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EU: 2206th Council meeting - General Affairs

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News and Press Release
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Originally published


11651/99 (Presse 296), Luxembourg, 11 October 1999
President : Ms Tarja HALONEN
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland

For further information call 285 64 23 or 285 74 59

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Louis MICHEL
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Pierre CHEVALIER
State Secretary for Foreign Trade

Denmark :

Mr Niels HELVEG PETERSEN
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Friis Arne PETERSEN
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Germany :

Mr Joschka FISCHER
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Federal Chancellor

Mr Christoph ZÖPEL
Minister of State, Foreign Affairs

Mr Axel GERLACH
State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology

Greece :

Mr Giorgios PAPANDREOU
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Christos ROKOFYLLOS
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ms Rodoula ZISSI
State Secretary for Economic Affairs

Spain :

Mr Ramón de MIGUEL
State Secretary for Foreign Policy and the European Union

France :

Mr Hubert VEDRINE
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Pierre MOSCOVICI
Minister attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for European Affairs

Mr François HUWART
State Secretary for Foreign Trade

Ireland :

Mr David ANDREWS
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Tom KITT

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (with special responsibility for Labour Affairs, Consumer Rights and International Trade)

Italy :

Mr Umberto RANIERI
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Mr Antonello CABRAS
State Secretary for Foreign Trade

Luxembourg :

Ms Lydie POLFER
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Netherlands :

Mr Jozias VAN AARTSEN
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Gerrit YBEMA
State Secretary for Economic Affairs

Austria :

Mr Wolfgang SCHÜSSEL
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Johann FARNLEITNER
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs

Portugal :

Mr Jaime GAMA
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Francisco SEIXAS da COSTA
State Secretary for European Affairs

Mr Vitor RAMALHO
State Secretary attached to the Minister for Economic Affairs

Finland :

Ms Tarja HALONEN
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Kimmo SASI
Minister for Foreign Affairs Trade and European Affairs

Sweden :

Ms Anne LINDH
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Leif PAGROTSKY
Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Trade and Nordic Cooperation

United-Kingdom :

Mr Robin COOK
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Mr Geoff HOON
Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department

Mr Richard CABORN
Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, Minister for Trade

Commission :

Mr Pascal LAMY
Member

Mr Christopher PATTEN
Member

Mr António VITORINO
Member

General Secretariat of the Council :

Mr Jürgen TRUMPF
Secretary General

PREPARATION OF THE TAMPERE EUROPEAN COUNCIL

The Council finalized the preparation of the Special European Council of Tampere on 15/16 October aimed at giving further guidance to the action of the Union for the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice.

The Council took note in particular of the information provided by the Presidency on Prime Minister Lipponen's tour of capitals which ended today with a visit to Copenhagen. During his tour of the capitals, the Finnish Prime Minister made it clear to all his colleagues that the Presidency aims at treating the three main topics, i.e. asylum and migration, fight against crime and a European judicial area in a well-balanced fashion and that the Presidency also maintained his high ambition for concrete results in the three areas. Generally speaking he encountered in all capitals much support for his agenda - set out in his letter to Heads of State/Government at the beginning of his tour - and there appeared no reason to make fundamental changes to it.

As for the specific issue of "enhanced and more coherent external action of the Union in the field of Justice and Home Affairs" - which will be one among several other important issues for discussion in Tampere - the Presidency document was endorsed by Foreign Ministers and will be forwarded to the European Council and taken into account by the Presidency when drafting its conclusions for Tampere.

The Presidency also indicated that Heads of State and Government may have over dinner a preliminary discussion on enlargement - without aiming at conclusions - and an exchange of views on topical issues related to Russia and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Foreign Ministers will address at their dinner the situation in the Western Balkans as a whole and also East Timor.

(See also conclusions on the High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration, p. V).

EUROPEAN CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Further to the Cologne European Council conclusions, the Council reached agreement on the necessary steps to set up the Body which shall elaborate a draft EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: composition, method of work and practical arrangements for that Body.

The Body will be composed of 1 representative of each of the Heads of State/Government of the Member States and of the Commission President, 16 from the European Parliament (to be chosen by the EP) and 30 from national parliaments (2 from each). Agreement has also been reached on the presence of observers and bodies invited to give their views, exchange of views with applicant States, Secretariat arrangements and working methods for the preparation, drafting and adoption of the Charter by the Body and the solemn proclamation by the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council.

Today Ministers solved the questions still open by deciding on a rotating Presidency for the Body according to the usual sequence of Member States in the Council.

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

The Council took note of the Presidency report on the state of play concerning the preparation of its report to the Helsinki European Council on security and defence policy, both on the military and non-military aspects of crisis management. The Presidency stressed its intention to put forward a substantial report.

Work will continue in the Council bodies and on 15 November at the General Affairs Council with the participation of Defence Ministers. EU Foreign Ministers will also have a working dinner with their colleagues from WEU Associated countries.

CHECHNYA - CONCLUSIONS

The Council expressed deep concern over the situation in the Northern Caucasus and in particular the plight of innocent civilians. It stressed that every effort should be made to avoid a further escalation of the conflict which would jeopardise the stability of the region. The Council also underlined the need for political dialogue aimed at a rapid peaceful solution of the conflict, including through efforts supported by the international community, including the OSCE.

At the same time, the Council reiterated its position on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and its resolute condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.

The Council expressed grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation of the displaced persons in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

In this context, the Council welcomed the Commission’s readiness through ECHO to provide humanitarian assistance through internationally recognised aid organizations. The Council called on Russia to provide safe and unhindered access for such humanitarian aid organizations with a view to the rapid and efficient distribution of aid to the displaced persons on the ground.

WESTERN BALKANS - CONCLUSIONS

The Council welcomed the results of the meeting in the margins of the GAC with representatives of the democratic forces of the FRY. The meeting constitutes a concrete proof of the readiness of the Union to support the people of the FRY in their efforts to embrace democratic values, respect for human rights and rights of persons belonging to minorities and market economy as well as to pave the way to the reintegration of the FRY in international co-operation, including full participation in international and regional organisations, in line with the EU's policy on the regional approach and the Council conclusions of 29 April 1997. The Council welcomed the commitment of the democratic forces to a continued process providing a forum for future discussion on political and economic issues and pledged its readiness for such a common effort. The Council stressed that to succeed such a shared undertaking requires effective co-operation among the democratic forces.

The Council discussed the possibilities of providing further assistance to the Serbian population in view of the approaching harsh winter conditions in addition to the humanitarian assistance worth 56.1 MEURO provided already by the Community. The Council accordingly strongly supported the launching of the pilot project proposed by G-17 in the framework of the Energy for Democracy initiative, under which the cities of Nis and Pirot will first be provided with heating oil as energy assistance. The project could later be expanded to other municipalities. For these purposes, the Council agreed on the need for the early establishment of a mechanism to facilitate the provision of energy assistance. It welcomed the Commission's intention to submit a proposal to implement the project without delay.

The Council agreed that it would come back to the questions of lifting the flight ban and strengthening the visa ban at its next meeting.

The Council agreed in principle on a Common Position on support for democratic forces in the FRY and invited its competent bodies to complete the text for early adoption by the Council. It issued a separate statement on the meeting with the democratic forces of the FRY. The future work will address issues such as democracy, economic development, reconstruction and energy development with a view to developing a closer relationship between the EU and the FRY.

The Council affirmed its commitment to the long-term future of the FRY and reaffirmed its policy with regard to the present regime. Any improvement of relations between the EU and the FRY presupposes from the FRY decisive steps towards democratisation and full co-operation with the ICTY.

The Council strongly condemned the police crackdown on peaceful demonstrations as repeatedly witnessed in Belgrade in the course of last weeks. Such violence by the Serb security forces illustrated once more that fundamental democratic values such as freedom of speech and opinion will not be respected in Serbia as long as Milosevic and his regime stay in power.

The Council commended the valuable work of EU Special Representative for the FRY, Mr. Felipe Gonzalez. At his request, the Council decided to discontinue the Joint Action appointing him.

Kosovo

The Council discussed the political and security situation in Kosovo. The Council strongly condemned the fact that ethnically based violence continues. Every effort must be undertaken by the leaders of the various ethnic groups to put an end to it with the assistance of UNMIK and KFOR. The Council also reaffirmed its expectation that the consultative mechanisms with local leaders working under UNMIK should be fully used. The Council reiterated its expectation that the UNSCR 1244 in all its parts be fully implemented by all parties and underlined the importance of full support for UNMIK.

With respect to the announcement by KFOR of the completion of demilitarisation obligations of the KLA, the Council called for full observance of these obligations by the Kosovar community and for their effective monitoring. It welcomed the formation of the multi-ethnic Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) for civilian emergency functions. Efficient training, a balanced multi-ethnic recruitment policy, recruitment on an individual basis, political authority by UNMIK and operational control by KFOR are key to making the KPC a useful tool in the developing civilian functions in Kosovo.

The Council discussed possible EU support for the KPC. It agreed that this support would be made conditional on the full respect by those responsible in the Kosovo Albanian community of the agreed terms of reference of the KPC. The Council requested the Commission and the competent Council bodies to examine ways in which the EU could support training and selected activities of the KPC. The Council also welcomed the IOM demobilisation programme for former KLA members.

The Council also called for intensified efforts by the Kosovars and the international presence to fight against organised crime in Kosovo. In this context it invited the competent bodies to study, in time for the November GAC, how an EU initiative including concrete measures, could contribute to this effort.

Stability Pact

The Council welcomed the inaugural meeting of the Working Table on Economic Reconstruction, Development and co-operation. It looked forward to the inaugural meetings of the Working Tables on Democratisation and Human Rights and on Defence and Security Affairs. The Council reconfirmed the EU's willingness to actively contribute to the success of the Stability Pact.

Danube

The Council examined the question of the resumption of navigation on the Danube. It underlined the vital importance which the resumption of navigation on the Danube represents for the economy of the region as a whole. It confirmed its readiness to support the Danube Commission and the States of the region in their endeavours to ensure freedom of navigation on the Danube, the principle of which is stated in the Conventions of 1921 and of 1948. The Council confirmed that the EU will work towards a solution.

MEETING WITH DEMOCRATIC FORCES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

In the margins of the Council, Ministers held a meeting with representatives of Democratic Forces of the FRY (representatives of political parties, NGOs, national minorities). The purpose of this meeting was to strengthen the Union's relations with these forces and to encourage them to work towards peace, democratic change and economic prosperity in the FRY. The Union underlined also its preparedness to give substantial assistance to a future democratic Yugoslavia and to support the full integration of the FRY into the international community.

At the end of the meeting, the EU issued the following statement:

EU-FRY - a new beginning

The EU, and representatives of the democratic forces of the FRY met in Luxembourg on 11 October 1999. The meeting was convened in the interests of the strengthening of good relations between the EU and the people of the FRY, and in the spirit of aspiration towards democracy and economic prosperity.

The EU and the people of the FRY have a common interest in working with the international community to enhance stability and growth in South Eastern Europe. Such a process is possible only through democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, market economy and the development of good neighbourly relations in the region.

As soon as the governments of Serbia and the FRY are under the political control of democratic forces, and as soon as all individuals indicted by the ICTY have been removed from Federal and Republican offices and the FRY fully cooperates with ICTY, as part of a general and determined effort to make a new beginning in the region, the EU undertakes to pursue the following objectives:

The EU and its Member States will:

  • Support democratic Serbian and FRY governments as the legitimate expression of the desire of the people of Serbia and the FRY to be part of the European family;
  • Lift EU sanctions at an early stage;
  • Launch EU reconstruction programs at an early stage;
  • Strengthen EU relations with the FRY and work towards a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in line with other Western Balkans Countries;
  • Support FRY membership in international and European organisations, facilitate the FRY’s entry into the international financial institutions and support FRY participation in regional political processes and co-operation, including the Stability Pact;
  • Facilitate the rapid resolution of SFRY succession issues;
  • Work closely with the Council of Europe to help the FRY identify and implement the reforms needed for early Council of Europe membership;
  • Persuade the countries of the former Yugoslavia to normalise relations with the FRY;
  • Continue to exert pressure on countries of former Yugoslavia to make rapid progress on returns for refugees/deportees living in FRY.

The European Union in turn expects the representatives of Serbia and the FRY to pursue the following goals:
  • The introduction of legislation to bring Serbia and the FRY into full compliance with the principles of democratic government and institutions, human rights, the rule of law, independent and pluralistic media and respect for minority rights;
  • Holding of free and fair elections with international supervision;
  • The opening of a genuine dialogue with all concerned on the future of the FRY;
  • The establishment of good cooperation with neighbouring countries;
  • Full implementation of the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina including establishment of diplomatic relations, refugee returns and co-operation with the ICTY.
  • The European Union is committed to a continued common process for discussion on political and economic issues. The future work will address issues such as democracy, economic development, reconstruction and energy development with a view to developing a closer relationship between the EU and the FRY.

BURMA / MYANMAR - CONCLUSIONS

The Council recalled its conclusions of 26 April 1999. It welcomed the efforts to establish a meaningful political dialogue with Burma/Myanmar. It remains, however, concerned at the lack of a positive response from the Burmese authorities to the EU efforts. It expressed its concern at the continuing human rights violations and the repression of the democratic opposition. It called once again upon the Government of Burma/Myanmar to take early and concrete steps towards respect for human rights, the promotion of democracy and national reconciliation.

The Council offered its full support for the forthcoming mission of Mr. Alvaro de Soto, special representative of the UN Secretary-General, and hoped that it would yield an improvement in the human rights situation as well as promote the democratic process. The Council extended the common position for six months, and agreed to review the common position in the light of the results of Mr de Soto's mission.

EARTHQUAKE IN GREECE

Following information supplied by the Greek Foreign Minister on the extensive damage caused by the powerful earthquake which occurred in Athens on 7 September 1999, the Council looks forward to the results of the discussions between the Greek Government and the Commission on ways to contribute to alleviate the consequences of the earthquake.

The Council encourages the Commission to examine all possible ways of assisting Greece by making full use of the possibilities offered by the structural funds. In this context it invites the Commission to do its utmost on the basis of a specific evaluation of the damage.

EAST TIMOR - CONCLUSIONS

The Council welcomed the successful deployment of INTERFET in East Timor and the contributions made to that force by EU Member States. It further welcomed the participation in that force by Asian countries and especially by the states members of ASEAN. The Council welcomed the report of the UN Secretary-General of 4 October to the Security Council proposing the establishment of a UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The Council called upon the Indonesian parliament to respect the obligations contained in the 5 May 1999 agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, as well as the will of the East Timorese people expressed in the popular consultation of 30 August, in order that Indonesia formally relinquishes its ties with East Timor.

The Council expressed its continued concern at the humanitarian situation in both East and West Timor. It called upon Indonesia to curb the activity of the militias in West Timor, to cease all support to the militias and to secure effectively the border. The Council underlined the importance of cooperation by the Indonesian authorities with the international humanitarian agencies to ascertain the wishes of those East Timorese in West Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia and to facilitate the return of those who so wish. The Council was briefed by the Commission on its humanitarian assistance. The Commission also indicated its intentions regarding assistance to East Timor's rehabilitation and transition to independence and informed the Council that it was participating in the World Bank coordination of the assessment of reconstruction needs. The Council welcomed those indications and invited the Commission to take forward its planning. It also welcomed the intention of the Commission to come forward with a substantial proposal for further assistance to the UN Trust Funds (for UNAMET/UNTAET) from the EC budget and agreed to the necessary measures for an early decision.

The Council welcomed the resolution on East Timor adopted by the special session of the CHR and the subsequent decision by the UN Secretary-General to charge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson, with the establishment of a commission of enquiry to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law in East Timor. It xpressed the wish that Indonesia will be able to co-operate fully with the commission of enquiry.

PREPARATION FOR THE THIRD WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

The Council had an in-depth discussion on the points still outstanding concerning the preparation of the Community position for the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle from 30 November to 3 December 1999. The issues concerned cultural diversity, anti-dumping and trade and labour rights as well as some specific points raised by individual delegations.

The Council reached a political understanding on almost all issues on the WTO agenda and also on the anti-dumping issue and other specific points. As far as the cultural diversity and trade and labour rights are concerned, it asked the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue work at its level with the aim of reaching complete agreement as soon as possible.

COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY (CTBT) - EU DECLARATION

The EU welcomes the Declaration of the Vienna Conference of ratifiers and signatories of the CTBT. We there underlined our firm conviction that the Treaty is strongly in the interest of all States as an essential barrier to the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We committed ourselves to working for its entry into force at the earliest opportunity.

We again call on those States which have yet to sign the Treaty to do so as soon as possible. We also urge those States which have yet to ratify to do so without delay, in particular those States whose ratification is necessary to bring the Treaty into force.

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS - CONCLUSIONS

"The Council welcomed Foreign Minister Levy's acceptance of the Presidency's invitation to meet EU Ministers today to discuss EU-Israel relations and the Middle East Peace Process; it saw Mr. Levy's visit as further evidence of re-invigoration of long-standing EU-Israel relations in the context of the more positive atmosphere in the Peace Process. The Council welcomed EU Special Envoy Moratinos' initiative, as part of his efforts to contribute to the better understanding of the Union's role among opinion leaders in the region, to create the "EU-Israel Forum" which would bring together personalities from the EU and Israel for a dynamic exchange of ideas and views on a broad range of common interests, values and policies."

With respect to this initiative, the Council amended (decision without debate, A point) the 1996 Joint Action concerning the nomination of an EU Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process in order to widen the scope of his mandate by enabling him to make the EU's role in the Middle East better understood and, more specifically, to launch the "EU-Israel Forum.

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Montenegro and Kosovo - exemption from the flight ban

Further to the Common Position of 3 September, which aimed i.a. to exempt Kosovo and Montenegro from the flight ban imposed against the FRY, the Council adopted a Regulation to implement this decision at Community level.

The new Regulations carries over the provisions of the original Regulation (Reg. 1064/99) whilst adding that the competent authorities in the Member States may authorise civil aircraft flights between the EC and the FRY, provided that the two following conditions are met:

1) the aircraft is not registered in the FRY and is operated by Montenergo Airlines or by a non-Yugoslav carrier; or, it is registered in the FRY, but is listed in the Regulation either as aircraft used by the Montenergo government or the relevant bodies designated by the UN Secretary General Special Representative in Kosovo, for non-commercial purposes, or as aircraft used by Montenegro Airlines for commercial purposes; and,

2) the point of departure of flights, intermediate points and points of final destination in the FRY are located only in Montenegro or Kosovo.

These authorisations shall cease to be valid if in cases of flights to or from Kosovo, payments for the provision of essential services necessary for the normal execution of these flights are made to others than the providers listed in the Regulation, the level of such payments does not correspond to the average rates applicable for such services during the six month period before 19 June 1999, or such rates are applied on a discriminatory basis; or in cases of flights to or from Montenegro, payments for the provision of such services, other than Air Traffic Control Services provided by the competent authorities of the FRY, are not made into the account of the competent authorities of Montenegro listed in the Regulation, the level of such payments does not correspond to the average rates applicable during the six months period before 19 June 1999, or such rates are applied on a discriminatory basis.

OSCE Summit in Istanbul, 18-19 November 1999

The Council adopted guidelines setting out the EU's priorities for the OSCE Summit to be held in Istanbul on 18-19 November.

EU/Russia Summit

The Council took note of the information provided by the Presidency and the Commission on the preparation of the EU-Russia Summit which is scheduled to take place in Helsinki on 22 October 1999.

The EU will be represented by Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, Commission President Romano Prodi and Commissioner Chris Patten as well as Javier Solana in his new capacity as Secretary-General of the Council / High Representative for CFSP. The Russian side will be represented by Prime Minister Putin, accompanied i.a. by First Vice Prime Minister Khristenko and Foreign Minister Ivanov.

As regards the agenda, discussions under the EU/Russia relations item are expected to focus on both sides' respective strategy documents. Russia has indicated it would hand over its strategy document on mid-term relations with the EU. The EU side will inform on the implementation of the Common Strategy on the basis of the Presidency's work plan. Current political and economic developments in Russia and in the EU will also be addressed.

As for the EU's Northern dimension, the EU side will inform on the preparations for the upcoming ministerial conference in Helsinki (11-12 November). The EU will also address the need to push forward the current negotiations on the multilateral nuclear and environment program in Russia (MNEPR).

Under the heading "Cooperation in combating criminal activities" there will be an exchange of views on the outcome of the European Council 's meeting in Tampere the preceding week, the results of the G8 ministerial meeting on the fight against organized crime which is scheduled in Moscow a few days before the Summit, and the draft (EU/Russia) action plan to fight organized crime, which was first discussed with Russia at experts level in late September.

The last agenda item, "Current international issues", encompasses a number of major regional foreign policy issues of immediate interest to both sides. The following are expected to be addressed at the plenary meeting: OSCE Summit preparation, Balkans (Kosovo, FRY) and Stability Pact.

First Cooperation Council with Armenia

The Council established the position to be taken by the EU at the first Cooperation Council with Armenia to be held on 12 October (see Press release 11655/99 Presse 300)

First Cooperation Council with Azerbaijan

The Council established the position to be taken by the EU at the first Cooperation Council with Azerbaijan to be held on 12 October (see Press release 11656/99 Presse 301)

First Cooperation Council with Georgia

The Council established the position to be taken by the EU at the first Cooperation Council with Georgia to be held on 12 October (see Press release 11657/99 Presse 302)

Annual Report on the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports

The Council took note of the first Annual Report reviewing the operation of the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports adopted on 8 June 1998 (see Annex).

Ban on supply to Indonesia of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism

The Council adopted the regulation "concerning a ban on the supply to Indonesia of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism".

The regulation is aimed at implementing the common position that the Council approved on this matter on 16 September 1999 in view of the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law taking place in East Timor.

The regulation establishes that it shall be prohibited, knowingly or intentionally, to

  • sell, supply, export or ship, directly or indirectly, certain equipment (listed in an Annex to the regulation) whether or not originating in the Community, to any person or body in Indonesia or to any person or body for the purpose of any business carried on in, or operated from, the territory of Indonesia;
  • participate in related activities the object or effect of which is, directly or indirectly, to promote the transactions or activities referred to above.

Transitions or activities in respect of a number of specific equipment items listed in the Annex may be authorised by the competent authorities of the Member States, when these have obtained the conclusive evidence that the end-use of these items is not for internal repression or terrorism.

Member States shall determine the sanctions to be imposed should the ban imposed by this regulation be infringed.

The regulation shall be applicable in all the territories of the Member States to which the EC treaty is applicable. It shall apply until 17 January 2000.

EU Annual report on Human Rights

The Council approved the first annual report on Human Rights drawn up further to the Vienna Declaration of 10 December 1999 on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It is recalled that the Vienna Declaration indicated the establishment of an annual report as one of the possible ways to strengthen EU action in the area of Human Rights.

The Council also approved the following conclusions :

"The Council welcomed the publishing of the first EU Annual Report on Human Rights and the organisation of the first periodical Human Rights Discussion Forum as a follow-up to the 10 December Vienna Declaration which was endorsed by the Vienna European Council.

The Council noted with appreciation that the Report on Human Rights and the Discussion Forum serve the objective of strengthening the Union's policy in the field of human rights. It further noted that both initiatives also contribute to increasing transparency and enhancing the dialogue with the civil society, thus bringing the Union closer to its citizens.

Based on the substantive link between the two initiatives, the Council agreed to use the Annual Report as input for discussions at the first Discussion Forum, which be organised on 30 November and 1 December. On the basis of experiences gained, the structures of both the Annual Report and the Discussion Forum can be further developed in the future".

High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration - Conclusions

The Council approved the final report of the High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) containing action plans for Afghanistan and neighbouring region, Iraq, Morocco, Somalia and Sri Lanka and will transmit these Action Plans for the special session of the European Council in Tampere.

2. The Council took note of the interim report on Albania and neighbouring region and, taking into account the specific character of the situation in the Western Balkans, will transmit this interim report for information to the special session of the European Council in Tampere and to the EU Special Representative and Special Co-ordinator for the Stability Pact. The Council invites the Presidency and the Commission to take into account the interim report in the preparation of the Common Strategy for the Western Balkans.

The Council appreciated the work of the HLWG Asylum and Migration, which, in response to an initiative from the Netherlands, was created by the General Affairs Council on 7 and 8 December 1998 and was welcomed by the European Council of Vienna on 11 and 12 December 1998. After carrying out a joint analyses of the root causes for flight or migration on the basis of a survey of the political, economic and human rights situation in the countries concerned, the HLWG has succeeded in preparing cross-pillar Action Plans which present for each of the selected countries a coherent and well-balanced combination of the various possibilities of the European Union in the area of Foreign Affairs, Development, Humanitarian and Economic assistance. It also makes use of the instruments on migration, asylum and integration provided by the EC Treaty, as revised by the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Council considered these Action Plans to be a first attempt by the European Union to define a comprehensive and coherent approach targeted at the situation in a number of important countries of origin or transit of asylum-seekers and migrants.

The Council is convinced that asylum and migration policy should become an integral element in the development of the policies of the Union in accordance with the applicable procedures and responsibilities defined in the Treaty. It also invites the Presidency and Commission to take note of the work of the HLWG when preparing Common Strategies.

The Council underlined that cooperation with the selected countries and neighbouring countries will be an important determining factor for obtaining results. The Council stressed the need to develop, where possible, a permanent dialogue with these countries and to explore the scope for effective action with other third countries and international organisations, in particular with UNHCR.

The Council also underlined that implementation of the Action Plans will require close cooperation between its competent bodies, the Commission and the Member States in accordance with their respective responsibilities as defined in the Treaty. It called on the Commission to play an active role in the implementation process and urged the Member States to provide the necessary expertise.

In view of the importance of the implementation of the Action Plans as well as of the evaluation of the results of the integrated cross-pillar approach, the Council tasks the HLWG to meet after the special session of the European Council in Tampere in order to co-ordinate the implementation of the Action Plans in close association with the Commission. In doing so the HLWG is:

a) to make an assessment of the resources through which the Action Plans will be implemented on the basis of an inventory carried out by the Commission in close cooperation with the Member States;

b) to follow the developments in Albania and neighbouring region and, if necessary, up-date its interim report in the form of a definitive action plan;

c) to meet at least once during each Presidency to monitor the implementation of the Action Plans and the developments in the situation in the countries concerned, including through periodic reports by the Heads of Mission;

d) to update, in close cooperation with the Commission, the Action Plans where appropriate, and to report thereon to the Committee of the Permanent Representatives, to keep the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum and the Political Committee informed and, as a next step, consider possible recommendations to the Council on the need to draw up action plans for other countries;

e) to evaluate the efficiency of the cross-pillar integrated approach applied in the drawing up and implementation of the Action Plans and report thereon on a regular basis to the Council. A first assessment of the implementation will be submitted to the Council in advance of the last session of the European Council in 2000.

San Marino - collection of import duties

The Council approved, for its part, the draft decision of the EC-San Marino Cooperation Committee amending Decision n° 1/93 adopting the procedures for making available to the San Marino Exchequer the import duties collected by the Community on behalf of the Republic of San Marino, and the Annex to decision n° 2/96 applying Article 1 (a) and (b) of decision n° 1/93.

The draft decision is aimed at adapting the present procedure for making available to the San Marino Exchequer the import duties collected by the Community on behalf of San Marino, to a new definition of the establishment of import duties which introduces a link between duties' being entered in the accounts and their being established as own resources.

Draft Report to the European Parliament on progress achieved by the EU in 1998

The Council agreed the draft report on progress achieved by the EU in 1998, in view of its adoption by the Tampere European Council which will subsequently submit it to the European Parliament.

The report covers the following chapters : preparations for the euro; the central role of employment and social affairs; enlargement; Agenda 2000: fit for the future; an area of freedom, security and justice; environmental protection and sustainable development; the internal market as the driving force for employment; implementation of the Treaty of Amsterdam; Europe as a global player; and future challenges.

ANNEX

Annual report in conformity with operative provision 8 of the European Union code of conduct on arms exports

1. Summary

The European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports was adopted on June 8, 1998. Written into the Code was an annual reporting procedure, of which this is the first. Over this short period of implementing the Code considerable progress has been made. The experiences of the Member States in providing notifications and consultations on arms exports have been positive. The Code has ushered in a new degree of transparency between governments in arms transactions, and has enabled the Member States to act in greater concert when considering national arms licensing decisions. It has also provided a forum for the Member States to discuss their common concerns when matters of regional stability and human rights are at issue. The Code has been embraced by others beyond the Union, with the Associated Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus, the EFTA countries members of the EEA and Canada all agreeing to align themselves with its principles.

Reflections on the Code after one year offer the opportunity not only to highlight experiences, but also to consider the way forward. Consequently the report is structured in four parts. First reviewed are issues surrounding the practical application of the Code. These are followed by guidelines that have been adopted by the Conventional Arms Exports Working Group (COARM) to enhance application of the Code. Priorities for co-ordinated action in the future are then identified. The Report concludes by providing statistics on Member States' conventional arms exports. Recognising the desire of Member States to increase transparency, the Council has decided to render the report public.

2. Introduction

The Council adopted the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports on 8, June 1998. The initial proposal for the Code was tabled at the end of January 1998 and then discussed in several meetings of the Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports, and in the Political Committee.

The Code builds upon the common criteria for arms exports of Luxembourg and Lisbon that were adopted in 1991 and 1992, and establishes an information exchange and consultation mechanism. This is the first such mechanism applied by any group of States to their conventional arms exports. The adoption of the Code ushered in a new phase in the EU development of a common approach to arms exports, as a component of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy in accordance with Articles 11 and 17 of the Treaty on European Union. The Code sets high minimum standards for the management of, and restraint in, conventional arms transfers by all Member States. It is designed to strengthen the exchange of relevant information and to achieve greater transparency in arms transactions. The convergence of national export policies, on the basis of the Code of Conduct, complies with the wish of Member States to maintain a defence industry as part of their industrial base as well as their defence effort. This process of convergence is also consistent with European defence industrial restructuring and co-operation.

In accordance with its Operative Provision 8, the Code is now undergoing its first annual review. The review covers all aspects of the Code, i.e. both the interpretation and the application of the criteria for the export of conventional armaments and the implementation of operative provisions. It also identifies improvements that may be needed. As part of the review effort, each Member State has circulated an annual report on its conventional arms exports and its implementation of the Code.

3. The Operation of the Code: experiences of the implementation of the Code of Conduct

The experiences of the Member States in implementing the Code of Conduct during the first year of its existence have been positive. The Code has increased mutual understanding of Member State policies on conventional arms both directly through the circulation of denial notifications and consultations, and indirectly through contributing to a culture of greater transparency and openness.

The unique consultation mechanism set out in the Code has been deemed to be efficient. A large number of denial notifications has been circulated and Member States have engaged in active consultations on specific export licensing issues.

The increased dialogue on the implementation and national interpretation of the Code of Conduct has been valuable. This practical co-operation, based on the principles and operative provisions of the Code, contributes to a convergence of the arms exports policies and procedures of the European Union Member States.

The Member States have urged non-members to adopt the principles of the Code and have welcomed the alignment to these principles of the Associated Countries of Central and Eastern European and Cyprus, the EFTA Countries members of the European Economic Area, and Canada. These countries have declared that they share the principles contained in the EU Code of Conduct and will use them to guide their national export licensing decisions. In the spirit of the Code, some of these countries have now begun to circulate information on their conventional arms export control procedures.

Whilst the general experience of the implementation of the Code of Conduct has indeed been a positive one, there remain issues requiring additional clarification and development. In fact, improving the effectiveness of the Code to further enhance the high common European standards for arms exports will be an ongoing process, of which the annual review is an essential element.

During the first year of the Code of Conduct the COARM working group discussed a number of issues relating to the practical implementation of the Code. Of particular importance, Member States have exchanged views on the following issues:

  • The practical details of the consultation process;
  • Clarification of definitions set out in the Code;
  • The legal status of the Code;
  • Options for enhancing the participation of countries that have declared their alignment with the Code’s principles;
  • Concern by some countries that the denial notification system could be overloaded if appropriate thresholds are not set, in particular when the end users are private persons;
  • The possibility of taking into account recipient countries participation in the United Nations arms register when considering arms exports licences;
  • Interpretations of arms export embargoes, in particular in relation to equipment used in humanitarian aid operations.

In addition, a separate Working Group under COARM has discussed the finalisation of a common European list of military equipment. Work continues on items still to be added to the list. Various national proposals are under discussion with the aim of creating a comprehensive common European list of military equipment that reflects current international security and human rights concerns.

4. Guidelines adopted by COARM to enhance the practical implementation of the Code of Conduct

During the first year of implementation, the COARM Working Group has adopted the following guidelines:

  • Serial number indicating the country of origin and the number of the denial will be introduced for denial notifications (accompanied by the Community acronym of the Member State concerned and indication of the year).
  • Denials still subject to appeal under national procedures will be notified under the Code of Conduct with an indication to that effect.
  • Decisions to revoke extant licenses will be dealt with in the same way as refusals of licence applications.
  • Consensus has been reached to use the so called Austrian Presidency Proposal as a basis for the continued discussions on the common list of equipment. Denials on items subject to national controls by Member States, but not included in the above-mentioned list, will continue to be notified to all Member States. Member States which do not control these items will inform others.
  • Non-EU countries which have declared their adherence to the principles and criteria of the Code, and which have become involved in the restructuring of the European defence industry, shall be allowed to gain access to the evolving interpretation of the Code’s principles and criteria. This shall not entail access to information made available in the course of the procedures referred to in the operative provisions of the Code.
  • Any individual case of arms exports can be raised for discussion by delegations in the COARM Working Group, if it is considered to be useful for national licensing deliberations.
  • Denial notifications that have been circulated in the international export control regimes will also be circulated as Code of Conduct denial notifications if relevant to the scope of the Code.
  • A period of two to four weeks from the date the request for consultations has been received is established for the consultation procedure envisaged in operative paragraph 3 of the Code, unless a different time period is agreed upon between the parties concerned.
  • When an arms embargo is lifted, denials solely based on the embargo will expire unless they are renewed by the denying country within a period of one month on the basis of other criteria of the Code.

5. Priorities for co-ordinated action in the future

The Code of Conduct is a unique document that demonstrates the European Union commitment to maintaining high common standards on arms exports. However, it is a new document and this review can therefore reflect only the initial experiences with its implementation. With the aim of strengthening the Code, achieving greater transparency, enhancing harmonisation and promoting the respect of human rights, some key areas have been identified for consideration and action in the near term:

I. The finalisation of the common European List of military equipment is a top priority. It is necessary that this list reflect the present threats to international peace and security and to the respect of human rights. The list is to be a cornerstone of the Code of Conduct and should not be limited to the lowest common denominator of existing national control lists.

II. To strengthen further the implementation of the Code of Conduct, Member States will seek to develop common understandings of what constitutes an "essentially identical transaction". Member States will continue to engage in pre-consultation dialogue to determine whether particular transactions are essentially identical or not.

III. To help Member States in their national licensing deliberations a fuller description of the reasons for refusal should be included in the denial notification. This would facilitate understanding of the general thinking behind each other's refusals, and help the Member States decide whether consultation would be warranted in cases where the proposed export is not essentially identical.

IV. Member States will continue to exchange information on national interpretations of UN, EU and OSCE embargoes with a view to developing common understandings and practices.

In addition, Member States welcome the Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and will continue to discuss further how to take into account the principles of the Moratorium in their national licensing deliberations.

6. Information on Members States conventional arms exports and implementation of the Code of Conduct

Country Reporting Period Total value of arms exports (EUROS)
Total number of licences issued
No. of Notified Denials No. of Bilateral Consultations
Austria 1998 War material: not available

Other weapons: 208.741.703*

War material: 292

Other weapons: 1313

War material: 0

Other weapons: 13

2
Belgium 1998 649.671.652*
1067
29 (of which 5 since the adoption of the Code) 1
Denmark 1998 Not available
219
2
Finland 1998 30.934.318**
155
5 (of which 3 since the adoption of the Code)
France 1998 6.277.545.600**
7.222

- 2.353 prior approvals of the level of sales

- 4.869 authorisations of exports of war material

50 (from 8 June 1998 to 31 May 1999) 5 (from 8 June 1998 to 31 May 1999)
Germany 1998 2.829.222.407*
11.400
27 (since the adoption of the Code) 1
Greece 1998 Not available
22
Ireland 1998 20.060.000*
381
Italy 1998 949.414.596*
Final: 593

For temporary export: 140

License Extensions: 63

7 1
Luxembourg 1998 23.547*
27
Netherlands 1998 431.862.632*
Not available
16 (since the adoption of the Code)
Portugal 1998 14.690.185*
116
Spain 1998 163.847.920*
2019
1 1
Sweden 1998 407.987.925**
542 (export permits for sales)
United Kingdom 1998 Not available
Total number of licences: 10385***

Standard Individual Export Licences: 9869

Open Individual Export Licences: 499

Standard Individual Transshipment Licences: 17

43 (since the adoption of the Code) 7
* total value of licences issued

** actual value of exports

***these figures include licences for goods on the UK Military List as well as licences for other goods.

NB. Not all countries have been able to submit this information due to present procedures or legislation in the area of arms exports controls or data protection legislation.