The European Summit held on December 14-15 will be go down as rubber-stamping the decisions of the Council meeting of foreign ministers held on December 11. Learning from the past and gauging the mood of the Vox Populi of the European nations, the declaration adopted at the
A new, tougher enlargement policy is set to impact not only on
The communique underlined that new members will only be admitted if the old member states are satisfied they can deal with financial, social and institutional burdens the applicants pose.
Although the EU enlargement debate is theoretical, given the crunch will not come before 2010 at the earliest, there seemed an urgency to nip any unwanted aspirations in the bud. Negotiations with
Despite the discord, the anti-expansion camp won an important victory with leaders approving a more stringent application process, tougher scrutiny of reforms and a new test on whether existing members can “absorb” potential newcomers.
The new strategy, in essence, repudiates the system under which
“We know we cannot take in every state that wants to join,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Christian Democrat who opposes
“The constitutional treaty and expansion are closely linked,” said Merkel, who has vowed to make revival of the constitution a top issue during
Backing Merkel’s go-slow views on expansion were the leaders of Luxembourg, Belgium and The Netherlands. France is also wary about swift, further enlargement.
A Belgian proposal to bar further enlargement without a constitutional deal was withdrawn after it ran into opposition from pro-enlargement countries, said Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
EU countries which want the club’s doors to stay open are Britain, Sweden and most of the central and eastern European states who joined the EU in 2004.
Adding a new absorption criteria clearly aimed at Turkey, Germany’s Merkel said the size of a candidate country should play a role in any decision on whether it would be admitted.
Preparing for her bid to resurrect the constitution under the German presidency, Merkel said she had asked each member state to appoint a “constitution czar” to report on their respective demands.
Diplomats predict Merkel will seek a slimmed-down constitution which could be approved in the French and Dutch parliaments without again resorting to a dangerous referendum in both countries.
In other business, leaders vowed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants by increasing aid to poor African nations and giving temporary work permits to foreigners.
With “Fortress Europe” crumbling under pressure from economic migrants and asylum-seekers, especially from Africa, EU leaders said they would increase border controls in problem regions.
Leaders said special attention would be paid to toughening maritime border surveillance through the creation of a new permanent Coastal Control Network along the EU’s southern Mediterranean borders.
EU officials say about half a million illegal immigrants enter the bloc each year. Spain, Italy and Greece are in the frontline in the struggle to curb the flow.
Moreover, the leaders also agreed that EU states must work together on fighting crime – but disagreed on whether to lift the national veto on questions of police and judicial co-operation, accused Iran and Syria of destabilising the Middle East, expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation in Darfur and endorsed a five-point Middle-East peace initiative.
Javier Solana, the statement making High Representative, when asked about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and Iranian situation, repeatedly stressed, “The EU position is that there should be no Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East.” One was left wondering if Israel was not in Middle East or the position did not apply to it.