European Council concluded work, IGC begins

12.12.2003 | 00:00

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Brussels, 12 December 2003 At its meeting today, the European Council discussed the European Union´s economic growth, competitiveness, employment, internal and legal issues, EU enlargement and foreign and security policy. The final document approved by the European Council concerns projects aimed at promoting the EU´s economic growth. All of the measures encouraging economic growth endeavour to make the EU economy more knowledge-based and competitive. They also comply with the principles of the Lisbon process. "It´s a good thing that priority transport projects include those important for us, like the Baltic railway project Rail Baltica and the Baltic Sea motorway projects," Prime Minister Parts stated at the end of the meeting. According to the prime minister, it was agreed that Member States will take their own measures to promote economic growth. "In Estonia, this will be implemented via the goals of Success Estonia 2014, which I consider to be important priorities for our government," the prime minister added. As regards employment, approval was granted to the report on increasing employment in Europe prepared by former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok. The document provides a framework for Member States in which they can develop and implement their strategies. The important keywords are: increasing the employment rate and investments in human capital, as well as infrastructure projects, said Parts. In the area of internal and legal issues, the European Council gave its approval for the creation of a European border guard agency. Its tasks include the development and implementation of common border protection principles. Actual border guard functions will be the task of every Member State. The European Council also greeted the EU enlargement and pointed out the positive developments that have taken place in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey in meeting the Copenhagen criteria. According to Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland, Estonia has always supported the principle that EU enlargement is a continuous and irrevocable process. "We are convinced that further enlargement of the EU will increase stability and security throughout Europe," Ojuland said after the Council meeting. As regards Russia, the European Council stated that the partnership and cooperation agreement between the EU and Russia must extend to the new Member States from 1 May 2004. "This is crucial for Estonia, as it will prevent Russia from imposing double duties on us again," the prime minister stated. The agreement will regulate future relations between Estonia and Russia. The European Council approved the European security strategy. Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland confirmed that the document, which is easily comprehensible to the public, takes account of the interests of all EU Member States in essential areas such as international terrorism, dangers arising from the uncontrolled spread of weapons of mass destruction and international crime, including the trafficking in persons. "The next important step now is the efficient implementation of the strategy," Ojuland stressed. "Estonia welcomes the more active approach to solving the regional conflicts that still occur in the Eastern neighbourhood of the European Union," Ojuland added. A session of the Intergovernmental Conference, preparing the EU constitutional treaty, will begin today at 6:30 p.m. and continue tomorrow. Government Press Office Phone 693 5792, 693 5706

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