EU leaders gather for Laeken Summit

Leaders of the 15 EU Member States are gathering in Laeken outside Brussels for a two-day summit, marking the end of the six-month Belgian Presidency. The leaders will discuss a new reform of the EU, counter-terrorism measures, enlargement and the partition of ten new EU agencies among the Member States.

The Summit will deal with the following issues:

  • The Laeken Declaration: the leaders will adopt a discussion paper on the powers and the future role of the EU. The declaration will serve as the basis to prepare a new reform of the EU in 2004. The ground for the reform will be prepared by the Convention, a group of members of governments and parliaments of the Member States and candidate countries, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Britain, France and the Nordic countries regard the proposed declaration as too federalist.
  • President of the Convention: the leaders will name the president of the Convention. Most Member States prefer to see a former president of state or government in this post. The front-runners for the post are former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, former French President Valéry, Giscard d’Estaing, Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.
  • 10 new EU agencies: the Member States will decide on who gets the seats of 10 new EU agencies. The most important are the European Food Safety Authority, Eurojust, the EU Police Academy, the European Agency for Maritime Safety, the EU Immigration Observatory, the EU Railway Security Agency, the Observatory for Technology and Civil Protection. The Summit will also confirm the seats of the existing Satellite Centre in Torrejon and the Centre for Strategic Studies in Paris.
  • EU patent: Spain is blocking the adoption of the European patent, insisting that the use of the English, French and German languages discriminates against the other EU countries. It insists that either only English or all official languages be used for European patent.
  • The Galileo global positioning system: Austria, Britain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden question its financial viability. The project will probably be delayed for a year.
  • Euro: the leaders will adopt a statement declaring that everything is in place to make euro a success. They will also analyse a report on the global economic slowdown and Germany’s doubts over the Stability Pact.
  • Enlargement: The leaders will reaffirm that enlargement is irreversible and that negotiations with the best prepared candidate countries could be concluded by the end of 2002.
  • Fight against terrorism: the leaders will endorse the agreement on the European arrest warrant and measures to tighten border control and visa regulations.
  • The Rapid Reaction Force: the leaders are expected to declare the EU force operational. However, the 60,000-strong force is not yet ready to be deployed, and Greece still objects to a deal with Turkey that would allow the EU to use NATO’s capabilities.

 

The summit was preceded by mass demonstrations, organised by the European Trade Union Confederation. Over 80,0000 demonstrators gathered in Brussels on Thursday to demand a more 'social Europe'.

Belgian police is on high alert for the summit, expecting thousands of anti-globalisation protesters. The Belgian government has put its air forces on alert to counter any terrorist attack.

 

EURACTIV will be covering the EU Summit in the weekend.

 

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