Website of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. On 1 July 2007 Portugal takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Website of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency can be reached at www.eu2007.pt. As of 1 July 2007 you find topical information on the EU-Presidency in the second semester of 2007.
German EU Presidency comes to an end. Today the German EU Council Presidency comes to an end. We'd like to thank all those who used our website during the past six months. Our aim was to provide you with fast and detailed information about Germany's Presidency, and we hope we came close to achieving that aim.
The number of hits for the daily updated pages proved that the public had a great interest in European policy and in the events of the past half-year. Almost 9,000 subscribers to the newsletters and news alerts used these to get the latest reports. The large number of mostly positive but sometimes critical feedback from you all gave us comfort and support during our daily task. Thank you for your commitment and for the many useful tips!
The website was the Presidency's central information platform and multimedia news agency, and we used images, sound and video, as well as podcasts and RSS feeds. You made good use of what was on offer as more than 64 mio hits and 9,2 mio page impressions by 700,000 individual users testify.
We would especially like to thank all those who helped us create and run this site. Without your tireless support it would not have been the success it was. Thanks a lot!
The editorial team:
Hinrich Thölken, Claus Andrée-Röhmholdt, Tim Hoesmann, Georg Kristian Kampfer, Jörg Neuenfeld, Kathrin Steinbrenner
Tiefensee: 27 dossiers successfully completed under German Presidency. Speaking in Berlin today, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, took stock of the achievements made as the German Council Presidency is drawing to a close: “The first part of the Triple Presidency is nearing its end. All in all, we can be proud of what we have achieved: we have managed to successfully complete 27 dossiers”, said Mr Tiefensee.
“During our Presidency of the EU Council, we worked intensively on the issue of climate change and transport. Not only did we define strict limit values for CO2 emissions but we also adopted the first ever European Energy Strategy for the transport sector.
Agreement achieved on the use of SWIFT data. The dispute over the disclosure of data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to US authorities has been resolved today, marking a further success while Germany holds the presidency of the EU. The Federal Ministry of Finance releases the following statement:
Within the framework of the German presidency of the Council of the European Union, the country’s Federal Ministry of Finance has been intensively involved in the negotiations between the European Commission and the US Treasury (UST) regarding the use of SWIFT data in full compliance with data protection laws.
Handover to the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. On Saturday (30 June) Germany's EU Council Presidency comes to an end. During the next six months Portugal will take over this task. To mark this occasion Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will pass on a relay baton to his Portuguese counterpart Luìs Amado.
Ursula von der Leyen: “Place of exchange for good family policy in Europe”. “We know that we can learn a lot from our European neighbours concerning family-related policy,” says Federal Minister for Family Affairs Von der Leyen. “Now we have an instrument accessible by anyone who would like to make an effort for the interests of families – the concerned citizen, the family association, and business enterprises as well as politics. With today’s launching of the Internet portal we are opening a gate for a strong European Alliance for Families. Now it is up to the countries and the people in Europe to join the alliance and make use of it as a place of exchange on good family-related policy and successful practical examples at the European level,” says Ursula von der Leyen.
Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble: German Council Presidency a great success. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that the German Council Presidency in the field of European home affairs policy was a great success. “We have accomplished a great deal under the German Council Presidency, also in the group of home affairs ministers. Our goal was to improve practical cooperation, for instance among the police and security authorities, but also in matters concerning immigration and the joint protection of the external borders.
EU Research Ministers agreed in Luxemburg to launch the European Institute of Technology. The Research Ministers of the European Union adopted a comprehensive policy decision on the European Institute of Technology at the Competitiveness Council in Luxemburg on Monday. "By agreeing the general orientation of the European Institute of Technology (EIT) we have today taken an important step towards securing Europe's future," said Council President Annette Schavan, the German Research Minister, at the final press conference in Luxemburg. This may be seen as a result of the German Presidency and a "particular success at the conclusion" of the German Council Presidency, the Minister said.
Stringent environmental protection requirements for CO2 storage under the seabed. On a Norwegian initiative, the riparian states of the North-East Atlantic have agreed on an important step for the introduction of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. At a meeting in Ostend, Belgium, the representatives of the countries adopted a set of regulations on storing CO2 streams from industrial processes under the seabed. The agreement was achieved at the end of the German EU Presidency, following difficult negotiations among the 12 participating EU Member States and the EU Commission.
German Minister of Defense Jung: Successful EU-presidency. Six successful months are coming to an end. In the presence of the EU High Representative Javier Solana and the Slovenian Minister of Defense Karl Victor Erjavec Jung looked back on a positive performance: “I am very satisfied with what we have achieved for Europe in the framework of the German EU-presidency throughout the last six months“.
Publication of the Presidency Report on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy. After twelve new Member-States have joined the EU during the past years, Europe has slightly passed over the fact that ist must also structure and develop further its relations to the countries beyond its borders – in the South as well as in the North and East. Therefore, Germany, during its EU Presidency, has kick-started the process to substantially strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Concrete steps have been launched to promote democracy and modernization in the EU's neighbourhood and further intensify cooperation between ENP countries and the EU.
Taking stock of Germany's EU Presidency. A new contractual basis for the European Union and ambitious climate-protection goals – these are just two of the decisions on the future of the EU taken during the six-month German EU Council Presidency. The Federal Cabinet took positive stock of Germany's EU Presidency. The EU's transparency and ability to act have been strengthened and concrete decisions have been promoted to the benefit of Europe's citizens.
The EU Presidency: Zypries Delivers Assessment. At its meeting today, the Federal Cabinet took stock of the results accomplished during the German Presidency of the European Union, which is now coming to a close. Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in the field of justice. “In the future, Europe’s citizens will be better protected against racist and xenophobic abuse. They will enjoy more rights as rail passengers and as borrowers of credit. In the area of family law as well – particularly in maintenance and divorce matters – we have taken important strides toward establishing reliable and transparent rules that promote greater legal certainty for bi-national families. I would also have been pleased to conclude the negotiations on common minimum standards for accused persons in criminal proceedings. This is particularly true because, in the recent past, efforts to improve cooperation in criminal matters at the European level have concentrated primarily on improving states’ powers of intervention. Twenty-one Member States were determined to adopt these minimum standards. Unfortunately, six Member States refuse on grounds of principle to afford the European Union any influence over their national criminal procedure law.
Quartet Representative - Quartet Statement
27 June 2007. Quartet Principals noted that recent events in Gaza and the West Bank make it more urgent than ever that we advance the search for peace in the Middle East. The Quartet reaffirms its objective to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap and expresses its intention to redouble its efforts in that regard. The urgency of recent events has reinforced the need for the international community, bearing in mind the obligations of the parties, to help Palestinians as they build the institutions and economy of a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, able to take its place as a peaceful and prosperous partner to Israel and its other neighbours.
Federal Minister Steinmeier presents EU Central Asia Strategy. On Saturday (30 June) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will invite his counterparts from the five Central Asian states to meet with him in Berlin. Following the first event of this kind in March in Astana this is the second meeting between the EU and representatives of all five Central Asian countries. During that meeting Federal Minister Steinmeier will present the EU strategy for a new partnership with Central Asia developed during Germany's EU Council Presidency and adopted during the Brussels European Council on 21 and 22 June. This strategy for the first time sets out political guidelines for a considerably enhanced EU commitment in Central Asia.
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier: Taking stock of Germany's EU Presidency. The German Government set itself the aim during its Council Presidency of strengthening the EU's transparency and effectiveness and of promoting concrete decisions to the benefit of Europe's citizens. It succeeded – the latest Eurobarometer poll shows impressively that at the end of the German Presidency approval of the EU has reached the highest level in 10 years. Some 57% of EU citizens think their country's EU membership is a good thing.
Agreement on the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the Community Customs Code. At the meeting of the Council “Competitiveness” in Luxembourg on 25 June 2007 Member States were able to reach political agreement on the Modernised Customs Code. The Modernised Customs Code is a thoroughgoing revision of the entire body of Community customs law and thus represents the most comprehensive legislative project in the field of Customs since the current Customs Code was adopted in the year 1992.
Dr. Hermann Kues: "The European Alliance for Families is a firm fixture in Europe". The Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Dr . Hermann Kues, today delivered a positive summary on the EU Council Presidency in his speeches to the European Parliament's Committees on Education and Culture, Women's Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. "The objective of the German presidency is to improve living conditions for families. One of the positive milestones on the way to achieving this objective is the European Alliance for Families that the European Council decided to establish in March. We've put the issue firmly on the European agenda.
Home affairs ministers of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia: First leg of the trio presidency a great success. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his counterparts from Portugal, Rui Pereira, and Slovenia, Dragutin Mate, said that the first leg of the joint trio presidency had been a great success. On 1 January 2007, Germany took over the EU Council Presidency. On 1 July, the baton will be passed to Portugal, before Slovenia takes over for the first six months of 2008. For the first time in the EU’s history the three partners agreed a common 18-month work programme, before Germany assumed the Council Presidency.
EU Research Ministers agreed in Luxemburg to launch the European Institute of Technology. The Research Ministers of the European Union adopted a comprehensive policy decision on the European Institute of Technology at the Competitiveness Council in Luxemburg on Monday. "By agreeing the general orientation of the European Institute of Technology (EIT) we have today taken an important step towards securing Europe's future," said Council President Annette Schavan, the German Research Minister, at the final press conference in Luxemburg. This may be seen as a result of the German Presidency and a "particular success at the conclusion" of the German Council Presidency, the Minister said.
Meeting of the European Council in Brussels. +++ The 27 Heads of States and Governments met in Brussels from thursday (June 21) till saturday (June 23). +++
A good day for Europe. The German Council Presidency has overcome a mammoth task in Brussels: after almost 36 hours of negotiations, it has paved the way for treaty reform in the EU – with the participation of Poland. It was no easy job. But it was worth it. An intergovernmental conference will now draw up the new treaty in detail. We have achieved what we set out to do”, said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel following the conclusion of the talks on Saturday morning. Europe, she said, had broken the deadlock; the new mandate was a “community effort”.
The European public administrations get ready for demographic change. At the invitation of Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, the EU ministers responsible for the public service and public administration and Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud, met in Berlin on 21–22 June 2007 under the German EU Presidency.
The informal meeting focused on the challenge of demographic change for the public service in the European Union’s Member States.
The political will is there. The EU Heads of State and Government talked well into the night in Brussels about giving the EU a new contractual basis. Federal Chancellor Merkel came out of the initial talks feeling optimistic. She felt the atmosphere of the negotiations had been productive and open.
Everyone had the opportunity to express their concerns, she explained at a press conference just before midnight. Everyone wanted a workable solution. Now it was a matter of striking a balance between the views of the majority and the wishes of individuals.
Glos welcomes the adoption of the new EU market access strategy. The European Council under its German chair yesterday approved the European Union's new market access strategy. The goal is to improve market access for European and German companies in third countries.
German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos welcomes the new market access strategy: "The point is for the European Union, the Member States, and the firms operating in third countries to combine their strengths and improve market access for companies from Europe. It is the multitude of different and continually new non-tariff trade barriers that make life hard for our export sector. With the new market access strategy, we can effectively deal with these trade barriers."
Chancellor Angela Merkel invites the EU Heads of State and Government to the European Council in Brussels. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to the meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 21 and 22 June 2007.
Over the last few months, under the German Council Presidency, we have together made significant progress for Europe. Only together will we succeed in resolving the issues before us at this European Council meeting.
The central issue will be reform of the Treaties. In the Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007 we reaffirmed together that we wished to place the European Union on a new treaty basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009. The important challenges that lie ahead demand capacity to act and legitimacy on the part of the European Union.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: "Now it's the final spurt". The Ministers began preparing the forthcoming meeting of EU Heads of State and Government on Sunday evening (17 June). The key topic during the European Council will be the EU reform process. The EU Foreign Ministers debated the main unresolved issues until the early hours, looking at the form of the treaty, the Union's symbols such as the flag and anthem, the question of whether the EU is to have a legal personality and thereby be able to conclude treaties also in its own name, but also the legally binding nature of the Charter of Human Rights and the so-called pillar structure of the EU. After the discussions, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was able to announce that it had been largely possible to limit the number of open questions. The Minister continued, "Now it's the final spurt … Europe urgently needs a compromise on the reform process and thus on the future of the European Union. At the end of the week, there will only be "joint winners or joint losers".
EU meeting with Moldova and Albania in Luxembourg on 19 June. The still unresolved Transnistria conflict was the focus of yesterday's (19 June 2007) talks between the EU and the Republic of Moldova. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed in particular the resumption of direct talks between Moldova and Russia which, however, had to be conducted in a spirit of transparency towards their neighbours. He expressed the hope that they would provide fresh impetus for the Five-Plus-Two talks on resolving the Transnistrian conflict. Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE, the US, the EU as well as Tiraspol and Chisinau are taking part in the talks. Federal Minister Steinmeier assured Moldova of Europe's continued support in the efforts to resolve the conflict. The EU mission to help monitor the Molodovan-Ukrainian border is a key element of this support.
Seehofer: Political Agreement reached regarding a Ban on Imports of Dog and Cat Furs in the EU. After several rounds of negotiations, the German Council Presidency has today reached a political agreement with the EU Commission and the European Parliament regarding a ban on imports of dog and cat furs.
“The ban on imports of dog and cat furs is a clear declaration of support for animal protection in the European Union. Prior to and during the Council Presidency, we have pushed very hard for the Member States to adopt a clear position against these terrible methods which inflict suffering on animals," said Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection today, on the occasion of the agreement reached in Strasbourg.
Gabriel: New findings on the effects of radiation on humans should be given greater consideration. Radiation may have a greater impact on humans than previously believed. At a conference on new findings on the effects of ionising radiation in Berlin, Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for the new knowledge to be implemented swiftly into radiation protection law and enforced in practice. "All the new facts must be thoroughly examined in order to clearly establish whether our existing protection systems still properly and appropriately reflect the status of knowledge," said Gabriel. "Where this is not the case, we must act without delay". The minister stressed that this is a matter of meeting environmental policy's basic obligation to take timely and appropriate precautionary action against environmental and health risks, and applies to radiation protection law at both European and national level.
Species Protection Conference decides on 9-Year Moratorium on Ivory Trade. Thanks to mediation by Germany and the European Union, the international community has agreed on a 9-year moratorium on ivory trade. This breakthrough was achieved last night during negotiations of the African states and adopted unanimously by the Conference of the Parties in Den Haag this morning. Matthias Machnig, State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry and representative of the German EU Presidency, welcomed the result: “This is a huge success for the protection of elephants. The 9-year moratorium on ivory trade is linked with clear procedures and standards.”
Efforts to gain stricter protection for sharks fail. The European Union's proposal for stricter protection for sharks failed to be adopted at the species protection conference in The Hague. Head of the German delegation, Jochen Flasbarth, expressed his disappointment in the outcome. "A majority of fishing nations established a link between the shark proposals and the discussions on the whaling moratorium in the International Whaling Commission (IWC). We were within reach of a solution on the cape shark, but this was wrecked in the last minute by the bloc of fishing nations, after the EU stood by its position on the whaling moratorium."
Research Cooperation around the Mediterranean. Mobility between Germany and the Southern Mediterranean countries will in future be much easier for young students, teachers and researchers. Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan presented the possibility of funding under the European ERASMUS MUNDUS programme at a meeting of education and research ministers of the EU and the Mediterranean region in Kairo on Monday. Under this programme, €36 million will be available to encourage students, researchers and teachers to spend study periods in EU countries.
Good prospects for European shipbuilding. The two-day European Shipbuilding Conference was officially opened in Nuremberg yesterday by Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics, and by Dagmar G. Wöhrl who, in addition to serving as Parliamentary State Secretary in the Economics Ministry, is also the Federal Government's Maritime Coordinator.
In his speech before 150 leading representatives from business, trade unions, and government (including Vice President of the EU Commission Günter Verheugen) from 15 European countries, Minister Glos pointed to the shipbuilding industry's dynamic trend and excellent market prospects.
EU Foreign Ministers Meeting in Luxembourg from 17 to 19 June. The foreign ministers of the 27 European Union Member States gathered in Luxembourg in the evening of 17 June for their monthly General Affairs and External Relations Council. The proceedings commenced in the evening with preparations for the meeting of the Heads of State and Government, the European Council, which begins on Thursday (21 June) in Brussels. After focusing on the European reform process, the foreign ministers will discuss the remaining issues on the European Council agenda on Monday morning. Referring to the European reform process, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday that there was "a new desire, a new ambition ... to reach new shores".
EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in Luxemburg on 18 June. The high-level meeting between the EU and Ukraine on Monday (18 June 2007) took place against a backdrop of domestic political tension in Ukraine. As President of the EU Council, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged those with political responsibility to honour the recent agreement reached on new parliamentary elections, adding that Ukraine’s ability to act depended on the current domestic crisis being resolved quickly. “Together with you,” said Steinmeier, “we hope that the agreements reached on arrangements for new elections prove to be viable and act as the basis for allowing elections to take place on 30 September.” He added that this was “of extraordinarily great importance” for Ukraine’s ability to act.
Statement of the Middle East Quartet, 16 June 2007. Following is the text of the statement by the Quartet Principals -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner -- on their June 15 telephone call. In a telephone call on June 15, Quartet Principals shared their deep concern over the welfare and security of all Palestinians -- especially those in Gaza, whose lives have been most seriously affected by the ongoing crisis.
Europe – the blue star. On 17 June 2007, under the motto "Europe – the blue star", the Federal Foreign Office and the young.euro.classic music festival will present an extravaganza of European music, literature and art at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, with special guest Montserrat Caballé.
As the second European Council of the German EU Presidency approaches, the Berlin Konzerthaus on the Gendarmenmarkt will provide the backdrop for music, pictures and words from Europe. "Europe – the blue star" is one of a whole series of cultural events organized by the Federal Foreign Office at home and abroad during the German EU Presidency.
Press Briefing on the European Council on June 21 and 22, 2007. with Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm and the European and Foreign Affairs Advisers of the Federal Chancellor, Uwe Corsepius and Christoph Heusgen on Wednesday, 20 March 2007, 11.30 am at the Federal Chancellery, 1st floor, Berlin, Germany and Justus Lipsius Presidency Pressbriefingroom, Brussels, Belgium.
First Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education and Scientific Research. The first Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education and Scientific Research, will be held in Cairo on Monday 18th June 2007. The conference will be co-chaired by H.E. Dr. Hany Helal, Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; H.E. Dr. Annette Schavan, German Minister of Education and Research, EU Presidency; and H.E. Dr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research. The conference will be held at the JW Marriott Hotel Cairo, Ring Road, Mirage City, Kattameya, and will be attended by representatives of the Ministries of Higher Education and Research of the members of the Euromediterranean Partnership (27 EU Member States and 10 Mediterranean partner countries).
Quantum Leap for Organic Farming in Europe. During the session of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, the EU Agriculture Ministers agreed on the Commission' proposal for a regulation on organic farming. Federal Agriculture Minister and current Council President Horst Seehofer welcomed the agreement. "I am delighted with this successful conclusion which establishes a new pan-European foundation for the high standards of organic farming. The German market and the German organic farming associations, with their high quality standards, remain trendsetters for organic farming in Europe. The tried-and-tested German Eco-label will remain in use. Another good sign is that the relevant German consumer association expressly welcomes the strict regulations on genetic engineering."
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier calls for greater European diplomacy in combating climate change. At the Federal Foreign Office's 17th Forum Global Issues, Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (14 June) called for greater European diplomacy in combating climate change. In his closing speech, the Minister said,
"The findings of the 17th Forum Global Issues have convinced me more than ever that we need a European diplomacy to face the foreign and security policy challenges presented by climate change."
Informal Meeting of EU Ministers responsible for the Public Service and Public Administration (European Public Administration Network, EUPAN). At the invitation of the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, the EU Ministers responsible for the Public Service and Public Administration will meet in the framework of the German EU Council Presidency in Berlin on 22 June 2007. The meeting will also be attended by Vice-President Siim Kallas, the EU Commissioner responsible for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-fraud. The informal meeting will focus on the challenges to the public service in the European Union which result from demographic change.
EU-wide networking of criminal records. In future, there is going to be EU-wide networking of the criminal records of EU Member States. Today agreement was reached by EU Ministers of Justice at their meeting in Luxembourg on a Framework Decision to regulate the exchange of information extracted from criminal records.
As Council President, Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries said that “For the first time, we now have EU-wide uniform rules on so-called exchange of information extracted from criminal records. Provision in criminal proceedings as well as in other proceedings before public authorities of information taken from national criminal records for other states is being improved and expedited through new rules assuming a specific form“.
EU: Small claims easier to enforce across borders. In future, it will be easier to enforce cross-border claims up to EUR 2,000. Today the European Council of Ministers of Justice adopted the proposal for a Regulation creating a European Small Claims Procedure (the socalled Small Claims Regulation). “Legal redress in the European Union must not be allowed to stop at Member States’ borders because of bureaucratic hurdles or disproportionate costs. For this reason, court enforcement of cross-border claims must be further improved.
EU strives to improve cross-border cooperation in the supervision of sentences of probation. In the future, conditions of probation imposed upon criminal offenders are to be subject to supervision throughout the EU. Under the leadership of German Federal Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, the EU Justice Ministers today reached agreement on the major cornerstones of a Framework Decision in that regard. The goal of the initiative, put forward jointly by Germany and France, is to improve cooperation in the cross-border supervision of sentences of probation and alternative sanctions (for example, community service work, providing reparations for damage caused, or participation in social training courses). This will strive to foster the re-socialisation of convicted persons, prevent recidivism, and thereby attain better protection of victims.
Last JHA Council meeting under German Presidency in Luxembourg. On Tuesday, 12 June 2007, the home affairs ministers of the European Union met in Luxembourg for their last Council meeting under the German Presidency. Following the informal meeting of home affairs ministers in the German city of Dresden in mid-January and the first two formal Council meetings in Brussels on 15 February and in Luxembourg on 20 April, today’s meeting focused on implementing further measures contained in the Federal Interior Ministry’s work programme for the German EU Council Presidency. The ministers also achieved agreement with regard to the Regulation governing the Visa Information System (VIS) and the decision granting the security authorities and Europol access to the VIS, thus concluding the VIS negotiations, which have already taken several years.
Seehofer: Progress in Saving Baltic Cod. “Stabilising the stocks in the Baltic Sea is a huge step” said Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, today in Luxembourg, following the vote on the multi-year plan for Baltic cod stocks. “This smoothes the way to saving Baltic cod via sustainable rebuilding of the stocks.” This is of great importance, as: “Larger and more secure stocks also help to safeguard the livelihood of the German Baltic Sea fishing industry,” says Seehofer.
The minister was delighted that, following difficult and lengthy negotiations, the Fisheries Council had managed, by mutual consent, to adopt a multi-year plan on the management of the cod stocks. This plan provides for a step-by-step reduction in the fishing mortality rate, so that both stocks are managed sustainably in the long term.
EU home affairs ministers take important steps to strengthen freedom and security. The German EU Council Presidency was able to realize further important projects of its Presidency Programme at the last meeting of EU home affairs ministers.
The ministers agreed to transpose major elements of the Prüm Treaty into the EU’s legal framework. In Luxembourg, Federal Minister Schäuble stated, “Transposing the treaty into EU legislation will enable all 27 EU Member States to benefit from the enormous added value provided by the treaty. Our aim is to create a modern police information network for more effective crime control throughout Europe. Furthermore, the Treaty will help to considerably step up operational police cooperation. Transposing the Prüm Treaty into EU legislation will add a new dimension to the cooperation of police authorities in Europe", Federal Minister Schäuble said.
Personalised Drug Therapy Holds out New Opportunities for Patients. An international expert conference on 'Pharmaceutical Innovation: Possibilities and Limits of Personalised Drug Therapy' starts today within the framework of Germany's EU Presidency. Jointly held by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices and the European Commission, the two-day conference will be opened by Dr. Klaus Theo Schröder, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health. Dr. Klaus Theo Schröder: "Personalised pharmacotherapy aims to develop medicinal products that are tailored to individual patients and groups of patients, thereby creating new, improved therapeutic options and optimising existing ones. In addition to enhancing tolerability, this therapeutic approach is meant to increase the effectiveness and safety of drug therapy and, at the same time, contribute towards the more effective use of resources in the health care system.“
EU Justice and Home Affairs Troika meeting with Ukraine in Luxembourg. The German EU Council Presidency, the European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini, and the Portuguese Justice and Interior Ministers, Alberto Costa and Rui Pereira, met with a Ukrainian delegation in Luxembourg on 11 June. The Ukrainian delegation was headed by Justice Minister Oleksandr V. Lavrynovych and Deputy Interior Minister Vasyl Marmazov. The current discussions focus primarily on the envisaged readmission agreement and a visa facilitation agreement scheduled to take effect before the end of this year. The parties also intend to step up cooperation through the recently begun negotiations about an extended agreement on partnership and cooperation. “As a direct neighbour with long common borders, Ukraine is of particular importance for the EU,” said Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Horst Seehofer: A big step towards the simplification of agricultural legislation. "A key aim has been achieved," Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, expressed his delight today in Luxembourg about the results achieved by the Council. "We could adopt important and far-reaching conclusions of the Agriculture Council on a simplification of the cross-compliance regime during the German Presidency." This paves the way for adopting the legislation proposed by the Commission this very year and for presenting proposals for amendments to Council regulations. "It is our aim to achieve concrete simplifications swiftly. This is vital for the decisions to have an impact on the farming sector as soon as possible, too", said the Federal Minister and President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union.
First European Energy Strategy for Transport adopted. EU transport ministers, at a meeting chaired by the German Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, today unanimously adopted the Council Conclusions on a “European Energy Strategy for Transport”. They had discussed climate change, energy and transport for the first time at the March Council meeting, under the German Presidency, and laid the groundwork for today’s decision.
“These conclusions are the first ever road map for a European energy strategy for transport. It clearly identifies where we intend to establish our priorities in the near future."
Federal Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travels to Libya. The President of the EU Council, Federal Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, travelled together with EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner to Libya on 10 June for two days of consultation. The aim of the trip is to bring about progress in the case of the imprisoned Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor. The German EU Presidency and the European Commission are striving to exert the necessary influence on Libya so that the individuals in question are released as soon as possible.
Important Agreement for the Recovery of Eel Stocks. "We have achieved a great success. We have managed to bring the lengthy negotiations, which lasted for almost two years, to a successful conclusion during the German Presidency. This means that it is now possible to start implementing the measures which are needed to allow the stocks of European eel to recover", declared Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, today in Luxembourg, following the vote on the measures to replenish the stock of European eel.
The Minister had made adopting the eel protection regulation a priority of the German EU Council Presidency in the fisheries area.
Seehofer: Single common market organisation is of historical importance. "The creation of a single market organisation is of historical importance. It would have been unthinkable until a few years ago to turn fifty Council regulations into one. With today's decision we succeeded in streamlining agricultural market legislation, rendering it more transparent and clearer and thus making a key contribution to a simplification of the common agricultural policy," said Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, in Luxembourg today.
Astrid Klug: Reducing emissions from construction products improves indoor air. "We spent 80 to 90 per cent of our time indoors – and yet we know little about the detrimental effects on our health we are exposed to, for example through emissions from construction products. Therefore, analysing and assessing indoor air and reducing its pollution is a significant contribution to the quality of life," underlined Astrid Klug, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, at the conclusion of the two-day EU conference on Construction Products and Indoor Air Quality in Berlin.
Member States agree on including aviation in emissions trading. In Luxembourg today, the EU Transport Council, chaired by the German Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, adopted conclusions on the inclusion of aviation in emissions trading. This means that Europe will have a common position at the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which will be held in Montreal in September.
Speaking in Luxembourg, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, said:
“Every mode of transport, including the air mode, has to make its contribution to tackling climate change."
Charting a new course for Galileo. The EU Transport Council, chaired by the German Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, today took a unanimous decision on the way forward for Galileo, following the proposals by the Presidency. “In doing so, we are giving Galileo a new direction on its way to implementation. With Galileo as a pillar of European space policy, we are underscoring Europe’s efforts in the fields of space travel, advanced technology and innovation and ensuring European independence in this cutting-edge field”, said Mr Tiefensee in Luxembourg today.
He said that Ministers agreed that persevering with the current PPP organization would mean greater financial burdens for the public sector and further delays.
Postal Directive makes good progress. Concerning the results of today’s talks on the proposed amended Postal Directive by the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in Luxembourg, Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology said: “Clear progress is discernable on the path towards the liberalisation of the European postal services. No Member State questions liberalisation as such. The train is moving towards liberalisation. However, the Member States have different ideas about how fast it should move.”
Federal Minister Steinmeier and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sign Joint Statement on UN-EU Cooperation in the field of Crisis Management. In view of the international community's ever increasing peacekeeping tasks, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (7 June) signed in Berlin a Joint Statement on intensified cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union in the field of international crisis management.
The European Security Strategy drawn up in 2003 attaches key importance to the United Nations and to cooperation between the world organization and the European Union. The EU and the United Nations are working actively together to promote effective multilateralism.
German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos: "We reached our goal in record time - excessive roaming prices are past history!". In today's Telecommunication Council meeting in Luxembourg the Member States of the European Union gave the "green light" to the Roaming Regulation, thus paving the way for lowering the costs of cell phone calls outside the EU . German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos: "The German Council Presidency set itself the ambitious goal of having this project adopted after a single reading in the first half of 2007. With today's confirmation by the Council of Ministers we have now reached our goal in record time: excessive roaming prices are past history!" After today's confirmation by the Telecommunication Ministers, the provision can already become effective at the end of June. Federal Minister Glos: "I am delighted that, after intensive and difficult negotiations, the solid and acceptable compromise was given the stamp of approval by the Ministers, and consumers will already be able to benefit from the Regulation this summer."
EU – Japan Summit. This year's annual EU-Japan Summit was hosted by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 5 June. In the immediate run-up to the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm the japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a guest at the EU-Japan Summit.
Minister of State Gloser and EU Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to open Euro-Mediterranean media dialogue event. On Monday (11 June) the German EU Council Presidency, the European Commission and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation are jointly hosting a Euro-Mediterranean media dialogue event. The two-day conference entitled "Media and Intercultural Understanding - Challenges and Responses" is the latest in a series of events initiated in 2005 by the European Commission on the theme "Euromed and the Media". On Monday Minister of State for Europe Günter Gloser and EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will open the conference at the Federal Foreign Office. Subsequently André Azoulay, adviser to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and member of the High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations will deliver the keynote speech.
Germany to contribute up to 60 police advisers for the EU police mission in Afghanistan. The Federal Cabinet decided today (6 June) that Germany would contribute up to 60 officers from the Federal Police and the police forces of the German Länder (federal states) as well as possibly other experts, too, to the planned EU police mission in Afghanistan. On 30 May 2007 the European Union agreed to send a police mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan) under European Security and Defence Policy auspices. The mission will build on Germany's activities in this field to date and put this ongoing work onto a broader European footing. The mission will be headed by a German national, Mr Friedrich Eichele, currently Vice-President of the Federal Police Central District.
Energy Council discusses issues of the internal market for electricity and gas. At their meeting in Luxemburg on June 6 chaired by German Economics Minister Michael Glos, the Energy Ministers discussed the implementation of the European Council's Energy Action Plan of March 9, 2007 in connection with the internal market for electricity and gas. Federal Minister Glos: "It was clear again today in the Energy Council that Europe's internal market for electricity and gas must become more integrated and develop more dynamic. Above all, the full benefits of liberalization must be passed on to consumers and industry."
EU-Canada Summit: We share common goals. The EU and Canada agree that global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least half by 2050. Both Angela Merkel as President of the EU Council and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized this point at the EU-Canada Summit in Berlin. The final statement contained a pledge by Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 70 percent on 2006 levels by 2050. The EU has concluded that developed countries should collectively reduce their emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990.
EU-Japan Summit: Further strengthening the alliance. During the EU-Japan Summit the two sides reiterated their close political and economic cooperation. Regarding climate protection, they agreed that CO2 emissions must be reduced by at least 50% by mid-century. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel's assessment of the meeting was that "highly impressive and important results have been achieved". The Summit focused on issues which will also play a central role at the forthcoming G8 Summit in Heiligendamm – climate and energy policy, intellectual property rights protection, and development and innovation policy – as well as on regional security-policy themes. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underlined that the two sides had a lot in common: "We share the same values. We both play a leading role in the international community".
Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan: "Winning the best researchers for Europe". "Our goal is to create the best conditions for excellent research in Europe", said Federal Research Minister Schavan on Tuesday when she opened the 4th European Conference on Research Infrastructures (ECRI2007) in Hamburg together with EU Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. "Internationally competitive infrastructures are of central importance for excellent science. They are vital for increasing the attractiveness and global competitiveness of the European Research Area and for winning the best researchers for Europe".
Minister Schavan: “A milestone for scientists in Europe”. The signal has been given for the construction of the XFEL European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Project. High-ranking representatives from the partner states met in Hamburg on Tuesday at the invitation of Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan to announce the start of this worldwide unique research project. It is planned to start the first construction phase of the XFEL costing 850 million euro. Germany’s international partners will contribute at least 25 percent of this sum. The German contribution of up to 75 percent will be provided jointly by the Federal Government and the host Länder of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
Tiefensee: Electronic Systems improve road safety and help prevent congestion. On behalf of the Federal Government, Wolfgang Tiefensee ,the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the rescue system eCall. With this, Germany is supporting a Europe-wide introduction of this electronic emergency call system, which is designed to speed up rescue operations. Sometimes it can take a long time for the rescue services to reach the site of an accident, especially at night or in remote areas. With eCall, a signal is transmitted automatically when an air bag is released, giving the exact position of the accident to the emergency response centre. Satellites support the rescue services in locating the crashed vehicle.
Conference on the European Charter for Small Enterprises: Making life easier for small firms!. Member States throughout Europe are in the process of making life easier for small businesses. Thirty good examples that have proven to be particularly successful in reducing administrative and financial burdens on small companies will be discussed at the Charter Conference in Berlin on June 4/5, 2007. Among the cases outlined are initiatives for tax exemptions on re-invested profits and e-government services that let SME s provide single-step reports of similar information content to various public institutions via a central contact point. Business associations and government policymakers from more than 40 countries will contribute their experience by describing how the growth of SMEs may be supported as efficiently as possible.
Schavan: “We need a PISA study for vocational training in Europe“. At the opening of the European vocational training conference in Munich on Monday, Federal Minister of Education Annette Schavan proposed the introduction of international benchmarks for vocational training systems: “The results of the PISA assessment of general education levels triggered a considerable surge of reforms. A similar step is worth considering for vocational education and training, as well.” According to the minister’s plans, the ‘vocational training PISA’ would be designed to “determine people’s actual skills and abilities, rather than what qualification they acquired at what institution and how long it took”. This would enable a comparison of German non-academic vocational training qualifications with similar, academic degrees in other countries.
Fish, whales, tropical wood: the conference in The Hague focuses on the conservation of endangered species. The conservation of endangered marine species and of whales, the future of the ban on ivory trade and measures to control illegal trade with tropical wood are key topics of this year's CITES Conference of the Parties, which started today in The Hague. During the conference, which will last until 15 June, about 40 proposals to place species under the Convention’s protection or review whether they still require special protection will be discussed. This is the first time the Conference of the Parties to the Convention will include a ministerial segment. The ministerial segment will focus on the aims and prospects of the Convention over the next years, based on the examples of tropical wood and marine species. Matthias Machnig, State Secretary of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety will represent the German Government within the framework of the EU Presidency. Mr Machnig will participate in the conference on 12 and 13 June.
Chancellor Merkel to chair the EU-Japan Summit. The President of the European Council, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will chair the EU-Japan Summit which she will open on Tuesday, 5 June 2007, at 5.10 p.m.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso and the European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana will also participate in the meeting at the Federal Chancellery.
Items on the summit agenda will be the relations between the European Union and Japan, economic cooperation, climate and energy policy, protection of intellectual property and innovation policy.
Chancellor Merkel to chair the EU-Canada Summit. The President of the European Council, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will chair the EU-Canada Summit which she will open on Monday, 4 June 2007, at 5.40 p.m.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, the Canadian Minister for the Environment John Baird, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as well as the European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Secu-rity Policy Javier Solana will also participate in the meeting at the Federal Chancellery.
Items on the summit agenda will be the relations between the European Union and Canada, economic cooperation and climate and energy policy.
European industrial policy needs to become more ecological. In the face of climate change, the EU Environment Ministers have called for a restructuring of European industrial policy. The European Union needs to place greater focus on improving energy and resource efficiency, promoting eco-innovations and accelerating the spread of environmental technologies in all sectors. “Not only do we want to make the European Union the most competitive economy in the world, we also want to be pioneers in resource efficiency and ecological innovation,” stated Federal Environment Minister Gabriel at the end of the informal meeting in Essen. Chaired by Minister Gabriel, the EU’s 27 Environment Ministers held discussions over 2 days on an ecological industrial policy for Europe.
Indian Foreign Minister in Berlin for Troika talks. On Thursday (31 May), the EU Foreign Ministers Troika met a delegation from India in Berlin for consultations. India had already participated in the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg at the start of the week. The Indian delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and that of the EU by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Troika also featured representatives from the European Commission and the EU Council Secretariat. The subsequent Portuguese Council Presidency was represented by the Foreign Minister, Luís Amado.
Serbia on the road to Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the resumption of association negotiations between the European Union and Serbia. Following talks with Serbia's President Boris Tadic, the Chancellor said that the new Serbian Government's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was a crucial step. “We want Serbia to be an anchor of stability in the Western Balkans“, the Chancellor stressed. She welcomed the newly formed Serbian Government. The arrest of the former Serbian General Tolimir the previous night showed that Serbia, just like Bosnia and Herzegovina, was cooperating well with the International Tribunal.
President Tadic affirmed his “firm political will“ to continue the cooperation with the International Tribunal in The Hague.
European Union Troika-Turkey meeting. Next Monday (4 June), in Ankara, the European Union Troika will meet a Turkish delegation for consultations.They will discuss EU-Turkey relations, as well as regional and current international issues. The Turkish delegation will be headed by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, and that of the EU by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Troika will also feature representatives from the European Commission (among them Commissioner Olli Rehn) and the EU Council Secretariat. The incoming Portuguese Council Presidency will be represented by State Secretary Joao Cravinho.
Sigmar Gabriel opens the Informal Meeting. Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel today in Essen opened the Informal Meeting of EU Environment Ministers under Germany’s Council Presidency. The focus of this three-day meeting will be on the links between environmental protection, innovation and employment. The meeting will also be attended by the environment ministers from the EFTA states (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland) and from the candidate countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Environment Director-General Mogens Peter Carl (on behalf of Commissioner Dimas, who is unable to attend due to illness) will represent the European Commission at the meeting. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner will also attend. At the same time as the ministerial meeting, a public environmental trade fair - ECOTEC - will take place at the Zeche Zollverein site. Numerous companies will present their products and services in the field of innovative environmental technologies.
Diversity, Dialogue and Solidarity: the first Euro-Med Youth Parliament meets in Berlin. "Listening to one another and showing an interest in each other are the basic prerequisites for shared insights and ideas," said Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe, at the official opening of the first Euro-Med Youth Parliament in Berlin. Some 100 young people aged between 18 and 25 gathered today (1 June) in the Berlin House of Representatives. The session was chaired by four young people with a passion for politics from Egypt, Syria, Greece and Cyprus. Under the motto "Diversity, dialogue and solidarity", young people from the 27 EU Member States came together with contemporaries from 11 Mediterranean countries from the Barcelona Process to debate topical social issues.
Federal Minister of Health Ulla Schmidt: Good results from the German EU Council Presidency with regard to health policy. Today the EU Council of Health Ministers has met in Brussels. Federal Minister of Health, Mrs Ulla Schmidt, appreciated the agreement reached by the EU Health Ministers concerning the regulation on medicinal products for so-called advanced therapies. Thus the quality and availability of new and promising methods of treatment will be improved, in which patients place great hopes. Ulla Schmidt: "The regulation decisively contributes to the competitiveness of the EU in key areas of biotechnology and supports the growth of this upcoming sector of industry. At the same time appropriate attention is paid to ethical issues."
Also the revision of the Medical Devices Directives, which had been expected for a long time, was successfully brought to a close.
First Euro-Med Youth Parliament convenes in Berlin. The first Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament has been convening in Berlin since Saturday, 26 May. On the initiative of the German EU Presidency, more than 100 young people from all the European Union Member States have come together with contemporaries from 11 Mediterranean countries.
The young parliamentarians are to discuss current social issues and will be trained as multipliers for Euro-Mediterranean dialogue through lectures given by experts, various cultural events and team-building sessions from 25 May to 2 June.
Federal Minister Steinmeier opens the conference "Perspektive Europa" in the Akademie der Künste. On Friday evening (1 June, 6.00 p.m.) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, alongside the President of the Akademie der Künste, Klaus Staeck, will open the conference "Perspektive Europa". During the two-day conference organized jointly by the Federal Foreign Office and the Akademie der Künste as part of Germany's EU Presidency, ten major European and extra-European representatives of the arts, culture and literature will discuss, hold readings and give lectures about Europe. Among those participating are Nobel Literature Prize holders Wole Soyinka and Imre Kertész, author Assia Djebar and actor Mario Adorf. The shared aim of the organizers is to launch the discourse on Europe, since the perspective of Europe and the view of European issues changes according to one's distance from Europe.
The European Alliance for Families is on the right track says von der Leyen. The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council adopted a conclusion in Brussels under the German presidency to establish a European Alliance for Families. “This decision to establish the alliance shows the Member States' commitment to more family-friendly policies in Europe,” said the President-in office of the Council, Federal Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Against the background of demographic change in Europe, the European Union's heads of states and governments had already approved the Germany presidency's proposal to establish a European Alliance for Families at their Spring Summit on 8 and 9 March 2007.
“Work on E-Justice” – Opening of the European Conference on the use of IT in the Justice Sector. When opening the international conference in Bremen “Work on E-Justice” Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries said today that “Modern information and communication technology makes the justice system more efficient and helps citizens and businesses seeking justice get help more quickly and easily”. “In a European area of freedom, security and justice with porous borders, information technology-based support of the justice sector must not end at the internal borders. Today’s conference is sending the signal that in Europe we are cooperating more closely in this area as well”, continued Ms Zypries.
Middle East Quartet meets in Berlin. The Middle East Quartet, consisting of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, met in Berlin for the second time during the German EU Presidency to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier invited the Quartet members to Berlin in view of the tense situation in the Middle East at present. The recent escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians was the main issue discussed at the meeting. The Quartet urged a return to the cease-fire.
Successful EU Troika-Japan meeting. On Tuesday evening (29 May), at the Federal Foreign Office, the European Union Troika met a delegation from Japan. Following the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg, which from 28 to 29 May brought together 46 foreign ministerial delegations from Asia and the EU Member States, the two delegations travelled together from Hamburg to Berlin using the German ICE high-speed train.
The discussions focussed on the close, unproblematic and strategic relations between the EU and Japan, as well as on regional, current international and global issues. Japan and the EU, as economic and political heavyweights, are jointly taking on responsibility in tackling international challenges.
8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg. The Foreign Ministers of the 45 ASEM member states gathered in the historic town hall of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg for the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Conference from 28 to 29 May. In Hamburg the ASEM members agreed to intensify regional cooperation on global issues and in resolving international conflicts. One of the main themes of the conference was tackling climate change. Participants reinforced their belief that only joint decisive action can save the world from the consequences of advancing global warming. The ASEM members therefore support a comprehensive global follow-up regime to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. This follow-up programme is intended to take account of the common but differentiated responsibility of the international community for global warming.
8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg. The foreign ministers of the 45 ASEM member countries are currently gathered in Hamburg Town Hall for the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting (28 - 29 May). The meeting is hosted by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who opened the conference on Whit Monday (28 May) during an informal dinner in the Hotel Kempinski Atlantic. Dr Steinmeier made it clear that together the ASEM members now represented 60% of international trade, 58% of the global population and around 50% of world GDP. At the same time, he went on, this globalized world would necessarily cause national influence on economic governance to diminish. "We therefore intend to draw on regional fora such as ASEM to reach common solutions for the problems that confront us."
EU and China discuss climate change and global issues. On Monday (28 May) the European Union Troika met a delegation from the People's Republic of China in Hamburg Town Hall for consultations immediately prior to the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting. The Chinese Delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the EU delegation was led by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Troika also comprised Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy, and Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Manuel Lobo Antunes, the Portuguese State Secretary for European Affairs, also attended on behalf of the upcoming Portuguese EU Presidency.
Invitation to the Conference on the European Charter for Small Enterprises in Berlin on 4/5 June 2007. The Fourth Conference on the Implementation of the European Charter for Small Enterprises will be hosted in Berlin on 4/5 June 2007 by the German EU Presidency and the European Commission. The Conference opens its doors on 4 June 2007 at 9 am at the Conference Center of Hotel Schweizerhof (Budapester Strasse 25 in 10787 Berlin). You are cordially invited to attend. The entire event will be open to the press. Media representatives are asked to register online for accreditation by 2 pm on 30 May 2007. Their registration will then be confirmed by email. Permanent registration with the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government or at www.eu2007.de will not suffice since a special badge must be issued for access to the event.
ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg, 28/29 May 2007. We have been very deliberate in our choice of location. No other city in Germany maintains such intensive relations with Asia as Hamburg does. The history of this city goes some, if not all the way, to explaining why this is. Hamburg has been a Hanseatic city since the 14th century. The Hanse was a powerful alliance of, at one point, 72 cities and more than a hundred other associated members. In the Hanse merchants pooled their interests, worked to keep sea routes safe and thus helped trade and prosperity to flourish. The Hanse did not have any officials or financial resources of its own, but was a freely organized association formed for the mutual benefit of its members.
EU Troika-Japan meeting. Next Tuesday evening (29 May), in Berlin, the European Union Troika will meet a delegation from Japan for consultations following the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg.
They will discuss EU-Japan relations, as well as regional and current international issues.
Meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Berlin. Next Wednesday (30 May) the Middle East Quartet, consisting of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, will reconvene in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Participating in the meeting will be UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov, US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice, EU Council President and German Foreign Minister Dr Frank- Walter Steinmeier, EU High Representative for the CFSP Dr Javier Solana, and EU External Relations Commissioner Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
European Union Troika-China meeting on the margins of the ASEM Conference in Hamburg. Next Monday (28 May), in Hamburg Town Hall, the European Union Troika will meet a delegation from the People's Republic of China for consultations.
They will discuss EU-China relations, as well as regional and current international issues.
Federal Minister Steinmeier congratulates the President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on his election. On the occasion of his election as President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier sent a congratulatory letter to former Macedonian Foreign Minister Dr Srgjan Kerim. The letter reads as follows: "I warmly congratulate you on your election as President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I wish you all the best, every success and a sure hand for this responsible task, for which you can draw on your wealth of experience from your previous offices."
ACP countries and EU Development Ministers meet in Brussels. Today sees the start, in Brussels, of the 32nd meeting between the Council of the European Union and countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Region (ACP countries). The meeting will be chaired jointly by the German Development Minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Mohlabi K. Tsekoa.
The meeting will focus on the ongoing negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and the ACP countries. The most important aspect of these talks is that the agreements should deliver development benefits.
Von der Leyen: Equal opportunities for all young people is a prerequisite for a social Europe. By stepping up know-how transfer on good practices and introducing a European youth report the quality of life of young people in Europe. "Regular European-level reports will condense important information and knowledge about young Europeans and provide us with the basis for sustainable youth policy in Europe. We aim to provide fair opportunities to as many young people as possible," said the president-in-office of the Council, German Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, during the adoption of Council conclusions on future youth policy cooperation in Europe at today's EU Youth Council meeting in Brussels.
Wieczorek-Zeul: Positive spirit of the Petersberg also in evidence at the ACP-EU Council of Ministers. Under the co-chairmanship of German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Mohlabi K. Tsekoa, EU development ministers and their African, Caribbean and Pacific colleagues took receipt of the joint review of the status of the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA Review).
They also decided to allocate further EU funds to the African Peace Facility.
The German Development Minister and President of the Council, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, expressed her satisfaction that the joint review of the status of the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements had been accepted.
EU Media Ministers reach agreement on EU Television without Frontiers Directive. The EU Ministers for Culture and the Media reached agreement today in Brussels on a Common Position regarding the revision of the EU Directive “Television without Frontiers”. Minister of State, Bernd Neumann, who has led the negotiations on behalf of Germany’s EU Council Presidency said: “This is an important day for television and the new audiovisual media services in Europe. By the new Directive, we will be creating a stable regulatory framework in Europe that will boost growth in this industry. The importance of public broadcasting is acknowledged. At the same time, the new Directive will secure key elements of our democratic society such as the protection of minors and human dignity, cultural wealth and the diversity of opinion and information - in all audiovisual media services."
Informal EU Council of Ministers for Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion adopts “Leipzig Charter”. At their informal EU meeting today, European building ministers signed the “Leipzig Charter”. The Charter will strengthen inner cities. Speaking in Leipzig today, the German EU Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, stated:
“Living in cities is becoming increasingly popular. This is a positive development, and one that we have to boost. Families are returning from the urban fringe and rural hinterland to the inner cities. Urbanity is becoming a hallmark of quality. Industrial sites are being put to new uses. Living and working on what used to be derelict industrial sites is becoming attractive. In short: Europe’s cities are currently experiencing a renaissance, and policymakers have to shape this renaissance. It will usher in a new phase of urban development. The cities of Europe face major challenges.”
13th Workshop of the European eBusiness Support Network opened in Berlin. Dagmar Wöhrl, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and Dr. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Member of the European Parliament, opened the 13th Workshop of the European eBusiness Support Network in Berlin today. It is being jointly organised in the context of the German EU Presidency by the Economics Ministry and the European Commission, and the theme is “eBusiness Solutions and Standards for SMEs – state of play and perspectives”.
New impetus for cultural industries: EU Ministers of Culture adopt Council conclusions. The European Ministers of Culture adopted “Conclusions on the contribution the cultural and creative sector makes towards implementing the goals of the Lisbon Strategy”. Minister of State Bernd Neumann, at whose initiative the conclusions were drawn up during Germany’s EU Council Presidency, said: “These conclusions will create a clear political framework and focal points for the future work of the European Member States and the Council in the area of the cultural industries. Just a few months after initiating the debate at the last Council of November 2006, we have managed to begin paving the way for policy-making in the field of the cultural industries.”
Glos: „Today's decision of the European Parliament on roaming means that we have almost reached the finish line“. The European Parliament today adopted a draft Regulation to reduce the cost of mobile phone roaming calls in the EU. Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos: "The German Presidency expressly welcomes that the compromise that has been reached after intensive negotiations between the Presidency, the Commission and the European Parliament was endorsed at today's plenary session. The German Presidency had set itself the ambitious target to adopt this Regulation in the 1st half-year of 2007. Today's decision of the European Parliament means: We have almost reached the finish line - and in a record time!"
Competitiveness Council makes progress on reduction of administrative burdens and industrial policy. At today's meeting of the Competitiveness Council under the chairmanship of the German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Mr. Michael Glos, considerable progress could be made to strengthen the internal market and to lay down the main features of the future economic policy.
First immediate measures to reduce administrative burdens were adopted by the Competitiveness Council at today's meeting: Comprehensive information obligations in the case of company mergers and restructuring should be abolished. The need for reporting obligations for small food traders is planned to be reviewed. The fields of statistics, transport and agriculture will also be examined.
Space activities as key instrument for Europe's political goals. Europe will in future make more use of space activities in order to reach its political objectives.
For this purpose, 29 European countries today adopted a resolution on the European Space Policy on the occasion of the 4th Space Council.
Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Mr. Peter Hintze, welcomed the adoption of the resolution and declared: "The European Space Policy has for the first time created a common political framework for space activities in Europe."
Successful conclusion of the Informal Meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Mainz. "We had the opportunity to engage in intensive, and in some cases very personal talks, in a very friendly, relaxed and positive atmosphere", said Horst Seehofer, Chair of the Agriculture Council and Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, today at the conclusion of the Informal Meeting which was held in Mainz as part of the EU Council Presidency. "We held very open discussions on policies for rural areas, thereby continuing the talks in Krems and Oulu."
Less expensive trade mark protection in Europe. The fees of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) in Alicante, Spain ( OHIM ) are going to be reduced. This decision was adopted by Member State ministers at today’s meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels, which was chaired by Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries.
“This fee reduction strengthens Europe as an economic location. In the future, it will be possible to register trade marks and designs through OHIM at significantly lower cost. This helps all those who wish to protect their rights against unauthorised counterfeiting, not only within their own countries but also throughout all of Europe. The Community trade mark system in Europe is a ten-year success story. In the past year alone, 77,500 trade marks were registered in Alicante. Thus the use of the system has far exceeded expectations, which has led to a substantial revenue surplus. We will now distribute this surplus to users of the system,” stated Ms. Zypries.
EU Competitiveness Council: Political Agreement on Consumer Credit Directive. The EU Competitiveness Council today reached agreement on a new Consumer Credit Directive. “This agreement delivers clear practical advantages to Europe’s consumers. For example, in the future it will be possible to make genuine comparisons among credit offers throughout Europe. Credit providers will be subject to uniform transparency rules, and the annual percentage rate of charge for credit will be calculated in accordance with uniform standards,” stated Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries in Brussels.
High-level group on the future of European home affairs policy after 2010 meets for the first time. At the invitation of Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble, the high-level advisory group on the future of European home affairs policy (Future Group), proposed by the German EU Presidency in January at the Informal Meeting of Home Affairs Ministers in Dresden, met for the first time in Eltville, Hesse, on 20-21 May 2007. The group consists of Vice-President Frattini, the six interior ministers of the current and upcoming trio presidencies (Germany, Portugal and Slovenia as well as France, the Czech Republic and Sweden), one representative from the subsequent trio presidency (Spain, Belgium or Hungary), and experts from individual Member States as needed.
The group is to draft recommendations on European home affairs policy starting in 2010, after the Hague Programme ends, for options to increase the Council’s efficiency and to improve or simplify existing EU regulations.
Rural areas open up a large range of perspectives. "Rural areas have a future. The mutual cooperation between town and country provides great opportunities for making the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies a success: Sustainable growth and employment need both: vital metropolises and vital rural areas. The common agricultural policy makes an excellent contribution to growth and employment in rural regions. To this end, it can still be better targeted at rural areas as a whole in the future," Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Agriculture, thus summarised the discussion of the EU Agriculture Ministers at their Informal Meeting in Mainz under the German EU Council Presidency.
Vines for the Agriculture Ministers. On the occasion of the Informal Council in Mainz, Federal Minister of Agriculture Horst Seehofer, as presiding Council President, insisted on presenting a gift of lasting value to his EU colleagues in the Council: a genuine vine. Each minister received a document to commemorate the gift of the vines. The document contains the details of the gift. The vines are located in the Rheingau region, on the wine estate of a family enterprise that has already received an array of awards for the quality of its wines. The gift entitles the ministers to enter the vineyard at any time and to visit their vines. In order to save them the effort of harvesting the grapes themselves, the ministers will be sent a bottle of wine by post each year as a share of the harvest.
Together making Europe's rural areas viable for the future. On the sidelines of the informal meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Mainz, the Portuguese and Slovenian Agriculture Ministers, Jaime Silva and Iztok Jarc, met for trilateral talks under the chairmanship of Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Agriculture and President-in-Office of the Agriculture Council of the EU. Portugal and Slovenia will succeed Germany in the EU Council Presidency. Together, they constitute the so-called trio presidency that is intended to achieve a better transition in the policies pursued by the consecutive presidencies.
EU-Russia Summit: Despite difficulties a common path. Despite considerable differences of opinion, particularly on the subject of human rights, the EU is firmly committed to a strategic partnership with Russia. In the energy sector, on climate protection, in research and in efforts to resolve international conflicts both sides are keen to cooperate more closely in future.
"There are many areas where we can work together," Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current President of the European Council, noted at the end of the working session. In this connection she highlighted the economic relations between the EU and Russia.
Top-level politics accompanied by “Wine and Culture”. At the invitation of the President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Federal Minister Horst Seehofer, the EU Agriculture Ministers will be conducting an Informal Meeting in Mainz and the Rheingau region from 20 to 22 May 2007. Almost 30 European agriculture ministers are expected in Mainz and the surrounding area over the next few days. “I would like to continue the discussion on the future of rural regions which was conducted under the Austrian and Finnish presidencies, and have therefore made “Protecting the basis of life in the regions of Europe – for diversity, quality and innovation” a focal area of our talks”, says Federal Minister Horst Seehofer. “The traditional Informal Meeting of the EU Agriculture Ministers is a highlight of my presidency of the EU Agriculture Council.
Three central themes for Bologna: Quality, Mobility and Transparency. Speaking at the end of the Bologna Conference in London on Friday, Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan warned against excessive rigidness when reforming the European Higher Education Area: “The aim of the Bologna Process is to shape diversity, not harmonization”. Schavan said that the Bologna Process was a great opportunity for European integration. “The higher education institutions in the 46 partner countries are undergoing a strenuous and at the same time very promising process of development,” she said.
German EU Council Presidency to hold the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hamburg. On 28 and 29 May 2007 the German Council Presidency of the European Union is to hold the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting (Asia-Europe Meeting) in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
This will see 46 Asian and European foreign ministers and their delegations travelling to the north of Germany. The conference host will be Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier .
ASEM cooperation began in 1996 with the aim of strengthening dialogue and exchange between Asia and Europe. Over the past two years ASEM membership has practically doubled from an initial 26 to currently 45 countries and organizations. The forum is now a important Euro-Asian voice: the ASEM countries account for 58% of the world population, 60% of world trade and around 50% of global GDP. This means they can and must play a key role in influencing world developments.
23 Round of the EU China Dialogue on Human Rights on 15/16 May in Berlin. On 15/16 May 2007 the European Union and the People’s Republic of China held the 23rd round of the “EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights” in Berlin.
The Dialogue was held in an open and constructive atmosphere and addressed a number of differences of opinion with regard to the implementation of international human rights standards in the People’s Republic of China and the EU.
Key issues for the EU were China’s ratification of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; reform of the criminal justice system – including the death penalty and the re-education through labour system -; freedom of expression and freedom of the press as well as minority rights in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
Minister Glos convened informal meeting of EU tourism ministers in Potsdam. As part of the European Tourism Conference, which began on Tuesday with a half-day specialised conference headed by Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, and Ernst Hinsken, Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, the 27 EU member states convened in Potsdam today for an informal ministerial meeting. The Bulgarian Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva attended on behalf of the European Commission.
Federal Minister Glos: “Tourism is a particularly dynamic services sector. We need to put the conditions in place today so that it can flourish in future – both in Germany and in Europe”.
More Legal Certainty for EU Citizens: Agreement on Rome II Regulation. The Conciliation Committee, composed of representatives of the European Parliament and the Council, reached agreement on a common draft for the Regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II Regulation). In addition to torts, non-contractual obligations specifically include unjustified enrichment and doing business as an agent without authorisation.
“In the future, uniform rules will apply to determine which law is applicable, for example in processing claims for compensation of damages resulting from a traffic accident where more than one legal system is affected due to the differing nationalities of those involved in the accident."
Meeting of the EU-Africa Troika. In Brussels on Tuesday, the EU-Africa Troika came together for the eighth time. The parties agreed on the Joint EU-Africa Strategy Outline, which is intended to lay a solid basis for a wide-ranging and long-term strategic partnership between the EU and Africa and to be adopted during the upcoming Portuguese Presidency at the end of 2007 at the second EU-Africa Summit.
On Sunday, Federal Minister of Agriculture Seehofer will be welcoming the European Ministers of Agriculture to the Informal Meeting in Mainz. Federal Minister of Agriculture Horst Seehofer is delighted that he will be host to his colleagues from the European Member States from Sunday to Tuesday at the Informal Meeting in Mainz.
This meeting will focus on the subject of the "Future of Rural Regions", and also include a visit to the wine-growing region of Rheingau. There will also be several press conferences.
Federal Minister von der Leyen: Joining forces to promote equality. Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, hosted an informal meeting of ministers for equal opportunities and family affairs, attended by over 100 delegation members, in Bad Pyrmont on 15 and 16 May. "Equal opportunities for women and men in work and family life" was the motto of the two-day summit. It was generally agreed by all participants that action has to be taken in the area of family policy in order to achieve gender equality.
EU Foreign Ministers: Relations with Russia and the Middle East peace process dominant themes. The General Affairs and External Relations Council held on 14 and 15 May was an occasion not only for EU foreign ministers to come together but also for the EU's defence and development ministers to hold talks in parallel. The highlight of the meeting was the first joint session of EU foreign ministers and their Arab League colleagues to discuss the Middle East peace process. In connection with the preparations for the Summit to be held on 18 May 2007 in Samara, the foreign ministers discussed in depth the EU's relations with Russia. Foreign Minister Steinmeier emphasized the need particularly in difficult times to reach out to and endeavour to talk with one another. The ministers discussed current problems in EU-Russian relations. They gave assurances of mutual solidarity and expressed their clear desire to resolve existing problems in cooperation with Russia.
Towards Gender Equality and Family Affairs. With her colleagues from the other countries in the first EU trio presidency, portuguese Secretary of State of the Presidency Jorge Lacao Costa and Slovenian Minister Marjeta Cotman, Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, today (15 may 2007) presented the joint initiative “Towards Gender Equality and Family Affairs” on the fringes of the informal meeting of European Ministers for Equality and Family in Bad Pyrmont. They hope that this joint initiative will result in the firm establishment of key equality issues in European politics. Over an 18-month period, the German, Portuguese and Slovenian partners who will be taking over EU council presidency in succession are planning European-level actions to extend female and male role models, to promote equality of opportunity and pay for working women and men, and to support migrant women.
Wieczorek-Zeul: “German EU Presidency a success in the area of development policy”. Today EU development ministers ended the EU Council meeting, which was chaired by German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, by adopting Council Conclusions for key topics on the agenda of the German EU Presidency. Germarn Development Minister and Council President Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul described the results of the Council meeting as an important step for European development policy. “The results of the Council meeting are a testimony to the success of the German EU Presidency in the area of development policy. Europe will meet its obligations towards poor countries even more effectively in the future. Africa is a particular focus of the decisions to strengthen the African Peace Facility, the energy partnership between Africa and Europe and the aid for trade provided for the ACP countries.”
Von der Leyen: joining forces for equal opportunities in Europe. Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, is chairing an informal meeting of EU ministers for equality and family affairs and EU Commission delegates in Bad Pyrmont on 15 and 16 May. Participants will be discussing how equality and family policies can be combined to improve equality of opportunity and social cohesion in Europe.
"Europe needs a policy that puts men and women on an equal footing so it is easier for them to combine work, family life and taking care of dependents. Today's equality policy is very effective in all the areas where pro-active family policy tools are used. And family policy is very effective when it is oriented on real life situations and not distorted by traditional gender role expectations. That's why I'm looking forward to developing new concepts and smart ideas in Bad Pyrmont; concepts and ideas that we and our team presidency partners can permanently establish throughout Europe," said Ursula von der Leyen.
Glos opened the European Tourism Conference in Berlin. Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Mr. Michael Glos, today opened the European Tourism Conference in Berlin with more than 500 international guests from the political, economic and scientific fields. The Bulgarian EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Ms. Meglena Kuneva, also spoke at the Conference on "Tourism - Growth Engine of the Future", which was initiated by Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, Mr. Ernst Hinsken , and organised by the German National Tourist Board.
Council of Development Ministers meets in Brussels. A meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council with a focus on development policy is starting in Brussels today. Chaired by German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, EU development ministers will spend their two-day meeting discussing development issues and adopting conclusions. This Council of Ministers is the most important meeting on EU development policy taking place during Germany's EU Presidency.
Close EU-US counterterrorism cooperation. Today, Federal Interior Minister Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, representing the EU Council Presidency, and US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff took part in an extraordinary meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), to which they were invited by the European Parliament. The meeting of Secretary Chertoff with parliament members at the seat of the Euro-pean Parliament took place against a background of joint efforts to fight organized crime and international terrorism.
15th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development -- Joint Press Statement by Sigmar Gabriel, German Federal Minister for the Environment, representing the EU-Presidency and Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment. The European Union (EU) deeply regrets that the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was unable to agree on a ambitious text on energy, climate, air pollution and industrial development. The 15th annual session of the CSD met in New York in order to bring forward the commitments on sustainable development made in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation agreed in 2002.
1st session of the energy security correspondents of the EU. Today saw the first meeting of the energy security correspondents of the EU in Brussels, chaired by the European Commission and the German EU Council Presidency. The “network of energy security correspondents” consists of representatives of the EU commissioners for energy and external relationships, of the Council Secretariat, and of the energy and foreign affairs ministries of the member states. Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, welcomed this strengthening of the EU’s early warning capacity: “The European Commission and the member states need to work together more closely on safeguarding our energy supply. It is important to have collated information about potential supply crises available at an early stage so that potential disruptions to supply can be countered without delay."
Press Briefing on the EU - Russia-Summit at 17 and 18 May 2007. Press Briefing on the EU - Russia-Summit at 17 and 18 May 2007 with Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm, the Heads of Department of the Federal Chancellery, Christoph Heusgen and Uwe Corsepius
Time: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 11.30 am
Venue: Federal Chancellery, 1st floor
Focusing on Europe's Young Researchers. "We must provide specific support for young researchers in Europe in order to improve our competitiveness. This includes greater mobility between science and industry – and the possibility of reciprocal transfers between scientific and industrial career paths", said Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan and the Science Minister of Land Baden-Wuerttemberg, Peter Frankenberg, when opening the European Researchers of Tomorrow Conference in Stuttgart on Monday. Germany is making good progress towards achieving this goal.
Invitation for the press: Ursula von der Leyen to open informal meeting of EU Ministers for Equal Opportunities and Family Affairs on 15 May 2007 in Bad Pyrmont. The informal meeting of Ministers for Equal Opportunities and Family Affairs on 15 and 16 May 2007 in Bad Pyrmont will focus on the issue of equal opportunities for men and women in employment and in the family. The ministers will be discussing topics such as 'Changing role models - new challenges for men' 'Strategic alliances with the business community ', 'Women and active fathers in management positions' and 'Supporting migrant women and children - participation in society and on the labour market' .
Vladimír Spidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Ursula von der Leyen Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Slovenian minister Marjeta Cotman and a representative of Portugal will be talking about their political objectives and expectations of the meeting at a Press Conference (Livestream at www.eu2007.de) on 15 May 2007, 2 p.m., at the Steigenberger Hotel Bad Pyrmont. Subsequent accreditations are available until 1 p.m. on 14 May
Greater cooperation among EU integration ministers, also on intercultural dialogue. The Member State ministers responsible for integration issues, European Union delegations and European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini agreed at their Informal Meeting in Potsdam, chaired by Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble, to work with each other more closely on integration issues. The ministers responsible for intercultural dialogue also agreed to greater cooperation in this field.
Federal Minister Schäuble said the meeting had produced positive results:
“Migration and integration have become an everyday experience in our globalized world. We will continue to face the phenomenon of constant and growing migration movements and related issues for the long term."
Leipzig Conference on European Media Policy: Experts call for value standards on the Internet. Friday, 11 May 2007, saw the close of the conference on European media policy "More trust in content" in Leipzig organised by the German EU Presidency in conjunction with the European Commission. At the experts’ conference, attended by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Bernd Neumann, Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate and Chair of the Broadcasting Commission of the Laender Kurt Beck, and Dana Dunne, head of AOL Europe, 250 media experts from all EU Member States discussed questions concerning the security and trustworthiness of online offerings.
Parliamentary State Secretary Peter Hintze: Safeguard GALILEO’s future as a leading European high-tech product. Peter Hintze, the Federal Government’s Co-ordinator of Aerospace Policy and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, commented on the future of Europe’s GALILEO satellite navigation system: “I regret that today saw the failure of months of negotiations within the European consortium on their participation in the building of the European satellite navigation system. It is now important to take the right decisions so that GALILEO can succeed as a driver of high technology in Europe. Europe needs an independent navigation signal which can be used reliably even in times of crisis."
Federal Minister of Economics, Michael Glos, has launched new promotional period in EU structural policy – EUR 26 billion will go to the German regions in the next seven years. The Federal Minister of Economics, Michael Glos, has launched the new promotional period in the European Structural Funds Programmes as the President of the Council of the European Union in the Franconian city of Hof in Germany yesterday. In the coming seven years, a total of EUR 346 billion will be spent on EU structural policy, a good 50 percent of which will go the new Member States. Germany will receive around EUR 26.3 billion, of which around EUR 15 billion will go to new Federal States which belong to the biggest recipients. The focus of funding will be innovation, R&D, increasing the competitiveness of companies (especially SMEs), infrastructure, vocational training and advanced training. Delegations from all 27 EU Member States and numerous representatives of the Federal Government and the Federal States celebrated the event under the motto: “Strong Regions - Building Bridges for Europe”.
Minister of State Bernd Neumann: the culture of public communication must be preserved. Bernd Neumann, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and Minister-President Kurt Beck, Chair of the Broadcasting Commission of the Laender, opened a media conference today in Leipzig within the framework of the German EU presidency. The two-day conference deals with the subject of “More trust in content - the potential of co- and self-regulation in the digital media“.
European unification - an exemplary success story. European unification over the last fifty years is an exemplary success story. This was uncontested at the WDR Europa Forum held at the Federal Foreign Office. Now, we must actively continue this success story. Speaking at the Forum, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that there is a desire in Europe, "to show people that the EU can take effective action". The fact that Europe is willing to act was more than adequately illustrated by the decisions taken by the last EU Council meeting regarding climate protection, she continued. She once again pointed out that the German EU presidency has the task of presenting a road map for the European constitutional process.
Informal Meeting of European Union Ministers Responsible for Integration. At the invitation of the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, the EU integration ministers are meeting in Potsdam today and tomorrow as part of the German EU Council Presidency. At the conference, ministers will discuss strengthening European cooperation and the exchange of experience within the EU regarding integration policy issues. On the second day, the subject of intercultural dialogue will be part of the agenda for the first time in the history of European ministerial conferences. Minister Schäuble underlined: “With regard to second- and third-generation descendants of immigrants living in Member States, achieving full integration and ensuring equal opportunities is one of the most important challenges of EU home affairs policy."
Agreement on the creation of a Europe-wide standardised paperless environment for customs and trade. At the meeting of the Council of Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union (ECOFIN) in Brussels on 8 May political agreement was achieved on the so-called e-Customs Decision. This lays the foundation for the introduction of Europe-wide interoperable and easily accessible electronic customs systems. The next step – after the common position is adopted – will be for the European Parliament to deal with the draft in a second reading.
The e-Customs Decision must be viewed in close connection with the Modernised Customs Code, about which the Member States and the EU Commission are still negotiating. While the Modernised Customs Code is supposed to create the legal prerequisites for e-Customs, the e-Customs Decision is aimed at the practical implementation.
European Union and Gulf States push for
rapid conclusion of free trade agreement. Following the meeting between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC) , Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier was optimistic that the free trade agreement between the EU and the GCC could be concluded quickly. Another important issue discussed at the talks was the Middle East peace process.The 17th Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the EU and GCC took place in Riyadh on 8 May. This annual gathering has its origins in the 1988 Cooperation Agreement concluded between the EU and the GCC.
Modern Environmental Know-how for Eastern Europe. "Research for sustainability provides the basis for clean technologies and contributes to preserving the natural resources which are vital for future generations. At the same time, sustainability research is an important driver of innovation in Europe", said Professor Frieder Meyer-Krahmer, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research ( BMBF ), at the opening of the conference "Neighbourhood for sustainability – from Lisbon to Leipzig with research". More than 700 experts from politics, science and industry have come to Leipzig, among them EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik and high-level research policy representatives from Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. The Conference provides major impetus for strengthening scientific cooperation with Eastern European neighbouring countries in the field of sustainability research. For example, joint technology platforms are planned for the areas of soil remediation, water technologies and waste management.
Common European position on hedge funds adopted. At its meeting today the ECOFIN Council in Brussels adopted conclusions on the topic of hedge funds with which it expresses to the European Commission its shared assessments and expectations of action. The Federal Minister of Finance, Peer Steinbrück, remarks on this: “ I am pleased that in the wake of the consultations of the Informal ECOFIN in Berlin a few weeks ago we have today succeeded in adopting unanimous conclusions of the Council on hedge funds. They provide a good foundation for further deliberations on this important topic both at European and at G 7 / G 8 level. At the coming G 8 finance ministers’ meeting in Potsdam this unified European position will lend support to Germany's desire to make more progress with the process for more transparency on the hedge fund market.”
Schavan: "A New Generation for Europe". The Lifelong Learning Programme has a duration of seven years and an overall budget of approximately seven billion euro – in Germany alone programme funds of about 100 million euro will be available each year. The aim is to give up to 80,000 trainees and young workers from all over Europe an opportunity to engage in qualification programmes outside their home country and prepare for the European labour market. For example, ERASMUS grants should help to double the number of young people studying in another European country: from currently 1.5 million to a total of 3 million in 2012. "A new generation of young people will determine the future of the European knowledge society", said Minister Schavan in Berlin on Monday.
Under the German Presidency, the EU wants to lay the foundations in Bonn for a successful Climate Change Conference in Bali. An international climate protection conference under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be opened in Bonn today. Representatives of about 160 states will use the next two weeks to prepare, at working level, the Climate Change Conference which is to take place in Bali in December. At the meeting in Bonn, the EU under the German Presidency wants to lay the foundations for an agreement on the launch of a negotiation process in December. The objective of the EU is to make sure that the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will also be the 3rd Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, will decide on the start of a global and comprehensive negotiations about a climate protection agreement for the post-2012 period with a view to ensure that global average temperature will not exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C. The goal is to con-clude, by 2009, negotiations on a new agreement which ensures that there is no gap after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Federal Foreign Office and Southeast Europe Association stage International Conference on EU-Black Sea Cooperation. The Federal Foreign Office and the Southeast Europe Association are jointly organizing an international conference on "EU and Black Sea Regional Cooperation" from 7-8 May. The conference hopes to identify realistic and well-defined options for an EU policy on the Black Sea, not least with a view to strengthening regional cooperation within the Black Sea region itself.
EU and Russia hold the fifth round of their Human Rights Consultations. The European Union and the Russian Federation held the fifth round of their intergovernmental Consultations on human rights issues yesterday (3 May). The meeting, which took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, covered the human rights situation in the EU and Russia as well as issues relating to the international protection of human rights. At yesterday's meeting, the EU raised a number of specific concerns about the human rights situation in Russia, in particular regarding freedom of opinion and assembly, above all in the run-up to the parliamentary and presidential elections. Other concerns raised related to freedom of the press, the position of Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society following the entry into force of the law on NGO activities and the counter-extremism law, as well as respect for the rule of law and the situation in Chechnya. The two sides also discussed the issue of combating torture and maltreatment.
Electrical and Electronic Equipment: Towards Harmonising Producer Registration. The diverging implementation of Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (“WEEE”) in the EU member states leads to considerable cost and effort for producers. Registration of producers and importers is a vital instrument to protect competition from companies that try to avoid their disposal commitments. However, currently companies acting legally on the European market are confronted with more than 27 different registers and the respective registration requirements.
Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee: Shaping maritime policy to address the challenges of climate change. Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, today opened the European Conference on "The Future Maritime Policy of the EU: A European Vision for Oceans and Seas" in Bremen and presented a programme for more environmental protection and safety in the maritime transport sector. "Shipping is increasingly becoming an economic factor for both Germany and the entire European Union. 90 percent of the EU's foreign trade and over 40 percent of intra-Community trade goes by sea. We have to make our transport - be it surface, waterborne or air transport - as environmentally acceptable as possible. And this also applies to maritime transport", said Mr Tiefensee in Bremen.
European Union Troika meets New Zealand. This Thursday (3 May), the Troika of European Union Foreign Ministers will meet a delegation from New Zealand for political consultations in Berlin. The New Zealand delegation is headed by Foreign Minister Winston Peters, the European Union delegation by Federal Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Troika also includes representatives of the European Commission and the General Secretariat of the EU Council.
Improving trade links between Europe and the USA. Today Chancellor Angela Merkel, as EU Council President, takes part in the EU-USA Summit in Washington. Alongside a transatlantic economic partnership, the talks will focus on climate protection and an agreement to liberalize air transport.
The transatlantic economic partnership is designed to further enhance the already strong cooperation on economic issues. Trade between the two economic areas is currently still hampered by a large number of bureaucratic obstacles, as well as by different standards and conditions. This situation is to be ameliorated.
EU-US Summit in Washington: Transatlantic cooperation on economics and climate protection. The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US) have decided to further deepen their economic cooperation. A transatlantic economic partnership will reduce bureaucratic obstacles and harmonize differing standards and conditions. Both sides also agree that climate protection must be improved. During the EU-US Summit in Washington Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President George W. Bush and Commission President José Manuel Barroso underlined the significance of their new level of economic cooperation. "It’s a good day for EU-US relations", Chancellor Merkel stated. She thanked President Bush for the "substantial progress in such a short time". This would not have been possible without the President’s commitment. All three made it clear that they wanted the current Doha round of global trade talks to succeed. The transatlantic economic community was not directed against these negotiations aimed at reducing tariff barriers.
EU – United States of America Summit. The following documents are now available on www.eu2007.de: Chapeau: 2007 EU-U.S. Summit; Framework for advancing transatlantic economic integration between the European Union and the Unites States of America; 2007 EU-U.S. Summit Statement - Energy Security, Efficiency and Climate Change; 2007 EU-U.S. Summit Statement - Promoting Peace, Human Rights and Democracy Worldwide; 2007 EU- U.S. Summit - Political Progress Report; 2007 EU-U.S. Summit - Economic Progress Report
Invitation to the Informal Meeting of EU Integration Ministers, Potsdam, 10 - 11 May 2007. At the invitation of the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, the EU ministers responsible for integration will meet in Potsdam on 10 and 11 May as part of the German EU Council Presidency. At the conference, ministers will discuss how European cooperation and the exchange of experience within the EU regarding integration policies can be improved and how the intercultural dialogue can be strengthened. Minister Schäuble: “With regard to second and third generation descendants of immigrants living in Member States, achieving full integration and ensuring equal opportunities is one of the most important challenges of EU home affairs policy. Although the term integration is often used with different meanings, our societies are facing the same challenges. A successful integration policy is an essential prerequisite for future immigration; it is crucial to preserving freedom and maintaining social cohesiveness."
Commission Communication on European Space Policy adopted. Today, the European Commission has adopted its Communication: European Space Policy. Drafted together with the European Space Agency (ESA), the document sets out the policy-programme framework for community space activities in Europe. It is based on the ESA/European Commission Framework Agreement of 2004. Founded in 1975, ESA conducts research and development programmes on behalf of its 17 member states in spacecraft engineering, earth observation, space science, human space-flight and telecommunications.
Germany and the EU will continue to be reliable partners for Afghanistan. German Development Minister meets Afghanistan's President Karzai in Kabul
"Not only in my capacity as German development minister, but also on behalf of the EU Presidency, I promised President Hamid Karzai that we would continue to stand by his country and its people," said German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul after meeting the President at the Afghanistan Development Forum in Afghanistan's capital. At the two-day conference, representatives of the international donor community and the Afghan government jointly deliberate ways of continuing and enhancing the support provided to Afghanistan.
Informal Competitiveness Council successfully completed - Results of the ministers’ discussions. Under the chairmanship of Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, the ministers of the EU member states with responsibility for the European internal market, Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission, and EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes met in Würzburg for an Informal Competitiveness Council on 27 and 28 April 2007.
The economics ministers of Norway, Iceland and Switzerland attended as guests, since these countries are linked to the internal market via the EEA Agreement or separate agreements.
The general theme of the meeting was “The Single European Market in Global Competition”. Discussion focused on the strategic and political reorientation of the internal market in order to meet the challenges of the process of globalisation effectively.
Invitation to the Launch Event for the European Structural Funds Programmes 2007 - 2013: Strong Regions – Building Bridges for Europe, in Hof on 9 May 2007. Under the German EU Council Presidency, the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, invites you to attend the opening event for the new period of assistance as part of EU regional and structural policy from 2007 to 2013 on 9 May 2007 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hof Theatre, Kulmbacher Str. 5, 95030 Hof.
Invitation to the European Tourism Conference in Berlin and Potsdam on 15 and 16 May 2007. The European Tourism Conference will be held as part of the Germany’s EU Council Presidency. It consists of a specialised conference in Berlin on 15 May entitled “Tourism – Growth Engine of the Future” and an informal ministerial meeting in Potsdam on 16 May. We extend a cordial invitation to you to attend the Specialised EU Tourism Conference from 12.00 to 17.00 hrs on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 in the Hotel Estrel, Berlin, and the Informal EU Ministerial Meeting at 9.00 (photo opportunity, family photograph) and 12.30 (press conference) on Wednesday, 16 May at the “Kaiserbahnhof”, Am Neuen Palais 1, 14469 Potsdam.
EU research ministers meeting in Würzburg at the Informal Competitiveness Council agree on joint initiatives. The research ministers of the European Union and from EFTA countries have reached agreement on essential points in central areas of research policy and have thus prepared the ground for Europe's future competitiveness. The focuses of the Informal Competitiveness Council in Würzburg were the establishment of a European Institute of Technology (EIT) as an innovation network, the further development of the European Research Area and a European Charter for the management of intellectual property.
"I am very pleased with the result of our discussions", said the President of the Council, Federal Research Minister Schavan, at the concluding press conference on Friday.
Informal Competitiveness Council deals with Europe's positioning in the globalisation process. The subject of the commerce section of the Informal Competitiveness Council under the Presidency of Federal Minister of Economics Michael Glos on 26/27 April 2007 is “The Single European Market in Global Competition”. The German Council Presidency regards this as one of the main subjects of European economic policy. We need a change in perspective: rather than continuing with our domestic European “navel-gazing”, the EU needs to reflect more on how it is viewed from outside in global competition. At the meeting of the informal council, the focus on Friday afternoon (27 April) will initially be on how attractive Europe is as a location for business. On Saturday morning (28 April), the subject of “Globalisation – and its impact on the EU” is to be considered more comprehensively.
German Federal Research Minister Dr. Annette Schavan: "Strengthening Research in Europe". The Research Ministers of the European Union meeting in Würzburg on Thursday and Friday will be discussing crucial issues which will set the course for future European research policy. Under the Presidency of the German Federal Research Minister, Dr. Annette Schavan, the Ministers have set themselves ambitious goals for the Informal Competitiveness Council. Under the motto of the German Council Presidency "Success through Research", the responsible ministers from the Member States will deal with the issue of strengthening the European Research Area and the establishment of a European Institute of Technology (EIT). Another topic will be the important question of the management of intellectual property and the related Presidency initiative for an IP Charter. "Science and research are vital for making Europe fit for international competition", said Schavan.
Gabriel: flood control in Europe on the right road. Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has welcomed the Decision of the European Parliament for a harmonised European procedure in precautionary flood control and flood risk management. In the second reading, the MEPs confirmed with a large majority a compromise directive between the Council and the Parliament, negotiated under the German EU Presidency: "This Decision avoids a conciliation procedure and establishes the conditions needed for the EU regulations to enter into force before the end of this year. Flood control is a joint and urgent problem for all the Member States and close cooperation is vital, especially on account of the many transboundary rivers," said Gabriel, who also holds the Chair of the EU Environment Council.
EU Foreign Ministers discuss international issues ranging from Central Asia to the Sudan. On Monday the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States gathered in Luxembourg for their monthly meeting within the framework of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. At the start of the final press conference, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier paid tribute to the first President of the Russian Federation following his unexpected death. "President Yeltsin turned his eyes towards Europe and opened Russia to the world."
Following an initial successful meeting of the EU Foreign Minister Troika with the five Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on 28 March 2007, the Council President outlined the components of the EU strategy on Central Asia to his colleagues in today's session. Specifically, these cover the areas of the rule of law, human rights and democratization; education; energy and transport; the environment; trade and economic cooperation as well as regional security issues such as border protection and the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.
EU Troika meeting with Russia. On 23 April, the German President of the EU Council, Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, joined Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for a regular meeting of the EU Troika with Russia. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Luís Filipe Marques Amado on behalf of the upcoming Portuguese Presidency.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries hold EU troika meetings in Moscow. In the framework of EU troika meetings, Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble and Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries, both representing the German Presidency, met the President’s security advisor, Victor Ivanov, and their Russian counterparts, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Justice Minister Vladimir Ustinov, for political talks on 23 and 24 April 2007. The EU Commission was represented by Vice-President Franco Frattini. The Portuguese Justice Minister, Alberto Costa, and State Secretary José Magalhães travelled to Moscow to represent the upcoming EU Presidency.
Federal Minister Steinmeier opens a conference marking the 10 year anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention. This week, the Federal Foreign Office will host an international conference marking the 10 year anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The event in Berlin, which runs from 25 to 27 April, will be opened by Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter.
Europe – the blue star. Berlin is truly at the heart of Europe – and for one night only, on June 17, 2007, Berlin’s Konzerthaus will become a place of European luminosity to celebrate the finale of Germany’s EU presidency. The whole building will be wrapped in blue and yellow, sending out a message of European unity. And the audience will be able to experience our old and new European neighbours in a multitude of ways. A fanfare will open this day of European culture at 3 p.m. inviting Europeans from everywhere to Europe – the blue star to get to know their neighbours better.
Federal Minister Michael Glos welcomes the green light for negotiating free-trade agreements with emerging Asian economies. The Council of the European Union issued mandates to the European Commission today for the negotiation of free-trade agreements with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN ), India and South Korea. In addition to this, mandates for the negotiation of Association Agreements with Central America and the Andes Community were adopted.
EU-USA: Two economic areas come together. The European Union and the USA are to enter into a framework agreement about a Transatlantic Economic Partnership. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, prepared the coming EU/USA summit at the German government's guest house in Schloss Meseberg.
Merkel explained that the new agreement could generate greater economic growth in both economic areas. She welcomed both the excellent cooperation with the EU Commission and the openness of the Bush administration on this issue.
Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on 23 and 24 April. The Foreign Ministers of the 27 EU Member States meet today in Luxembourg for the monthly General Affairs and External Relations Council. One important issue which will be discussed during the consultations is the EU strategy on Central Asia. The EU has set itself the goal of placing relations with Central Asia on a new and coherent footing. The German EU Presidency intends to conclude consultations on this strategy by June. The Foreign Ministers will also discuss at length the situation in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. The UN Special Envoy, Sweden's Jan Eliasson, will take part in the discussion. There will be an exchange of views on the negotiations concerning Iran's nuclear programme, as well as on the current situation in the Middle East and the progress made in the peace process.
Astrid Klug: making EU agricultural policy nature friendly. Sustainable and ecological land use is the basic prerequisite for the preservation of valuable cultural landscapes and hence of Europe's biological diversity. This was stressed today in Bonn by Parliamentary State Secretary Astrid Klug at the opening of the conference "Nature Conservation, Agriculture and Rural Development – where is the EU headed?" The two-day conference hosted by the Federal Environment Ministry is taking place in the framework of the German EU Presidency.
"If we want to achieve the international goal of halting the continuing loss of biological diversity by 2010," said Astrid Klug, "we still need to make substantial efforts in many sectors. The EU's agricultural policy continues to have a large influence on the form of land use and thus also a decisive influence on our environment."
EU-Rio Group Ministerial Meeting. At a joint press conference following the XIIIth EU-Rio Group Ministerial Meeting, the Chairman of the Rio Group, the Dominican Foreign Minister Morales Troncoso, the EU External Affairs Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated that their one-day meeting had been fruitful. The talks focused on the situation in Haiti, energy and climate issues, as well as human rights.
Outcomes of the Informal ECOFIN Meeting in Berlin on 20/21 April 2007. The finance ministers of the EU Member States and central bank governors gathered at an informal meeting in Berlin on 20/21 April 2007. Chaired by Peer Steinbrück, the Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany, participants exchanged views about various aspects of sustainable public finances, the reverse-charge model as an instrument for combating VAT fraud and issues relating to financial markets.
EU/G8 Conference on “Energy Efficiency – Shaping Tomorrow’s World”. In Berlin today, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs,
Wolfgang Tiefensee, and the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology,
Michael Glos, opened the EU/G8 Conference on “Energy Efficiency – Shaping Tomorrow’s World” within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency. The two-day conference is focusing on strategic issues relating to the greater promotion of energy efficiency and energy conservation and on energy efficiency issues in the electricity, buildings and transport sectors.
Latin America – one of the priorities of Germany's EU Presidency. As part of his second trip to Latin America within a year, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and High Representative Javier Solana, was in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, on 19 and 20 April to take part in meetings with Latin American regional organizations.
"Mercosur is one of the most successful regional integration projects", stated Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the joint press conference following the meeting. The present, very successful, cooperation is to be extended and the political dialogue between the two organizations intensified, especially in international fora. Another issue discussed was the state of the association negotiations between the EU and Mercosur. Such an agreement could provide fresh impetus, primarily in the spheres of trade, research cooperation and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
Federal Minister of Health Schmidt: Better provisions for better health care delivery to the EU's citizens. On 19th and 20th April 2007, the Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt, received the EU Ministers of Health for an Informal Meeting in the town of Aachen. The Minister stated: "European health policy has made major headway. The task now is to make cross-border care, too, a real option on the ground for all citizens. The Informal Council has a fine opportunity to prepare good, citizen-oriented decisions in this area."
The Federal Minister of Health went on to stress: "People live in Europe and they work in Europe. Europe must guarantee that everyone has access to medical services, that the quality of care does not depend on the size of one's wallet and that all patients receive high-quality health care should they fall ill.“
Interior Ministers strengthen European Border Management Agency Frontex in the fight against illegal migration. Against the background of recurring migration flows via the Mediterranean and the Atlantic towards Europe, the Council and the Commission consider it a priority to give Frontex the necessary means and competences for supporting the Member States under particular strain to tackle this challenge.
Federal Interior Minister Dr. Schäuble said in Luxembourg that “the citizens expect Europe to provide effective protection of its common external borders. Therefore it is the declared aim of our Presidency to further develop the operability of the European Border Management Agency Frontex in order to improve the protection of the external borders of the European Union and intensify border police cooperation. This is why I am pleased to see that we have today succeeded in achieving agreement in the Council on the “Regulation establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams”.
Europe’s finance ministers make heartfelt gesture. In amongst the business of politics, Europe’s finance ministers also find time to send out a positive message about increasing support for voluntary activities. On the occasion of the Informal ECOFIN taking place in Berlin today and tomorrow, Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, who is chairing the meeting, and his European colleagues personally signed a Buddy Bear bearing the flags of Europe. The bear designed by artist Andre Bitter was then presented to the Stiftung KinderHerz Deutschland, a charity for children suffering from heart conditions. The organisation will auction the bear to support its charitable work. Sylvia Paul, the director of Stiftung KinderHerz, accepted the Buddy Bear on behalf of the charity. To show her organisation’s appreciation, Ms Paul presented Minister Steinbrück, in his capacity as chair of the ECOFIN Council, with a terracotta heart.
EU: Common Criminal Provisions Against Racism and Xenophobia. The Council of EU Justice Ministers in Luxembourg today achieved political agreement on a Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. This allowed the negotiations at the European level, underway since 2001, to be successfully concluded under the German EU Presidency. “Europe is determined to forcefully defend its common values and to rigorously punish those who treat these values with contempt for humanity. In the future, there will be binding minimum harmonisation throughout Europe of the provisions on criminal liability for disseminating racist and xenophobic statements. Public incitement to violence and hatred, as well as the denial or gross trivialisation of genocide out of racist or xenophobic motives, will be sanctioned across Europe. With this, we are sending a clear signal against racism and intolerance,” stressed Brigitte Zypries, Chair of the EU Council of Justice Ministers.
German Council Presidency welcomes the entry into force of the extension of Europol’s operational powers. In a ceremony today, Federal Minister of the Interior Dr Wolfgang Schäuble and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr Franco Frattini, handed over the three protocols amending the Europol Convention, which entered into force and have now been ratified by all Member States, to the Director of Europol, Max-Peter Ratzel.
The amending protocols 1 and 2 of 2000 and 2002 had already entered into force on 29 March 2007; by contrast, the 3rd amending protocol of 2003 only entered into force on 18 April, two days before today’s meeting of the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Luxembourg. The amending protocols will adapt Europol to the challenges of the modern fight against crime and will decisively increase its efficiency.
Schengen and Visa Information System on schedule. The Schengen Information System, or SIS, is the most important common search system of European police and border police authorities. It allows them to obtain information related to alerts on persons and objects and to alerts issued for the purpose of refusing entry. Therefore it is necessary to connect the new EU Member States which have acceded to the EU since 1 May 2004 to the system in order for controls at the internal borders of these countries to be abolished.
To this end, Member States’ home affairs ministers decided already last December to introduce “SISone4all”.
Prospects are good for a data protection framework decision, according to EU Council Presidency. Other important issues addressed by the EU home affairs ministers at their afternoon meeting today were the cooperation with third countries in migration-related matters and the envisaged European framework decision on data protection. Following up on discussions at their informal meeting in Dresden and the previous Council meeting in February, the ministers and vice-president Frattini again examined possible measures to improve cooperation with third countries with a view to fighting illegal migration. In line with the conclusions of the European Council of December 2006, they focussed on possible partnerships with third countries as well as measures to promote circular migration.
More Freedom of Choice for Spouses in Europe. The EU Ministers of Justice today agreed upon guiding principles which will form the basis of further deliberations on an EU Regulation on the jurisdiction and the applicable law in matrimonial matters (so-called Rome III Regulation).
Council President and Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries said, “With the Rome III Regulation, we hope to achieve having courts in Europe always apply the same law to a divorce – independently of the Member State in which the couple files for divorce.
Informal Meeting of Health Ministers: Improving the crossborder healthcare services. Before the beginning of the informal council meeting of Health ministers during the german EU-presidency in Aachen Ulla Schmidt, the german Federal minister of Health, was optimistic about the forthcoming discussions. She declares that there is a high willingness to solve the problems of crossborder healthcare services in favour of the patients.
Justice and Home Affairs Council decides to set up a warning and reporting network for the expulsion of terrorist suspects. In Luxembourg, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers has today decided to set up a mutual information mechanism on third-country nationals who have been expelled by a Member State in connection with terrorist activities as well as incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence.
Maintenance Debtors Should No Longer Be Able to Hide Behind Borders. The Justice Ministers of the European Union today agreed that the cross-border recovery of maintenance claims within the European Union should be considerably facilitated. “Within Europe, maintenance debtors should no longer be able to hide behind borders,” said Brigitte Zypries, EU Council President and Federal Justice Minister. “Those entitled to maintenance – especially children – should be able to recover their claims effectively even if the maintenance debtor lives in another Member State of the European Union or if his assets are located there. Thus, future judgments in maintenance cases issued, for example, by a German court are to be enforceable in France or other Member States of the European Union without any additional procedural steps. Furthermore, EU citizens are to receive even more support from public authorities if they experience difficulties in recovering their claims in another Member State.”
Europe and its neighbours join forces to promote renewable energies and energy efficiency. As awareness grows of humankind's hand in climate change, the question of how Europe and its neighbours are to ensure a secure supply of energy in future has become the focus of increasing public attention. The German government has made energy one of the major issues of its EU Presidency. In order to accord renewable energies and energy efficiency a greater role in European neighbourhood policy, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel are hosting a ministerial conference in Berlin as part of Germany's EU Presidency.
Easy Access to the Law in Europe. At their Council meeting in Luxembourg, the European Ministers of Justice have advocated strengthening the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters (EJN). The EJN provides information about important regulations in the national civil and civil procedure law of the Member States, as well as on the structure of their courts and court jurisdiction. German Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries said, “Within a short period of time, the EJN has become an important source of information for the citizens of Europe. Those who live and work in a European foreign country must be able to inform themselves about the laws of the other Member States. The EJN is indispensable for judges as well. More and more often, judges are required to apply foreign law rather than deciding a case based upon their national law. The EJN enables them to quickly and cheaply receive the information they need via e-mail.”
For better health care in Europe - German Council Presidency gives fresh impetus to co-operation on cross-border electronic health services. At today's 2007 eHealth Conference, the representatives of the European Member States and additional members of the European Economic Area adopted a common Declaration. The representatives agreed to pursue co-ordinated and structured co-operation in the area of cross- border electronic health services throughout Europe. Electronic health services are applications such as the electronic prescription or the electronic patient file and additional services that, in Germany, are to be gradually extended with the electronic health card.
Federal Minister Horst Seehofer: EU must lead the way in the global fight against illegal fishing. The Fisheries Ministers of the European Union met on 17 April 2007 under the chairmanship of Federal Minister Horst Seehofer with Mr. Joe Borg, EU Commissioner for Fisheries, in Senningen (Luxembourg) for a conference on problems of global importance for fisheries policy. "Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing - the so-called IUU fisheries – and the destructive fishing practices constitute one of the major threats to global fish stocks," said Horst Seehofer, President of the EU Council. "The Ministers agreed that the sustainable protection of fish stocks numbers among the key challenges of the future alongside climate change," Seehofer added. Today, IUU fisheries poses one of the most serious problems facing global fisheries. Given an estimated global volume of up to 9 billion euros per year, IUU fishing renders impossible a proper management of fisheries on the High Seas.
GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) information helps monitor climate change, environment and security. Within the framework of the German EU Presidency, a conference on the European initiative Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) is taking place on Tuesday in Munich. Together with Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen the Federal Minister of Transport Wolfgang Tiefensee opened the conference titled "The Way to the European Earth Observation System GMES - Munich Roadmap". "GMES ensures independent access to information relating to the environment, climate change and security and it delivers efficient and reliable services. It is our goal to create the general conditions for stable and sustainable GMES control and finance structures during the German EU Council Presidency, together with the Commission, ESA and all our other European partners", said Mr Tiefensee.
Demographic Change is also a chance for Europe. In co-operation with the European Commission a European congress titled "Demographic change as an opportunity – the economic potential of the elderly" will be hosted by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth on 17 and 18 April 2007 in Berlin. Today, the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Mrs Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mr Vladimír Špidla, have emphasized the importance of the elderly generation for Europe on the occasion of the congress opening: "By using their professional experience, their outside work commitment and not least their purchasing power, elderly people may significantly contribute to growth and economic development."
Renewable energies and energy efficiency for the EU's southern and eastern neighbours. As exporters and transit countries, the EU's neighbouring countries are vital for Europe's energy supply. At the same time, the efficient use of available energy resources and the massive expansion of alternative energies are vital to achieving sustainable energy security and development in the EU's neighbouring states. In the framework of Germany's EU Presidency, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) are organising the ministerial conference "Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for the EU's Southern and Eastern Neighbours". Following the successful decisions in the European Council, the aim is to also anchor sustainable energy policy in the neighbouring countries of the EU.
Federal Ministry of the Interior and Frontex pursue common goal. At an international symposium on the future of European border police cooperation, Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble and Frontex Executive Director Ilkka Laitinen underscored the need for joint, coordinated action at European level in order to protect the EU external borders effectively.
“One of the declared aims of our Presidency is to further develop the capacity of the European border management agency Frontex, in order to enhance the protection of the European Union’s external borders and to deepen border police cooperation,” Federal Minister Schäuble stated.
Culinary celebration of Europes 50th birthday. Only a few weeks ago Europe celebrated its 50th birthday. To mark this occasion, the Federal Foreign Office, in cooperation with the embassies of the EU Member States in Berlin, has created a multinational website. At www.eu50.eu aspiring bakers will find (two recipes per Member State). With the support of the German federal confectioners and bakers associations, the European birthday cakes will be on sale throughout Germany until 25 May 2007. A poster advertising the campaign will be displayed in participating bakeries and cake shops.
Conference "Gender Issues in Research - Innovation through Equality of Opportunity" 18./19.4.2007 in Berlin. Germany intends to use its 2007 EU Council Presidency among other things to kick off initiatives to enhance innovative ability and to thereby contribute to Europe's global competitiveness. The Federal Government regards the inclusion of gender aspects in research and the boosting of equal opportunities in the scientific system as important preconditions for increasing innovative ability.
Presidency response to the press release of the European Data Protection Supervisor. In his opinion sent to the Federal Government on 4 April 2007, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, welcomes the creation of a legal basis for closer police cooperation at EU level and expressly endorses the anonymized approach using reference data (hit/no-hit procedure) on which the Prüm Treaty is based. He also praises the fact that data protection provisions are differentiated according to data type.
Invitation to the International Conference „Energy Efficiency: Shaping Tomorrow's World“ on 20/21 April 2007 in Berlin. The international conference "Energy Efficiency: Shaping Tomorrow's World" will take place on 20/21 April 2007 in Berlin within the framework of the EU Council Presidency. At the conference Ministers from EU Member States, G8 countries and large emerging economies will together with international experts discuss strategies and objectives to improve energy efficiency. Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, and Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, will open the conference and give a press conference.
Informal meeting of economics and finance ministers in Berlin on 20/21 April 2007. Chaired by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, the informal meeting of economics and finance ministers (ECOFIN) will take place in Berlin on 20/21 April 2007. As practice has it, the president of the ECB and the governors of the national central banks will also be attending. The Informal will focus on such issues as how to finance future tasks as well as the further development and stability of financial markets. The first set of topics for discussion covers the structure of public spending and how effectively and efficiently public funds are deployed. This will be complemented by an exchange of experiences gained using results-based budgeting. In this context, the ministers will also examine the extent to which modern fiscal and economic policy can have an activating effect and can build “social bridges” to better employment prospects and social inclusion.
Federal Minister Wieczorek-Zeul: “Important component for future trade relations between EU and developing countries”. German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul welcomed as far-reaching the proposal presented today by the EU Commission on improving the market access of countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific region (ACP countries) within the framework of the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs): “The offer made by the Commission is a very important step towards the realisation of the EU’s commitment to make the Economic Partnership Agreements into an instrument for poverty reduction. As the holders of the EU Presidency, we in Germany will now go to work on reaching a common position among the EU Member States, so that, on the European side, nothing more stands in the way of successfully concluding the negotiations by the end of the year.”
EU and US discuss freedom of travel and data protection for transatlantic passengers, agree on counter-terrorism cooperation. US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein and European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini met today in Berlin with Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble and Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries of Germany, current holder of the rotating EU Presidency. The Portuguese state secretaries of justice and internal affairs, José Conde Rodrigues and Dr José Madalhães, represented the upcoming Portuguese EU Presidency. Their talks focused on counter-terrorism, data protection and visa issues as well as EU policy in the field of criminal law.
Joint Invitation of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to the Informal Competitiveness Council from 26 to 28 April 2007. The Council under the Presidency of Federal Minister of Research Dr. Annette Schavan and Federal Minister of Economics Michael Glos will deal with Europe's positioning in the globalisation process and central issues of the European research policy. The Economics Ministers will discuss the future of the internal market including the EU aid scheme in the global competition to attract business. Keynote speakers from industrial firms that operate worldwide will present the advantages and problems of Europe as a business location for their sectors. The debate on a European Institute for Technology and a charter for intellectual property rights, among other topics, are on the agenda of the Research Ministers. Therefore we cordially invite you.
European Community Accedes to the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Yesterday in The Hague, German Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries deposited the instrument of accession of the European Community to the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
“International commercial relations are continually increasing. Europe’s citizens are becoming increasingly mobile as well; more and more people are living and working not only in other Member States but outside the EU as well. Given these developments, we need clear rules on how claims may be asserted beyond the borders of the European Union. Despite differing legal systems, our aim is to attain the greatest possible degree of legal certainty and transparency, for both private individuals and companies. With today’s accession to the Hague Conference, the European Community will be able to bring these interests of EU citizens directly into the negotiations on future Hague Conventions,” stated Ms. Zypries.
Glos welcomes compromise on aluminium. On the basis of a balanced proposal for a compromise by the German EU Presidency, it proved possible at a special session of the Council’s working group on the Customs Union on 3 April 2007 to attain the agreement by all member states to a proposed regulation reducing the tariff on non-alloyed raw aluminium from the current level of 6 % down to 3 %.
Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, said: “This compromise, which has been evolved with a lot of effort and prudence, strikes a good balance between the various interests of the producers and the processors in the member states.
European Union, USA and Russia discuss shared issues of internal security. Representatives from Russia, the United States and the European Commission met today in Berlin at the invitation of Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany, current holder of the EU Presidency. Their discussion focused on counter-terrorism, border management and on the situation in Afghanistan, in particular the fight against drugs as a way to increase that country’s stability.
Minister Schäuble stated, “Our trilateral meeting took place in the context of growing interrelatedness between internal and external security. The terrorist attacks of recent years show that conflicts in other parts of the world can also directly affect us. The special dimension of the terrorist threat is particularly evident in the terrorists’ willingness to use violence, in their logistical networks, their long-term planning and cross-border methods of operation.
Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister visits Berlin for talks. Within the context of the German EU Presidency Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Abdelkader Messahel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, for talks on bilateral and regional topics on 2 April 2007. Both sides exchanged their views, focusing particularly on developments concerning the Western Sahara issue.
Federal Foreign Office to hold Expert Meeting on security of conventional arms and ammunition stockpiles. On 3 and 4 April, the Federal Government, as current holder of the Presidency of the EU Council, is organizing an Expert Meeting at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin to discuss the issue of enhancing controls and promoting reductions in stockpiles of conventional arms and ammunition. This meeting is part of the Federal Government's efforts to achieve more effective small arms controls, with special attention being given to public stockpiles of small arms, light weapons and ammunition. In this way, the Federal Government is making a contribution towards the UN Programme of Action against the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. Deficient administration and inadequate security of stockpiles represent a major source of illegal weapon transfers, and one which the Federal Government feels has to be countered.
Gymnich Meeting – widespread agreement among the EU Foreign Ministers. On the Middle East conflict, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated at the final press conference that "since the middle of last year Europe has proved that it no longer merely comments on development in the region". Europe's commitment has become visible both in the securing of Israel's northern border and in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Dr Steinmeier particularly emphasized the revitalization of the Middle East Quartet, which to date has met twice. The option of a further meeting in the region, possibly involving Arab interlocutors, was discussed. With its voice in the Middle East Quartet Europe will continue to work intensively on the basis of a two-state settlement.
Informal Foreign Ministers Meeting opened in Bremen. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the participants in the traditional "Gymnich" meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bremen. The German Presidency's "half-time score" was good, Dr Steinmeier said at the beginning of the meeting, but there were still difficult challenges to address: Germany wanted to advance the European renewal process, as well as the Euro-Atlantic economic partnership. The issue of meat exports was to be resolved as soon as possible in order to smooth the path towards negotiations on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Russia.
Declaration of the EU Foreign Ministers at the meeting in Bremen on 30th March:. The European Union deplores the continued arrest of 15 British citizens by Iran on 23rd of March and underlines the European Union’s unconditional support for the government of the United Kingdom.
All evidence clearly indicates that at the time of the seizure, the British Naval personnel were on a routine patrolling mission in Iraqi waters in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723. The seizure by Iranian Forces therefore constitutes a clear breach of international law.
EU Foreign Ministers assure the UK of their solidarity. On the first day of the Gymnich meeting in Bremen the EU foreign ministers spoke in detail about the future of Kosovo. "The Kosovo status settlement marks the final act in the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia", said Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the press conference on the evening of 30 March. "Not until this outstanding issue in the Balkans is resolved can we achieve lasting political stability and economic development in the region".
Glos: standardisation produces innovation and offers market opportunities. Technical norms and standards play a crucial role in opening up markets, in facilitating technology transfer and in deregulating technical legislation. This was emphasised by the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Günter Verheugen, at the European Conference “Innovation and Market Access through Standards”, which was held in Berlin on 27 March 2007. The conference, featuring high-ranking international speakers and around 350 participants from countries inside and outside Europe, was organised in cooperation with DIN, the German Institute for Standardisation, as part of Germany’s EU Council Presidency The main aim of the conference is to illustrate the important role that standardisation plays for Germany and Europe as locations for business and industry and to point out new prospects for the innovative standardisation of the future.
Presidency Statement on the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. On Friday 30 March 2007 the Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations (UN), representing the EU Presidency, and the Permanent Representative of the EU Commission at the UN in New York, representing the European Community, signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“A Europe of Innovation – Fit for the Future?” - European Patent Conference Convenes. “Inventions are the raw material of the knowledge society. In Europe, we urgently need more innovations that are designed to meet the challenges of the future. This requires that we provide more effective patent protection”, declared Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries in Berlin today at the opening of the international conference “A Europe of Innovation – Fit for the Future?” Over 250 participants from government, industry, the justice sector, patent institutions and non-governmental organisations are attending the two-day event, which is taking place within the framework of Germany’s EU Presidency.
Opening of European conference on putting environmental and resource protection to use for conflict prevention and development. Michael Müller, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Environment Ministry, Georg Boomgarden, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office, and Karin Kortmann, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, today jointly opened a European conference on putting environmental and resource protection to use for conflict prevention and development. The goal of the conference is to draw up recommendations for action addressed to EU institutions, with a view to better mainstreaming environment and security in the various strategies and policies of the EU. Parliamentary State Secretary Michael Müller particularly emphasized the link between the current efforts for more climate protection and greater efficiency in the use of energy and raw materials as well as the promotion of renewable energy on the one hand and peacebuilding and conflict prevention on the other.
Issues of the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers on 30 and 31 March in Bremen. The informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers – the traditional "Gymnich" meeting – takes place in 2007 in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, during Germany's Presidency of the EU Council. The first meeting of this kind was organized in 1974 by the then German Foreign Minister Walter Scheel of the time in Schloss Gymnich near Bonn. Since then there have been huge changes. The division of Europe is now history, the number of foreign ministers has grown from nine to 27 and, at this year's final working lunch, they will be joined by their colleagues from the candidate countries Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Directive on the supervisory assessment of acquisitions in the financial sector (“Acquisition Directive”). On 27 March 2007, under Germany's Council presidency, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council of the European Union reached a political agreement on the Directive on the supervisory assessment of acquisitions and increases in holdings in the financial sector. The EU Finance ministers approved the measure, which had been amended by the European Parliament in its first reading; the formal adoption of the Directive (without further debate) will take place at one of the next meetings of the Council. The Directive will streamline the criteria and timescale of the assessment procedure applied by European supervisory authorities in cases where qualifying holdings are acquired in the financial sector.
Accession conferences with Turkey and Croatia. Today, accession conferences with the candidate countries Turkey and Croatia are taking place in Brussels.
Accession conferences are held every time one of the 35 negotiation chapters is opened. For Turkey, the second chapter is being opened today, for Croatia the sixth.
Seehofer: Labelling can improve animal welfare. This is the conclusion of the animal welfare conference held today in Brussels within the course of the German Council Presidency and in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the EU Commission. The conference started an open discussion with the operators in the food chain, consumer and animal welfare associations and representatives of the scientific community and authorities. Already existing and well-known labelling systems, e.g. for the labelling of eggs and organic farming methods were presented at the conference and their pros and cons were discussed.
1.9 billion euro for the environment in Europe. Under the chairmanship of Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, in Brussels yesterday the Conciliation Committee of the European Parliament and the Council achieved agreement on the EU environmental funding programme LIFE+. "I am delighted that together we have succeeded in reaching agreement on LIFE+. The result is a major gain for European environmental protection and nature conservation," said Federal Environment Minister Gabriel at the end of the negotiations.
Payment Services Directive adopted. On Tuesday the 27 European finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, agreed on the text of the Payment Services Directive. Now nothing more stands in the way of the Directive being passed by the European Parliament (EP) in April. The adoption of the Payment Services Directive is a prerequisite for the creation of a Single Euro Payments Area and new pan-European payment products (standard European credit transfer, known as European direct debt, in short: SEPA products).
The Directive creates equal legal conditions for payments in the European Union. The consequence is that every cross-border payment in the EU can be treated as a domestic payment. This brings benefits not only for the providers of payment services, but for the customer as well.
First meeting of the European Union Troika Foreign Ministers with the five Central Asian states. On 27 and 28 March 2007, in the Kazakh capital Astana, the European Union Troika met at foreign minister level with the Central Asian states for a regional dialogue, thus entering a new era of EU-Central Asia relations.
The German EU Council Presidency has been tasked by its European partners to draw up guidelines for enhanced cooperation with the Central Asian states ("EU Strategy on Central Asia") by the middle of this year.
Federal Minister Steinmeier invites children to the "Europa Kinderland" workshop in Bremen. On the occasion of the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in Bremen (30 – 31 March), 54 children from all 27 EU Member States will gather there to take part in a week-long workshop entitled "Europa Kinderland" (Europe, Land of Children).
At the invitation of Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier the 9 – 10-year-old children will discover Europe for themselves in a joint project: The starting point is the song entitled "Kleine Europäer / Europa Kinderland" (Little Europeans / Europe, Land of Children).
On 19th and 20th April 2007, the EU Health Ministers will be coming together for their Informal Meeting in Aachen. The Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt, will be presiding over the exchange of opinion among the 27 Health Ministers of the European Union's Member States as well as the three candidates for accession (Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) the EU Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and two Members of the European Parliament. A total of some 200 participants are expected to attend. One of the main areas of emphasis of these consultations will be the access of Europe's citizens to high-quality and efficient health care services within the European Union. Furthermore, in Aachen, the EU Ministers of Health will have an opportunity to discuss the priorities of the German Council Presidency as well as other health policy topics.
European Union Troika for consultations in Central Asia. The European Union Troika has travelled to the Kazakh capital Astana on 27 March for two-day talks with the Foreign Ministers of the Central Asian states. The aim is to consult with the Central Asian Foreign Ministers in Astana in order to identify areas where there is interest in enhanced cooperation. In addition to this, regional and current international issues are being discussed at the consultations, the first to take place at Foreign Minister level.
International Cartel Conference and European Competition Day in Munich. "Competition is the pillar of a free social order", said Federal Minister of Economics and Technology and Council President Michael Glos on the occasion of today's opening of the 13th International Cartel Conference and the 14th European Competition Day in Munich. According to the Minister, the prosperity that we are enjoying in Germany would be unthinkable without competition.
Accreditation for the "EU-Russian Federation Summit" (18 May 2007) in Samara, Russia, is possible from 30 March to 5 April. Venue: Samara/Russia, Date: 18 May 2007, Media advisory: On 30 March 2007 an invitation to apply for accreditation for the EU-Russia Summit will be posted on the Kremlin website at www.kremlin.ru. Journalists can apply for accreditation there from 30 March to 5 April 2007. To apply, the following information is required: name, date and place of birth, passport number as well as the date of issue and expiry and details of your medium as well as whether you require a hotel booking in Samara. Please note that persons with accreditation do not require an invitation to obtain a visa. Visa applications should be sent to the Russian embassy in your home country.
Europe is our common future. In bright sunshine the Berlin Declaration was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its founding. Besides recalling the EU’s achievements, the document identifies the EU’s future goals as well as the challenges it faces: safeguarding the European way of life and assuming global responsibility.
As Chancellor Angela Merkel noted in the very personal speech she made at the ceremony, “Fifty years of the Treaties of Rome – that means for me, to put it in a nutshell, a dream has come true.” The dream of peace and prosperity could come true because - after devastation and destruction – the Europeans had let themselves be guided by the quality that is their most important attribute: tolerance.
Congratulations Europe!. The celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome have begun.With the signing of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 1957, the foundation stone for the European Union was laid. The Heads of State and Government of all 27 Member States have gathered here today in Berlin to celebrate the occasion. This morning they adopted the Berlin Declaration. This weekend the German capital is Europe's focal point and the central venue for the celebrations.
50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome: Berlin Declaration signed today. At the official ceremony in the German Historical Museum in Berlin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel as President of the European Council, President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso today signed the so-called "Berlin Declaration".
Celebrating Europe. The European Union is turning 50 – a reason for real celebration. For the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957 was the start of an unprecedented success story. As President of the European Council, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited all the Heads of State and Government of the other 26 EU Member States, the President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering and the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso to Berlin for the occasion.
On Saturday afternoon they will all arrive in Berlin. A city that symbolizes like no other the healing of the division of the European continent. As the Chancellor emphasized in her weekly video message published today, "we have succeeded in overcoming the division of the Cold War and we have succeeded in bringing together almost the whole of Europe in the European Union."
Tiefensee: Galileo is in a crisis. “Galileo has not yet overcome its difficulties. It is true that the industry has made some moves in the right direction. The concession contract has been concluded. But the consortium has yet to resolve elementary issues. Thus, for instance, decisions within the consortium can only be taken by unanimity. But we need a consortium company that is capable of negotiating and taking decisions, so that the blockades are not continued. That is why Galileo is still in a crisis”, said the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, at today’s EU Transport Council in Brussels.
Exhibition "Visit(e)" opened in Brussels featuring works of art from the Federal Art Collection. Today (Thursday), the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Bernd Neumann, opened the exhibition "Visit(e)" at the Cultural Centre of the ING Bank. Under the auspices of Germany's EU presidency, the exhibition shows works by 39 German artists. The 236 works on show, which span four decades, are part of the contemporary art collection of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Tiefensee: Air services agreement between the EU and Malaysia signed. Air services between the European Community and Malaysia have been placed on a sound legal basis by means of an agreement. The document was signed under the auspices of the German EU Council Presidency by the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, the EU Transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, and the Malaysian Minister of Transport, Sri Chan Koy Choy.
Tiefensee: The air services agreement with the USA is a first step towards a new partnership. The Council of EU Transport Ministers, chaired by the German EU Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, today reached agreement in Brussels on Open Skies. “The EU-US air services agreement is, in many points, a major step towards a new transatlantic partnership. Air services between the EU and the USA have been placed on a modern and reliable set of regulations, which involves benefits for all European carriers and consumers. The agreement as a whole will enter into force on 30 March 2008. Europe would have liked an agreement that went even further. Two things are crucial for us: first, we have legal certainty, and second, the door is open for further negotiations on an opening-up of the market in the USA”, said Mr Tiefensee in Brussels today.
Tiefensee: Administrative arrangement on HGV, bus and coach checks in Europe. In the future, there will be even closer coordination between EU countries when deciding how to check heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches on their roads. Following an invitation by the EU Council President – the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, – ministers from twelve Member States today signed an administrative arrangement on Euro-Contrôle-Route (ECR). With Romania and Bulgaria signing the agreement, the number of states participating in ECR has grown.
Tiefensee: Emissions trading in aviation has to be progressed. The EU Transport Council, meeting under the German Council Presidency in Brussels, today addressed the issue of emissions trading in aviation.
The Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, emphasized: “Since international aviation is currently exempt from the agreements of the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, other ways of limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aviation have to be sought.
Press Briefing on the Informal Meeting of the Heads of State and Government at 24 and 25 March 2007. Time: Friday, 23 March 2007, 10.00 am, Venue: Federal Chancellery, 1st floor, Note for the press in Berlin: Admission: 9.30 am with Press accreditation passes issued by the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government or the Six-month EU accreditation badge. Journalists not holding such accreditation must have registered by Thursday, 22 March 2007, 2:00 pm on fax number +49 (0)1888-400-1947 or +49 (0)30-4000-1947, alternatively by email pressestelle(at)bk.bund.de, stating last name, first name, date and place of birth.
Federal Minister of the Interior Dr Wolfgang Schäuble: “Positive mid-term review of the German EU Council Presidency”. Prior to the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, the Federal Minister of the Interior gave a positive report of the progress made so far under the German Council Presidency. On Wednesday, Federal Minster Wolfgang Schäuble invited the Berlin-based ambassadors of the EU Member States and the candidate countries to a discussion about the domestic policy issues pursued by the EU Council Presidency.
With regard to the mid-term review Interior Minister Schäuble said:
Fiscal Policy Challenges in Europe - Conference on 22 and 23 March 2007 in Berlin. The Federal Ministry of Finance and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) are hosting a conference entitled “Fiscal Policy Challenges in Europe” on 22 and 23 March 2007. The conference will cover issues regarding the quality of public finances and the role played by fiscal policy in the context of the Lisbon Strategy. Taking place under the German presidency of the European Union, the conference provides a visible contribution to the discussion of practical and theoretical issues that are becoming increasingly important in the realm of European fiscal policy.
Minister Zypries welcomes European Ombudsman. Within the context of the German EU Presidency, Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries welcomed the European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamondouros, for talks today at the Federal Ministry of Justice. “This meeting provides an excellent opportunity to speak with the European Ombudsman about his work and about the importance of a citizen-friendly administration at both the Community and Member State levels,” stated Ms Zypries.
Middle East Quartet Statement. The Quartet Principals - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner - discussed by telephone the situation in the Middle East, and in particular the establishment of a Palestinian National Unity Government. The Quartet reiterated its respect for Palestinian democracy and the agreement reached in Mecca on 8 February 2007, which laid the foundation for Palestinian reconciliation. The Quartet expressed hope that the establishment of a new government on 17 March 2007 would help end intra-Palestinian violence and ensure calm.
Informal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers on 30 and 31 March in Bremen. During the 2007 German EU Council Presidency the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers – the traditional "Gymnich" meeting – will take place in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.
It was the former Federal Foreign Minister Walter Scheel who, in 1974, established the tradition of informal gatherings when he invited his foreign minister colleagues to talks in Schloss Gymnich near Bonn. Since then there have been huge changes. The division of Europe is now history, the number of foreign ministers has grown from nine to 27, and at the final working lunch they will be joined by their colleagues from the candidate countries Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
"Hi! Europe Calling!" in more than 70 countries. In the Europe of the 21st century the European Union Member States are facing the challenges of the present and the future together. In so doing they are setting international standards. Today the Europeans are leaders in key branches such as renewable energies and environmental satellite observation. The European Union is also setting top standards in product and food safety, gender equality and the education sector. Fifty-five percent of international development assistance comes from the EU. As one aspect of its media work and public relations for the German EU Presidency, the Federal Foreign Office is promoting the exhibition "Hi! Europe Calling!" in more than 70 countries and in 22 languages.
Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by telephone. Prior to this call, she had conducted a telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, on Sunday 18 March.
The talk with President Abbas focused on the Middle East peace process and the new government of national unity in the Palestinian territories.
State Secretary Dr. Joachim Wuermeling: Intelligent climate protection. “We need to protect the climate in an intelligent way,” was the call today by Dr. Joachim Wuermeling, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, at the European Business Summit in Brussels. “Climate protection today is one of the central challenges as we shape globalisation.” State Secretary Dr. Wuermeling continued: “We want to tackle the challenges in the fields of energy and climate protection without losing sight of growth and jobs.” This is a challenge, he said, not just for government, but also for business: companies need to become even more innovative in order to adapt to new realities, for example as new markets for environmentally friendly technologies are established and expanded.
European Union Troika meeting with the United States of America. On Sunday evening (18 March) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will leave together with EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner for Washington, where on Monday (19 March) the EU Troika will hold talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Social dialogue to be stepped up in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership - Federal Government hosts conference in Berlin. The Social Partners Conference “Employment and Social Dialogue within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership” will be held in Berlin today, Friday, 16 March 2007. Ministers of the Member States and representatives of the EU Commission, trade unions and employers’ federations will take part. A total of around 190 delegates are expected to attend. This is the first time a conference will aim to intensify inter-regional and subregional cooperation on employment and social policy between the EU Member States and the southern Mediterranean countries. The basis for this dialogue was created by the Barcelona Process which has promoted political, economic and cultural cooperation between these states since 1995. More focus is now to be placed on the social dimension. This is the only way a common area of security and prosperity can be created in the long term.
EU-ASEAN: Nuremberg Declaration on Enhanced Partnership adopted. Today (15 March), the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the European Union adopted the Nuremberg Declaration at the 16th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Nuremberg. After 30 years of good relations, it is the political signal for closer cooperation in all spheres. Core areas will include intensive political and security policy cooperation, the expansion of trade and economic relations and close interaction on fundamental global issues, such as energy and the environment.
European Telecommunication Ministers want an EU Regulation on Roaming Charges by the End of the Year. Surprisingly high bills for cell phone roaming should be made a thing of the past - reason enough for the telecommunication ministers of the EU's Member States to discuss the Commission's initiative for a Roaming Regulation at their Informal Meeting today on the sidelines of the CeBIT Fair in Hanover. The participants see regulation at the European level as necessary and urgent since rates for roaming services significantly exceed the costs and are thus a burden for European citizens.
Mobile Television. The telecommunication ministers of the EU informed themselves today on the mobile use of television services - Mobile TV - during their Informal Meeting at the sidelines of the CeBIT Fair in Hanover. Market analyses point to the a sector that will be able to grow to some 100 million subscribers throughout Europe by 2010. In the words of German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos, "This dynamic trend offers a unique opportunity for the European ICT branch. It is one more important element of the Lisbon Strategy and, owing to its innovative potential, will make a sustained contribution for more growth and employment." The European Commission plans to issue a Communication next July, that will more precisely define the market opportunities.
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Club Commission Berlin present the European Club Night. On 24 and 25 March, celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome will take place in Berlin. As well as holding an informal Summit of the Heads of State and Government, the Federal Government is also inviting people to a grand Festival of Europe.
At the initiative of Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier, not only will the Berlin museums open their doors, but the city's clubs will also participate in a European Club Night beginning late on Saturday evening.
Consensus on Economic Partnership Agreements between EU and ACP Countries. The German EU Presidency yesterday hosted an informal dialogue on the pro-development agenda of the Economic Partnership Agreements currently being negotiated between the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and the European Union (EU). The meeting was co-chaired by Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Minister Hans Joachim Keil of Samoa on behalf of the ACP. Present were ministers and heads of delegation from over 30 ACP States representing all the negotiating regions and EU development cooperation ministers from the 27 EU Member States. The meeting was attended also by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel.
Glos sees Mobile TV as new market and growth engine. At the CeBIT, which will be officially opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, visitors can catch a glimpse of the technological future. A great deal of what is presented at the Show will be an indispensable part of our lives in just a few years. This might well include mobile TV, by which TV programming can be broadcast to cell phones. Mobile TV could generate a new market estimated to be worth sales in the amount of the high millions.
Federal Minister Glos calls for the speedy reduction of charges for cell-phone use outside the country. For years now the rates for so-called roaming, wireless cell phone connections to foreign networks, have clearly been excessive. Urgently needed is therefore a Europe-wide approach providing sustained relief for individuals. At the moment, a corresponding Draft Regulation is being discussed at the European level.
EU sport ministers agree to forge a network of national anti-doping agencies. On the final day of the informal meeting of EU ministers responsible for sport chaired by the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, ministers and delegations from 26 EU Member States and EU Commissioner Ján Figel’ discussed the issues of sport and integration and anti-doping policies. “The meeting was held in a very constructive atmosphere. We, the ministers responsible for sport, made significant progress in various fields”, Schäuble said.
EU-Conference agrees on Bremen Declaration. At the end of the EU Conference "Responsibility and Partnership – Together Against HIV/AIDS" in Bremen, the representatives of EU Member States, neighbouring countries and international partners agreed on a joint declaration in their fight against HIV/AIDS ("Bremen Declaration").
The EU Conference "Responsibility and Partnership" – Together Against HIV/AIDS" took place in Bremen under the German Council Presidency from 12 to 13 March 2007, upon invitation from the German Federal Minister of Health, Mrs. Ulla Schmidt.
In this Declaration, the participants commit to assume political leadership at national, European and international level to roll back the pandemic.
Broad support for EU-Africa energy partnership. The development ministers of the 27 EU member states today concluded their informal meeting at the Petersberg near Bonn. It focused on cooperation between Europe and the 78 ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) countries. Afterwards, the EU development ministers will be meeting about 30 colleagues from ACP countries for an informal dialogue in the afternoon – the first time a meeting has been held between these two groups.
In a joint press conference with EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, the German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced the forging of an energy partnership between Europe and Africa. She emphasized that without sustainable access to energy, there can be no development. "Rising costs for fossil energy are jeopardizing development achievements in Africa.
EU Troika agrees to intensify exchange with Indonesia. On 13 March the annual meeting of the European Union Troika and Indonesia took place at the Federal Foreign Office.
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier headed the European Union delegation. The Indonesian delegation was led by Minister for Foreign Affairs N. Hassan Wirajuda. Mr Manuel Lobo Antunes, Secretary of State at the Portuguese Ministry for European Affairs, was present on behalf of the upcoming Portuguese EU Presidency.
The Federal Government is hosting the big Europe festival in Berlin. The Federal Government is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome by hosting a big Europe Festival in Berlin on 24 and 25 March. The “Europa-Nacht der Schönheit” (“European Night of Beauty”) and “Europäische Clubnacht” (“European Club Night”) are scheduled to take place on 24 March, and the big open-air event surrounding the Brandenburg Gate will be held on 25 March. The Europe Festival has been organised in conjunction with the informal summit for the Heads of State and Government on 24 and 25 March in Berlin. You can find detailed information about the Europe Festival on the website at www.europafest2007.de.
HIV/AIDS Control at the highest political level. In closing the EU Conference 'Responsibility and Partnership – Together Against HIV/AIDS' in Bremen, the Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt, the Federal Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, and Annette Schavan, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, jointly declare their common goals in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The current President of the EU Council of Health Ministers, Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt:
"At the Bremen Conference, we succeeded in agreeing on the fact that the fight against HIV/AIDS can only be won with strong political leadership. This is a topic which must be tackled at the highest possible political level.
The Spring European Council: integrated climate protection and energy policy, progress on the Lisbon Strategy. The European Council held in Brussels on 8 and 9 March 2007 marked the successful conclusion to the first stage of the German EU Presidency. In at times difficult negotiations with the EU Member States' Heads of State and Government, Federal Chancellor Merkel achieved a breakthrough towards an ambitious integrated European climate and energy policy. This will give the EU credibility in the pioneering role it will play in international climate protection during the negotiations on a post-Kyoto regime, due to begin in 2007. In this context the European Council agreed to make a voluntary commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent as long as other industrialized countries adopt comparable goals. Apart from this commitment, however, it defined an independent goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 in relation to 1990 levels.
In the run-up to the opening of the Informal Meeting of EU Development Ministers at the Petersberg near Bonn. This evening, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul will be opening the Informal Meeting of EU Development Ministers at the Petersberg near Bonn. The development agenda of the German EU Presidency focuses on the Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific), access to energy for Africa and support for renewable energy, improved complementarity within the European Union, and the Congo and Great Lakes peace process. Participants in the meeting include World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, German entrepreneur Dr Michael Otto, and some 30 Ministers from ACP countries. Prior to the opening of the Informal Meeting of Development Ministers, the Minister attended a conference of German and European nongovernmental organizations this morning in Bonn.
Federal Minister Steinmeier participates in 4th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This Monday (12 March), Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier took part in the opening session of the 4th Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva. Speaking before the Council on behalf of the European Union, the Federal Minister stressed the great importance which EU Member States attach to concerted human rights efforts under the aegis of the United Nations. Regarding the Human Rights Council, now in existence for one year, Steinmeier said that the creation of the forum in 2006 represented an important first step towards more effective human rights work in the United Nations.
Conference on Employment and Social Dialogue within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. On 16 March 2007 the social partners conference "Employment and Social Dialogue within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" will take place. The venue will be the Federal Foreign Office in the morning and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in the afternoon. This conference has been organized under Germany’s EU Presidency by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Foreign Office in conjunction with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Interior Minister Schäuble welcomes the EU-wide introduction of the sport satellite account and intensified cross-border police operations. At the informal meeting of EU ministers responsible for sport chaired by Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, participants today discussed issues in the fields of “sport and economics” and “sport and violence”. EU Commissioner Ján Figel’ took part in the discussions. At the opening session the president and vice-president of the World Cup Organizing Committee, Franz Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Niersbach, reported on the 2006 Football World Cup.
Interior Minister Schäuble opens the informal meeting of EU sport ministers. On Monday afternoon, the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, opened the informal meeting of EU sport ministers in Stuttgart under Germany’s EU Council Presidency. “Sport has a huge social impact and represents values. Together we want to strengthen the role of sport in Europe and resolutely fight threats such as violence and doping”, Schäuble said at the beginning of the two-day meeting in the capital of Baden-Württemberg. Delegations and ministers from 26 Member States followed the invitation of the German sports minister. Ján Figel’, the EU Commissioner responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, also attends the meeting.
Federal Minister Steinmeier to meet the Foreign Minister of Laos. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, for an exchange of views tomorrow, Tuesday, 13 March. The talks will focus on bilateral, regional and current international issues, as well as relations between the European Union and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
EU Troika meets high-level Indonesian delegation. Tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 March) in Berlin, the Foreign Minister Troika of the European Union will meet with a delegation from the Republic of Indonesia for talks.
Discussions will focus on relations between the European Union and Indonesia as well as regional and topical international issues.
Historical agreement on climate protection. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a breakthrough in Brussels on the issue of climate protection. The European Union (EU) has undertaken to increase the use of renewable energy to 20% by 2020. This was agreed by the EU’s Heads of State and Government in Brussels.
How individual Member States will contribute to this target will be decided in separate negotiations. For the moment, though, there is agreement that the target of 20% within the European Union should be met.
Federal Minister of Family Affairs von der Leyen: “Learn from the successful policies of others”. On the occasion of the summit meeting in Brussels on March 8-9, 2007 and against the background of demographic change in Europe, the heads of states and governments of the European Union acknowledged the European Alliance for Families as proposed under the German EU presidency.
Hope for major headway on climate protection. The European Union should make a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in relation to 1990 values and to increase by 20% the share of renewable energies. That is the goal Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has set her sights on. At the end of the first working day of the European Council meeting in Brussels, she appeared confident that on this point the Member States would reach agreement.
European Council meets in Brussels today and tomorrow. Climate protection, energy policy and the Lisbon Strategy are on the agenda of the spring meeting, which traditionally deals with economic issues. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened yesterday the exhibition "Views of Europe", which presents more than 150 masterpieces of nineteenth century German painting. Many German artists, from Karl Friedrich Schinkel to Casper David Friedrich and Adolph Menzel, have immortalised their own views of Europe. On Thursday, International Women's Day, the Chancellor will open the exhibition "European Women" prior to the first session of the European Council.
European Union Troika travelled to North Korea for talks. The EU Troika at Asian Affairs Commissioner level visited Pyongyang from 6 to 8 March. The delegation was welcomed by Kung Sok Ung, Acting Foreign Minister, and Yang Hyong Sop, Vice-Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. Detailed talks took place in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, followed by an exchange of opinions at the Institute for Disarmament and Peace. The consultations were held in a frank atmosphere.
Comprehensive, long-term energy partnership with Africa is also in Europe's interest. "A comprehensive, long-term energy partnership is in all parties' interest," stated German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul at the end of the Africa-Europe Energy Forum in Berlin. "The aim must be to improve the climate for investment, to increase the amount invested in energy and to bring transparency to oil and gas revenues. Simultaneously, the development of renewable energy must be reinforced in view of climate change."
Europe has to start thinking differently. The European economy needs predictable and reliable climate protection targets. Without them, said Federal Chancellor Merkel in Brussels, businesses would not able to start investing in new technologies. Before the EU’s Spring Council, the Chancellor met with European social partners and Commission President José Manuel Barroso for the traditional Social Summit.
Exposition “Views on Europe. Europe and German Painting in the 19th Century” in Brussels. Today, Chancellor Angela Merkel will inaugurate the exposition “Views on Europe. Europe and German Painting in the 19th Century” at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The exposition under the patronage of the Chancellor, is part of the cultural programme accompanying the German EU Presidency.
German Federal Research Minister Schavan: "A kind of European Nobel Prize". German Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan presented the Descartes Prizes for Research and Science Communication together with EU Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik in Brussels on Wednesday. "These prizes are attracting increasing attention", said Schavan. "They have become a kind of European Nobel Prize". The Minister emphasized that excellence in research was important for making Europe the most competitive region within a few years. And she added: "We need outstanding young researchers today in order to produce the innovations of tomorrow".
Chancellor Angela Merkel invites the EU Heads of State and Government to the European Council in Brussels. I am very pleased to invite you to the spring meeting of the European Council, which will take place in Brussels on 8 and 9 March 2007. Europe is at an important crossroads. If we act decisively now, we have a chance of effectively counteracting the dangers of climate change. Climate and energy policies are therefore at the centre of this European Council.
Minister of State Gloser on the forthcoming celebrations to mark the EU's 50th anniversary. Yesterday in Brussels the EU Ministers for European Affairs discussed the forthcoming celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the EU's founding treaties. Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on this subject: "The EU's 50th birthday is a wonderful opportunity to make Europe attractive to its citizens again and gives us a chance to look back on the EU's unique success story. At the same time, on that day, Europe must look towards the future. People want to know how the EU intends to tackle the challenges of the 21st century."
No sustainable development in Africa without energy, says Wieczorek-Zeul. To win the fight against poverty in Africa, we must also eradicate energy poverty, said Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul today at the Africa-Europe Energy Forum in Berlin. Access to energy in the developing countries – particularly in Africa – was, she said, a key requirement for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015. "Without energy, there can be no sustainable development," she said.
European Union delegation travels to North Korea. Today (Tuesday, 6 March), a delegation of the European Union, led by Germany’s EU presidency, will travel to Pyongyang in North Korea for two days of high-level political talks (6-8 March). The aim of this trip by the EU Troika is to promote the rapid implementation of an agreement reached on 13 February in Beijing during the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme.
EU Foreign Ministers prepare European Council. One of the main points on the agenda at today’s General Affairs Council was the task of preparing for the European Council on 8/9 March. At this meeting, the EU Foreign Ministers focused particularly on the Lisbon Strategy and climate protection. With regard to the latter, they discussed an integrated action plan which is to include measures to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewables in a move to cut CO2 emissions drastically. Federal Minister Steinmeier said that it had been possible to reduce the number of outstanding issues significantly during today’s preparations for the European Council.
Seehofer: Renewable resources are becoming the cornerstone of alternative forms of energy. "Renewable resources can provide important future prospects for people in rural areas and, at the same time, solutions to the energy issues of our time." This is what Federal Minister Seehofer said at the conference entitled "Fuelling the Future - Renewable Resources Show the Way Forward for Rural Areas in Europe", which was opened in Nuremberg on 5 March in the course of the German Council Presidency.
Conference on the Challenges and Opportunities in a Digitalised World. On 15 March 2007, the consumer policy in the digitalised world will take centre stage at a conference hosted by the EU Council Presidency "Challenges and Opportunities in a Digitalised World. The Role of Consumer Policy". This conference coincides both with the World Consumer Rights Day and the opening day of the Cebit. Hence, two thematic areas that are closely interlinked and important for economic growth - innovations and consumer policy - will be in the public focus.
The Earth as a Work of Art. On 7th March, the exhibition KUNSTWERK ERDE (The Earth as a Work of Art) is opening in Brussels. The exhibition, organised by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, combines Art and Science in a series of stunning satellite images and takes viewers on an extraordinary world tour as seen through the eyes of scientific research.
Federal Minister of Education Annette Schavan: "Satisfying young children's thirst for knowledge". At their meeting in Heidelberg, education ministers from all over Europe spoke out in favour of improving early childhood education. "The pre-school period is at least as important as schooling itself", said Annette Schavan, the German Federal Education Minister. And she added: "We will make every effort in Europe to ensure that young children's thirst for knowledge can be satisfied". Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research had invited the European education ministers to a meeting in Heidelberg. Ministers from the 27 member states of the European Union as well as EU Education Commissioner Jan Figel' and representatives of another ten European countries came to Baden-Württemberg in South-West Germany.
Military Cooperation and Capabilities. The situation in Sudan, military cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations as well as the development of military capabilities of the European Union were the topics discussed by the EU Defence Ministers on March 2nd, the second day of their informal meeting in Wiesbaden. Defence Minister Jung noted that no satisfactory results have yet been achieved regarding the suggested three-phase-model for a transistion of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) into a UN led mission. A “hybrid” mission involving the UN, the African Union and Sudan would be conceivable.
Military Capabilities of the European Union. The agenda of the third working session featured the development of the military capabilities of the European Union and the European Defence Agency. Discussions on military capabilities focussed on the „Headline Goal“ process, the Rapid Response Capability and the Capability Development Plan. Minister Jung stated that during the German Council Presidency the „Headline Goal“ process would be taken forward in close coordination with all Member States. The first goal has already been achieved: the preparation of the Force Catalogue 2007 with the contributions of the new Member States Bulgaria and Romania.
Press Briefing on the European Spring Council in March 2007 with Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm and the European Affairs Adviser of the Federal Chancellor, Uwe Corsepius. Press Briefing on the European Spring Council in March 2007 with Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm and the European Affairs Adviser of the Federal Chancellor, Uwe Corsepius on Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 9.30 am , Venue: Federal Chancellery, 1st floor, Berlin, Germany and Justus Lipsius Presidency Pressbriefingroom, Brussels, Belgium
Europe needs economic growth. Today, fifty years after the European Community was established by the signing of the Treaties of Rome, Chancellor Angela Merkel sees Europe confronted with challenges of historical proportions. The European Union needs to adjust economically and ecologically to a changed world situation, Merkel noted in a policy statement made just days before the EU spring summit.
Operations and Civilian Missions. The talks held on March 1st, the first day of the informal meeting of the European Union Defence Ministers, focussed on crisis management operations and missions. As a first agenda item the participants discussed the situation of the western Balkans. In his introduction, Dr. Jung gave a basically positive estimation of the development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The German Minister said that the improvement of the security situation was also to be reflected in the operation ALTHEA according to which a conditioned and phased withdrawal of the forces is planned. This step should, however, take into account the development of the overall security situation of the western Balkans.
Federal Minister of Education Annette Schavan: "Strengthening early childhood education in a targeted way". Today, Federal Minister Annette Schavan opened the informal meeting of European Education Ministers within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has invited the Education Ministers of 27 EU Member States to Heidelberg to discuss questions of adult education and pre-primary education. The objective of the two-day conference is to continue the Europe-wide discussion on a common way of implementing lifelong learning.
German Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan: "Research for Securing Citizens' Freedom". The development of civil security technologies is now a priority of research support in the European Union: The EU has earmarked a total of 1.4 billion euro for civil security research in the period 2007 to 2013. Security research is now firmly anchored in the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme. "In our technology-driven world, research for civil security is becoming increasingly important for securing the freedom of citizens in Europe", said the German Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan in Berlin on Monday, when she opened the European Security Research Conference together with the EU Commissioners Günter Verheugen (Enterprise and Industry) and Franco Frattini (Justice, Freedom and Security). "We must protect against the hazards of terrorism, crime and natural disasters and at the same time consolidate freedom and the rule of law", Schavan added.
Federal Minister of Defence opens the Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers in Wiesbaden within the framework of the German EU presidency. On March 1, 2007, the Federal Minister of Defence, Dr. Franz Josef Jung, will open
the Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers of the European Union in Wiesbaden. A
demanding work programme will be on the agenda. For the first time, Bulgaria and
Romania will participate in the meeting as full EU members. During the two-day meeting in Wiesbaden, a total of three working sessions will provide the defence ministers of what are by now 27 nations, as well as the
Secretary-General and High Representative of the EU, Dr. Javier Solana, with the
opportunity to discuss current security policy issues.
Federal Minister Steinmeier and the Director-General of the Berlin State Museums present the plans for the Celebration of Europe's Beauty. The Heads of State and Government of the 27 EU Member States are meeting in Berlin on 24 and 25 March for an informal summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. To mark this occasion the German Government is organizing a large-scale Festival of Europe in Berlin.
The Festival of Europe will begin on the evening of 24 March with a celebration organized in conjunction with the Berlin State Museums.
The Minister and the Director-General of the Berlin State Museums, Klaus-Peter Schuster, will present the plans for the Celebration of Europe's Beauty together on Thursday (1 March).
Federal Minister Steinmeier to meet the President of the United Nations General Assembly. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is to meet the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, for talks in Berlin tomorrow (Wednesday, 28 February). The President will be visiting Germany from 28 February to 2 March. The talks will focus on cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations as well as current international issues.
Schavan: "Good ideas for tomorrow's products". Basic research will in future play an outstanding role in EU research policy. This was stressed by high-level representatives from science and politics at the launch event for the European Research Council (ERC) in Berlin on Tuesday: Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Research Minister Annette Schavan and EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik as well as Angelika Niebler, Member of the European Parliament, opened the conference at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, which was organized by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the framework of the EU Council Presidency.
Moroccan delegation outlines autonomy plan for Western Sahara. Within the framework of Germany's EU Presidency, Federal Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier received a high-ranking Moroccan delegation headed by Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa. The delegation is currently visiting selected capitals at the request of the Moroccan King in order to hold consultations on the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, which is in the process of being drafted, before it is submitted shortly to the UN Security Council.
200 citizens demand more participation in the shaping of Europe. After the conference the organizers issued the following statement: Citizens have spoken: the "German Citizens' Perspectives on the Future of Europe" states what 200 randomly selected German citizens expect from Europe. The views of the toolmaker, the graphic designer, the theatre nurse, the IT specialist, the warehouse worker, the professor and the apprentice are clear: they want to be more involved in European decision-making processes and demand the institutionalization of the European Citizens' Consultations. They expect Europe to play a leading role in environmental and energy policy and to show greater commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energies. The citizens would like to live in a Europe with a common immigration and integration policy and that speaks with one voice. They also want a European family and social policy to be put on the agenda.
Minister of State Gloser asks Citizens to Reformulate Europe’s Goals. This morning citizens from all over Germany travelled to Berlin for the European Citizens’ Consultations in Germany. They streamed into the Weltsaal in the Foreign Office, in good spirits and nosey as to what awaited them. No one knew anyone – random selection had chosen who was invited to take part. Over the course of two days the warehouse worker, the policeman, the surgical nurse, the consultant, the housewife, the professor of physics, the car mechanic, the apprentice and the pensioner all discuss three topics: energy, family and immigration.
Europe is moving offshore: member states discuss electricity generation from offshore wind energy. Participants in an EU Workshop in Berlin voiced their support for better framework conditions for offshore wind energy deployment in Europe and joint projects by the Member States. Michael Müller, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry said “Our offshore wind power technology is still in its infancy. This workshop has shown the important role of joint projects between the Member States in promoting an economically and ecologically sound development.” At the invitation of the Federal Environment Ministry, around 100 representatives of European governments, the EU Commission, the wind power industry and the scientific community from 12 EU Member States took part in the workshop, which ended today.
Announcement: EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nuremberg. The German Presidency of the Council of the European Union will host the 16th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Nuremberg on 14 and 15 March 2007.
Federal Minister Steinmeier met with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, today to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Steinmeier informed President Abbas about the efforts of the Middle East Quartet, which reaffirmed its commitment to a peaceful solution in the Middle East at its meeting in Berlin on Wednesday (21 February).
Minister Gloser inaugurates European Citizens’ Consultation. What future do citizens want for Europe? In each of the 27 Member States, this question is currently being answered by citizens. Between February and March 2007, 27 European citizens consultations are being held. The answers to this question will be summarised by European citizens into a joint “European Citizens’ Perspective on the Future of Europe”. This will then be presented to the heads of the EU institutions in the European Parliament shortly before the EU Council summit in June.
State Secretary Matthias Machnig: expanding EU cooperation with Black Sea countries. Environment ministers from 16 Danube and Black Sea countries will meet tomorrow (Friday 23rd February) in Bucharest. The conference will discuss the opportunities and challenges for the protection of the Danube River and the Black Sea arising from the accession of Rumania and Bulgaria to the EU. "In the framework of the EU Presidency, we will support the significant expansion of EU cooperation with the Black Sea countries," said Matthias Machnig, State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, who will participate in the conference on behalf of Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Federal Ministry of the Interior and FRONTEX pursue common goal: Strengthening border management agency FRONTEX to fight illegal migration at EU’s external borders. Peter Altmaier, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Brigadier General Ilkka Laitinen, Executive Director of the European border management agency FRONTEX, and Lieutenant General Minze Beuving, chair of the FRONTEX Management Board, were briefed at Frankfurt Airport on an operation currently under way to combat illegal migration at the EU’s external borders. This year’s first FRONTEX operation concerning migration by air focuses on illegal migration from South America.
Federal Minister Glos: Germany amongst the leaders in terms of technology and innovation. The European Innovation Scoreboard (an annual comparative study) published today by the European Commission confirms Germany’s strong position amongst the European and international technology nations.
German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and US Secretary of State Rice held bilateral talks today on the fringes of the Meeting of the Middle East Quartet. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held bilateral talks today on the fringes of the Meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Berlin. Following their talks, Foreign Minister Steinmeier announced that the Middle East Quartet has with this, its second meeting in such a short period, revived its original commitment to the Middle East. He also stressed how important it is for the international community to speak with a single voice.
The Minister emphasized that the Meeting took place at a difficult time in which the Palestinians are forming their government. The fact that Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have continued their direct talks at this time should be seen as a first success.
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier meets Secretary-General of the United Nations. In the run-up to the meeting of the Middle East Quartet, Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier met for bilateral talks in the Federal Foreign Office this Wednesday (21 February) with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. Speaking after the talks, the Federal Foreign Minister emphasized the high standing which the United Nations enjoys in Germany: "Here in Germany, you may always consider yourself among friends, both personally and as Secretary-General. Multilateralism is something like the backbone of German foreign policy."
Statement of the Middle East Quartet. The Quartet Principals – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner – met today in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
Renewable resources provide fresh impetus to rural areas. The German EU Council Presidency attaches great importance to renewable resources. With the Conference "Fuelling the Future – Renewable Resources Show the Way Forward for Rural Areas in Europe" the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection would like to inject further momentum into the promotion of renewable resources in Europe. With 250 participants invited from the political, administrative, scientific and industrial sectors of the 27 EU Member States, and with representatives from the European Commission, from the European Parliament, and from European associations, the aim is to hold discussions on the strategies for an efficient and sustainable development of renewable resources.
Visit of the Federal Foreign Minister to the Southern Caucasus. (Update, 19:00) On Sunday (18 February) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier left on a tour of the Southern Caucasus. This region is an important focus of the efforts to further develop the European Neighbourhood Policy, one of the foreign policy priorities of the German EU Council Presidency. In 2004, due not least to Germany's initiative, all three countries in the region – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – became partners in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). On 14 November 2006 ENP Action Plans with these three countries were adopted with the aim of helping them move closer to European standards.
On the first leg of his tour Minister Steinmeier held talks in Baku this morning (19 February) with Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. The meeting took place on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Azerbaijan.
Chancellor Angela Merkel to receive Palestinian National Authority President Abbas in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, for a conversation in the Federal Chancellery on Friday, 23 February 2007, at 8 am. The talk will revolve around the future of the “government of national unity” and issues concerning the Middle East Quartet. Note for the press: Upon arrival of President Abbas, a photo session is scheduled in the Federal Chancellery.
A mutual press conference will take place at around 9 am.
Talks of Chancellor Angela Merkel with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Time: Thursday , 22 February 2007, 8:00 am
Venue: Federal Chancellery, 7th floor, Sky lobby
Gabriel: Decision by the Environment Council is a historic step for climate protection. Today the Environment Council, meeting in Brussels under the German Presidency, adopted ambitious climate protection goals up to 2020 and an EU negotiation package for a post-2012 climate protection agreement. “With the adoption of climate protection goals and the negotiation package, the EU has reaffirmed its leading role in climate protection. This is a signal to the international community that the EU wants to make a fair and appropriate contribution in the framework of an international climate protection agreement. This is a historic step forward, enabling us to break the deadlock at international level”, stated Minister Gabriel, who led the ministerial meeting as current Chair of the Council.
Talks of Chancellor Angela Merkel with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Talks of Chancellor Angela Merkel with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
pictures only for arrival/pre-meeting shots
Time: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 3.00 pm
Venue: Federal Chancellery, 7th floor, Sky lobby
Visit of the Federal Foreign Minister. (update, 12:30) Following further meetings with Azerbaijan's President Ilham oglu Aliyev and the head of the national oil and gas company SOCAR , Rovnag Abdulayev, Federal Minister Steinmeier left for the Georgian capital Tbilisi in the early afternoon.
In Tbilisi, Minister Steinmeier met for talks with the Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili and Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli. Both men pointed out the excellent state of German-Georgian relations. In Georgia, too, talks focused on the European Neighbourhood Policy. Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed that Georgia has set itself ambitious goals for the implementation of the Action Plan. He went on to say that the possibility of concluding agreements for individual sectors had been discussed. These could help Georgia make progress towards adopting European legal standards and gain gradual access to the European single market.
Meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Berlin. The Middle East Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, will reconvene in Berlin this coming Wednesday (21 February) to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The meeting will be attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, currently President of the Council of the European Union, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
EU: Electronic Voting at General Meetings will Soon be Possible. In future, shareholders of listed companies in EU Member States will be able to cast their votes by electronic means as well, under a new EU Directive which requires Member States to adapt their national legislation accordingly. Council President Brigitte Zypries was today able to report to her European colleagues at the Competitiveness Council that the European Parliament recently gave its approval to the proposal that was agreed upon by the Council in January. "The possibility of voting by electronic means strengthens the position of small investors and thus prevents random majorities. Moreover, the new rules will contribute to the further integration and continued stability of the European capital market," Ms Zypries stated in Brussels.
Annette Schavan, Federal Minister of Education and Research: "Education prepares citizens for the future". The Education Ministers of the European Union (EU) at their first meeting in Brussels under the German Council Presidency on Friday stressed the importance of education policy in Europe for a successful Lisbon reform process. The Ministers agreed that the objectives defined in the Lisbon strategy for more competitiveness and sustainable economic growth can only be achieved if the people in Europe receive an excellent education. This will be a decisive supplement to the project of spending three percent of GDP for research and development by the year 2010. Europe must become a knowledge society in order to be internationally competitive, the Ministers stressed. Education will play a key role in this process.
Agreement on a pan-European network of police databases for more effective crime control. At their meeting in Brussels on Thursday, 15 February, the council of European Union justice and home affairs ministers agreed on incorporating the main provisions of the Prüm Treaty into the EU ’s legal framework. The resulting draft decision is to be forwarded without delay to the European Parliament for its comments, meaning that the process of incorporating the treaty into EU legislation could be completed before the German Presidency ends on June 30.
Procedure to transfer EU citizens sentenced abroad to serve their sentence in their home country to be made more straightforward. The Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers today reached agreement on the general approach of a Framework Decision which will enhance the mutual recognition and enforcement among Member States of judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or other measures involving deprivation of liberty.
Under the Framework Decision, it will in future be possible for sentenced persons to be transferred to serve their sentence in their EU country of nationality without having to give their consent, provided that they are habitually resident in that country and have family, social or other ties there.
Home Affairs Ministers want to further strengthen the European border management agency FRONTEX and cooperate closely with countries of origin and transit on migration issues. Given the anticipated migration rise in this spring via the sea towards Europe and the related risks to the life of numerous people, the EU home affairs ministers and European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini consider it essential to cooperate closely on migration issues with countries of origin and transit at the EU’s southern and eastern borders. At the same time, surveillance of the EU’s external borders is to be stepped up. To this end, the European border management agency FRONTEX must be given the necessary means and competences.
EU Agency for fundamental rights is due to take up its work on 1 March 2007. The Regulation establishing the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights was today approved in its final form by the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers. Following a political agreement under the Finnish Presidency in December 2006, the final versions of the texts could now be formally adopted in all languages. Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries stated, “The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the successor to the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, will take up its work in Vienna on 1 March 2007. It will become a European centre of competence for fundamental rights, and will continue the previous activities of the Monitoring Centre. The decision to establish a European Fundamental Rights Agency underscores the significance accorded by the EU to respect for European fundamental rights. Its creation follows directly from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology presents majority calculator for decisions by the Council of the European Union. On the occasion of Germany’s European Council Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has produced an online calculator that can be used to simulate all the Council members’ voting variants. The calculator is for delegates, Commission and Council members, but also for interested citizens, and it is available in three languages.
Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos: “Improving the free movement of goods within the EU – a major focus of the German EU presidency“. “The proposals submitted today by the European Commission to improve the free movement of goods will be amongst the main subjects of discussion for the EU Council during the German presidency”, stated Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos. The proposals by the Commission aim at optimizing the regulatory model of the “new approach”. For some years now, this innovative system for EU-wide harmonization, which relies on the private sector’s own responsibility for the placing of products on the market without relieving governments of their responsibility, has been a guarantee for safe products and fair competition. The European Commission is revising the system in order, for example, to introduce uniform minimum requirements for market surveillance authorities and to bring the competences of test agencies into line throughout Europe.
Minister of State Bernd Neumann stresses importance of a common strategy to strengthen cultural industries. On behalf of the German EU Presidency, Minister of State Bernd Neumann, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, invited the EU ministers responsible for culture and the media to an informal two-day meeting in Berlin. After making good headway on Monday towards modernizing the Television without Frontiers Directive, the ministers’ discussion today focused on cultural industries. The ministers agreed on a series of proposals presented by Minister of State Neumann for a future strategy to promote cultural industries in the coming years. Minister of State Neumann stressed, “The ministers of culture in Europe are called upon to agree on a common strategy for developing cultural industries, which are a significant engine of growth in Europe. Cultural industries already employ more people than the automobile industry and are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy.”
Illuminated bridges in Brussels and Berlin. For Germany's EU Council Presidency Berlin designer Jürgen Schmidt-André has created an installation in the form of two identical illuminated bridges. One of the bridges is in the courtyard of the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels, seat of the Council of the European Union, and the other is in the atrium of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. The blue illuminated arc is meant to be seen both as a bridge and as an invitation to overcome the borders that still divide us. The parallel installation in Brussels and Berlin creates a link between Germany as current holder of the EU Council Presidency and the seat of the European institutions in Brussels.
Foreign Minister Seinmeier welcomes the sucessful conclusion of the Six-Party Talks regarding North Korea's nuclear programme. I expressly welcome the successful conclusion of the Six-Party Talks held in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme. Substantial agreements were reached during the last round of the Six-Party Talks. Although we must be cautious for the time being, the implementation of the agreement reached in Beijing would provide an opportunity to take an important step towards more stability in East Asia and, in particular, on the entire Korean peninsula.
Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Bernd Neumann: Modernizing the EU’s Television without Frontiers Directive is essential for the further development of the European media market. At the invitation of Minister of State Bernd Neumann, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the EU ministers of culture and the media arrived in Berlin today for an informal two-day meeting on the margins of the 2007 Berlinale International Film Festival. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and the EU ministers responsible for culture today discussed the modernization of the EU Television without Frontiers Directive. Minister of State Neumann stated, “The Television without Frontiers Directive is the centrepiece of European legislation in the audiovisual sector.
EU Foreign Ministers: Kosovo's future at a crossroads. The talks focused on the future status of Kosovo and the EU's relations with Serbia. Federal Minister Steinmeier said that the recommendations put forward on Kosovo's future by President Ahtisaari meant that a crossroads had been reached. He went on to say that the EU was calling on both sides to seek a realistic compromise. "The EU is prepared to vigorously support the implementation of a solution on Kosovo's status and the development of a functioning state", stated Frank-Walter Steinmeier and announced the preparation of an ESDP mission in the region.
Meeting of the EU-Western Balkans Forum in Brussels. Following today's (12 February) General Affairs Council, the Foreign Ministers of the 27 Member States, the High Representative for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, met with the Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkan states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Turkey. The meeting was also attended by the Head of UNMIK, Joachim Rücker, as well as the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, and the EU Special Representative for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Erwan Fouéré.
Water balance and water uses: Adaptation to climate change becoming essential. “We must learn to consistently take the impacts of climate change, especially on the water balance, into account when making long-term decisions, for
example with regard to infrastructure or regional development. This applies as much to shipping routes as it does to water supply and wastewater management, coastal defence and flood control, the development of tourism centres and to electricity generation.” Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Environment Minister and President of the EU Environment Council stressed this at the opening of the Symposium in the framework of the German EU Presidency, which he is co-hosting with EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
German Economics Minister Michael Glos Underlines the EU's Common Position on the Doha Round and Free Trade Agreements. Chaired by German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos, the informal Meeting of EU Trade Ministers was held yesterday; the German delegation was headed by State Secretary Dr. Bernd Pfaffenbach. The EU Trade Ministers discussed the current status and future prospects for the Doha Round with the goal of bringing the world trade talks to a successful conclusion. There was agreement among the Trade Ministers on improving market access for European companies in third countries through free trade accords between the EU and Asia's emerging economies.
Middle East Quartet Statement on Agreement to form Palestinian National Unity Government, 9 February 2007. The Middle East Quartet, made up of the United Nations, The European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, yesterday discussed by telephone the situation in the Middle East. It welcomed the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in reaching the agreement to form a Palestinian National Unity government. On February 21, Quartet members will meet in Berlin in order to continue consideration of these developments.
Statement by Federal Minister Steinmeier on the Mecca inter-Palestinian agreement. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (9 February) on the agreement reached by the Palestinians yesterday in Mecca: "I welcome the fact that the parties in Mecca yesterday succeeded in agreeing to form a government of national unity. I hope that this agreement will bring inter-Palestinian violence to a halt."
Invitation to the Press Conference - "Closing the Gap" Tackling Health Inequalities in Europe. Within the scope of the EU Council Presidency, the national closing conference on the project
"Closing the Gap" which had been sponsored by the European Commission, will take place on
13 February 2007. As a representative of Germany, the Federal Centre for Health Education
(BZgA) has been coordinating this European Union project between 21 European states for a
period of three years. At the concluding conference the Strategies for Action To Tackle Health
Inequalities in Europe shall be presented and the contents of the new Database of Good
Practices including 90 projects from all European countries participating shall be introduced.
Invitation to the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Culture and the Media on 12 and 13 February 2007 in Berlin. Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann has invited the Ministers for Culture and the Media of the EU Member States to an Informal Council Meeting in Berlin on Monday, 12 February and Tuesday, 13 February 2007. Key items on the agenda will be the modernisation of the EU Television Directive on the first day and the promotion of culture sector on the second day. In addition, the ministers will take part in the award ceremony for the European Shooting Stars at the Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale.
EU Troika agrees to intensify relations with Pakistan. On 8 February 2007, the Troika of the European Union met with Pakistan in the Federal Foreign Office. Pakistan is an important partner to the EU in Asia, and a major factor in the stability of the South Asian region. The country also plays an active role in multilateral organizations such as the UN or the G77, of which it holds the chairmanship this year.
The EU delegation was headed by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri heading the Pakistan delegation. Portugal, the next Member State to take on the EU Council Presidency, was represented by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Professor João Gomes Cravinho.
Trip by the European Union Troika to Serbia. (Last updated: 8 February) The European Union Troika travelled to Belgrade yesterday (7 February) to explore ways of intensifying cooperation with Serbia's political leaders less than three weeks after the country's parliamentary elections.
Federal Minister Steinmeier stressed that the EU Troika had come to Serbia to make it clear that "Europe has extended its hand". The EU hoped that Serbia would take up its rightful place. Serbia belonged to Europe. He added that Serbia's electorate had opted for the European way at the last parliamentary elections, as more than two thirds of the votes went to democratic parties. Now the domestic reforms in the spheres of rule of law, democracy and the economy had to be steadfastly continued.
The Opening of Worldwide Service Markets Offers Opportunities for Germany. In a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) underlines German companies' good competitive position in the international trade in services. Sectors such as construction, navigation, telecommunications, post/courier services, technical services, and financial services are among the leaders in international competition according to the study. The RWI anticipates positive effects for Germany and the overall world economy from the further opening of worldwide service markets.
Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology: The European Automotive Industry on the Way to Clean and Competitive Vehicles. The future CO2 strategy adopted today by the EU Commission for passenger cars points in the right direction. It rightly takes an integrated approach that extends beyond vehicle engineering to include other contributions to CO2 reduction. The proposed fleet value for vehicles newly licensed in Europe, the political figure of 120 g CO2/km, is very ambitious. Through the possibility, for example, of including the use of bio fuels, it is possible to tap the potential of all CO2 reduction measures. Furthermore, we will now also have the benefit of reducing the CO2 emissions of all vehicles in Europe, not only those that are newly registered.
Wuermeling: Reliable Set of Rules Needed for Europe's Automotive Industry - not the "Carrot and the Stick". "Carrots and sticks" cannot be the instruments of a strategic policy for the automotive industry according to a statement today by Dr. Joachim Wuermeling, State Secretary in the German Ministry of Economics and Technology at an event held by the Forum for the Automobile and Society in Brussels. Dr. Wüermeling called for the systematic implementation of the results of the CARS 21 high-ranking working group. The branch shouldn't be sweet-talked by smooth sounding recommendations one day and then choked by drastic requirements the next. What we need is a predictable set of rules that ensures the international competitiveness of the European automotive industry into the 21st century. With a turnover of some 743 billion Euros in 2005 and 2.2 million jobs, the industry is a mainstay of prosperity in the EU.
Meeting of the EU Troika and Ukraine. On Tuesday 6 February, the Troika of the European Union travelled to Kiev for a third-country meeting with Ukraine.Headed by the current President of the EU Council, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the delegation also included Helga Schmid representing the Council Secretariat and the head of the EU Commission delegation in Kiev. The EU Troika was received in Kiev by Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and the acting Foreign Minister Volodomyr Ohryzko. The meeting signalled the start of negotiations on an enhanced cooperation agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.
European Union Troika meeting with the Russian Federation and Ukraine. (updated: 6. February) On 5 February the third-country meeting between the EU Troika and the Russian Federation took place in Moscow. The EU was represented by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on behalf of the Presidency, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and the head of the EU Commission's Delegation in Moscow, Marco Franco. Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Amado was also present on behalf of the subsequent Portuguese EU Presidency. The Troika delegation was received in Moscow by the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey E. Lavrov.
Towards increased selectivity in European development cooperation. German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul today presented the study "Towards a Division of Labour in European Development Cooperation: Operational Options", which was initiated by the German EU Presidency in collaboration with the other members of the team presidency, Portugal and Slovenia. The study investigates ways of improving European aid effectiveness.
Federal Minister Steinmeier and Deutsche Bahn CEO Mehdorn present ICE with EU logo. Tomorrow, Wednesday (7 February), Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Bahn AG, will present an ICE locomotive decorated with the logo of the German EU Presidency. In reaction to Mr Steinmeier's suggestion, Deutsche Bahn AG has agreed to decorate a total of around 50 ICE and IC locomotives with the EU logo for the duration of the German EU Presidency.
Meeting of the EU Troika and Pakistan in Berlin. On 8 February 2007, the Troika of the European Union will meet with Pakistan in the Federal Foreign Office. The talks will focus on intensifying relations between the EU and Pakistan as well as on regional issues.
Minister of State Günter Gloser to attend "Free Children from War" conference in Paris. Günter Gloser, the Minister of State for Europe, will represent the German EU Presidency at the multilateral "Free Children from War" conference in Paris, which commences on 5 February. The conference has been organized at the initiative of France and UNICEF, and brings together representatives from over 60 countries, NGOs and civil society. Conference participants will look at the situation of children in armed conflicts. The purpose of the conference is the adoption of a political declaration in which participating states commit themselves to give more protection to children who are involved in armed conflict. A comprehensive catalogue of measures and recommendations to prevent the forced recruitment of child soldiers and to promote their demobilization and reintegration into society will also be presented at the conference.
European Union Troika to hold talks with the Russian Federation and Ukraine. On 5 February Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will leave together with EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner on a trip that will take them first to Moscow. Within the framework of the EU’s so-called Trio Presidency Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado will also join them for the Moscow part of their trip.
German Chancellor Merkel to receive Ukrainian President Yushchenko. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive President of Ukraine, Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko for a conversation at the Federal Chancellery on Thursday, the 8th of February 2007, at 12:30 pm. Bilateral topics, the ties between the European Union and the Ukraine and international issues will be addressed during the talk.
Grand Europe Festival of the Federal Government in Berlin. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the German government is organising a grand festival on the 24th and 25th of March in Berlin. An appealing mix of music, culture and information awaits the citizens on both days. The Europe Festival adds lustre to the informal summit meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States, taking place on the 25th of March.
Middle East Quartet Statement. The Quartet Principals - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner - met today in Washington to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The Quartet welcomed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the representative of the EU Presidency, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Middle East Quartet meeting in Washington. After the meeting the Quartet issued a statement in which it reiterated its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, affirming the primacy of the "Roadmap". Efforts by the US to accelerate progress on the Roadmap were expressly welcomed in the statement. The Quartet paid tribute to positive developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as the December meeting between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, as well as the subsequent implementation by both sides of some steps discussed at that meeting. The Quartet was keen to remain closely involved in this period of renewed dialogue. It attached major importance to the tripartite meeting planned for February between President Abbas, Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary of State Rice, which could define the political horizon for a solution to the conflict.
Middle East Quartet meets in Washington. Federal Minister Steinmeier leaves today for Washington for a meeting of the so-called Middle East Quartet (United Nations, European Union, USA and Russia) there on Friday. As President of the Council, Mr Steinmeier is representing the European Union along with Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Condoleezza Rice, Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will also be participating.
Implementation of EU directives better than ever – time for even more ambitious targets. The EU Member States have transposed EU directives faster than ever before. On average, only 1.2 % of directives applying in the EU’s internal market are not transposed on time; for Germany, the figure is just 1 %.
On the road to a lasting peace settlement in the Middle East. The Middle East Quartet came together in Berlin on Wednesday for its second meeting this year. The last meeting took place in Washington on 2 February. The meeting focused on what steps the international community could take to foster a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In a joint statement, the Quartet welcomed the initiation of a dialogue between leading Israeli and Palestinian politicians. Within the framework of a new political process, the Quartet expressed its hope that these efforts would be continued "with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon and launching meaningful negotiations". The Quartet expressed its appreciation for the role played by King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia and the cessation of violence among Palestinians.
German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul puts Africa at the top of the agenda for the twin presidency. “The twin presidency this year gives us a historic opportunity to bring new drive into development policy. We are going to use this opportunity,” said German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, speaking on the occasion of the development policy debate in the German Parliament. “We must not cease to fight on behalf of the poorest of the poor in the world. On the contrary, we must continue to intensify our efforts.
Federal Minister von der Leyen: "The Strength of Europe is its Diversity". Discrimination and equal opportunities are the themes of a European Conference to convene in Berlin on January 30-31 in conjunction with the first European Equal Opportunities Summit. The events officially mark the start of the German EU Presidency and together with the European Commission, launch the "European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, 2007." Federal German Minister Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, Vladimír Špidla, formally opened the Conference today before an international audience of approximately 500 high-level participants from the research, administrative and government communities.
German Presidency programme discussed with European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs. Within the framework of the German EU Presidency, Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries today paid a visit to the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). Minister Zypries took this occasion to discuss the German Presidency Programme with the Committee members.
“Today’s meeting allows us to continue our discussions – which already got underway with individual Committee members in Berlin in early January – concerning current legislative initiatives which Germany wishes to make progress on during its Presidency. I look forward to constructive cooperation with our colleagues in the European Parliament and hope to receive their support,” Ms. Zypries stated in Brussels.
Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul informs the European Parliament about development policy priorities. Today, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul presented the development cooperation priorities of the German EU Presidency in the field of development policy to the Development Committee of the European Parliament. She underlined Europe's responsibility for a fair global development: "The European Union must represent in a credible manner its ideas and views on a fair political, social and economic order – in its overall policy and in its development policy. Europe has the duty of using its substantial influence for the benefit of our partner countries in the South".
Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann presents the EU Presidency's programme to the Culture Committee of the European Parliament.
Conference on European Security and Defence Policy opened in Berlin. Monday, 29 January 2007 saw the opening of a two-day conference entitled "ESDP: From Cologne to Berlin and Beyond. Operations, Institutions, Capabilities". The keynote speeches, which took stock of the ESDP and discussed its future as well as its relationship with NATO, were given by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the EU's High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Federal Minister of Justice Zypries: “Virtual general meetings” throughout Europe enhance the rights of shareholders. The EU Member States will soon be required to provide listed companies with the opportunity to open their general meetings for online participation. This is mandated by a new Directive which has been agreed upon in Brussels by the European Parliament and the Council, currently under German chairmanship. The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) today approved a text previously accepted in the Council by the Member States. The EU Council President, Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries, visited the Committee today and strongly advocated the compromise negotiated under her leadership.
EU Troika meeting with Afghanistan in Berlin - “The EU stands by Afghanistan”. The European Union Troika held its second meeting with Afghanistan on Monday, 29 January 2007, at the Federal Foreign Office. The meeting was chaired by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attended by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The Afghan delegation was led by Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta. Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amada also attended as representative of the next Council Presidency.
Minister Gabriel advocates new European energy and climate policy. Federal Environment Minister Gabriel today stressed the significance of renewable energies for energy and climate protection policy. “The rapid expansion of renewables in Europe to a 20% share by the year 2020 will make a major contribution to achieving our future climate protection goals. This, together with increasing energy efficiency by 20% within the same period, is one of the fundamental pillars of Europe’s new integrated energy and climate policy. We advocate the European Council on 8/9 March agreeing a binding overall target of 20% renewables for the EU”, stated Minister Gabriel at the opening of the first European Energy Week of the EU Commission in Brussels.
Outlawing Racism and Xenophobia Throughout Europe. In view of Germany’s particular historic responsibility, the German EU Presidency has committed itself to returning the combating of racism and xenophobia throughout Europe to the political agenda. It will revive the negotiations on the Framework Decision to combat racism and xenophobia, which have been frozen since 2005. Under the Luxembourg Presidency, the Framework Decision was on the verge of a compromise. The goal is to attain minimum harmonisation of provisions on criminal liability for disseminating racist and xenophobic statements. These include, for example, public incitement to violence and hatred or the denial or gross minimisation of genocide out of racist or xenophobic motives. However, the Framework Decision will not seek to prohibit specific symbols such as swastikas.
Change of access to the conference on the European Security and Defence Policy at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Admission to the opening event of the conference entitled "ESDP: From Cologne to Berlin and Beyond. Operations, Institutions, Capabilities" next Monday (29 January) will not be via Unterwasserstrasse, as originally announced, but via the Atrium (Lichthof).
Defence Minister Jung welcomes EU Defence Policy Directors. In the context of Germany’s EU Council Presidency the German Minister of Defence, Dr. Franz Josef Jung, addressed defence policy directors of the EU in Berlin on Thursday, 25 January. The directors meet at the beginning of each Council Presidency in order to discuss current topics of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) as well as main agenda items of the current Presidency.
Meeting of the European Union Troika and Afghanistan in Berlin. On 29 January 2007 a meeting between the European Union Troika and Afghanistan will take place at the Federal Foreign Office. The talks will centre on the development of the situation in Afghanistan during the past year, the EU's activities in Afghanistan and Afghanistan's relations with its neighbours. The European Union is one of the most important promoters of reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Minister Tiefensee: Brussels gives the green light to HGV innovation programme. Today, the European Commission has given the green light to an innovation programme for promoting the purchase of low-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGV).
The Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble: The German EU Presidency will work closely with the European Parliament. At the meeting of the European Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in Brussels on Wednesday, 24 January 2007, the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented the home affairs policy work programme, “Living Europe Safely”, for the German EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2007
Conference on European Security and Defence Policy. On 29 and 30 January 2007, a conference entitled "ESDP: From Cologne to Berlin and Beyond. Operations, Institutions, Capabilities" will be held at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. This conference has been organized under Germany’s EU Presidency by the Federal Foreign Office and the EU Institute for Security Studies.
Meeting of the EU Troika with the OSCE in Brussels. A first meeting of the EU Troika and the OSCE took place on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 within the context of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe, Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portuguese State Secretary for European Affairs, represented the EU Troika.
Broad consensus within the EU on current foreign policy issues. The first meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council chaired by Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier focused on the European Neighbourhood Policy, the situation in the Western Balkans following the elections in Serbia and developments in the Middle East peace process. In addition to the situation in Darfur and Somalia, the Foreign Ministers of the 27 Member States also discussed the implementation of the UN Resolution on Iran's nuclear programme as well as external relations in energy. Moreover, the Ministers reached agreement on a mandate for the assumption of negotiations with Ukraine on a new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
Federal Minister Steinmeier at the General Affairs and External Relations Council Meeting in Brussels. Today's meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council takes place under the Presidency of Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
As well as being the first Council meeting under Germany's six-month Presidency of the EU Council, it is also the first time that the foreign ministers of the two new Member States, Foreign Minister Kalfin of Bulgaria and his Romanian counterpart Ungureanu, will participate.
Federal Minister Steinmeier opens Charlemagne Prize exhibition in Brussels. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is in Brussels for a General Affairs Council meeting, today opens an exhibition on "The International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen" in the Council's Justus Lipsius building.
On display are portraits of the 48 people who have been awarded the prize from 1950 to 2006, including the founding fathers of Europe and personalities who have played a key part in promoting European unity such as Alcide de Gasperi (1952), Jean Monnet (1953) and Konrad Adenauer (1954), continuing through to present-day laureates like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (2003), Patrick Cox/Pope John Paul II (2004), Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (2005) and Jean-Claude Juncker (2006).
Chancellor Merkel receives Mexican President Calderón in Berlin. Federal Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm issues the following statement: "Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive Mexican President Felipe Calderón for a conversation in the Federal Chancellery on Thursday, 25 January 2007, at 7:30 pm. Bilateral relations, the programme of German EU Presidency and current developments in Latin America will be addressed during the conversation and subsequent dinner."
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Prague. Federal Government Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm issues the following statement: "The President of the European Council, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, will travel to Prague on Friday 26 January 2007 to meet with Minister President Mirek Topolanek and President Václav Klaus."
Chair’s Conclusions drafted in Cooperation with the two Following Presidencies Portugal and Slovenia. Informal Meeting of Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs Berlin, 18/20 January 2007 - Chair’s Conclusions drafted in Cooperation with the two Following Presidencies Portugal and Slovenia
Meeting of EU Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs in Berlin – focus on “good work” and the European Social Model. Statement by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on the Informal Meeting of European Employment and Social Affairs Ministers held under the German EU Council Presidency
Chancellor Merkel attends euro celebration in Slovenia. Slovenia is the thirteenth EU country to adopt the euro as its currency, bringing the population of the eurozone up to nearly 317 million. Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the effort made by the Slovenian government.
"It took the Slovenian government only six months from the time they acceded to the European Union to approve and implement the plan to introduce the euro," Merkel said. "It was an enormous effort. But this effort has paid off for Slovenia and, I might add, for the European Union as a whole."
„More Light!“ by Anny und Sibel Öztürk. During the German presidency of the EU Council, the centre of the EU quarter in Brussels, the Rond-Point Schuman, will be turned into a “work of art.” The Goethe-Institut and the Foreign Ministry have decided to bring “More Light!” to Brussels by selecting the proposal by Anny and Sibel Öztürk. Born in 1970 and 1975, these Turkish-German artists grew up in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main and graduated from the “Städelschule” [School of Fine Arts] in Frankfurt. With this installation, the acoustic activities at the Rond-Point Schuman will be translated by microphones into a spectacular choreography of light.
Press Conference and photo opportunity prior to the opening of the interactive light sculpture in Brussels. As part of the cultural programme of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the interactive light sculpture MORE LIGHT! by Anny and Sibel Öztürk will be opened on the Rond-point Schuman on the evening of 18 January 2007. We would like to invite you to a press conference before this opening.
e-Justice in Europe: The Cross-border Use of Information Technology in the Justice Sector. At their informal meeting in Dresden, the Ministers of Justice of the European Union have agreed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the cross-border support of the justice sector through information and communication technology (e-justice) and to intensify cooperation in this field.
“In a European area of freedom, security and justice with porous borders, information technology-based support of the justice sector must not end at the internal borders. As the internet demonstrates, information technology serves to overcome borders. To varying extents, all EU Member States successfully employ information and communication technology as a means to support justice sector activities, or plan to do so in the near future. .."
Informal Meeting of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers. The Informal Meeting of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers to be held in Berlin from 18 to 20 January 2007 will provide the opportunity for an intensive exchange on the subject of "Good jobs". The theme is one of the focal points of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in relation to Germany’s EU Council Presidency which include “further developing the European social model”, “good jobs” and “equal opportunities”.
Issue of accreditation badges for the German Presidency - Last possibility in Brussels. On Monday, 22.01.2007 there will be a last opportunity to obtain the accreditation badges in Brussels for all events of the German Presidency taking place in Germany during the General Affairs and External Relations Council.
Providing impetus for future European home affairs policy starting in 2010. At the informal meeting of EU ministers in Dresden, Germany’s federal minister of the interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented a plan to convene a high-level advisory group made up of the vice president of the European Commission, the six interior ministers of the current and upcoming trio presidencies (Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, as well as France, the Czech Republic and Sweden) and research experts from individual Member States as needed.
Interior ministers want to work closely with countries of origin and transit on migration issues. At their informal meeting in Dresden, the interior ministers of the EU Member States announced their intent to work closely on migration issues with the countries of origin and transit at the EU’s eastern and southern borders. To do so, they will look into the possibility of partnership agreements between individual Member States and third countries regarding migration and development. Further, they will examine how best to take advantage of the positive effects of circular and temporary migration between the EU and third countries. The ministers reaffirmed that protecting the common external borders and combating illegal migration remained their highest priority.
Informal Meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs: Greater Legal Certainty for Families in Europe. The Ministers of Justice of the European Union met today to discuss the future of judicial cooperation in the fields of family law and the law of succession. "We all agree that we have made significant progress in recent years regarding the question of jurisdiction and the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments. Our task now is to continue along this path. International family relationships are constantly on the increase in Europe and, consequently, the number of conflicts in the fields of family law and the law of succession is inevitably also growing. It is therefore our intention to further accelerate cross-border proceedings," JHA Council President Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Justice, stated in Dresden.
Informal Meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs: Home affairs ministers back initiative to create a pan-European network of police databases for more effective crime control. At the informal meeting of EU home affairs ministers in Dresden today, the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented an initiative to transpose the Prüm Treaty into the legal framework of the EU by drafting EU legislation using the exact wording of the Prüm Treaty.
The treaty, which was signed by seven European states (Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Spain) in the town of Prüm, provides for greater cross-border cooperation of police and judicial authorities, particularly in...
European Project Day, 22 January 2007. In Germany's schools, 22 January 2007 will be European Project Day. Chancellor Angela Merkel and members of the Federal Government, members of the Bundestag and of the European Parliament, Minister-Presidents and members of Land Parliaments will visit schools to discuss Europe with pupils.
First EU Trio Presidency of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Gets Under Way. For the first time, three Member States, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, have agreed on a joint work programme for their EU presidencies over the next 18 months. This trio of presidencies started on 1 January 2007 with Germany’s EU presidency, to be followed by Portugal and Slovenia.
Ahead of the Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs which starts in the evening, representatives of the trio presidency, the interior ministers Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, Antonio Costa and Dragutin Mate and justice ministers Brigitte Zypries, Alberto Bernardes Costa and Lovro Sturm, discussed their work at a meeting which also included the vice president of the European Commission, Franco Frattini.
The Federal Government spokesperson, Ulrich Wilhelm, issues the following statement: Chancellor Angela Merkel is travelling to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The President of the European Council, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will travel to Strasbourg on January 17th, 2007 to present the programme of the German EU Presidency to the European Parliament.
The Spokesperson of the Federal Government, Ulrich Wilhelm, issued the following statement: Federal Chancellor Merkel to travel to Slovenia. The President of the European Council, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, will travel to Ljubljana on 15 January 2007 to participate in the celebration "A Welcome to the Euro" organized by the Slovene Government to mark the introduction of the euro.
In her capacity as current President of the EU Council, the Federal Chancellor will open the event at 5.00 p.m.
Federal Minister Steinmeier meets Secretary General of Amnesty International Barbara Lochbihler. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet for talks on Monday (15 January) with the Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany, Barbara Lochbihler. Ms Lochbihler will present the German Presidency with Amnesty International's ten-point programme of proposals.
Oil supply: The EU agrees on a joint action to tackle disruptions. The Commission and EU Presidency are taking joint action to press Russia and Belarus to resolve completely the disputes concerning the Druzhba
pipeline. At the same time, the EU convened its Oil Supply Group to coordinate the response of its Members States to the disruption of oil supplies. "We welcome the information that oil flows have resumed as signs of progress but continue calling on both sides to reach an immediate and complete resolution of all outstanding issues and guarantee reliability of future deliveries through the pipeline" declared Commissioner Piebalgs, the German Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Joachim Wuermeling and the IEA’s Executive Director, Claude Mandil at a common press conference following the meeting.
Federal Minister Steinmeier on the resumption of Russian oil supplies through Belarus to Western Europe. Federal Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (11 January) following the resumption of Russian oil supplies through Belarus to Western Europe: "Talks between Russia and Belarus on the issue of the transit tax have clearly led to the resumption of oil supplies..."
Minister Michael Glos on the resumption of oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline. Regarding the resumption of oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline, Mr. Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, said: “I am relieved that the Russian and Belarusian agencies are once again fulfilling their delivery and transit commitments. It is my expectation that disputes between supplier and transit countries will not in future have a detrimental effect on European customers, who need to be able to rely on their long-term supply contracts. Also, in future we will expect early consultations if any difficulties should arise again.
Glos assures Mandelson of the German Council Presidency's support for the continuation of the Doha negotiating round. German Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met today for a bilateral discussion in Berlin on the sidelines of the joint session of the German Cabinet and the European Commission. Their exchange focused on the continuation of the WTO's ongoing Doha round of negotiations.
Federal Minister Steinmeier to meet the Coordinators of the European Parliament Liberal Group (ALDE). Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet the Coordinators of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a European Parliament group, on Thursday, 11 January.
The Spokesperson of the Federal Foreign Office on the US air strikes in Somalia. The Spokesperson of the Federal Foreign Office, Martin Jäger, said on Wednesday (10 January 2007): "We have noted with concern..."
Minister Glos welcomes EU Commission’s energy package. The European Commission adopted a comprehensive energy package and proposals on climate protection today. At the heart of the energy package is a Strategic EU Energy Review containing proposals for an energy policy for Europe. Further to this, the energy package contains several communications, in particular on the internal market for electricity and gas, on renewable energy, on fossil fuels and on nuclear power.
Federal Minister Steinmeier to meet Presidency of the EPP Group of the European Parliament. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet on Thursday (11 January) with the Presidency of the EPP Group of the European Parliament.
Minister of State for Cultural Affairs Bernd Neumann attends meeting with EU Commissioners: positions on the EU Television without Frontiers Directive converging. To mark the start of the German EU Presidency, the EU Commissioners and the members of the German Cabinet from the cultural, educational and scientific spheres met today in Berlin for talks.
Moving Europe forward. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet met with the European Commission in Berlin to discuss the focuses of the German EU Presidency. Among the topics dealt with were energy, the European constitution, and bureaucracy reduction. Commission President José Manuel Barroso wished the German Presidency the same euphoric spirit as was seen during the World Cup.
Following the suspension of Russian oil deliveries through Belarus, Federal Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today spoke on the telephone to Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.. Following the suspension of Russian oil deliveries through Belarus, Federal Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today spoke on the telephone to Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. "I call on Russia and Belarus to settle their dispute rapidly."
Informal EU Ministers’ Meetings in Germany Begin with the Conference of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Dresden. The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of the European Union will be meeting in Dresden from January 14-16, chaired by Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries and Federal Minister of the Interior Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble.
Sixty-five ministers have announced their participation. They will be accompanied by approximately 260 delegation members. Media interest is unusually intense: Almost 500 journalists from throughout Europe have been accredited for the press programme.
German Economics Minister Glos on the closure of the Druzhba pipeline. Michael Glos, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology and Chairman of the EU Council of Ministers: "I view the closure of the important Druzhba Pipeline with concern. I expect supplies through the pipeline to be fully resumed as quickly as possible. I welcome the convening of the Oil Supply Group by EU Commissioner Piebalgs. The German Presidency of the European Council will work vigorously to ensure that the restriction on the oil deliveries does not cause bottlenecks in the supply of European companies and consumers. I call on the Russian and Belarusian agencies to fulfil their delivery and transit commitments..."
Joint Federal Cabinet and European Commission Meeting in Berlin. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and the Members of the European Commission in the Federal Chancellery at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 9 January 2007, for a joint meeting with the Federal Cabinet.
The goal is to stabilize Somalia. Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier convened with the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr-Store, EU Commissioner Louis Michel, the Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Patrizia Sentinelli and the Political Director at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, John Sawers, for an informal meeting of the European members of the International Somalia Contact Group in Brussels on Wednesday (3 January 2007).
The Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble: “Citizens should live safely in Europe”. At a federal press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, 3 January 2007, the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented the domestic policy work programme, “Living Europe Safely”, for the German EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2007.
To start off the informal ministerial meetings during the German EU Presidency, the EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs will gather in Dresden from 14 to 16 January 2007. The meeting will be chaired by the Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, and the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble.
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier to host a meeting of the European members of the International Somalia Contact Group. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited the European members of the International Somalia Contact Group (Britain, Italy, Sweden and Norway), High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana and European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel to an informal meeting, which will take place tomorrow (3 January).
Message from Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. Dear website visitor,
Welcome to the website of Germany's EU Council Presidency 2007.
The idea of European unification will mark its half century this year. There are good reasons to celebrate this special anniversary: peace, freedom, justice and democracy are things we now take for granted.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome I have invited my European colleagues to Berlin for an informal summit on 24 and 25 March. We will be celebrating the day the European Community's founding treaties were signed with a special ceremony as well as a street festival.
Letter of condolence from the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, after the sudden death of Austrian Minister of the Interior Liese Prokop. Following the unexpected death of the Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Austria, Liese Prokop, on the evening of 31 December 2006, the German Federal Minister of the Interior and President of the Council of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Council of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, expressed the sympathy of the Federal Government in a letter of condolence addressed to the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, on 1 January 2007.
Federal Minister Steinmeier welcomes the new EU Member States. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (1 January) to mark Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the European Union:
"It is my pleasure to welcome Bulgaria and Romania into the fold of European Union nations punctually at the start of the New Year. I wish both countries a smooth and successful kick-off as Members of the European Union..."
German EU presidency welcomes Slovenia into the euro zone. Slovenia introduced the European single currency on 1 January 2007. Federal Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrück issues the following statement regarding the enlargement of the euro zone:
“We extend a warm welcome to Slovenia as the 13th member of the euro zone. The work of the Slovenian government and its central bank has been excellent in preparing to adopt the euro in 2007..."
Message of Welcome from Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Message of Welcome from Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
for the German EU Presidency website www.eu2007.de:" This year Germany is assuming the Presidency of the European Council for the twelfth time. The German Presidency is marked not only by the high expectations vested in the EU, but also by a milestone which gives us an opportunity to look back with pride on the past half century. On 25 March 2007, Europe will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which laid the foundation for the European Economic Community and later the European Union...."
Informal Meeting of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs. The first informal meeting of ministers under the German EU Presidency will be held by EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs in Dresden from 14 to 16 January 2007. The meeting will be chaired by the Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, and the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble.
Europe bears responsibility for global development. Event to launch German EU Presidency and team presidency at German Development Ministry in Berlin on 20 December 2006
Press conference launching the German EU Council Presidency. Brussels, 19 December 2006: German Foreign Minister Steinmeier presents German Presidency work programme. ""I would like to thank the Finnish Council Presidency for its outstanding work, which we intend to build on in the next six months. We too have made intensive preparations for our Council Presidency. Expectations are high and we are aware of this. The German Presidency is ready to take on this responsibility, and looks forward to the creative influence which the role brings.
It is clear that no Presidency can start from scratch – or would indeed wish to. We see it as our duty to take on the working programme set out in Brussels calendars. Where possible, we will also try, in our capacity as Presidency, to make our own contributions to advancing the European project..."
Chancellor Merkel in Helsinki. Berlin, 19.12.2006. Speaking in Helsinki, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed the need for a constitutional treaty for the European Union, calling it a precondition for being able to continue the enlargement process.