
both regarding the interpretation of the Geneva Convention and rules for
protection on other grounds.
In order to achieve results in this area it is also of paramount importance
- as indicated in the Tampere conclusions - to draw up an overarching strategy for greater mainstreaming of migration and asylum issues in all Community policy areas and in external contacts. A priority during the Swedish Presidency will be to emphasise the importance of a holistic approach to migration issues. Through our foreign policy and international development cooperation we can influence the conditions that force people to leave their home countries.
The integration and rights of immigrants will be accorded special priority. The rights enjoyed by citizens of third countries vary from Member State to Member State in the EU today. As far as possible, work should urgently be initiated within the framework of the EU to grant immigrants rights on a par with those accorded to EU citizens.
If we are to be able to harmonise policies, mutual knowledge of the conditions in Member States pertaining to migration issues must be improved. During the Presidency period Sweden will strive to improve exchange of information and statistics. A greater degree of openness and more information will furthermore benefit public debate and the image of immigration conveyed to citizens of the EU.
An internationally active Union based on the principle of solidarity.
The EU must be an organisation which is open to the world. In recent years,
the Union's role in the world has been strengthened. Its goal is peace,
development and international cooperation. Common values form the
foundation: democracy, respect for human rights, the principle of states
governed by law, gender equality, free trade, and environmental concerns.
The different policy areas must interact to ensure EU policies based on
solidarity in relation to the world.
Environmental considerations must be an important aspect of the Union's external relations. A strategy to this end will be formulated during the Swedish Presidency. Special attention will be given to EU cooperation with the UN.
Respect for human rights should inform all aspects of the EU's activities. These matters must be dealt with openly and efficiently. Human rights should be addressed in peace-building dialogues with other countries, and in agreements with countries outside the EU. The Union will actively participate in the UN Commission on Human Rights and in preparations for future world conferences in this sphere.
The fight against capital punishment will continue. Efforts to outlaw torture should be further intensified. Other vital issues include the situation of women, the rights of the child, opportunities for disabled people and freedom of information and of the media.
European security and defence policies
The EU must be better at preventing and managing crises. This is the challenge to European security today. A central task for the Swedish Presidency will be to implement the decisions taken by the European Council in Nice and its mandate for future work. Essential assignments include, inter alia,
establishing permanent structures in this sphere, and strengthening the Union's military and civil crisis management capability so that it will be operative as soon as the preconditions for it exist. Sweden will also accord priority to conflict prevention and cooperation with the UN and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) as well as with countries outside the EU within the field of crises management.
Effective development cooperation is an essential aspect of external relations and an important matter for the Presidency. It is also a component of the Commission's reform programme. Greater consensus on external policies should be secured. The EU will then strengthen its position as a player acting responsibly and in solidarity in the international arena. The fight against poverty shall therefore be at the focus of our development cooperation.
Cooperation with international organisations and countries outside the Union
The United Nations
The Presidency will seek to contribute to consistent and cohesive EU action in the UN.
Priority issues include:
- modernisation of the UN system
- a strong role for the UN and its Security Council in efforts for international peace and security
- disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- better preconditions for UN peace support and conflict prevention efforts
- EU-UN cooperation
Several major UN conferences will take place during the Swedish Presidency. These include world conferences on the least developed countries and on HIV/AIDS. Current obstacles to EU-UN cooperation should be removed, inter alia
in the administrative sphere.
Cooperation between the EU and Russia is of fundamental significance for the security and development of Europe. This issue has therefore been given high priority. The Presidency intends to energetically continue the implementation of the EU common strategy taking into account the general political context. A long-term perspective and an intensified political dialogue are necessary. The issues that should be at the centre of attention include:
- support for civil society and free opinion forming
- the environment and nuclear safety/waste
- the fight against organised crime
- cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation
- integration of Russia into the world economy
The Northern Dimension
The EU's Northern Dimension provides an important platform for developing the EU's commitment to the Baltic Sea region. The Northern Dimension should be given more concrete content based on the special character of the region. It should strengthen cooperation across the EU's external borders in northern Europe. It is also essential to develop regional cooperation, for example, through the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Arctic Council. The Presidency aims to follow up the EU guidelines and action plan for the Northern Dimension for the period 2000-2003. Special attention should be given to the Union's relations with Kaliningrad.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
The Presidency will seek to develop cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Union should continue to promote the development of democracy, market economy and human rights in these countries. Increased attention should be focused on Moldavia and Southern Caucasus. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreements constitute important instruments for intensifying this cooperation. It is also essential to implement the common strategy for Ukraine. The Union should increase its cooperation with forces in Belarus seeking a democratically oriented transformation of that society.
The Western Balkans
The situation in the Western Balkans places formidable demands on the Union. Conflict prevention and crisis management are needed, as are economic reform and well balanced financial contributions. A long-term strategy for the region must be combined with the ability to react promptly to crises as they arise. It is essential to improve the coordination and presentation of the full spectrum of Union contributions. Efforts should mainly centre on two areas.
The first is the gradual rapprochement between this region and the EU. The Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) are vital instruments. The agreements ultimately aim at free trade, but on the conditions applied in the Union's regional efforts and the Stability Pact. The SAA negotiations with Macedonia and Croatia should be concluded. Progress should also be made towards SAA negotiations with Albania, Bosnia and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Developments in Serbia/Montenegro will demand considerable financial contributions from the EU, both via the EIB (European Investment Bank) and in the form of macrofinancial support. It is vital that this support should enable the Union to contribute to the development of an efficient market economy. The requirements of the Pact on Stability for increased regional cooperation should also be accorded priority.
The second area is conflict prevention and crisis management. This applies
in particular to developments in Serbia and its relations with,
Montenegro, and to the situation in Kosovo. The return of refugees will be accorded high priority.
The Middle East
The peace process in the Middle East is in crisis. The Union has an important role to play in the peace process and it will therefore be a central issue for the Swedish Presidency. It is not just a matter of managing crises. It is more important to try to start up the negotiation process and to this end aim for common initiatives and positions within the EU.
The EU's Mediterranean cooperation, the so-called Barcelona process, aims for peace, stability and prosperity around the Mediterranean. The Presidency would like, among other things, to continue the important work of formulating a peace and stability charter for the Mediterranean and to establish a free trade zone in the Mediterranean region. The Union's new common strategy for the Mediterranean is one of several instruments that may be employed in this context.
The Swedish Presidency will seek to promote a more coherent, long-term role for the EU in Africa. This involves,
conflict prevention and the restriction of arms traffic. These matters are also related to the fight against poverty. The Union should devote special attention to regional cooperation, current conflicts and HIV/AIDS. As Presiding country, Sweden will strive to realise the new Cotonou agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (the ACP countries). This agreement is based on respect for human rights, democracy, the principles of states governed by law and good governance.
The Presidency plans to further develop EEA cooperation by pressing for the incorporation of Community legislation into the EEA agreement. The political dialogue must also be strengthened.
The EU and the United States
During its presidency Sweden will seek to strengthen relations between the EU and the US. A priority area will therefore be to further develop the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA). This essentially concerns all more important US-EU issues.
Trade issues and the implementation of the action plan within the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) is one important area under the NTA. The summit between the US and the EU - the first with the new American president - will be held in Sweden during the Swedish presidency. An intensified dialogue between the EU and the US about developments in and relations with Russia will be an important item on the summit agenda.
During the Swedish Presidency, a summit meeting with Canada
will be held in Sweden. Important issues include increased political cooperation, conflict prevention, cooperation in northern matters as well as intensified trade policy relations between the EU and Canada.
Regarding relations with
, attention will focus on the region's economic potential, and the importance of democracy, human rights and environmental issues. The EU's long-term policy on China and the dialogue with that country about human rights will be further developed. Intensified cooperation with Japan is in the Union's interests. It is expected that a summit meeting with Japan will be held in Sweden. The EU will continue to monitor security policy developments in south-east Asia and the reconciliation and democratisation processes in other parts of Asia. Trafficking in human beings will be combated.
Latin America and the Caribbean
In the Union's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, the Presidency will seek to promote peace, democracy and human rights, particularly in Colombia, Peru and Cuba. Economic relations between the region and the EU offer considerable potential for growth and development. As presiding country, Sweden will give special priority to the free trade negotiations with Mercosur and Chile.
AN OPEN, MODERN AND EFFECTIVE UNION.
The EU must become more open and modern if it is to be capable of meeting the needs and demands of its citizens, and function efficiently. Openness is a key factor in the public's view and a prerequisite for the work and the future of the Union. The aim of the Swedish Presidency will be to contribute to further progress in the extensive work already under way to reform the routines and administrative culture of the institutions.
It is of fundamental importance to the Swedish Presidency that the vision of a more open Union is realised. More transparent working methods must be introduced and information must be more readily available so that citizens can obtain real insight into European cooperation. The Treaty of Amsterdam created a legal basis for rules on public access to documents in the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. Sweden attaches great importance to ensuring that the relevant legal instrument that is to be adopted not later than May 2001 leads to improved access to documents kept at EU institutions. In connection with work on the legal instrument, Sweden intends to keep in close contact with the European Parliament which has shown considerable interest in the question of transparency. As a result of this legal instrument, special provisions on access to its documents will be formulated to be incorporated into the Council's code of procedure. Enhanced protection of freedom of speech for EU officials will be discussed within the framework of efforts to achieve greater transparency. Attention will also be drawn to the significance of clear and intelligible texts for an open and effective Union.
Modernisation of the EU's institutions
Through the reform work that has been initiated the Commission has shown a clear will to modernise the EU's administration. The Swedish Presidency wants to ensure that these ambitions are transformed into practical administrative and personnel policies. Efforts to improve the efficiency of the Council will be taken forward in accordance with the recommendations adopted by the European Council in Helsinki.
Effective use of the EU's budget funds
The Swedish Presidency attaches considerable importance to the efficient use of EU funds. A restrictive budget policy should be the basis for this work. The development towards restrictive budget levels and improved financial control in the budget process which has taken place in recent years must continue. Priority will be accorded to the work on the new budget regulation.
The future of the EU
The Nice Treaty is an important stage in the development of the Union. Several interesting contributions to the question of the Union's development in the long term have already emerged. In accordance with the conclusions of the Nice summit, this informal process of reflection should continue during the Swedish and Belgian Presidencies. It should be pursued on a broad front and the candidate countries, organisations and the citizens of Europe should also be invited to give their views Discussions will address, inter alia,
the division of competences between national and EU decision-making levels, the status that should be accorded to the Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted at Nice, ways of enhancing the comprehensibility of EU treaties, and the role of national parliaments in the European structure. In close cooperation with the succeeding Belgian Presidency, the Swedish Presidency wants to present a proposal at the summit meeting in Göteborg for a plan for structuring a broad and inclusive process of this kind, with a view to the next intergovernmental conference in 2004.
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