PRESS RELEASE: PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS: SANT A MARIA DA FEIRA EUROPEAN COUNCIL, 19 AND 20 JUNE 2000
1. The European Council met in Santa Maria da Feira on 19 and 20 June. At the start of proceedings, the European Council and the President of the European Parliament, Mrs Nicole Fontaine, exchanged views on the main items under discussion.
I. PREPARING THE FUTURE
2. Against the backdrop of renewed public debate about and interest in the future of the European Union, the European Council has taken a number of important steps aimed at addressing the challenges confronting it in the immediate future.
A. Intergovernmental Conference on institutional reform
3. The European Council notes and welcomes the Presidency report on the Intergovernmental Conference. The Presidency's report demonstrates the significant headway which has been achieved by the Conference in considering Treaty changes which will ensure that the Union continues to have properly functioning, efficient and legitimate institutions after enlargement. The European Council considers in particular that the provisions on closer co-operation introduced into the Treaty of Amsterdam should form part of the Conference's future work, while respecting the need for coherence and solidarity in an enlarged Union. The Conference can move forward on a sound footing so that an overall agreement can be reached in December in line with the timetable laid down by the Cologne and Helsinki European Councils.
B. Charter of FundamentaJ Rights
4. The European Council extended its heartfelt sympathy to Mr Roman Herzog and expressed its appreciation for his invaluable personal contribution to the Convention's work. Mr. Ignacio Mendez de Vigo, Vice-Chair of the Convention entrusted with drawing up a draft Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union, briefed the European Council on work in hand role in the Stability Pact. It welcomed the adoption in Thessaloniki of the " Agenda for Stability'. as a framework for future action. The Reconstruction Agency as an authority implementing the future CARDS Programme should be allowed to use its full potential in order to achieve the goals set out in Cologne.
75. The European Council welcomed the idea, proposed by France, of a summit meeting between the European Union and the countries of the Western Balkans which, although at different stages, are most advanced in their democratic evolution. Such a summit would allow the countries of the region to be reassured of Europe's solidarity with them, and permit an examination with them of the means to accelerate the process of democratic and economic reform. The European Council invites the Council, assisted by the Secretary- General/High Representative, and the Commission, to begin work on preparing such a summit meeting.
E .Northern Dimension
76. The European Council endorsed the Action Plan for the Northern Dimension with external and cross-border policies of the European Union 2000-2003 as an important step towards implementing the Guidelines adopted in Cologne. It invited the Commission to take a leading role in implementing the Action Plan and to present appropriate follow-up proposals, including on the environment and nuclear safety, the fight against international crime and Kaliningrad. It welcomed the intention of the future Swedish Presidency to prepare, together with the Commission, a full report to the Council on Northern Dimension policies in preparation for the Goteborg European Council in June 2001.
77. Recalling the presence of President Mandela at its meeting in Cardiff, the European Council warmly welcomed the presence of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, as a mark of the warm and growing relations between the EU and South Africa.
78. The European Council, following talks with the South African President, reaffirms its commitments given at the first Africa-Europe Summit, held on 3 and 4 April in Cairo, to build a global dialogue based on a strategic bi-regional partnership between Africa and Europe covering the many dimensions of their relationship. Both sides recalled that the follow-up to the Africa-Europe Summit will cover those dimensions, including questions related to debt relief, and that the appropriate mechanisms for the implementation of the decisions taken in Cairo will soon be put in place. The European Council welcomed Portugal s offer to host the next Europe-Africa Summit in Lisbon in 2003 during the Greek Presidency.
Issued by the Office of the Presidency, SA