H.E. MR. PERTTI SALOLAINEN On: ‘The Results of the Finnish Presidency of the E.U.’ 31ST January 2000

H.E. MR. PERTTI SALOLAINEN
On:
‘The Results of the Finnish Presidency of the E.U.’
31ST January 2000
 
INTRODUCTION

During its first Presidency of the European Union (1 July - 31 December 1999) Finland presided over the Union very successfully. Finland promoted the Union’s operations in an active and impartial manner, emphasising the transparency and efficiency of decision-making at all levels.

The Finnish Presidency culminated in the Helsinki European Council (10 and 11 December 1999), which made important- even historic-decisions. The Union decided to include six new candidate States in the accession negotiations currently ongoing with six other countries, and also to grant candidate status to Turkey. Further, the European Council made decisions on the agenda, timetable and procedures of the next Intergovernmental Conference. Concrete decisions were made on ways to improve the Council’s operation. In addition, there was agreement on the development of both military and non-military crisis management. The meeting adopted the Millennium Declaration, which emphasises the security and well-being of citizens.

The Tampere Special Meeting of the European Council on Justice and Home Affairs (15 and 16 October 1999) placed the development of an area of freedom, security and justice at the very top of the European agenda. The meeting adopted the “Ten Milestones of Tampere” as guidelines for future work and agreed on the follow-up to this work.

When Finland took over the EU Presidency, the Treaty of Amsterdam had only recently come into effect, and its application was starting. Jointly with the European Parliament, a successful model was created for the co-decision procedure, and this model made it possible to decide on a number of legislative proposals more rapidly than before. The new European Parliament was just starting its work at the beginning of the Finnish Presidency. The resigned Commission was concluding its work and the new Commission only taking up its duties. Delay and a lack of Commission proposals somewhat hindered progress in Councils. Member States’ divergent views on the languages to be used at informal ministerial meetings could not be reconciled, but they did not hamper the work of such meetings.

This summary takes a preliminary look at the progress achieved during the Finnish Presidency. The summary is divided into chapters according to the titles of the programme and priorities document that Finland published at the beginning of the Presidency. Furthermore, there will be a Council to Council based report on each project and a summary presented in the light of this report.

 

I. A GLOBALLY ACTIVE AND INFLUENTIAL UNION

The military and non-military crisis management capabilities of the EU were developed further, in line with the Conclusions of the Cologne European Council. The Helsinki European Council made concrete decisions on the military capabilities and decision-making mechanisms of military crisis management. The Helsinki Council also decided to strengthen the synergy and responsiveness of the non-military crisis management resources of the Member States, the Union and non-governmental organisations .By the Council’s consent, the Secretary-General of the Council and the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy was also appointed Secretary-General of the Western European Union.

Finland advanced the preparation of the European Union’s Common Strategies: the Helsinki European Council adopted the Strategy on Ukraine, and a progress report was presented on the preparations for the Strategy on the Mediterranean Region. Moreover, Finland introduced the Strategy on Russia pursuant to its work programme and submitted a report on its implementation to the Helsinki European Council.

Finland made efforts to strengthen the EU’s human rights policy and especially its consistency and transparency. In October 1999, the EU adopted its first Annual Report on Human Rights. On 30 November and 1 December, it arranged the first Annual Human Rights Discussion Forum for representatives of the Member States, the EU institutions and civil society.

The OSCE summit in Istanbul on l8 and 19 November achieved in all essentials the objectives set for it by the EU. The objectives were approved by the General Affairs Council in October. The summit adopted the European Security Charter and a political declaration. Also at the summit, the negotiation partners in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe signed the adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

As for UN activities, the Finnish Presidency coincided with the follow-up meeting to the Cairo Population Conference, the ECOSOC Meeting and the autumn session of the 54th UN General Assembly. All of them were successful. During the Finnish Presidency the EU also clarified its objectives concerning the UN Millennium Assembly and the follow-up meetings to the Beijing Conference on Women and the Copenhagen Conference on Social Development. The EU started to prepare for the high level conference on financing for development, to be held in 2001. Moreover, the EU drew up election criteria for the election of directors general for the UN agencies. The EU strives to promote the application of these criteria to increase efficiency and transparency in the different UN agencies. UN specialised agencies held a number of conferences and meetings, where EU coordination was efficient and the EU’s interests were advocated in its relations with third countries.

Preparations for the third WTO Ministerial Conference: At the General Affairs Council on 19 July the Commission presented its communication concerning the forthcoming WTO negotiation round. On 26 October the Council endorsed conclusions concerning the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle, and thus the EU had, for the first time in its history, an officially approved negotiating position before entering into multilateral trade negotiations. At the Seattle Conference the General Affairs Council, which was assembled all the time, managed to maintain the unity of the EU, and on 3 December, after the negotiations had broken down, it endorsed conclusions concerning further work. The conclusions include a request to the Commission to issue a communication as a basis for future work. During the Finnish Presidency EU coordination within the OECD was considerably intensified. To prepare for the UNCTAD X Conference, the Council endorsed in October conclusions on the EU’s objectives. EU cooperation on arms control was successful in many important international fora. The first report on arms exports, complying with the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, was adopted. A number of projects were approved to implement joint action on small arms (the project on Cambodia and Mozambique, extended financial support for the Albania project). As part of the implementation of the Strategy on Russia, the EU approved joint action on the introduction of an EU cooperation programme concerning the arms ban and disarmament in Russia.

The comprehensive political EU dialogue was implemented, as agreed, at all levels? (approx. 120 meetings at the levels of Heads of State or Government, Ministers, high officials and experts). Summits were arranged with Ukraine, Russia, Canada, the United States, China and the EEA Member States.

During the Finnish Presidency, the implementation of the Kosovo peace plan and the reconstruction in Kosovo began. The Union adopted a central role here, deciding on the establishment of the Reconstruction Agency for south-eastern Europe and on a substantial EU contribution to the UNMIK operation. The stabilisation of south-eastern Europe also started: the Stability Pact was put into practice on the basis of the Sarajevo summit, and Mr. Bodo Hombach, the Special Representative of the EU, was elected coordinator of the Stability Pact.

The EU also supported consistently the democratisation process in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). During the Finnish Presidency, the EU launched the Energy for Democracy Initiative, supported the democratically elected government of Montenegro and its reform programme, granted humanitarian aid to Serbia, lifted the flight ban and oil exports ban in Montenegro and Kosovo and enhanced its relations with the democratic opposition in the FRY both bilaterally and jointly with the United States.

Within the political dialogue related to the EU’s stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, meetings were arranged at ministerial level with Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Croatia. To prepare for the stabilisation and association agreements related to this process, the EU begun to draft a negotiation directive concerning the FYROM and a feasibility study concerning Albania. The candidate proposed by the EU, Mr. Wolfgang Petritsch, was elected as the High Representative supervising the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During its EU Presidency Finland participated in the work of the management group of the Peace Implementation Council. On 21 December, the Council approved the provisional application of the agreement with Macedonia on trade in textile products.

The EU started implementation of its Common Strategy on Russia by, inter alia, strengthening the political and economic dialogue between the EU and Russia as well as action against organised crime, and by approving the EU’s support for the cooperation programme concerning the arms ban and disarmament in Russia. In the Chechnya crisis Finland led the unified action of the Union, emphasising in particular the importance of humanitarian aid for the civil population and of persuading Russia to agree to a political settlement. In its declaration adopted at the Helsinki European Council the EU clearly condemned the Russian action in Chechnya, which was in contradiction with Russia’s international commitments, and decided on some concrete measures.

During the Finnish Presidency the Council adopted a new regulation on technical assistance for the New Independent States and Mongolia (the TACIS Regulation).

Cooperation Council meetings were arranged with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan within the framework of the relevant Partnership and Cooperation Agreements. Joint Committee meetings were held with Turkmenistan. The planned Cooperation Council meeting with Moldova was frustrated by the government crisis in Moldova. On 21 December, the Council approved the provisional application of the agreements on trade in textile products with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus. On 17 December, the Council approved an agreement with Kazakhstan on import arrangements regarding steel.

The Helsinki European Council requested the Commission to prepare an Action Plan for the Northern Dimension. The Conference of Foreign Ministers on 12 November created a political foundation unifying the Union and the partner countries. Transatlantic summits approved the statements steering the cooperation.

The EU-USA summit in Washington on 17 December approved separate statements concerning the World Trade Organization, south-eastern Europe, Chechnya, cooperation on small arms, cooperation in northern Europe and the treatment of dialogues between non-intergovernmental bodies. The summit also adopted a report prepared at the level of high officials on the achievements of the past half-year period and the priorities for the next session. As for the implementation of the economic partnership programme, the summit agreed on the launching of negotiations on reciprocal recognition arrangements to be concluded in three service sectors and three sectors of technical barriers to trade. In the fisheries dispute that had strained the EU-Canada relations, a political settlement was reached on 2 September, and at the same time a declaration concerning cooperation on small arms was issued. The EU-Canada summit in Ottawa on 16 December adopted separate statements on an action plan for cooperation on small arms and cooperation on Northern regions, and also a statement on the information society and electronic trade.

The EU supported the Middle East peace process both politically and financially. It contributed to the signing of the Sharm-el-Sheikh Agreement. During the Finnish Presidency, the EU prepared and adopted a new tripartite action plan for the coordination of international aid for the Palestinians. The Finnish Presidency emphasised the EU’s interest in mobilising all elements of the peace process.

High level visits strengthened contacts between the different parties and encouraged all parties to benefit from the favourable atmosphere. The EU strengthened its contacts with the United States in order to coordinate the activities concerned. The mandate of the EU Special Representative was extended. The EU improved its relations with Israel by establishing an EU-Israel forum and enhanced its capability to make a constructive and positive contribution to the peace process. The proposal on the EC-UNRW A convention for the Palestinian areas was approved in September.

Also in September, the EU lifted its sanctions against Libya, except the ban on arms exports. Libya announced that it would join the Barcelona process. The EU Troika, led by the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Algiers for the first time for regular dialogue meetings at ministerial level. The preparations for the EU Strategy on the Mediterranean Region advanced considerably during the Finnish Presidency. The EU-OIC dialogue started with its first meeting at the level of high officials in Helsinki in December. The Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs led the EU delegation at the EU-GCC Joint Council in November and at the Ministerial Meeting in Dubai.

The Euro-Mediterranean stabilisation agreement was dealt with at two ad hoc meetings on the basis of the guidelines adopted at the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Stuttgart. The agreement will be approved at the next Conference of Foreign Ministers during the French Presidency. On 12 December, the Council approved by written procedure the provisional application of the agreement with Egypt on trade in textile products.

The EU supported the referendum on the position of East Timor and the related election monitoring. During the crisis that followed the referendum, the EU strove to influence the parties so that they could find a peaceful solution, e.g. by imposing a ban on arms exports to Indonesia in October. The EU was the largest donor of humanitarian aid to East Timor. The EU promoted the democratisation process in Indonesia by issuing statements that supported democratic developments and by backing the positive democratisation which led to the election of a president and the setting up during the autumn of a new government representing nationa1 unity.

On the basis of a Commission communication, the EU endorsed conclusions concerning the Korean Peninsula, which determine EU policy in respect of South and North Korea. Relations with South Korea will be strengthened and extended. The EU is prepared to review its relations with North Korea provided that North Korea behaves responsibly in matters related to the security of the region and takes measures to respect human rights.

The EU condemned the military coup in Pakistan, sent a delegation to the country to clarify the situation after the coup and issued an appeal for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan as soon as possible. In October, the EU extended its sanctions against Myanmar by six months and opened ‘a dialogue, which included human rights issues. On 21 December, the Council approved by written procedure the provisional application of the agreements with China on trade in textile products.

 

The EU adopted a joint position on its support for the Congo cease-fire agreement and peace process and decided to grant aid worth EUR 1.2\million for the non-military activities of the joint military commission supervising the implementation of the cease- are agreement. During its Presidency, Finland efficiently prepared the EU-Africa summit, endeavouring to find a solution acceptable to both parties to the question about participants.

The Trade, development and Cooperation Agreement between the EC and the Republic of South Africa, as well as the correspondence concerning its partial provisional application, were approved by the General Affairs Council in July and signed on 11 October, and the regulation on its application was adopted by the Council on 17 December. On 28 December, Italy announced that it would not ratify the agreement, which probably means that it will not be possible to implement the agreement even provisionally.

During the Finnish Presidency the EU and the Sudanese Government revived their earlier critical dialogue, which aims at assessing political and societal developments in Sudan, with the particular objectives of bringing to an end the civil war in the country and establishing permanent peace.

During the Finnish Presidency a follow-up process to the Rio summit was launched by the EU and the Latin American and Caribbean states. The EU also adopted negotiating instructions for the association agreements to be concluded with Mercosur and Chile, and negotiations were opened. In November, the EU concluded its negotiations on a free trade agreement with Mexico after nine negotiation rounds.

Towards the end of the year the Commission presented a proposal on the revision of the EU’s import arrangements in respect of bananas.

Preparations for the third WTO Ministerial Conference: In July the Commission presented its communication related to the forthcoming WTO negotiation round. In October, the Council endorsed the conclusions concerning the Ministerial Conference in Seattle. In December after the failure of the Seattle Conference, the Council endorsed conclusions concerning further work, and also requested the Commission to issue a communication.

The negotiations on a new EU-ACP convention resulted in a political settlement during the negotiation round at ministerial level on 7 and 8 December. At the General Affairs Council from 6 to 8 December, the EU Member States reached agreement on a IX European Development Fund to finance the new EU-ACP Convention.

The EU ensured the European Investment Bank’s lending to third countries for the years 2000-2006 at the level of EUR 2,63 billion per year by granting a guarantee from the Community budget. A final decision on the guarantee was made by written procedure on 22 December.

 

2. AN ENLARGING UNION

Effective promotion of the enlargement process was one of the priorities of the Finnish Presidency. In this respect the EU successfully achieved its goal.

Eight negotiating chapters were opened in the accession negotiations. Of these, the EMU chapter was closed conditionally with all six negotiating countries (Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia). Progress was made in the following open chapters: free movement of goods, company law, competition policy, the customs union, external relations, the audiovisual sector. The external relations chapter was closed with Poland as was the chapter o1)the free movement of goods with the Czech Republic. In addition to the chapters opened during the Finnish Presidency, reports concerning a revision of the legislation related to the agricultural chapter, the budget, financial supervision and structural policy were dealt with. Two meetings were held at deputy level and one negotiation meeting at ministerial level.

In Helsinki the Council decided to open negotiations with six countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta).

The Helsinki Council also agreed on new principles for the negotiation procedure, permitting differentiated progress. The main principle is that each candidate State will progress according to its own merits and have an opportunity to catch up with other States already negotiating. Monitoring was given more weight.

The EU approved revised accession partnerships for ten central European countries. The first accession partnerships for Cyprus and Malta were approved in the relevant Working Party and referred to COREPER. The adoption of the regulation on pre-accession assistance for Cyprus and Malta was referred to the Portuguese Presidency, because the required statement of the European Parliament was delayed. The Council cannot approve accession partnerships until the regulation has been adopted.

The European Conference convened at Foreign Minister level in connection with the General Affairs Council in July, to discuss the situation in the Western Balkans. The Conference gave the Helsinki European Council a factual report of the Council on the work done by the Conference so far .The Helsinki Council decided that the future of the European Conference would be reviewed in the light of the evolving situation and the decisions taken in Helsinki. The French Presidency intends to convene a meeting of the Conference in the second half of2000.

The accession negotiations with Cyprus progressed as expected. The problematic division of the island was not discussed. The Helsinki Council stated that a political settlement of the Cyprus problem would facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council’s decision on accession will be made without a settlement being a precondition. In this the Council will take into account all relevant factors.

Turkey. The Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers at Saariselkä reached unanimity on reconstruction aid for Turkey following the earthquakes there. In October, after an interval, a meeting was arranged for political dialogue at the level of heads of political departments (the Troika). In November, decisions were made on the opening of negotiations with Turkey on free trade in services and public procurement.

The Helsinki Council confirmed the status of Turkey as a candidate State destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to all other candidate States. Like other candidates, Turkey will benefit from a pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms.

Long-term prospects for enlargement.  At the beginning of September, Finland prepared a discussion paper for the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers at Saariselkä. This paper, which dealt with questions concerning relations between the EU and European states, laid the foundations for future discussions on this important issue.

 

3. INTERGOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE (IGC) ON INSTITUTIONAL REFORM

According to the Conclusions of the Cologne European Council (3 and 4 June 1999), the Finnish Presidency had the task of independently preparing a comprehensive report to the Helsinki European Council, for the examination and assessment of possible solutions to institutional questions. In preparing t4e report, Finland was to take into account the proposals made by the Member States, the Commission and the European Parliament. In respect of the Conclusions of the Helsinki European Council, the Presidency aimed at determining the agenda of the Intergovernmental Conference, its opening and closing dates, the level of negotiations and the status of the European Parliament.

The Presidency achieved its aims very well. The Presidency Conclusions of the Helsinki European Council state that following the Cologne Conclusions and in the light of the Presidency’s IGC report, the forthcoming IGC will examine the questions that were left open at the previous IGC. These are the size and composition of the Commission, the weighting of votes in the Council and the possible extension of qualified majority voting in the Council, as well as other necessary amendments to Treaties, arising as regards the European institutions in connection with the above issues and in implementing the Treaty of Amsterdam. The current Presidency holder, Portugal, will report to the European Council on progress made in the IGC and may propose additional issues to be placed on the agenda of the Conference:

According to the Conclusions, Ministers who are members of the General Affairs Council will have overall political responsibility for the Conference. Preparatory work will be carried out by a Group composed of a representative of each Member State’s Government. The representative of the Commission will participate at the political and preparatory level. The General Secretariat of the Council will provide secretariat support for the Conference.

The European Parliament’s status at the Intergovernmental Conference was strengthened to some extent compared with the previous conference. According to the Helsinki Conclusions, the European Parliament will be closely associated with and involved. in the work of the Conference. Meetings of the preparatory Group may be attended by two observers from the European Parliament. Each session of the Conference at ministerial level will be preceded by an exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament, assisted by two representatives of the European Parliament. Meetings at the level of Heads of State or Government dealing with the IGC will be preceded by an exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament.

The candidate States will be regularly briefed within existing fora on the progress of discussions and will have the opportunity to put forward their points of view on matters under discussion. Information will also be given to the members of the European Economic Area.

 

4. A TRANSP ARENT AND EFFICIENT UNION

During its Presidency, Finland increased transparency in practice by publishing in its Presidency pages on the Internet the dates and agendas of the meetings to be held by the Council’s different formations, COREPER and other Committees and Working Groups.

The General Affairs Council on 6 December adopted Council decisions on the provision by the secretariat of agenda information. The Council also decided on further development of the register concerned by adding to it reference data relating to classified documents. Further, the Council decided that the technical development of the register would continue so that, as soon as possible (by 1 July 2000 at the latest), the register would identify previously published documents, which would then be made available through the Internet.

Finland aimed at advancing in the Council the legal document concerning transparency referred t~ in Article 255 of the EC Treaty. Because the required Commission proposal was n9t presented by the tUN1 of the year, the Council could not deal with the Proposal on the transparency document at all during the Finnish Presidency. However, Finland endeavoured to improve access to documents within the framework of the existing provisions.

The Conclusions of the Helsinki European Council underline the importance of institutional transparency and state that progress was achieved during the Finnish Presidency, especially in the area of access to documents and rapid communication using advanced information technology. Moreover, the European Council welcomes the Commission’s intention to table its above-mentioned proposal in January 2000.

According to both the Vienna Conclusions and the Cologne Conclusions, the Helsinki

European Council had the task of dealing with the development of the whole Council and submitting to the European Council concrete proposals on the development of the Council’s operation.

The Trumpf/Piris report, dealing with the Council’s operation in an enlarging Union, laid the foundations for the discussions during the Finnish Presidency on developing the Council’s - operation. The report dealt with problems concerning the Council’s structure and operation and proposed a great number of solutions to them.

Finland launched the consideration and implementation of the Union’s reform projects. Right at the beginning of its Presidency, Finland announced that it would, at all levels; endeavour to improve the Council’s operation by making concrete proposals that did not necessitate separate decisions. Proposed reforms were, e.g., the introduction of more efficient working methods, the use of modem technology (especially the Internet), increased transparency, limiting the length of the European Council’s Conclusions and increasing their focus on operational issues, concentration on substance, avoidance of protocol-dominated events, and avoidance of “ronds de table”.

The Helsinki European Council endorsed the Presidency’s report on operational recommendations for the creation of an efficient Council for an enlarging Union. The report contains 55 recommendations for the development of the Council’s operation to make it more efficient, consistent and transparent.

The Conclusions underline the importance of substantial changes in the Council’s working methods.

The Council, the Presidency and the Secretary-General/High Representative will be responsible for ensuring that the recommendations are adopted. The recommendations should be implemented as soon as possible.

The new Commission started its work efficiently after having been approved by the European Parliament. Finland aimed at advancing the already launched administrative reforms of the Commission and encouraging its President in the internal development of the Commission.

In the Helsinki Conclusions the European Council recalls its commitment to support reform of the Commission’s administration, especially financial and personnel management, in order to enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability and thus ensure the highest standards of public administration. The Commission will present a comprehensive programme of administrative reforms in early 2000. The European Council calls for rapid implementation of these reforms.

Cost-effectiveness, transparency, accountability and gender equality were underlined in the reports on the remuneration and pensions paid by the institutions, which were adopted by the Council, and in the Council’s and the Commission’s related statements. The same objectives were emphasised in the report on the implementation of gender equality in the institutions, which was endorsed by the Presidency and the Council. The Commission announced that it would present on 1 March 2000 a communication on the institutions’ remuneration and pension issues in parallel with the forthcoming White Paper on the administrative reform, and make proposals concerning remuneration and pensions. The proposals concerning gender equality are part of the personnel management reform.

The European Council considers the establishment of the Union’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) an important step. By June 2000, the Commission will present a communication with a view to further improving protection of the Community’s financial interests.

5. A STABLE, COMPETITIVE AND EMPLOYMENT-CREATING ECONOMY

The Finnish Presidency aimed at strengthening competitiveness and employment in the EU by improving the co-ordination of economic, employment and structural policies and by boosting the functioning of the internal market.

Economy

The Vienna European Council asked the ECOFIN Council to prepare a report for the Helsinki \ , European Council on the functioning of economic policy co-ordination during the third phase of EMU. According to the Finnish EU-Presidency Programme economic co-ordination must be improved by devising prOCedl1feS that will help joint monitoring and assessment of the sustainability of public finances and the implementation of structural reforms aimed at improving the functioning of the markets in Member States. The ‘Broad Economic Policy Guidelines’ playan important role here. Furthermore, Finland strove to encourage discussion among the Euro-ll and to formulate common positions on key economic issues concerning the single currency and the related -joint area of responsibility. The memorandum of the working group on the EU’s growth and competitiveness challenges entitled “How to respond to the employment and growth challenges of the EU’ was presented to the Commission. The document was unanimously welcomed in the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs in Oulu in July. The most prominent objectives introduced in the document were in the report drawn up by the ECOFIN Council for the Helsinki European Council. The special meeting of the European Council to be held during the Portuguese Presidency will advance and concretise these issues.

The Informal Meeting of Ministers of Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) in September placed great emphasis on the clarification of economic policy guidelines and particularly on the implementation of structural reforms. Economic policy co-ordination must be simplified and its transparency improved. For these reasons the role of the annually approved ‘Broad Economic Guidelines document must be prominent in such co-ordination: The Economic and Funding Committee and the Economic Policy Committee were assigned to start preparations for the special meeting of the European Council in Portugal (employment, economic reform and social cohesion) as regards the ECOFIN Council. Similarly, the Labour and Social Council has asked the Employment and Labour Market Committee to start preparations on its behalf.

The Helsinki European Council welcomed the report on economic policy co-ordination and stressed its importance in reinforcing co-ordination of economic, employment and structural policies in order to exploit fully the potential of the single market and the single currency. The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines provide the framework for the definition of overall policy objectives and orientations. While ensuring coherence between the different formations of the Council, the role of the ECOFIN Council in economic policy co-ordination should be enhanced. The European Council asked the Commission and the Council to develop and clarify the significance, objectives and measures of the comprehensive competitiveness policy of the European Union in the framework of economic policy co-ordination.

The Member States should prepare their national programmes on the reform of commodity and capital markets by the end of November. Preliminary discussions were held at the ECOFIN and Internal Market Councils in October.

The ECOFIN Council in November organised a macro-economic dialogue for the first time as a part of the European Employment Pact adopted in the Cologne European Council.

Employment

The development of the common Employment Strategy (Employment Guidelines for 2000, the 1999 Joint Employment Report and the recommendations to be addressed to Member States) on the basis of the Amsterdam Treaty and the Employment Pact adopted at the Cologne European Council proceeded according to plan. Finland proposed a compromise on the politically most difficult issue, the recommendations to be addressed to Member States, which were adopted in the Labour and Social Council and at the Joint Session of the ECOFIN and the Labour and Social Councils in November. The employment recommendations to individual Member States pay attention to the respective recommendations contained in the economic policy guidelines.

The Employment Guidelines were also adopted on the basis of a compromise proposal from the Presidency. The European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions were consulted in the course of the preparations and note was taken of the issues put forward by the labour market organisations in the meeting of the Employment Committee. The Portuguese Presidency is to prepare an interim report on the Employment Guidelines, which will enable the introduction of significant changes to the Guidelines. The Helsinki European Council

confirmed the common agreement .reached on the Employment Guidelines. The recommendations and the Joint Employment Report were given to the European Council for information.

The Labour and Social Council reached a political agreement in November on the establishment of an Employment Committee to replace the Employment and Labour Market Committee, as required in Article 130 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Finland, together with labour market organisations, prepared a working procedure for the permanent Employment Committee which was adopted in the November meeting of the permanent Employment Committee.

Taxation

The tax package has three components: a political agreement on the rules for corporate taxation procedures (Code of Conduct), and two proposals for directives (a directive on the taxation of savings and a directive on interests and royalties). The aim was to reach a political agreement on the tax package at the Helsinki European Council, in line with the Conclusions of the Vienna and Cologne European Councils.

The informal ECOFIN Council made a firm commitment to keep to the timetable set for the tax package. However, the Helsinki European Council was unable to agree on the content of the tax package because there was no agreement on the taxation of savings. A High Level Working Group was established to continue the work. The Working Group will provide a report for the Council with possible solutions for the taxation of savings particularly on the basis of the paper put forward by the Presidency and the Commission. In addition, the Working Group is to present a report on a comprehensive solution for the tax package. The Council will report to the European Council in June 2000 at the latest.

The Vienna and Cologne European Councils encouraged continuation of work on the framework of energy taxation on the basis of a report by the ECOFIN Council, while taking into account its environmental effects. The opposition of certain Member States has hindered but not stopped work in this area. 

Internal Market

The Finnish Presidency achieved progress in many political and legislative projects which will improve the functioning of the internal market. Politically, the most significant projects were the new internal market strategy and the report on the environment. The Internal tv1arket Council discussed the content of the Commission’s Communication for Europe’s Internal Market and its connections with the economic reform process launched in Cardiff and it adopted a working group’s report on taking environmental aspects into account in the functioning of the internal market. Both documents were given to the Helsinki European Council for information. The Council also approved resolutions on European standardisation and on promoting the principle of mutual recognition.

The most significant legislative projects aimed at improving the functioning of the internal market and concluded during the Finnish Presidency were the political agreement reached at the Internal Market Council on the legal aspects of electronic commerce, the mutual recognition of diplomas, the directives on foodstuffs (certain sugars, preserved milk and fruit juices) and a common position on the directive on cocoa and chocolate. In addition, the Council adopted the Customs 2000 Programme and the directive on units of measurement.

The working groups of the Internal Market Council achieved considerable progress in the preparation of directives on intellectual property, utility model protection, distance selling of financial services, the posting of workers who are third-country nationals in another Member State and on weights and dimensions of buses.

The entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty enabled Finland to make use of the accelerated co-decision procedure. Finland speeded up internal market directives. As a result of the informal discussions between the Council and the European Parliament the directives on electronic signatures, cableway installations, liquid fuel tanks and the speedometers of two and three-wheeled vehicles were finally adopted at second reading in the European Parliament. Another success achieved in the informal discussions between the Council and the European Parliament was the direct adoption of the directive on units of measurement at first reading.

Consumer Policy

One of the most prominent projects in the field of consumer policy was the directive on distance selling of financial services. The Presidency’s objective was to reach a common position. Despite the progress achieved, this objective was not fulfilled because of the disagreement concerning the level of harmonisation. In place of a common position the Internal Market Council adopted the relevant Council resolution as a basis for further examination.

The ministers in charge of consumer affairs discussed, on the basis of the conclusions of an EU Presidency Seminar held earlier in Helsinki, consumer protection and essential services. The aim was to initiate discussion on the necessary Community measures related to essential services. The Commission will prepare a working document on the concrete proposals expressed in the discussions. The Consumer Affairs Council also dealt with the safety of foodstuffs. The President gave a report on the conclusions of the Helsinki European Food 2000 Seminar.

Industrial Policy

The Industry Council held its regular debate on competitiveness in November, emphasising the importance of invisible investments and services as factors in overall competitiveness. In line with the idea of horizontal industrial policy, the SMEs were for the first time included in the general discussion on competitiveness. A good example of a wider, cross-sectoral approach was provided by the Commission’s first communication on the competitiveness of the EU’s forest-based industries that was prepared in the Forest Industry Forum organised in Helsinki on July 5 and the conclusions of which were approved by the Council. As sector-specific issues the Industry Council discussed, inter alia, the world market conditions of shipbuilding and the Council adopted conclusions on the issue.

 

Energy Policy

The Energy Council adopted conclusions on the harmonisation of the internal market in electricity. The Council also discussed the difficulties encountered in certain Member States in implementing the requirements set out in the directive. Following a report by the Commission, the Council discussed the access for electricity from renewable to the internal electricity market. The Council urged the Commission to make a proposal for a directive on the issue. The Energy Council also adopted a mandate authorising the Commission to start negotiations on a multilateral transit framework under the auspices of the Energy Charter Conference. The Council also approved conclusions on the northern dimension of European Energy Policy.

In the Conference of Ministers of Energy on Co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region the members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the European Commission adopted a communiqué on the basic principles for developing electricity and natural gas markets and on the measures to develop co-operation in the fields of climate policy, energy saving and the use of renewable energy sources. The conference agreed on the organisation of energy co-operation for the period of 2000-2002. The Commission is to report to the Council on future development of energy co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region.

Transport Policy

The Finnish Presidency achieved the objectives set for the revitalisation of European railways and for the promotion of environmentally friendly modes of transport and use of new technology. In relation to railways, political agreement was reached on opening freight transport between Member States to competition and on the rules allowing several railway undertakings to operate in the same railway network. The conclusions on the development of railway interoperability and the removal of bottlenecks in rail transport were adopted as a part of the consensus. The adoption or the railway package creates conditions for the railway sector to improve its competitiveness and increase its market share in the future.

The Council resolutions on short-distance maritime shipping and intermodal transport urged more efficient use of the railway infrastructure and an increase in the use of envir6nmentally.friendly transport modes. The Galileo satellite positioning project, which can be considered important from the point of view of industrial policy, was advanced according to plan. A trade war between the EU and the USA was avoided with the active involvement of the Presidency in the so-called hushkits regulation. Negotiations on the establishment of the European Aviation and Safety Authority (EASA) were furthered. In addition, a number of draft agreements in relation to external relations were advanced during the Finnish Presidency.

Agricultural and Fisheries Policy

The agricultural objectives set for the WTO negotiations were approved on the basis of the Presidency’s proposal and they constituted an important part of the EU’s negotiation mandate in the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle.

Debate on the promotion of the EU’s agricultural products in third countries, was concluded during the Finnish Presidency. This regulation is an essential part of the Agenda 2000 reform aiming at the reduction of traditional export aids and the promotion of export markets that function in conditions of free competition. Agenda 2000 brought about the need to reinforce the EU’s internal information practices vis-à-vis the reformed agricultural policy. A decision on a relevant new regulation was made. In addition, the Agriculture Council decided to postpone the entry into force of the obligatory beef-labelling system.

In order to guarantee the safety of foodstuffs Finland took measures to resolve the dioxin crises and to launch the revision of Community legislation on animal feed. Finland also strove to contribute to the establishment of a new European Food Safety Agency by participating in the ongoing discussion. The Veterinary Agreement between the Community and the USA was adopted and signed. Similar agreements were concluded between the community and New Zealand, the Faroe Islands and Andorra. A decision was made to introduce a permanent ban on the production of bovine meat with hormones and, in order to prevent antibiotic resistance; the Council conclusions on further measures were adopted on the basis of the Finnish proposal.

In the field of plant health Finland aimed at improving the EU’s internal preparations in relation to the International Plant Protection Convention, which is subordinate to the F AO, and to strengthen the EU’s position in the aforementioned convention. A programme of measures to develop the system was adopted on the basis of the Finnish proposal.

In the fisheries sector the Finnish Presidency managed to attain a decision on a Council regulation laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding community structural assistance and on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products. There was also wide agreement on a fishing quota package. Furthermore, the Commission’s negotiation mandate for the renewal of the fishing agreement between the Community and Morocco was adopted.

6. A SOCIETY BASED ON INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE

Information Society

The agenda of the Finnish EU Presidency took note of issues related to the information society in its projects aiming at the development of legislation governing electronic commerce and communication and also in other projects. The informal ministerial meetings discussed prominent elements in developing an information society. As regards legislation, the Finnish Presidency’s objective was to achieve considerable progress with the directives on legal aspects of electronic commerce, distance selling of financial services and copyright in the information society. The processing of these issues was started in working group’s right at the beginning of the Presidency and continued for the duration of the Presidency.

The directive on electronic commerce is widely regarded as an urgent matter so that electronic commerce can be provided with a legal framework based on the principles of the internal market and at the same time with the prerequisites for the utilisation of electronic commerce to promote economic growth and employment. A political agreement on the issue was reached in December.

The preparation of the directives on distance selling of financial services and copyright in the information society proceeded well. The directive on electronic signature was adopted in the Telecommunications Council in November. This was the first legislative project on electronic commerce to be finalised at Community level. The conditions for its rapid completion were created in informal consultations with the European Parliament conducted in the spirit of the new co-decision procedure. 

In line with the objectives of the Finnish Presidency, discussions on the basic principles of the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications were launched at Council level. In addition, on the basis of a Firu1ish initiative, the Telecommunications Council had an open debate on the theme of The Information Society of the Future: Responding to the Challenges of Global Electronic Commerce. As a result of this debate it was decided that the dialogue on global electronic commerce will be continued in industry and commerce by meeting the recommendations put forward to governments earlier last autumn by this mostly business-led forum (GBDe).

The Cologne European Council took note of the inter-relation between the information society and competitiveness. During the Finnish Presidency this theme was brought up in the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Industry in Oulu, 2-3 July, and in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Forum in Helsinki, 16-17 September. In both meeting the innovative use of information and communications technologies was seen as one of the most important factors determining competitiveness. Furthermore, the significance of the information society for the development of the employment situation- from the viewpoint of both demand and supply -and for research and educational organisations can be considered as an element of competitiveness. The dimensions of employment and education, particularly life-long learning, were discussed in the resolution prepared and adopted by the Labour and Social Council. The Education Council contributed to the topic with its discussions based on a Presidency paper.

The conclusions of the Helsinki European Council emphasise wide application of the information society, and particularly of the instruments provided by the information society, in global competition. In order to attain the goal set at the Cologne European Council (Europe has to take a leading role in the information society) Europe must attach greater importance to invisible investments: innovation, research and education. Emphasis will be placed on the demands imposed on labour markets by the information society. The conclusions also recognise the importance of a well-functioning electronics market and proper legislation that supports electronic commerce in the development of the information society. The European Council took note of the progress achieved during the Finnish Presidency, urged the completion of unfinished work and welcomed the e- Europe initiative launched by the Commission on 8 December.

Research, Technology and Education

The achievements in the field of research policy are in line with the Presidency’s objectives. Finland made an initiative to improve the efficiency of te preparation process of EU research

Framework programmes and to set a timetable for the most important preparatory stages. The Research Council adopted relevant conclusions on 2 December. In its conclusions the Council expects the Commission to draw up a tentative work plan for the preparation of the 6th Framework Programme (2003-2006) in spring 2000.

The Research Council adopted conclusions on intensifying co-operation between the Community and the European Space Agency (ESA) in the current activities aiming at the development of a new generation of satellite navigation services. This statement was made topical by the need to ensure smooth co-operation between the EU and ESA in establishing a coherent European space strategy. The strategy is to be finalised by the end of2000.

Research co-operation with non-EU countries was broadened by signing scientific and technological co-operation agreements with Argentina, Australia and China. The Research Council decided that a parallel agreement will be concluded with Russia but it was postponed due to the aggravated situation in Chechnya.

The conciliation of the Socrates II programme was brought to a successful conclusion in the Conciliation Committee in November. The European Parliament and the Council approved the positive outcome achieved in the Conciliation Committee in December. The Leonardo II programme was adopted during the German Presidency. The implementation of both programmes is under preparation in the Education Committee that gave a report of its work to the Education Council in November.

Finland put forward a political initiative on new working procedures for European co-operation in the field of education and training (the so-called “rolling agenda”), having as an aim to make the functioning of the Education Council more efficient and to improve the continuity, coherence and effects of the work conducted in the Council. Employment and the promotion of quality of education and mobility were other issues discussed in this connection. The initiative was adopted at the Education Council in November.

The debate on the role of education and training in employment policies was continued at the Education Council on the basis of a Presidency discussion paper in November. Prominent themes included life-long learning and employability in the information society .The Education Council was given a proposal for declaring the year 2001 the European Year of Languages.

The Commission’s proposal to improve international mobility in education is still under preparation. Because of this delay, work on the initiative was not started during the Finnish Presidency. The state of play of the co-decision procedure of the Youth Community Action Programme was discussed at the Youth Council in November. The conciliation procedure is to begin only during the Portuguese Presidency. The Youth Council adopted a resolution on the educational dimension of sporting activities in the European youth programmes.

Cultural co-operation and audiovisual policy

The Conciliation Committee approved a common text on the Culture 2000 framework programme. The first Community cultural framework programme will be launched as planned at the beginning of 2000. The five-year programme will widen the scope of cultural activities in the Community .The Culture and Audiovisual Council adopted conclusions on cultural industries and employment. Finland took this item to the agenda in order to deepen discussion of employment at the Council and to make known Finnish experiences in this field. The conclusions emphasise that demand for new programme content has increased and that the cultural dimension of commodities and services is significant. People working in the cultural sector are often highly educated and the sector employs men and women in almost equal numbers.

The Council also adopted a resolution on improving the free movement of persons working in the cultural sector. This resolution meets the objectives of the Finnish Presidency, which aim at concretising issues related to the music sector and taking cultural aspects into account in certain areas of priority. The Commission stated that it will present a study to the Council at the beginning of the French Presidency.

The Commission gave its proposal for a Media III programme at such a late stage that it could not be taken up during the Finnish Presidency. It was only in December that the Commission came forward with a proposal for a new Media Plus programme. Ministers of Cultural and Audiovisual Affairs and the Culture Council discussed the WTO round.

The Council adopted in November conclusions on the protection of minors in the light of the development of digital audiovisual services. The conclusions support self-regulatory bodies of the sector and urge all relevant parties to examine the possibilities offered by digital technology for the protection of minors.

The ministers responsible for sport held an informal meeting on 25 October in Vierumäki, where they agreed to collaborate with the World Anti-Doping Agency for a provisional period of two years. The Commission gave the Helsinki European Council a report on guaranteeing the present structures of sport and maintaining the social function of sport within the Community framework. The debate will continue during the Portuguese Presidency.

7. SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY

The Environment and Sustainable Development

The integration of the principles of environmental protection and sustainable development into different policy fields advanced according to the objectives of the Finnish Presidency. The Transport, Energy and Agriculture Councils adopted strategies in line with the conclusions of the Vienna European Council. The Internal Market, Developm~nt and Industry Councils presented progress reports to the Helsinki European Council. Furthermore, the Ecofin, General Affairs and Fisheries Councils initiated debate on the preparation of integration reports as stated in the objectives of the Finnish Presidency. The Commission prepared a report on indicators and an overall assessment of the Fifth Environmental Protection Action Programme for the Helsinki European Council. In addition, the Commission prepared, at its own initiative, a report assessing the progress achieved at the Council in taking environmental considerations into account. The Commission’s assessment was mainly positive. The strategies’ and reports prepared by the Councils make a valuable contribution in marking the beginning of the promotion of sustainable development. Climate issues are central in a number of sectoral strategies and reports. In addition, the Finnish Presidency had identified climate issues as one of its main priorities in the field of the EU’s development co-operation.

The Helsinki European Council took note of the work carried out in different Council formations and charged the aforementioned six Councils with the responsibility of preparing comprehensive strategies, with a timetable for further measures and indicators, so that these strategies can be presented to the Gothenburg European Council in June 7001. The conclusions emphasise that the strategies should be followed by immediate implementation, regular evaluation, follow-up, monitoring and deepening of the work. Adequate instruments and applicable data should be developed for the purposes of follow-up and evaluation.

As regards the UN ‘Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Helsinki European Council fixed the objective of furthering the decisions’ of the Kyoto Protocol so that Member States will be in possession of the prerequisites for the ratification of the Protocol by the year 2002. Particular hopes were attached to the outcome of the sixth UN Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention to be held in the Hague in the autumn 2000. Furthermore, it was agreed that no effort will be spared to make the next climate conference a success.

The European Council invited the Commission to prepare the 6th Environmental Action Programme by the end of 2000 and to produce a strategy dovetailing policies for economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development so that it can be presented to the European Council in June 2001. One of the aims of the strategy is to promote the Community’s viewpoints in the UN’s special session on sustainable development in 2002.

In the field of environmental policy and legislation, the Environment Council generated five common positions: a directive on end-of-life cars, a directive on assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, a directive relating to limit-values for benzene and carbon monoxide in ambient air, a proposal for a recommendation providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in Member States and a decision setting up a Community framework for co-operation in the field of accidental marine pollution. The Council adopted conclusions on taking sustainable development and environmental concerns into account in Community policies, climate strategy, negotiations with non-European car manufacturers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (JAMA, KAMA) and in the negotiations on the biosecurity protocol. The Council made considerable progress also with the directive on large combustion plants. In addition, Finland played an active part when the European Parliament adopted in its second reading the Council’s common positions on the directive on heavy goods vehicles and the directive on the consumer’s access to information on the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions of new passenger cars.

The Finnish Presidency organised the EU-level co-ordination of a number of meetings based on international conventions. The most important meetings included the fifth session of the UN Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention held in Bonn and the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, both held in Beijing.

The Finnish Presidency also organised an Informal Meeting of Ministers of the Environment which concentrated on integrating sustainable development and environmental considerations into other policy sectors. There was also a discussion between the EU Member States and the Candidate Countries on the environment policy measures particularly in relation to climate change that are to be taken at the beginning of the new millennium. Furthermore, the Meeting of Ministers of Housing discussed issues related to the housing of older people and sustainable housing, construction and urban development.

The Informal Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning, Urban Policy and Regional Policy adopted a programme for the application and implementation of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) guidelines, initiated debate on future co-operation in spatial planning and agreed on further steps in urban policy co-operation. The Conference on urban issues discussed urban development in the EU, introduced urban policy trends in Finland and debated the role of cities in the next millennium. The Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law meeting (IMPEL) discussed means to improve supervision of Member States’ compliance with environmental legislation through a more efficient exchange of information and co-operation projects.

The Social Dimension

The adoption of the conclusions on a common strategy on the reform and strengthening of social protection by the Labour-and Social Council can be considered a significant socio-political initiative. The Council decided in its conclusions to establish a high-level civil servant working group, subordinate to the Council, to supervise the development of social protection in Member States.

The overall reform of the regulation on co-ordination of social security systems was launched by the preparation of a progress report for the Labour and Social Council on the basic principles of the - proposal. The Finnish Presidency agreed with the incoming Presidencies that these preparations will be continued in a coherent manner. The Council was given a progress report on a proposal to widen the scope of the regulation to embrace third country nationals.

The Informal Meeting of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs” had an exchange of views on actions to improve the position of elderly workers in the labour market. The meeting also focused on active social policy and the need to develop the EU’s support services on a healthier basis.

In its conclusions the Council committed itself to the preparation of a-new Action Programme on Equal Opportunities and approved the Presidency’s report on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the conclusions on women’ s participation in political decision-making. The Ministerial Conference on Equal Opportunities held in Helsinki continued discussion on mainstreaming the gender equality perspective in employment policies and made a sound contribution to the employment recommendations and the Employment Guidelines for 2000.

The Council also made a final decision on the Daphne programme on preventive measures to combat violence against children, young persons and women and adopted conclusions on combating child sex tourism.

Finland considers important the provisions of the non-discrimination article (Article 13) of the Treaty of Amsterdam but the actual Council work on the issue is to start during the Portuguese Presidency, due to the late arrival of the Commission’s proposals. The Action Programme on the integration of refugees was taken up in a working group but its work was hindered since the European Parliament urged the Commission to present a new proposal on the issue and stated its

own intention to produce, on a different legal basis, a new proposal for a refugee fund.

The work on working time directives (supervision of maritime workers’ working time, a directive on working time, a directive on working time for road transport operations) has been pursued for their final adoption. The Finnish proposals for a compromise on working time for road transport operations were not accepted and the work on this directive will continue during the Portuguese Presidency. Common positions on the amendments to the directive on working time and on the directive on supervising the working time of maritime workers were adopted in July. The common position the directive on supervising the working time of maritime workers was approved also by the European Parliament. The Parliament did not, however, adopt the Council’s common position on the directive amending the working time directive in its entirety, and therefore the Portuguese Presidency will need to draw upon a conciliation procedure to finalise the issue.

Finland tried to find a solution as regards the directive on employee involvement within the European Company. The negotiations progressed to a certain extent but no final solution was reached.

Finland emphasised the horizontal nature of health protection in line with the Amsterdam Treaty. In practice this was realised by co-operation among different Council formations, discussions held within the Health Council, and the Council’s conclusions on the integration of health protection requirements into all Community policies. Ina new development, the Council adopted conclusions on the promotion of mental health and the incoming Presidencies have made a commitment to continue this work. The Council also adopted conclusions on the health situation in the applicant countries and the increasing need for co-operation in this field. Both issues were seen as key areas in future co-operation.

The Health Council held an open debate on tobacco policy. The Council adopted conclusions on measures to combat tobacco consumption. Finland promoted the negotiations launched by the WHO for an international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and adopted the Commission’s negotiation mandate in the issue. The Commission’s proposal for a revision of the tobacco directive was taken up in a working group before the end of the Finnish Presidency.

The Health Council was informed of the current state of the regulation proposals on medicines and medical devices. A decision on rarely prescribed medicinal products was also attained during the Finnish Presidency.

The directive on minimum provisions for the improvement of the protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmosphere was adopted. The preparation of other directives on occupational safety and health advanced in working groups.

 

8. AN AREA OF FREEDOM. SECURITY AND JUSTICE

The objectives set by the Finnish Presidency for the Tampere European Council were successfully met. The Tampere European Council established the political guidelines for future European Justice and Home Affairs by giving the new provisions of the Amsterdam Treaty on justice and home affairs both political and tangible content, which is concrete also to citizens, to guide co- operation in the 21st century by creating a genuine area of freedom, security and justice. It was concluded that people and economic players should be able to enjoy their rights to the full.

The Tampere European Council presented the most important guidelines for co-operation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs in the form of the “Ten Milestones of Tampere”:

1. Establishment of a comprehensive asylum and migration policy for the Union by deepening co-operation with countries of origin and by dealing with these issues as part of other Union policies. inter alia. the development policy.

2. Creation of a Common European Asylum System.

3. Measures to strengthen the rights of third CoUl1try nationals by approximating their status to that of EU citizens and by combating racism and xenophobia. )

4.Management of migration flows by concluding readmission agreements with countries of origin and by fighting trafficking in human beings.

5.         Improvement of people’s legal protection by creating binding minimum standards, reinforcing the status of victims of crime and by developing provisions on cross-border litigation.

Management of migration flows by concluding readmission agreements with countries of origin and by fighting trafficking in human beings.

Improvement of people’s legal protection by creating binding minimum standards, reinforcing the status of victims of crime and by developing provisions on cross-border litigation.

6.         Mutual recognition of judgements and judicial decisions was adopted as the cornerstone of the European area of justice.

7.         A decision to deepen the convergence of procedural law

8.         Crime prevention was established as a Union-level policy and priority attached to youth, urban and drug-related crime.

9.         Co-operation between authorities was boosted by creating a Police Chiefs’ Task Force and a European Police Institute, increasing the powers of Europol and by establishing a prosecutors’ and investigative magistrates’ body, Euro just.

10.         Further, a commitment to a comprehensive programme to combat money laundering by improving the exchange of information between authorities, lifting bank secrecy and by establishing common legislation and creating common measures in relation to third countries.

In order to monitor, inter alia, the implementation of the mandates given in the conclusions of the Tampere meeting, the European Council invited the Council to prepare a scoreboard on related work currently under way. The Commission introduced the first drafts for such a scoreboard to the Council in the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in December.

In Justice and Home Affairs a great majority of the most prominent priorities were reached. Finland furthered work on justice and home affairs projects. This work of the Presidency was influenced by the changes introduced with the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, and particularly by the practical questions related to the integration of the Schengen acquis. A Convention on the definition of Schengen-related matters was also approved. Issues related to Gibraltar were not, however, resolved in the bilateral negotiations between the United Kingdom and Spain.

Finland initiated discussion on the definition of readmission responsibilities between Member States and the future development of Europol. The Council agreed to amend the standard readmission clauses used in Community and mixed agreements. A number of extensive and difficult matters were brought to a conclusion with the exception of the status of Gibraltar. Among the successfully completed projects was the regulation on Eurodac, the mandate to the Commission

to negotiate a Dublin parallel agreement with Norway and Iceland, the decision concerning the UK’s application to participate in some of the provisions of the Schengen acquis. A decision on commencing negotiations between Europol and third countries and third bodies was agreed upon in content but not formally adopted at this stage. Basing its decision on the work conducted in the Mixed Committee under the Finnish Presidency, the Council finally agreed to lift controls at

Internal borders between Greece and those Member States which fully apply the Schengen acquis as from 1 January, 2000. The project aimed at preventing possible Y2K problems in the Schengen Information System was successfully completed.

The Council agreed on the field of application of interception of telecommunications in the context of mutual assistance in criminal matters and on provisions governing joint investigative teams, and made a commitment to work towards the finalisation of unresolved matters by March 2000. There was also agreement on the framework decision on the protection of the euro and it is to be finalised by March 2000. The regulation on insolvency proceedings was concluded. Political agreement was reached on a proposal for a regulation on access to documents. In relation to organised crime, the Council took note of the guidelines of the new EU strategy on organised crime as well as of the present situation regarding the report on organised crime in the EU in 1998.

The preparation of the new Charter of Fundamental Rights proceeded well. In accordance with the conclusions of the Cologne European Council, the Finnish Presidency was to create the prerequisites for the implementation of the decision on fundamental rights by the time of the Tampere Special European Council on 15-16 October. The Tampere European Council agreed on the composition of, method of work and practical arrangements for the body entrusted with drawing up a draft Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The first meeting of this body was held during the Finnish Presidency on 17 December, 1999.

HELSINKI EUROPEAN COUNCIL 10.-11.12.99; RESULTS

1.         ENLARGEMENT

 

The Helsinki Summit confirmed that the enlargement Process shall continue to be efficient credible and inclusive

Opening of new negotiations with six (6) new countries launched a new phase Bulgaria Latvia Lithuania Malta, Romania and Slovakia -the enlargement process consists now of 13 countries

Historical decision about the candidate status for Turkey

EU must herself be ready to welcome new members by end of 2002

Review of existing negotiations differentiation was also strengthened

The future of the European Conference will be reviewed in the light of the evolving Situation. The French Presidency is aiming to organise a European Conference meeting in the second half of 2000

2         IGC

 

The European Council welcomed the Presidency report on scope and options

Length of negotiations (February-December 2000): Before the enlargement of the European Union, the Union itself must change. The Helsinki European Council decided that the next Intergovernmental Conference will be convened early in February 2000 and the Conference should complete its work by December 2000.

Agenda: The next IGC will concentrate on the institutional reforms which are necessary for enlargement. The solutions should be durable so that they cover the next enlargements. On the agenda of the IGC 2000 will be the size and the composition of the Commission, the weighting of votes in the Council and the possible extension of qualified majority voting and some other closely related institutional issues.

Ministers for Foreign Affairs (General Affairs Council) have the political responsibility Participation of EP was strengthened

Information will be given also to the candidate countries and EEA

EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONS (Council working methods)

The forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference is not the only way to a more efficient and reformed Union. Changes can also be made without amending the Treaties

The Helsinki European Council approved recommendations of the Presidency aiming at developing the functioning of the council in an enlarged Union into a more efficient, consistent and transparent direction

As the Presidency, we have sought to increase transparency and better working methods by practical measures during our Presidency

 
3.         ESDP

 

The Helsinki Summit adopted -without changes -Presidency reports on developing the Union’s military and non-military (civilian) crisis management capability

European Council’s ten Tampere milestones Determination to develop autonomous European capacity (50000 -60000 persons) Headline targets on deployment capability

New political and military structures for guidance and consultation will be developed within the Council

 

4.         EXTERNAL RELATIONS

 

 Declaration on Chechnya adopted on 10 December 1999

Adoption of Common Strategy on Ukraine -the implementation of the common strategy on Russia should be reviewed & the Council will continue the work with the common strategy on Mediterranean region and Western Balkans

Renewed commitment to Western Balkans/South East Europe: “EU is determined to have a leading role in promoting stability, security and economic development in South Eastern Europe”

Northern Dimension: Helsinki invited the Commission to prepare -in cooperation with the Council and in consu1tation with the partner countries -an Action plan for the Northern Dimension in the external and cross-border policies of the EU with a view to presenting it for endorsement at the Feira Summit in June 2000

5.         ECONOMIC ISSUES

 

The need to improve the coordination of economic-. employment- and structure policy coordination was confirmed

Taxation Package: the work will be continued during the Portuguese Presidency Internal market, competitiveness, innovation and information society -Lisbon European Council ; the idea of putting more emphasis on information society was approved Environment and sustainable development (in June 2001 long term strategy from Commission)

6.         OTHER ISSUES

 

The Millennium Declaration was approved

Transparency: progress during the Finnish Presidency was praised, especially in the area of access to documents and rapid communication using modern technologies; a Commission proposal in January 2000 will issue

Subsidiary and better law-making

Public health and food safety

Fight against organised crime and drugs

 

A new stage in EU integration was heralded by EU leaders at the end of the special meeting of the European Council in Tampere.

The two-day meeting had the task of developing coordination of practices in judicial and home affairs.

This specifically covered three key areas: immigration and asylum policy, the creator of a common judicial area alongside the common market and currency, and the development of methods to tackle cross-border crime.

The result was what Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen called the ‘ten milestones of Tampere’, a range of measures set out in the concluding document of the EC.

Four of the milestones’ concern immigration and asylum matters, three deal with the development of the judicial area, and three are directed at stopping cross- border crime.

On asylum and immigration:

  • a unified immigration and asylum policy by the Union, -common European asylum procedures,
  • measures on the rights of 3rd country nationals to make them comparable in some areas with those of EU citizens,
  • the management of immigration flows

 

On the judicial area:

  • Improved access to justice across the Union through common minimum standards and rules on cross-border litigation, -the mutual recognition of judicial decisions, -greater convergence in matters of civil law.

 

On tackling cross-border crime

  • improving crime prevention at the Union level through following common priorities targeting juvenile, urban and drug-related crime,
  • stepping up cooperation through the establishment of a police chiefs’ task force, extending the mandate of Europol and the creation of the Euro just network,
  • special action against money laundering.
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