President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I always feel immense pleasure in visiting Strasbourg, the European capital par excellence, the city that symbolises Franco-German reconciliation, and the bastion of European parliamentarianism, since both your Assembly and the European Parliament sit in this city. This is a city that opens up large vistas on a Europe which is still not completely familiar to us, because for almost fifteen years now the new democracies in central and eastern Europe have come to join the already impressive company of Council of Europe members.

I always feel that in many ways coming to Strasbourg means returning to my roots. I studied law in this city from 1975 to 1979, and whenever I come back to Strasbourg I am immediately engulfed in an ocean of memories and nostalgia. As a law student I made what I might call “intimate” acquaintance with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, because at a time when universities were still keen to educate people, one of the options for young law students was to follow the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a joy to which I gave myself body and soul. I have been following the work of the Parliamentary Assembly ever since. I know the colours of the preliminary reports and the final versions. I think these colours have remained unchanged, because I appreciate the extraordinary quality of Parliamentary Assembly reports. These texts are of superior quality, and like all high-quality documents, they are under-read by those who govern us. I just wanted to pay tribute to the quality of your Assembly’s work.

This is the third time I have stood before your Assembly as Prime Minister: the first time was in 1997, and the second, as your President has just reminded us, in 2002. It is with particular pleasure that I stand here today as the Assembly is currently presided over by René van der Linden, who is an old friend of mine. We have spent a great deal of our respective European careers together. I feel highly honoured to know that he is seated behind me right now, and I just hope I am showing the requisite discipline in carrying out his instructions.

“The moment has come for harmony between these two great organisations”

In fact I have always wanted to be a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, but the constraints of universal suffrage are such that I have been constantly re-elected to government office. However, the day will come when this will no longer be the case, because the people’s wisdom may suddenly reach its limits and you will no doubt find me sitting in this Assembly, which currently includes, if you will forgive me the overuse of the possessive, three of my former ministers, namely Ms Err, Ms Brasseur and Mr Goerens, whom I cordially salute.

Comparing the 2005 version of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to its predecessor in 1975 when I began my law studies in this city, I must say, unfortunately in a rather hackneyed phrase, that I am constantly struck by the huge changes which the Council of Europe has undergone.

What a distance the Council of Europe and the European continent itself have covered over the last three decades, and what a distance separates today’s debate from the very first meeting of your Parliamentary Assembly in August 1949. At the time the Council of Europe only had 10 member states, as compared with its current membership of 46. However, the Council of Europe existed well before its official date of birth. The Council already had an informal existence during the Second World War, or even before. It did not even know its own name during that particularly tragic period of time in our continent, but it was well and truly there in the hearts of Europeans.

We youngsters tend to think that European history only really took off when the Council entered the scene. This is not true, because European dreams were entertained between the two world wars, during the 1920s, that decade of fertile and virtuous imagination, when Count Coudenhove-Kalergi initiated his first ideas, his first outlines of the architecture of the European continent. Those who endeavoured to accompany him in his undertaking were incredibly disappointed with developments in the continent in the 1930s. If the noble ideas formulated at the time had been put into practice, many European tragedies in the 1930s and 1940s could have been avoided.

Those who never gave up dreaming, in the prisons and concentration camps, of creating Europe immediately after the end of the Second World War should remain in our collective memory and in our hearts, because they believed in Europe at a time when Europe had no hope of rising from its ashes. I am thinking of Léon Blum, who never gave up designing Europe in the German prisons, and of Spinelli, confined to an Italian concentration camp on a distant Mediterranean island, who dreamt of seeing Europe finally incarnated so that it would never again be a mere corpse. These great Europeans have unfortunately largely faded from our collective memory, whereas this memory and the subsequent developments on our continent owe them a great deal.

The Council of Europe existed in Churchill’s speech in Zurich in 1946 calling on the European peoples to unite. He urged the small and larger nations of Europe to combine their peaceful efforts to make Europe a place totally different from what it had been before the Second World War.

Eight hundred Europeans gathered at the Congress of Europe in The Hague in 1948, including philosophers, politicians, trade unionists and major employers, in order to launch this noble and lofty European idea. Churchill, who was at the peak of his moral authority, pronounced this historic phrase, with its wealth of visionary prospects for the inchoate Council of Europe: “Today in the West we are beginning what we shall one day finish in the East”. This was the very beginning of the great reform of the European continent. In The Hague at the time were Konrad Adenauer, the young François Mitterrand and the great Churchill.

Despite the current difficulties and for all the major constraints, I would posit that Europe has never been such a convivial continent as it is today. If we compare the worries of the current generations to -the dramatic challenges that faced our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, history smiles upon us.*

The Council of Europe accompanied Europeans in their march towards a reconstructed continent built on peace and good neighbourly relations. This approach is still valid today. I am well aware that in the European Union young, doughty, superficial people, those who know nothing of the past, think that this Union could replace the Council of Europe without any major problems. I could not disagree more. The Council of Europe has remained faithful to its values. It is irreplaceable.

The European Union is currently undergoing major difficulties. At the moment I am well paid to realise this, even if I am not in fact paid at all. Luxembourg is currently on its 11th presidency of the European Union, the fourth for me. I am endeavouring to move the European Union forward by leading it towards gentler climes, but the journey is extremely arduous. We have energetically and resolutely reformed the Stability and Growth Pact, which is an essential factor for the rules governing the European Union’s monetary progress.

I have noticed, although I had previously had some kind of premonition about it, that nothing is more difficult than achieving agreement among 25 different governments, with no fewer than 100 political parties, on a single line of analysis and action. But there is no need for despair. Just as we should not despair of seeing the European Union agreeing in June on its financial and budgetary prospects for the period from 2007 to 2013.1 have no doubt about the feasibility of the exercise.

If the European Union wishes to retain its credibility after adopting a set of extremely ambitious objectives, it must secure the requisite funding to implement its desired policies.

At the European Council in March we reworked the Lisbon Strategy, which is a programme of economic and social reforms intended to make the European Union the most competitive region of our globe and the Economic Triad. By making a number of amendments to the Lisbon Strategy we were aiming to send out a clear, enduring signal that the European Union has retained its economic and social ambitions. The planned reforms certainly do not abandon the European Union’s social acquis.

The Lisbon programme represents the efforts required from all the member states to ensure that the European social model remains accessible to as many Europeans as possible. The reforms which we neglect today will be the most expensive ones to carry out tomorrow, so we had better tackle them right away.

We have made sure that the European Union member states can reappropriate the Lisbon Strategy. It would be wrong to think that the European Union can carry out the requisite reforms in the member states’ place. It is first and foremost the national governments, in co-operation with the social partners and the national parliaments, that must initiate the reforms that Europe so sorely needs.

We are currently engaged in the very difficult process of ratifying the Constitutipnal Treaty of the European Union. Before the Council of Europe, this great European family, I would proclaim that Europe needs this treaty. It is not perfect, but I know of very few perfect treaties.

It often happens in human history that if those responsible for implementing treaties are perfectly determined to do so, even imperfect treaties can produce excellent results. It often happens that treaties which seem perfect at first sight do not meet all the expectations if those responsible for their implementation have an imperfect will to implement them. If, on the other hand, those who govern Europe in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers are spurred on by a firm desire to do the job properly and take up the challenges of the times, this Constitutional Treaty, for all its imperfections, could produce perfect results.

The Constitutional Treaty must not be sized up against any ideal. Whenever any human undertaking is compared to the ideal it looks weak. If I personally had drawn up the whole Treaty it would be not only better but easier to understand and interpret. If any two of us, even two who share the same ideal, had written this Constitution there would have been disagreements right from the outset. I see Mr Luc Van den Brande here today; I have written many texts with him, and of course they have all been excellent. We never agreed, on the details. As I often won the toss, the texts we ^ produced can only be described as excellent.

The fact of even 25 states agreeing on the same package of aims, the same set of wishes, is a major European achievement in itself. The fact that in 2004 and 2005 we managed to secure agreement among 25 governments with completely different, or indeed opposing or contradictory historical backgrounds is in itself a weighty argument in favour of the Constitutional Treaty. Where in the world could we find 25 other states with such different histories as those in the European Union to agree on thé means of shaping a whole continent for the next few decades? Only Europe is and would ever be capable of such a performance. Although some arguments put forward by those advocating a “no” to the Constitutional Treaty seem quite tempting, the fact that the treaty cannot be renegotiated means that we need a frank, overwhelming “yes”.

Mr President, we are just coming up to the'3rd Summit of the Council of Europe, which will take place in the city of Warsaw in a few weeks’ time. This will be the 3rd Summit, after those held in Vienna and Strasbourg, but it will be the first to be held in a central or eastern European country, in this case the Polish capital, that major European city.

At the inception of the Council of Europe, during the first meetings of the Committee of Ministers of the Parliamentary Assembly in thé 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, no one would have dared imagine that one day the Council of Europe Summit would take place in the capital of Poland. This Council of Europe Summit shows us that 60 years after the end of the Second World War we have managed to put an end to that disastrous decree in post-war history that the two parts of Europe would remain separated forever. The prospect of meeting in Warsaw fills me with joy because any meeting in Warsaw is a major event, especially seeing the great European family gathering in the Polish capital.

Of course we shall have important matters to discuss, including the necessary relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union. This is an old debate which we have regularly tackled in the past and to which we have never managed to find the proper response.

I would first of all ask the 25 member countries of the European Union, which now constitute the majority of the Council of Europe’s membership, when they are engaged in forward thinking, never to forget the place rightfully occupied by the Council, 'the fields of human rights, standard-setting and cultural activities, which are and always have fallen within the Council of Europe’s jurisdiction, preclude any straightforward takeover of this European Organisation by the European Union. We must put an end to this stupid rivalry between the Council of Europe and the European Union.

I would like all the European Union member states to realise this fact. I would also, and above all, like the European Commission to realise this fact equally clearly. This is no time for artificial disputes and superficial controversies, it is time to ensure understanding between the two major organisations of the Council of Europe and the European Union. Consequently, as I will also be doing in Warsaw, I would now strongly urge the European Union and the Council of Europe to conclude a memorandum based on the guidelines that have been drawn up and which in my view should be submitted at the Council of Europe Summit as they stand, so that we can finally move this issue forward.

I am hoping that the Warsaw Summit will serve to increase the credibility and efficacy of the Council of Europe’s various bodies and institutions. I would above all like to mention the absolute need for increased resources, notably human resources for the European Court of Human Rights. We cannot just give up and stand idly by as the backlog of cases builds up in the Court. It is a source of legitimate pride for the Council of Europe to have established pan-European human rights case law and provided our continent with a Court of international renown. We are duty-bound to react to the difficulties currently facing the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, those were the few points I thought might be worth making.

I really hope that the Council of Europe will retain the status it has held over the decades since 1949, namely that of a European international organisation which sets and requires very high standards. The Council of Europe is a demanding organisation. It makes strict demands on its member states, on each government, each parliamentarian, each national court and each woman and man who inhabits our continent.

The time has come to recall the major principles on which the Council of Europe was founded in the late 1940s. These great and noble principles are as topical today as they were yesteryear.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, thank you for this speech expressing a series of profound and courageous ideas with conviction, in a genuine European spirit. I am glad that you have contributed to the discussions on the preparation of the 3rd Summit in Warsaw. This was the time for doing so, and I thank you most sincerely for your views.

Many of our colleagues have expressed the desire to put questions Jo you. In order to hear as many of these questions as possible I shall not be permitting any additional ones. I would remind you that questions must really be in the interrogative and take no longer than 30 seconds to ask. I call Mr Elo, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr ELO (Finland)

First, I thank Prime Minister Juncker for his very good introductory speech. Will he reassure members of this Assembly that the Council of Europe’s human rights mechanisms will be fully taken into account when the legislation setting up the European Union’s new fundamental rights agency is drafted? Do you agree that including regular monitoring of the human rights situation in individual countries – whether EU member states, candidate or neighbouring countries – would at best be an unnecessary duplication of effort and at worst jeopardise the work that the Council has been doing in those countries?


Thank you. I would ask colleagues to take only 30 seconds, because so many questions have been tabled. May I ask the Prime Minister to respond?

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg

My answer is yes.


Prime Minister and dear friends, the EU near neighbourhood policy is naturally a priority, as it deals with human rights, civil rights, migration and so on, which are a primary concern for the Assembly.

(The speaker continued in French) (Translation) You have seen some major victories, but I promise a major defeat if you ignore the human resources and possibilities of the Council of Europe. I would urge you to apportion the responsibilities in an appropriate manner.

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

Where the European Union is concerned, I personally dislike the expression “neighbourhood policy”, because it can be misleading. If the European Union says that another country is part of Europe’s neighbourhood it sounds as if it is taking a narrow view of the size of the European family. However, this is the term used, and I cannot really think of any other expression. It will just have to do.

I consider that in attempting to sort out its “neighbourhood” the European Union should draw on the Council of Europe’s expertise, which is more multifaceted because it deals with more aspects than the European Union. Furthermore, it has been working in its specific fields of action for much longer. The Council of Europe has built up a tradition of evaluating the countries that make up Europe and those that are Europe’s neighbours. The European Union does not yet have such experience. So the Council of Europe and the European Union should be allowed to intersect as extensively as possible in this field. I hope that the eminent representative of the small neighbouring kingdom will agree.

Mr EORSI (Hungary)

Mr Prime Minister, when you speak about the Lisbon Agenda I am sure that you often communicate with the European Parliament. Immediate decisions, however, are made by member countries, so you have a unique opportunity to speak to members of national parliaments in the 25 member countries. What is your message to national parliamentary instruments in the 25 capital cities? How can we make the Lisbon strategy truly successful?

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

I do feel that the first level responsible for supervising the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy is the national parliament. I told you that we took great care about appropriating the process.

It is fairly easy for member countries of the European Union – that is to say for their governments – to agree within the European Council on a very

Mr Juncker, the President, Mr Kvakkestad, Mr Schreiner generous list of general and overall objectives. What is more difficult is to put these objectives into practice at the national level. We attempted to change this approach to implementing the Lisbon Strategy by assigning the governments of member states the responsibility for almost all the requisite measures. Drawing on the strategy guidelines proposed by the European Commission, the member states will now be required to present three-year national reform programmes to be examined by both the Commission and the Council at European Union central level.

Such national reform programmes must be formulated in consultation with the social partners and after discussion in the national parliaments. We are hoping that the national parliaments will make their governments accountable for implementing the Lisbon Strategy. The responsibility for the implementation and success of this Strategy lies at the national rather than the European level, but must fit into a well- defined European framework.


I thank you for a very clear speech, Mr Prime Minister, on important issues. There are certain areas in which the Council of Europe and the European Union should try not to duplicate work, but we must co-operate. In fields where the Council and the EU have common interests, do you envisage the opportunity to strengthen cooperation with more joint efforts and even joint missions, such as the Stability Pact in the Balkans?

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

I was probably rather undiplomatic in the comments I made just now. I was talking about the stupid rivalry between the Council of Europe and the European Union. I would like to see an end to this rivalry. The European continent has huge tracts of shared competences between the Council of Europe and the European Union, especially in the Balkans.

Once again, it would be sensible for the European Union to take advantage of the Council of Europe’s expertise. When a country knocks at the door of the European Union and the Union has to assess its compliance with the Copenhagen criteria for its accession, we very often ask the Council of Europe for its opinion. I would like this approach to be made more systematic.

Mr SCHREINER (France) (translation)

On 23 March 2005, at the Brussels Summit, France said that while it believed in the principle of free movement, it was nevertheless committed to protecting social rights and called for the draft directive on services, the so- called Bolkenstein directive, to be amended. France wants to ensure fair competition between service providers, to scrap the provisions on country of origin and to exclude public services from the scope of the directive. It has been agreed to revise the content of the directive.

You yourself said on 22 March that you were in favour of deregulating this sector but against social dumping. As acting president of the European Union, could you elaborate on the amendments that are being made?

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

You must know that I am not French, although this does not prevent me from agreeing with France on the Bolkenstein directive. The truth is, after all, that France was not the only country to voice such fears.

The European Union and the European Single Market very obviously need the service sector to be opened up. Services account for 70% of European value added. It is therefore only to be expected that we should open this sector up to regulated rather than free competition. We must do so without exposing the social acquis, particularly the labour-law regulations established in the European Union member states, to any excessive risks.

This directive on the opening up of the service sector to competition must be re-examined in order to eliminate any risks of social dumping.

Moreover, I would like to inform the 46 member states of the Council of Europe that the debate on the Bolkenstein directive must not lead to any ideological dividing line between the new and old member countries. This is not the point.

Ultimately, no European Union member state stands to win if we accept social dumping simply by turning a blind eye. The proper way to lead Europe towards modernity does not reside in unrestrained, unlimited and unembarrassed deregulation. If Europe wishes to remain European, it needs strict rules where necessary, and flexible rules where possible. Anyone who wishes to eliminate rules in Europe will eliminate more than just the rules: he will eliminate the very idea which we have of humankind.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. I will group several questions together. First, I call Mr Zernovski.

Mr ZERNOVSKI (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

Mr Prime Minister, during your presidency “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” has submitted the answers to the questionnaire, and we expect that by the end of December it will achieve the status of a candidate country. I thank you for your support. In that context, should we expect liberalisation of the visa regime, which is one of the biggest problems facing Macedonian citizens? That would be a stimulating message for them that things are going in the right direction.


Mr Prime Minister, in your speech you talked about the 3rd Summit in Warsaw and said that you are for the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Will you specify what basic points should be in such a memorandum? You said also that you are in favour of an extension of the human resources available to the European Court of Human Rights. What do you mean by that?

Mr IWlINSKI (Poland)

For obvious reasons, our Organisation is also deeply interested in the future of the European Union. I would like to know your opinion on the ratification process for the European Constitutional Treaty by national parliaments and by referendums. To be very frank, I want to know what could happen to the European project in the event of the French referendum failing to ratify the treaty.

(The speaker continued in French) (Translation) Mr Frattini said in today’s Figaro that if France votes “no” the whole European debate will have to be reopened. Do you agree?

Mr SZABO (Hungary)

Mr Prime Minister, I want to take you back to the Lisbon Agenda. A recent evaluation showed that there is considerable lag in the realisation of the objectives resulting from the conclusions of Wim Kok’s committees. How do you evaluate the chances of reaching the desired level of competitiveness, particularly considering the small amount of finance made available for research and development in the European Union?

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

The first question concerns visa regulations to be drawn up with “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which I shall call the Republic of Macedonia to simplify matters. This case is still under consideration. I would personally expect the discussions to produce favourable results.

Where the memorandum is concerned, I shall not go into details here. You know about the texts to be submitted at the Council of Europe Summit in a few weeks’ time in Warsaw. I would agree with every line and every word in the travaux préparatoires as formulated so far.

In connection with the referendum in France, I would inform my Polish friend – who is as familiar as myself with the ins and outs of the European Union’s internal procedures since he was one of those who contributed most to his country’s accession to the European Union – that I disagree with Mr Frattini. In his interview published in today’s Figaro he gives the impression that if the French people said “no” all 25 member states would immediately return to the negotiating table. Mr Frattini should know, even though he was speaking on behalf of the Commission rather than the member states, that the Constitutional Treaty will not be renegotiated. If a country were to reject the treaty by referendum or through parliamentary channels, we would still have to continue the ratification procedure. Although ratifications would be much more difficult after a “no” vote, we shall just have to see whether one, two or three countries have said “no” on completion of the ratification procedure.

When adopting the Constitutional Treaty, the European Council put in place a mechanism capable of coping with such a situation. We have said that if a number of member states failed to ratify the Constitutional Treaty the European Council would consider how to react to such a situation. However, to insinuate today that if the French people on 29 May, or the Dutch people on 1 June, or the Luxembourg People on 10 July, said “no” to the draft Constitution the ratification procedure would be in peril would be to show extreme immaturity.

Mr KOSACHEV (Russian Federation)

Dear Mr Prime Minister, three conventions are to be signed during the 3rd Summit. I am informed that the European Union will therefore insist on introducing a so-called disconnection clause, which will create a precedent whereby the same convention of the Council of Europe applies in different member countries on a different basis. We think that that approach is fair to the Council of Europe.

Mr TULAEV (Russian Federation) (interpretation)

said he would like to continue the previous line of questioning. He asked what specific proposals had been made for the summit of 10 May.

Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation) (interpretation)

asked what the Luxembourg presidency had done to help national minorities in new European Union member states who frequently faced discrimination.

Mr GARDETTO (Monaco) (translation)

Prime Minister, the smallest European states -I am thinking in particular of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino – share a number of European values, including those of the Council of Europe. However, efforts to protect their identities and the interests of their national communities may necessitate affirming their legal specificities, notably through what might be called “preferential systems”.

I would therefore like to know whether the European institutions have actually realised the need for sustained consultation with the small states of Europe, particularly but not exclusively on this specific issue.

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg (translation)

I shall begin by answering our Monégasque colleague’s question.

I personally have always taken care to consult the states which you have just mentioned whenever Europe was called upon to take certain decisions. This has been the case in the tax field, given that we have now introduced a tax system at European Union level.

Where taxation on savings is concerned, we have been careful to conduct prior consultations with our friends in Monaco and the other smaller countries. We reached a final agreement on this text when we secured an accord, albeit a negotiated one, between the Commission and the countries you mentioned. We ascertained their agreement before taking our own decisions.

I therefore can only sincerely hope that you will not gain the impression that Europe looks on the Principality or any of the other countries you mentioned with the condescension which very often characterises Europeans’ view of others. I myself look upon the Principality and the other states you have mentioned with friendship and respect.

The disconnection clause you mentioned does not constitute a precedent because it has already been used in other Council of Europe conventions. As for the rest, I would draw your attention to the fact that the convention corresponds to legal-cum-technical concerns on the part of the European Union but in no way means that the European Union would seek ways and means of avoiding implementing it, particularly where trafficking in human beings is concerned.

The other two questions concerned the relation between the European Union and Russia. I was asked about the messages I will be sending President Putin during our meeting on 10 May for the summit between the European Union and Russia. You will readily agree with me that however important the Parliamentary Assembly may be, it would be very impolite of me to give you details of the content of any messages which we will be attempting to transmit to President Putin. I last met him in December. Various ministers and commissioners have met with the Russian authorities to prepare the summit between the European Union and Russia.

We would like to reach agreement on what have come to be called the “four common spaces”. We have made very considerable progress on this issue, particularly in connection with fly-over rights. We have one outstanding disagreement concerning readmission, you know all about this problem. I am confident that by 10 May we will be in a position, our Russian friends and ourselves, to agree on the various components of the four debates on the four common spaces.

Where the rights of the Russian-speaking minority in Latvia are concerned, I am currently discussing the issue with President Putin and the President of Latvia.

Ms HOFFMANN (Germany) (translation)

Prime Minister, the European Union now has many new neighbours, although you say you do not like to use this word. One of these countries is Ukraine; and I should like to ask you what your policy is on Ukraine, what the prospect of joining Europe means for that country and to what extent you agree with its desire to relax the visa policy.

Mr GROSS (Switzerland) (translation)

Thank you. Mr Juncker, I should like to ask you to share your thoughts with us a little.

Considering the tragic situation we have today, where people feel they are at the mercy of the world market and reject a treaty specifically drawn up to provide them with better protection against it and help them to bear the weight of that model, and considering that precisely those people who want this reject the treaty because they do not understand it, can you help us to convince them better?

Mr NAMI (Cyprus)

Prime Minister, a year ago this Assembly passed a resolution saying that following the “yes” vote to the United Nations plan to reunify Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots’ international isolation must cease. Despite a similar decision by the European Council, so far the European Union has not been able to take concrete steps to achieve this goal, which we all believe will facilitate a comprehensive settlement. What initiatives may we expect to see during your remaining term of the EU presidency to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and integrate them into the European family?

Mr MERCAN (Turkey)

I concur with my colleague from northern Cyprus and ask you to elaborate on what measures could be taken to relieve the isolation of northern Cyprus.

Mr Juncker, President of the Council of the European Union and Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Mr President, as far as Ms Hoffmann’s questions relating to Ukraine are concerned, I should like to express my satisfaction that Ukraine has finally and irrevocably set off in the direction of becoming a European democracy via a peaceful revolution.

It will be the European Union’s task to make it clear to Ukraine within the framework of what is known as the European perspective that we absolutely believe that the contradictions between Ukraine and the

European Union and between Ukraine and the European family are not so insuperable that specific consideration should not be given to closer ties between Ukraine and the EU.

I am, however, decidedly against holding out the prospect of Ukraine’s relatively early accession to the EU, just because this sounds good and many people want to hear us say this, without conducting a further examination of the overall circumstances. I do not think this would be honest, nor would it be appropriate given the seriousness of the situation.

However, I do emphatically agree with talks being held with our Ukrainian friends within the framework of the so-called European perspective on how the institutional relationship between Ukraine and EU might be shaped in the short and medium term.

As regards the visa issue, you are aware, Ms Hoffmann, just as well as I am, that this subject is about to be discussed in the EU bodies and in the talks between the EU and Ukraine, so I cannot give you a final answer. However, I did recently discuss this aspect of the relations between Ukraine and the EU, as did President Yushchenko, and these discussions were not less purposeful than your question implied.

Mr Gross asked what educational material could now be provided and what arguments were available to convince all those people, especially in France, who reject the European Constitution because they feel they are defenceless against the admittedly sometimes harmful excesses of globalisation, that there must be a positive outcome to the referendum on the European Constitution.

In asking the question, he also supplied the answer: no country, neither a member state of the European Union nor of the Council of Europe, can defend itself on its own against the impact of globalisation. However, I do not only see negative aspects in the trend towards globalisation. The world needs globalisation not only in the fields of business and finance but also with regard to solidarity. And, if I may put it this way, it absolutely needs a globalisation of compassion.

With regard to the socially problematic excesses of globalisation, the European Union, with its entire arsenal of “defensive weapons”, is the only international economic organisation that allows its member states to act together to ward off the negative effects of globalisation. I could mention examples of this, but examples never tell the full story.

What is an individual member state to do in the case of exports of textiles to the People’s Republic of China if the European Union does not assume responsibility for the matter?

What European state could defend itself against dumping processes, which even our American friends sometimes employ relatively openly, if the EU did not take action and continue to do so?

How would the EU member states have reacted during the turbulent periods of the last few years in the area of monetary policy if the euro had not enabled us to develop a common defence front in the face of high oil prices, among other things?

It is therefore impossible to explain how it could occur to anyone that the European Constitution might weaken European defence mechanisms – it gives the European defence mechanisms the strength they need so that they can be employed against the excesses you have described, Mr Gross, including in the interests of individual countries such as France.

(The speaker continued in French) (Translation) There is no problem where Cyprus is concerned. The presidency of the European Union is using diplomatic channels to ensure the implementation of the roadmap based on relations with the Turkish community. The issue is extremely difficult. I have discussed it with the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Erdogan, and the Cypriot President, Mr Papadopoulos. The presidency has made contact with the Turkish community in Cyprus. We would like to organise more direct talks with all protagonists, but this is impossible. Nevertheless, we have held numerous meetings with both sides.

It would not be sensible for me to describe all the ins and outs of the situation here. I am even sure that my diplomats will tell me later on that I should not have told you about the contacts we have made.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Prime Minister. Unfortunately, I have to conclude the list even though many more members want to ask a question. I should like to thank you most warmly for your replies. You have already provided a contribution to tomorrow’s debate on the subject of the European Constitution.

You will have noticed that the questions asked here, in the house of democracy and a major forum of inter- cultural and religious dialogue, concern Europe in all its many facets.

I thank you again and wish you every success with this task, which is difficult but so important for the whole of Europe, and especially its citizens.