Dáil Éireann - Volume 583 - 31 March, 2004
Written Answers. - EU Summits.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
45. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the outcome of the  EU spring summit meeting held at Brussels on 25 and 26 March 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10011/04]
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
53. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his participation in and the outcome of the spring European Council in Brussels on 25 and 26 March 2004. [9921/04]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Mr. Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 53 together.
The Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, the Minister of State for European Affairs and I attended the European Council in Brussels on 25 and 26 March 2004.
The Deputy will be aware that the Taoiseach made a detailed statement to the Dáil yesterday, 30 March, 2004, on the outcome of the European Council. The European Council conclusions and the declarations adopted have been forwarded to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Affairs. The European Council focused on a range of issues, including the Intergovernmental Conference, terrorism, the Lisbon strategy and the international situation.
On the IGC, the Government’s report was warmly welcomed by partners. The European Council requested the Presidency to continue its consultations and as soon as appropriate to arrange for the resumption of formal negotiations. It also committed itself to agreement on the constitutional treaty no later than the June European Council. This is a very significant step forward.
The European Council discussed the European Union’s response to the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 11 March. The Presidency brought forward a package of measures designed to enhance the capacity of the European Union to meet the threat of terrorism. These were adopted by the Council as the Declaration on Combating Terrorism, a comprehensive document which balances the need for effective action to protect the security of EU citizens, including the accelerated implementation of already agreed measures, with the need for a longer-term counter-terrorism strategy. The declaration also includes provision for the establishment of the position, within the Council Secretariat, of a counter-terrorism co-ordinator. Former Dutch Interior Minister and MEP, Dr. Gijs de Vries, has been appointed to the role. A related Declaration on Solidarity against Terrorism, which calls on member states to act jointly in the spirit of the solidarity clause of the draft constitution if a member state is the victim of a terrorist attack, was also adopted by the European Council.
As Presidency, Ireland proposed to partners that discussion of the Lisbon strategy should centre on the themes of sustainable growth and more and better jobs. Discussions on the sustainable growth theme focused on maintaining sound macro-economic policies and promoting competitiveness and innovation, while ensuring  that social cohesion and environmental sustainability would also remain centre stage.
The European Council agreed, in the context of an overall employment strategy, that member states should give urgent attention to four particular structural challenges: adaptability, attracting more people into the labour market, improving the quality of employment and investing in human capital. The European Council agreed that a high level group would be established under the chairmanship of Mr. Wim Kok to carry out an independent review to contribute to the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy next year.
The European Council also addressed a number of important international issues. It adopted conclusions on the Middle East peace process, Iraq, the strategic partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Russia, Côte d’Ivoire Afghanistan and Cyprus. It reviewed the situation in Kosovo following the recent outbreak of ethnically motivated violence. It is essential that the primacy of the political process be reasserted and to this end the European Council reiterated its full commitment to the development of a stable, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo as well as the EU’s continued support for the work of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Harri Holkeri, and the standards before status process.
On Afghanistan, the European Council looked forward to the international conference on Afghanistan, taking place in Berlin on 31 March and 1 April, and reaffirmed the Union’s commitment to assisting the people of Afghanistan in the reconstruction of their country. The European Council also considered the current state of negotiations on a Cyprus settlement. It reiterated the European Union’s support for the UN-led negotiations and reaffirmed its readiness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. The European Council also welcomed the interim report on the EU strategic partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East which was adopted by Foreign Ministers at the General Affairs and External Relations Council the previous Monday, 22 March. On the margins of the European Council, EU Foreign Ministers also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the current state of relations with Syria.
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
46. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the outcome of a recent EU-Canada summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10030/04]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Mr. Cowen: The EU-Canada Summit which took place in Ottawa on 18 March 2004 provided an opportunity to deepen our partnership across the full range of foreign policy and economic and trade issues. The summit meeting was divided into three parallel meetings of Heads of State or Government,  Foreign Ministers and Trade Ministers, followed by plenary discussions on important issues such as globalisation and multilateralism.
The outcome of the summit was very positive with a high level of convergence on most issues. The summit identified a clear determination on both sides to translate this convergence into tangible results. International issues such as counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, issues in the Middle East and the World Trade Organisation received significant attention. The summit adopted three important documents: the EU-Canada Partnership Agenda, the framework for the EU-Canada Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement, and a Declaration on EU-Canada relations. All three documents encapsulate the willingness of both the EU and Canada to enhance our close relationship. I have asked for copies to be placed in the Oireachtas Library.
Dáil Éireann 583 Written Answers. EU Summits.