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Prime Minister,
Honourable Members,

This is the last plenary before the summer recess. Seville is behind us and the Danish Presidency has just started. So this is a good time to take stock. There are three major interlocking processes on our agenda for the second half of this year.

First, enlargement. As I said yesterday, most issues still outstanding have been settled. At the October European Council, the Commission will say which countries it regards as ready for enlargement.

At the same time, we also need to encourage progress among the other candidate countries. Our aim is to go ahead with an all-encompassing process, not to lay down new barriers across the continent we are seeking to unify.

As things stand and assuming current progress is maintained, all ten countries in the first wave are likely to be considered ready for accession.

We shall work with determination to wind up the accession talks with the first ten countries at Copenhagen. But first we must reach an internal agreement with the current Member States on budgetary issues and on direct payments to farmers.

I want to reiterate my conviction that the Commission’s proposal is the only workable basis for reaching an agreement between today’s Fifteen and the Twenty-Five of tomorrow. So I call on all parties to do their utmost to reach an agreement that will pave the way for the reunification of the whole continent.

Meanwhile, an updated roadmap and pre-accession strategy will be adopted for Bulgaria and Romania. And the Council “encourages and fully supports the efforts made by Turkey to fulfil the priorities defined in its Accession Partnership.” The periodic report the Commission will publish in October on Turkey’s progress in adopting and implementing reforms will be crucial to the decisions that will be taken at Copenhagen.

Thereafter, in December the Copenhagen European Council will set a date for accession to take effect sometime in 2004 and will arrange for the signing of the Accession Treaty in March 2003.

Of course, the whole process hinges on the ratification of the Treaty of Nice. The Irish will be voting on this in October. I must stress the importance of a yes vote for Europe’s future.

Signing the Accession Treaty is not the end of a successful enlargement process. On the contrary, it will only mark the beginning. From 2004, the EU must be capable of performing its tasks and meeting the expectations of EU citizens, who will then number over 450 million.

The latest Eurobarometer results are clear. 67% of those interviewed are now in favour of the euro, six points up on the previous survey. There is a high level of support for a Common Foreign and Security Policy and for enlargement. And a majority are in favour of an EU constitution.

Szerző: [EU Delegáció]

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