- The spoken text takes precedence -
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the fifth time I have had the honour and the opportunity to present before the Chamber the declaration on Luxembourg’s foreign policy and to submit to you the principles, objectives and visions for the future as I see them and as I want to apply and realize them with your support.
This declaration comes at a very special moment. In 39 days, on 1 May, when 10 new countries will join the European Union, a chapter in the history of our continent will be definitely closed. The unnatural separation, the result of war, fear and intolerance, that has kept Europe separated for half a century, will officially end on this day. Therefore, I am especially pleased that the Chamber voted in favour of this enlargement with the votes of all its 60 members. This is the clearest sign that we, as Luxembourgers, not only welcome this development, but also promote it where possible and recognize therein the basis for a union that will not only be bigger, but also stronger and more dynamic.
We are thus answering the plea of Robert Schuman who said in 1959: “We must not only build Europe purely in the interests of free people, but we must also be capable of welcoming the people from the East as soon as they ask us to.”
The political, economic, cultural and social environment of our relations with our neighbours and our partners within the EU and beyond is changing, offering more possibilities and new challenges.
This declaration will also be the last before Luxembourg takes Presidency of the European Union, a period during which we can prove, and indeed must prove, that Luxembourg, its politicians and officials, are capable of organizing, directing and developing the tasks of the new Europe of 25. We have a long tradition of successful presidencies that have built the reputation of our country and that of the Union, and we know that our partners once again expect us to deliver the results that have, in the past, been the hallmark of Luxembourg’s commitment to Europe. We shall do our utmost to meet their expectations and to make the best use of those preparatory steps that have already been taken.
Therefore, it should not surprise you that this year Europe, with its opportunities and possibilities, but also with its problems and challenges, takes a special place in my declaration.
A changing world and a time of uncertainty
Looking ahead means having the courage to think and to plan. Not just Europe, but also the world around us is undergoing ever accelerating change. Through our actions and those of our partners in America, Asia and Africa, with whom we share ambitions and visions for the future, we can make a concerted contribution to making this world, the European Union and thus also our home, a better and safer place for all of us. By working together, we can steer this development in the right direction.
Let us take a look back: in the middle of the 20th century, democratic nations represented only a small minority in the world. Democracy has now been established in most countries, bringing respect for human rights, liberty, peace and economic and social progress.
Only 15 years ago, international relations were structured and indeed consolidated by the balance of intimidation and the Cold War. Only when the wall that separated Europe came down could hope for democracy and liberty become reality – and not just in Europe. In eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America many countries have paved the way towards freedom.
The progress of democracy has also meant that the spectre of a conventional war with confrontation between European armies has all but vanished from our imagination.
And yet, even in times of fresh hope, when hostilities have been overcome, developments have shown us that commitment to liberty and democracy in the interests of security and prosperity is a task to which we must dedicate ourselves time and time again. The last decade provides many examples of this, indeed too many: the confrontation between Israel and Palestine, genocide in Rwanda, the brutal conflicts in Congo and, not least of all, in the Balkans.
Our answer: effective multilateralism
Since 1990, four million people, 90% of whom were civilians, have died in wars, and 20 million have become refugees as a result of conflicts. We cannot tolerate this situation. We must confront it together, as an international community. To this end, we need efficient collaboration. Therefore, we are consistently committed to efficient multilateralism, a clearly defined role for the United Nations and also a powerful and consistent European foreign policy that comprises aspects of security, defence and development.
We must accept our responsibility as an international community when we see that, in many parts of the world, people are exposed to the dangers of terrorism, famine, brutality and weapons of mass destruction, as well as ethnically or religiously motivated violence, human trafficking and other forms of organized crime and exploitation.
The shock waves following the attacks of 11 September, a multitude of other terrorist attacks and, not least of all, the gruesome massacre in Madrid on 11 March have all clearly demonstrated that security problems have taken on an entirely new dimension for all of us. We have to adapt to these new challenges and find answers, answers which no nation, no matter how big or small, can provide alone, just as no nation, no matter how big or small, can shy away from the task at hand.
We don’t live in those biblical times where swords were changed into ploughshares. On the contrary, potentially violent groups or regimes now have means at their disposal that represent a different dimension of danger. The willingness to commit acts of violence, especially in extremist circles, has become increasingly widespread and has now reached a shocking level. This was obvious once again in the series of attacks in Madrid, where hundreds of innocent civilians became the victims of indiscriminate violence.
We must acknowledge that we live in a time of unrest and insecurity that forces us all to act responsibly. More than ever, foreign policy holds the key to domestic security.
There is no alternative to resolute international cooperation. Either we all impose the standards of the constitutional State around the globe, or we permit the system of international law to be undermined. For our security, we all depend on effective international cooperation. This is an effort in which we in Luxembourg are ready to participate, as a member of the European Union, as a partner in NATO and OSCE and, of course, as a member of the UNO.
Regional conflicts, such as that in the Near East, continue and have even intensified in recent years, bringing new dangers in their wake. It is no coincidence that organized crime, corruption, illegal drug trade, human trafficking, international terrorism and blatant disregard for human rights spread in precisely those countries and regions that are suffering a grave crisis or are cut off from the development of the international community.
The terrorist menace
New threats and the challenges posed by a globalized world demand voluntary action.
Let me take the single example of terrorism, the face of which has totally changed. In the 1970s, terrorism was a political and local phenomenon which, to a certain extent, didn’t affect us directly. Today, however, it has become a global threat that strikes blindly and indiscriminately. It aims to destroy the values on which free society is based: tolerance, liberty and progress. It is driven by hatred and the denial of human dignity. It feeds on unresolved conflicts, frustration and debasement, and also on the injustices that have been left unresolved by the international community.
Terrorism has no regard for human life. You have seen examples of this is America, the Near East, Iraq, South-East Asia, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and, recently, Madrid. No nation, no society, no city can say with certainty that it could not be struck. This type of terrorism chooses targets calculated to attract maximum attention, produce the greatest possible consequences and, unfortunately, cause high levels of casualties.
Terrorism, regardless of its goals or motives, can never be considered an acceptable instrument in political disputes. The indiscriminate murder of innocent victims is, above all, a grave violation of the fundamental right to a secure life. I therefore condemn, in the most severe terms, all forms of terrorism, regardless of origin or goal. For us, violence is never a political means.
Through its absolute disregard for life, terrorism also represents absolute contempt for human rights and humanity.
Therefore – regardless of how terrible recent images in the news have been – we must not fall into the trap laid by terrorism. We must uphold the openness of our society and our respect for human rights. With all our might, we must refuse to make human rights the indirect casualty of terrorism and its misanthropy. Our total dedication to these universal rights for every human being is a token of the moral force and moral legitimacy that enable us to overcome this menace.
How to respond to terrorism
Because of the nature of terrorism, we must not respond to it with military means alone. Its various sources of power and motivation make it necessary to respond using various complementary measures.
Against this background, the Irish Presidency has made a series of proposals based on the structures and measures following the action plan laid down on 21 September 2001. In two days, the European Council will definitely accept the plan, which has been completed by the ministers for justice, internal affairs and foreign affairs.
The most important provision of this plan is closer collaboration between the police and legal authorities under Europol and Eurojust, as well as closer collaboration between intelligence and security services. This involves the exchange and evaluation of information on terrorist activities gathered by the police and secret services and the registration of biometric information to be recorded in passports. The appointment of an official in charge of coordinating the fight against terrorism, working with the High Representative, could be an instrument to complement these efforts. Cooperation with third countries must be intensified with respect to the global dimension of the threat.
I should just like to mention that the European arrest warrant, which the Chamber recently voted in favour of, is one of the elements that contribute to more efficient cooperation. Therefore, a European public prosecutor’s office could play an important part.
The issue of financing terrorism also continues to play an important role in the fight against this evil, as well as improved controlling of EU borders and intensified surveillance of transport infrastructures.
Another measure in the fight against terrorism is a resolute commitment on the part of the international community to reducing and ending unresolved conflicts. Here, I’m thinking especially of the Middle East. During all the talks I held in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, it was made very clear just how much a resolution of this conflict could contribute to international security. To underline our commitment to finding a solution, we have financially supported the Geneva Initiative, which shows that a commonly defined solution could be possible.
However, words and pious wishes are not enough. We must also, individually and collectively, contribute with development aid, education, crisis prevention and crisis management, knowing that only this package of measures, and a long-term effort, will achieve our goal.
We must, furthermore, do everything in our power to prevent theories on cultural war and the confrontation of civilizations from being put into practice. We should not fall into the trap laid by those who hope to benefit from such a confrontation. After overcoming the grievous division between East and West that was based on antagonistic ideologies, we must not permit a far more dangerous divide, based on religion or culture, from gaining ground.
The most efficient way to respond to this danger is to consistently defend the respect for human rights and the dignity of all men, women and children, to seek discussion and welcome dialogue. In this way, we shall emphasize the unity of humanity and the universality of its values.
Neither superiority in terms of numbers, technology and economy, nor new walls provide lasting protection against streams of refugees, suicide attacks or car bombs. Time and time again, reality has shown just how vulnerable even the apparently strong are. To improve our security, the most effective weapons must be an applicable, effective multilateralism and international solidarity – built on mutual respect and confidence.
This is the essence of our approach. This is our choice for the coexistence of nations.
Global problems require a global approach
The protection of our environment, the fight against illness and disease, against the illegal flow of money or against intolerance – all phenomena amplified in effect by globalization – are objectives that can only be achieved through close and broad international cooperation. The key to a new and better world lies in the collaboration of the entire international community. Here, the United Nations plays a special role. Therefore, we hope that the reform of the UN will be carried out as announced, so that it may act faster and more efficiently.
The European Union, as one of the key players on the world stage, also has a special responsibility, which it may best assume if it acts as one. To this end, the European Council adopted the first European Security Strategy in December 2003. The strategy analyses the global threats we are faced with and also the means to react to them. With this, Europe has taken an important qualitative step towards a common foreign and security policy.
Terrorism, the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts across the world, with their direct and indirect effects on Europe, and organized crime, all are threats that have been analysed here.
We see the answer to these threats in effective multilateralism and an active and coherent European foreign policy that has at its disposal all the means necessary to live up to its ambitions.
The centre of Luxembourg’s foreign policy lies in Europe
For us, the centre of international cooperation lies in Europe, and the European Union is, and will remain, at the heart of our foreign policy. Within the Union, we determine our foreign policy, and through the Union, we adopt the means and power to realize our visions.
For us, and for the Union, transatlantic relations are a key element of international stability, and one that plays an essential part in maintaining the strength of the international community. Within this context, solidarity within NATO is, to us, a particular expression of this strong relationship. We therefore welcome the fact that alongside the enlargement of the EU, the security structure in Europe has, through the enlargement of NATO, also been extended.
The EU nine months before our presidency
If today, nine months before our presidency, we analyse the state of the European Union, we don’t see a uniform picture.
First of all, the EU represents a remarkable success: 450 million people who have overcome the divisions of the past and who give a whole new meaning to the ideals of liberty, tolerance and fraternity. We can no longer imagine a world without the European Union, just as conflict among the Member States no longer represents an option. This success also builds on economic, monetary and commercial strength. The common market generates no less than one-quarter of gross income worldwide, and our common currency, the euro, has established itself firmly alongside the dollar as the second global currency.
A Union of 25 nations has weight that makes it a global player, with the responsibility to answer global questions ranging from the organization of international trade to the environment, human rights and security.
And yet it is evident that the EU, especially when it comes to taking a common stand, has not yet reached the level of unity that would enable it to make full use of its potential.
Our division over Iraq exactly one year ago is an illustration of this fact. Europe flounders when called upon to defend common interests behind a unified front and to define a common European foreign and security policy.
But let us be honest in our judgement. The current weakness of the Union should not really come as a surprise. Europe has not yet adopted the means to pursue a European foreign policy that measures up to its challenges. In more than one instance, we have lacked the political will, adequate means and also improved structures to convert this common European foreign policy into a common European security and defence policy in a coherent and consistent manner.
However, the experience of the war in Iraq has made an essential contribution to reflections that have started to take shape within the EU, the importance of which should not be underestimated. Together, we have begun thinking about our interests as Europeans, based on our values and goals and also on our means to achieve them. The security strategy that has emerged is applied step by step via European action plans on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and Bosnia.
To concretize this new attitude, we need the right structures. In this sense, we understand the common initiative taken by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg on 29 April. It aims to provide the European Union with a clear defence structure and an improved framework for collaboration among all members of the European Union and NATO.
The IGC and the Constitution
The shortcomings the European Union displays at the moment were highlighted when the European Council failed to agree on a text for a first constitution last December.
Let me state once again very clearly: we view a European Constitution as a means to make Europe stronger and more coherent. We therefore regret this outcome and are willing, together with our partners, to do our utmost to reach a definite agreement before the end of this year.
To me, the inability of the heads of state and heads of government to reach a consensus acceptable to all participants is neither a crisis of Europe nor a crisis for Europe.
I regard the European Council of December rather as an appointment missed, one for which a new date should be set as soon as possible.
We would be in a crisis only if the European Union were no longer capable of action. This is not the case. The Union continues to function on the basis of the measures negotiated in Nice with the specific aim of enabling the enlargement and managing the transition of May 2004.
Further evidence that the Union’s capacity for action is not directly in question is furnished by the project elaborated by the Convention, which provides the basis for the IGC and stipulates that the essential institutional measures of the Nice Treaty will remain in place until 2009 anyway. In particular, this concerns the composition of the Commission, the voting regulations in the Council and the composition of the European Parliament.
To me, it is important that, in adopting the Constitution, we undertake a profound reform of the Union, a reform that will enable us to let issues of institutional modification rest for a considerable period of time.
The Irish Presidency has addressed this question and will present an initial inventory at the next Council, based on its current consultations.
But it is true, after all, that at a government conference, nothing is truly final until all the decisions have been taken. A general consensus, such as the one observed by the Convention’s president at the end of his mission, is not enough. At the IGC, we need a definite agreement across all delegations, all nations, based on a precise text that covers all proposals.
Our cooperation within the Benelux framework, to which, as you know, I have attached great importance since I have been minister, has worked out well, so we can be largely satisfied with the result as it transpired after the end of the Convention and during the Naples Conclave.
Our positions in the IGC and for the Constitution
You know our positions at the Convention and the government conference because I have made a point of always keeping the Chamber informed on progress at the IGC. Let me briefly remind you of them.
Concerning our representatives in the European Parliament, we agreed on insisting that their number should not be changed.
Regarding the composition of the Commission, we agreed, together with our Benelux partners, to accept an eventually reduced Commission, provided an egalitarian rotation of all countries is adopted. The model we are willing to support, after a transition period, could provide for a country to be represented in the Commission during two terms and then pause for one term.
But to us, on this committee which is responsible not for national interests but for the common good, the assurance that the equality of all Member States is fully respected, and that the Commission plays its important part in the institutional construction of the European Union, is more important than the number of commissioners. This means that the Commission must be, and must remain, the place where the general interests of the Union are defined, and not the place where national positions are represented by individual commissioners.
The community method, which means the principal equality of all Member States and the pursuit of solutions based on general compromise, as well as the collegial administration of the Commission, remain sacrosanct to us.
The Commission must not deviate from this principle of organization and function. These elements are components of the established community as well as of the success and broad acceptance of European integration.
The Council is, and remains, the place where common decisions are made and where it is taken into account that the EU is a union of 25 countries that collaborate very closely and pursue common goals.
Concerning the Presidency of the Council, we retain our general opinion that this is a task all countries must share equally. However, we also understand efforts aimed at ensuring the entire workload is not placed upon one single country. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that the visibility of individual countries is reduced. For the outside observer, the system is less comprehensible than the six-month rotation we currently use.
But it is understandable that, as the workload increases with the enlargement, we should spread this load among several countries. Whether it will be three countries that share tasks over an 18-month period will be the subject of subsequent discussions.
Of course, the consequence is that the Presidency of the European Council must be reconsidered and, within this context, we know the importance that a group of countries attaches to the stability of a presidency over a renewable two-and-a-half-year term. As Benelux, we have not found it easy to adapt to this situation, and our acceptance will eventually depend on the definition of the role, and the competence of this presidency.
With regard to the debate on a European Foreign Minister, we have always stated clearly that we view the position as a double role, one as a commissioner in charge of foreign relations and one as a Council member who presides over meetings of foreign ministers and executes their decisions. Therefore, we see the possibility of combining the two elements of common European foreign policy, the Commission and the Council, under one umbrella, and of guaranteeing the greatest possible coherence and efficiency in our common front to the outside world. In other words: the European Foreign Minister has at his disposal all the instruments necessary to represent our common positions efficiently and coherently on the outside and to the outside world.
Furthermore, we want provisions for the instrument of enhanced cooperation to remain in the new Constitution as a possibility to organize collaboration of countries ready for integration within the Union’s structures an idea that was integrated into the Nice Treaty, also at the insistence of the Benelux countries. But, now as much as then, we strongly insist that this cooperation must be open to all other countries. This means that no one must be excluded, and that this cooperation must take place within the Union’s structures and according to its rules. Given that the Union of 25 is faced with various development levels, this answer is better than that of a “core Europe”. A solution from outside the Union’s framework would be seen as weakening Europe at a time when Europeans, and maybe the world, would rather have a good dose of “more Europe”.
Defence could be one of those areas where, based on clear criteria, various countries might take a further step towards integration. Structured cooperation in this particularly sensitive but important area should be implemented as quickly as possible. This idea has already found its way into the draft treaty of the Constitution, as currently provided for.
But one of our major concerns with respect to finalizing the Constitution’s text will also be to guarantee the everyday effectiveness of a Union of 25 or more. It is precisely this that we can achieve with the proposal for a double majority, as it is also written out in the draft Convention.
We want Europe to find its way towards a simple system so it can take decisions in a transparent and comprehensible, but most of all democratic manner a manner that also reflects the double nature of the Union that comprises nations as well as citizens.
Concern surrounds the model decided on in Nice to allow the vetoing of decisions. But the essence of collaboration within the Union cannot be to encourage the blocking of decisions.
Therefore, we welcome all efforts to reform the complicated decision-making mechanism of Nice, whereby 72% of Council votes, the vote of the majority of Member States and, if required as a control, a further 62% of the votes of the Union’s population must be obtained to take a decision with a qualified majority.
The Convention’s draft treaty aims to reduce the possibility of blocking decisions through the double-majority principle. The first element in this system is that the majority of nations underlines the equality of all Member States. Here, every member of the Union has one vote. The second element, the majority of the Union’s citizens, is a reflection of the basic principle of any democracy, namely that every citizen counts. The combination of these two elements represents the Union’s true character as a union of member states, and also a union of European citizens.
As far as the outcome of the negotiations is concerned, we would like to see the progress made with the qualified majority vote adopted in the areas of justice and internal affairs.
In the articles on taxation and social security, we will do everything in our power to ensure the necessary level of clarity is reached. Considering the way discussions on this topic have been progressing, we expect this area to remain exempt, as a whole, from the rules of the qualified majority vote. However, we may at least expect to count on unanimity votes for decisions in the areas of taxation and social security.
But this should not necessarily be seen as a failure. Much progress in difficult areas has been made through – and maybe even because of – the unanimity vote. Unanimity votes have forced us to seek compromises acceptable to everyone. Let me just remind you that unanimity voting has not prevented us from negotiating, and voting, a directive on the taxation of interest, without loss to the Union as a whole or to individual Member States.
European foreign and security policy
I said earlier that we would do everything in our power to boost European foreign, security and defence policies, because stronger integration in these areas is in our immediate interest. As a partner in the Union, it has always been our ambition to be a pioneer of European integration. Luxembourg greatly admires those countries that want to turn Schuman’s vision of a “larger and closer-knit community of peoples who have long been separated by bloody divisions” into reality. The means to this end are mentioned in the preamble to the first European treaty: “institutions capable of shaping a future shared destiny.”
We still take this mission very seriously. We have always been among those countries that have encouraged closer cooperation. This was the case with the issue of monetary union, which led to the euro, and the question of the free movement of goods, which led to the Schengen Treaty. And this was the case more recently when, on 29 April 2003, we made a proposal for European collaboration in the area of military cooperation in our security and defence policy, together with our neighbours France, Germany and Belgium. It is our view that all nations in the Union should be part of this cooperation. Much has already been done to achieve this aim, particularly during the most recent European Council concerning the operational headquarters, and proposals made at the IGC in the areas of security and defence policy.
The benefits of foreign and security policy
We remain fully dedicated to the commitments made in our government programme in 1999, where our reply to the new situation was that “the development of a genuine European security and defence policy within the framework of the Atlantic alliance is an obvious necessity.”
We are still convinced that this is the right approach. We believe that civil aspects of crisis management and prevention must be strengthened in order to fulfil our global responsibility. But this is not enough. We also want the Union to assume its full responsibility, and ultimately this involves the intervention of its own military forces to prevent conflicts and defuse crises when all other means have failed.
We have achieved a great deal in this area in recent years, with a record of much success and progress.
The Amsterdam Treaty came into force in 1999 and, by definition of the range and means of a common European foreign and security policy outlined in Articles 11 to 28, the Union has since had the power to act in this area, with special emphasis on conflict prevention. After the Cologne Council in June 1999, which focused on missions for crisis management, peacekeeping and restoring peace, the idea was concretized by creating, for the first time, a rapid response force of 60,000 troops that can intervene in the event of a crisis without prejudice to potential action from NATO. This move has given our common foreign and security policy an important operational dimension.
The Nice Council has created new permanent military and political structures to guarantee political control and coordination of operations, mainly on the Political and Security Committee and Military Committee.
In December 2002, arrangements were made in Copenhagen to clarify regulated collaboration between the European Union and NATO in the event of intervention with recourse to means provided by NATO. With this, the so-called “Berlin Plus” arrangements came into force, and the Union was authorized to lead its own missions as, for instance, in Macedonia or, at the end of this year, in Bosnia.
In Feira, we had previously reached an agreement to structure the civil aspects of war management. Here, the Member States made a commitment to provide 5,000 police officers for international missions, and an agreement was reached to strengthen the constitutional State, management capacities and protection of civilians within the framework of such missions.
I remind you of this development because it has created new responsibilities and tasks which – on behalf of the Union and Luxembourg – we must take seriously and make improved provisions for in the future.
We have proven our commitment by participating in the missions led as a result of these decisions as, for instance, in the first European police mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of 2002, and in the resumption of the NATO operation in Macedonia during the spring of 2003.
In order to adapt to this new set of tasks that began to emerge, we decided when we set up the government to integrate defence and army into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has since been demonstrated that this was the right decision, enabling us to adopt a more global and coherent approach in several crisis-hit areas.
As part of a Belgo-Luxembourg unit, our army participated in all peace missions in the Balkans. We have also had a squad in Kosovo since 1999 to help secure stability there. Events over the past few days have shown us just how difficult this is.
We are also participating in a series of multinational police missions in the region, which proves that several instruments are required to ensure stability in this area that is so important for the whole of Europe.
Since August 2003, 10 Luxembourgers have been among the soldiers guaranteeing security at the airport in Kabul and, since last year, two Luxembourg mine-clearing experts have been working with their Belgian colleagues in Cambodia. We have helped finance the European peace mission in Congo, and are providing financial support and training staff to help the Kinshasa police prepare for their tasks and set up a peacekeeping force.
These are the first joint successes we have achieved, and they prove that we are willing to do our share to safeguard stability and security outside Europe. This commitment also has direct positive repercussions here at home, because we are helping defuse latent problems at their potential source.
With this effort, we are strengthening our credibility as a full member of the Union and, in turn, the Union is proving its commitment and added value as a provider of stability and security.
A unified and strong Europe is in our interests
A more unified Europe, a Europe that is stronger as a result of this unity, is in our very own interests.
As a Troika member from June of this year and, especially afterwards, during the first term of next year when we take the presidency, we will forward this claim as proof of our commitment.
The Europe we have in mind is not one of a traditionally great power in which we would attempt to strive for any form of hegemony. Our aspiration is that of a Europe of partnership that is not a quiet observer of a world undergoing change, but a dedicated player on the international scene a player who is taken seriously, is willing to defend its interests and who acquires the necessary means to succeed.
After the experience of the Cold War and the division of our continent, our citizens don’t want a Europe or a world that is fractured or separated. They long for a Europe that is finally united in all its components, that has learned history’s lessons, and that actively defends its values and ideals. The vast majority of Europeans want a Union that has struck the right balance between unity and respect for diversity, between federalism and national sovereignty, and between economic progress and social redistribution. They, and we, want a Europe that expands without losing the strong solidarity we have built over more than half a century.
In those candidate countries that will not yet join on 1 May because negotiations are still open, only a Europe of strong values may brace the dynamic that will continue to help them carry through reforms that are sometimes difficult. Only in such a Europe can we prove our solidarity with the partners around us.
Preparations for the Luxembourg Presidency
During the presidency, we want to help strengthen such a Europe. I don’t want to hide from you the fact that the presidency we are now preparing represents an enormous challenge to us, a challenge that we want to transform into success with dedication and optimum cooperation among all the ministries and services concerned.
But success doesn’t just happen by chance. It comes as a result of long and thorough preparation, hard work and flawless dedication in the relevant areas.
From the beginning, I have insisted particularly on cooperation among all ministries in the coordination and preparation of issues in terms of content and organization. The interministerial committee we set up with this aim has emerged as the coordinating authority that merges the organization of all ministries and services concerned.
We are also in the process of reinforcing individual ministries here at home, our representative offices in Brussels and our embassies with a series of representatives, so we can master the additional tasks awaiting us in the preparation phase and afterwards during the presidency.
We will deploy 190 representatives. Of these, 120 have already been hired: 75 for the Foreign Ministry, our representative offices and embassies, and 45 to consolidate other ministries. Even if this number appears impressive, we have to account for the fact that the human resources available for this presidency will be far more limited than those of our partners in the Union. Therefore, I insisted on a global modernization of the Foreign Ministry at the level of technology, and also in the organization of work processes.
We already know that our presidency will not be an easy one. Ours is one of the first presidencies of the enlarged Union of 25, and we are the first that will work at the same time with the newly voted European Parliament and the new Commission. These are all elements that will certainly not make our task an easy one during those six months.
The Foreign Ministry will be taking on the important task of coordination for this presidency, but it will be an effort from our entire government, indeed our entire administration. Optimum cooperation of all services and among all members of the government will be a decisive factor in our common success.
Issues that will be of particular concern to us
So what are the essential issues we will build on during our presidency?
In 2000, the Member States of the European Union set themselves the task, with the so-called “Lisbon process”, of creating the world’s most competitive economy by the year 2010, through reforms and investments at economic and infrastructural level. The Luxembourg Presidency must make a mid-term assessment of this undertaking in the spring of 2005 – an assessment of what has been achieved so far, of what is working and what isn’t. This will also be the right time to analyse and discuss how to make better use of the European economy’s potential. In short, this will be an evaluation of the European economic structure three years after the introduction of the euro.
Against a background of slow growth in most European countries, notably in the eurozone, the focus will be, and must be, on setting priorities and devising ways of reinforcing the coordination of economic policies in Europe in order to improve structural and growth-related economic conditions, thereby guaranteeing secure jobs, improved working conditions and visions for the future.
An important part of this exercise will be to preserve and strengthen the European social model, the shared responsibility of all partners and the economic process as an organization principle. This means that we want to achieve economic progress in the interests of the individual. It is not the European way to place the economy before human beings and their needs, for this cannot sustain development in the long run.
Within the context of a dynamic economy, we particularly need to ask how State action, with efficiently managed public finances, can make a positive contribution towards achieving this aim.
The Union must develop realistic financial perspectives for 2007 to 2013. This is another issue we will be focusing on during the presidency. I am talking of a financial framework that measures up to the tasks the Union takes on. The discussions begun at the Council of Foreign Ministers in February may prove difficult. Several countries proposed fixing the EU budget for this period at 1% of gross national product. Luxembourg does not want to, and indeed cannot, support such an approach.
The Union’s budget for 2004 allows for EUR 99.53 billion in payments, representing 0.98% of the Union’s GNP. As a consequence, it is difficult to imagine how common policies can be expanded without adapting the resources we place at the Union’s disposal. The part Luxembourg paid into the budget as settled for 2002 was EUR 183.8 million, corresponding to 0.2% of the global budget.
With regard to financial planning for the future, we first want to define together the tasks that the Union may approach in a better, more efficient and more structured manner than each of us alone. As soon as we know what we sensibly should and must do together, we must make a realistic evaluation of the budget required for this mission. In the end, this incurs no extra costs, as national budgets are globally reduced by the amount corresponding to these tasks.
But what is important, at European and national level, is that the amount of resources allocated must be adapted to the undertaking’s dimensions. Not respecting this equation is a recipe for failure.
The financial means of the EU are therefore not simply costs, but most of all concrete instruments for realizing policies defined by the Union. Some of these policies will be reinforced, such as Europe’s new role on the international scene. Others are of a more conventional nature, such as traditional European solidarity in the enlarged Union. But means must still be adapted to tasks so Europe can remain effective. The aim is to set up a financial framework that respects equal treatment of countries. Within these parameters, the Luxembourg Presidency will do everything possible to ensure a political agreement on these new financial perspectives.
In the long run, I don’t see a problem in replacing the current system of contributions from national budgets with a corresponding European tax. Such a model would have the advantage of allowing everyone to see directly how much, or how little, European cooperation costs us, and what the benefits are for us as a country or, individually as citizens. This could also make a contribution towards more transparency and a more objective debate.
Some of the issues that will continue to occupy us after our presidency include the successful completion of accession negotiations with Bulgaria and Rumania. Within this context, we remain convinced of the advantages of the own-merit approach in the interests of success in this process. It is important that the same rules and conditions are applied to all candidates and that commitments are respected.
In particular, this applies to Turkey, which was given candidate status at the Helsinki Summit in 1999. The negotiation phase was however delayed to allow Turkey to implement a range of reforms that would allow the country to fulfil the criteria of Copenhagen. Great strides have been made in this direction, and the December Council will decide, based on the Commission’s report, whether negotiations can begin under our presidency. Whatever the decision, we are preparing for this mission and are ready to enter into negotiations that will certainly continue for a number of years.
Our responsibility for development and fair trade
The European Union’s more resolute commitment to solving the world’s problems complements the power and influence it wields economically as a market of 450 million consumers – almost twice as many as the United States and four times more than Japan – and also as the major player on the world market, representing no less than 20% of total exports. Furthermore, the countries of the Union are also the world’s major partner in development aid, representing no less than 55% of worldwide resources in this area.
In Europe, and in Luxembourg, we certainly see this commitment to development as a moral duty. Moreover, we also see this effort as a direct investment to increase stability and prevent crises.
We have assumed our responsibility. I just want to remind you that this government has increased resources for development aid from 0.7% to 0.84% of gross national income between the budgets of 2000 and 2004. The recent debate on development policy has enabled you to analyse all aspects of this policy in detail, and I am pleased about the unanimous support you gave the Government for its approach on this occasion.
Concerning trade policy and negotiations within the World Trade Organisation, I wish to stress that the Luxembourg delegation has entirely supported the positions defined in the Union which aim to reach out to developing countries and address their needs. We also see an adequate and balanced trade policy as a vector for further development in other countries. I therefore regret that after the progress made in Doha, no global agreement could be reached in Cancùn. It is in the interests of all concerned, but particularly in the interests of the small countries, that these negotiations are concluded as soon as possible. The alternative to a multilateral framework, i.e. a whole range of bilateral agreements, is certainly not in their interests.
I wish to underline once again that our aim is not the deregulation of world trade. We want guaranteed and improved access to the world market for everyone, and the adoption of a framework that has no place for national discrimination and distorted competition, but where basic social and environmental standards are applied and respected.
Consequently, and with its traditionally pluralistic and social approach, Europe, and the Union in particular, can be the catalyst for controlled globalization. I want our social model to take up the challenge of protecting citizens – in Europe and beyond – without obstructing the dynamics of the market.
It is with this view that I want our presidency to help demonstrate that Europe is far more than just a trade block. Our sensitivity to balance in our environment and our commitment to sustained development are becoming a reflex for a growing number of Europeans. At the same time, the reflex of solidarity helps us to reach out to the poorest in the world. After the conventions of Yaoundé and Lomé, there is now the Convention of Cotonou to structure our cooperation with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, and to steer our commitment towards fairer and more harmonious development based on partnership.
It is this Europe that we want to strengthen and to which we want to give priority under our presidency.
Our foreign trade benefits from the new markets
Foreign trade represents another important aspect of European integration. As a small and open economy, we benefit particularly from the big market the Union represents, and also from the agreements it negotiates and concludes in the name of all countries. The enlargement therefore signifies new possibilities for our businesses, even more so because economic integration has already begun before the actual accession of the new countries.
Our businesses and export companies didn’t wait until 1 May 2004 to take an interest in the new Member States. In the past 10 years since the Union’s enlargement process was decided on in Copenhagen, our exports to such important markets as Poland and the Czech Republic have increased by more than one thousand per cent. By comparison, our worldwide exports have barely doubled over the same period.
The opportunities offered to our economy by the enlargement of the internal market by 10 countries have already been of benefit in a free phase. But they also offer further great potential for the future. This becomes particularly clear when we see that to a country like Poland we export only one-quarter of what we export to Spain, a market of roughly the same size.
On the basis of the economic and political potential that lies in closer ties with the new members of the Union, I have insisted on establishing many contacts there over the past five years. I made it a priority to visit all of these countries on official visits and economic missions. From the start, we have helped our businesses establish themselves in these markets. The success we enjoy proves we were right, with solid growth in our exports as a result. Over the past four years, exports to the new Member States have increased by 45%, which is more than twice the growth rate of our worldwide foreign trade during the same period.
Furthermore, a number of our businesses have increased activities to such a degree that they have established themselves in the new countries in the interests of improved customer service.
Markets further afield are also important. Particularly in those countries where Luxembourg may not be so well known, the government may provide a degree of visibility through official missions that a private business may find difficult. We are working on this aspect in close collaboration with the other ministries concerned in order to present our multi-faceted country and its economy. The industrial, service and financial sectors are all part of the total picture. On our economic missions, we have therefore paid particular attention to reaching a public of specialists through sectorial seminars. The most recent event of this kind was held on 3 September of last year during the Grand Duke’s visit to Tokyo. I should like to quote an English banker who, while talking about this event, said to our ambassador: “You had more people at your event than Tony Blair.” There were 750, to be precise.
But these trade missions are not just an opportunity for our businesses to make local contacts. They also offer a chance to talk about potential problems at the highest official level, or to take decisions on common projects that would not come about without help from the State. Especially in countries where the government has a stronger hold on the economy, the Foreign Ministry can often give our businesses the necessary nudge in the right direction. This is a possibility we should continue to make use of in the future. Since the reform of the advisory committee for foreign trade, the pragmatic and direct approach it takes in working with all sectors of our economy has passed its test. The positive feedback from businesses encourages us to continue with this policy.
Luxembourg: home to European Institutions
One of the challenges faced by the government was to secure and, where possible, expand the presence of European institutions in Luxembourg via a coherent strategy and a dynamic leadership policy. We Luxembourgers have shared a long history with the European institutions and its officials since 1952. Therefore, I insisted on guaranteeing, before the enlargement, a place for Luxembourg as one of the three big centres for the institutions. I am proud that we have achieved this objective.
During the past two years alone, the number of EU officials here in Luxembourg has increased by nearly 1,500 to 9,391 at the end of January of this year, from 7,963 two years ago. These figures do not include the effects of the enlargement. In a Union of 25, we have to count in 12% more European officials in Luxembourg due to additional recruitment.
2003 was an important year to enhance the development of various mainstays, or areas of excellence, in Luxembourg.
Thanks to exemplary and patient commitment, Luxembourg has once again been confirmed as Europe’s judicial and quasi-jurisdictional capital. At the European Council in Brussels in December of last year, it was decided, after long negotiations, that a future European public prosecutor’s office would be set up in Luxembourg. The decision is very important because it confirms the interpretation of historically relevant decisions in our interests. With regard to the judicial aspects, we should remember that the jurisdictional authorities for the new Community patent and the Court of First Instance in staff cases will be set up in Luxembourg.
Last year, I had the opportunity to outline the agreement with the Commission on the future of its services here in Luxembourg. Commissioner Kinnock and I signed the agreement one year ago tomorrow, thereby guaranteeing that the Commission will employ a minimum of 3,400 officials here in Luxembourg in the future.
In addition to the regular increase relating to the enlargement, there will be approximately 300 more positions here in Luxembourg. In accordance with our aim, we managed, during our negotiations with the Commission, to mainly enhance autonomous services in the areas of finance and energy and to expand linguistic services. We have thus managed to strengthen Luxembourg, both qualitatively and quantitatively, as the home to relevant Commission services.
Against this background, I shall, of course, continue to observe Luxembourg’s development with the new Commission, and we shall do everything to ensure Commission services remain firmly anchored in Luxembourg.
Concerning the European Parliament, one could say that 2003 was the year of the stability pact regarding the home of the Secretariat here in Luxembourg. The official visit of President Pat Cox to Luxembourg in July enabled us to first reach an agreement on an entire “real estate package” for the EU Parliament and then formalize this agreement in a series of acts. In accordance with the agreement, the Parliament will purchase the Konrad Adenauer building with its extension and rent the two new towers until completion of the works on the BAK building. This “package” should, in time, enable the Parliament to accommodate all its services in one building. After lengthy technical negotiations held in Strasbourg on 17 December, President Cox and I signed the bill of sale for the Konrad Adenauer building in Kirchberg. We could not possibly have a better guarantee for the anchoring of the Parliament here in Luxembourg.
Since we want to fulfil the challenges we accept as one of the three European capitals, the dynamic skyline of Kirchberg, alongside the project for a new European School in Mamer, is currently dominated by large-scale projects for the renovation and extension of the Conference Centre, including extension works for the European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the “BAK” and the European Investment Bank.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this declaration, I haven’t addressed all aspects in the same detail and have mainly concentrated on the European Union as the guarantor of our sovereignty and the framework within which we define, as a matter of priority, our foreign and security policy; the same framework that enables us to represent and defend our interests effectively in a globalized world.
The stability and security that this framework has guaranteed for over 50 years has enabled us to create a level of prosperity, security and social security hitherto unknown in our country.
Our political weight and influence on world affairs have never been as marked and guaranteed as today. This, too, is a development we owe to our committed participation in European unification and multilateral institutions.
Preserving and adapting this framework so we, as a country, continue to look to the future with confidence, ensuring that Luxembourg holds and indeed strengthens its place in an enlarged Europe and a globalized world, is the first and most important mission of our foreign policy the way that I understand it.
This mission also underlines the significance of our foreign policy in the everyday life of all citizens in this country. The agreements we define together with our partners, the commitments we make and those that others make, all create the framework within which our economy develops and remains competitive.
This mission also provides the framework within which our security is guaranteed a security which can longer be achieved through military means alone but which, in our global environment, depends on a wide range of factors that we must help influence. This security does not begin at Europe’s borders, nor does it begin at our country’s borders.
To defend our stability and security here at home, we have to be committed to respecting human rights throughout the world, to peace, to increased prosperity and to defusing and resolving conflicts that would otherwise undermine peace in the world.
Therefore, it is important and in the interests of every citizen in this country, that we adopt the means to be an active, dedicated and thus respected partner in the Union and the international community.
If we assume our share of global responsibility, if we show and maintain our solidarity, and if we apply these policies and help carry through the spirit I have outlined in this declaration, we shall achieve our aims.