On 15 December 2006, European leaders opted for a stricter application of membership criteria as Turkey talks are partially suspended.
The Union’s capacity to integrate new members will set the pace for future enlargements. The Finnish Presidency underlined that enlargement depended on whether candidate countries “stick to the rules”. Member states also agreed to go ahead with institutional reform before engaging in new commitments for target accession dates.
The EU also confirmed a slowing down in Turkish membership talks, but gave a clear ‘European perspective’ to the Western Balkans. The Union has also decided to develop a common migration policy, tackling the issues of fighting terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration. Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that this programme “will save lives”.
On the issue of the Constitution, the Finnish Presidency gave an assessment of its consultation with member states, but left it for the German Presidency, which takes over on 1 January 2007, to include the results in a report that it will publish in the first half of 2007.
Spain and Luxembourg presented their contribution to relaunch the institutional debate, announcing an informal meeting entitled ‘Friends of the Constitution’ to be held in Madrid on 26 January 2007.