Uutinen 7.3.2008

EU ministers to prepare the March European Council

Government Communications Unit

Press release 67/2008

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet in Brussels on Monday 10 March. The main theme of the meeting will be the preparation of the March European Council. Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen and Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors will attend the Council meeting.

The current Presidency country, Slovenia, will present a draft for the conclusions of the European Council meeting to be held on 13 and 14 March in Brussels and Member States will have a possibility to comment the proposal. The agenda of the spring meeting will include issues relating to climate and energy policy and the next three-year period of the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy.

Finland considers the Lisbon Strategy’s current priority areas justified. It is important that the priority areas remain unchanged during the next three-year period and that focus will be on implementing the outstanding reforms. The European Council should agree on measures that produce results.

Finland underlines that, in the future, climate and energy issues should be prominently integrated into the Lisbon Strategy. It would be particularly important to reach agreement on a global and comprehensive climate convention and finalise discussions on the climate and energy package at the beginning of 2009 at the latest. As concerns the reform of the emission trading scheme, which makes part of the energy and climate package, it is important to guarantee the operational preconditions for energy intensive industries which compete on the international market.

CFSP High Representative Javier Solana will provide the ministers with a report on the international-security implications of climate change.

The ministers will discuss the situation in the Western Balkans over lunch. They are likely to discuss the situation in Serbia and Kosovo after Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 17 February.

Issues relating to Iran’s political situation will also be discussed. The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution tightening sanctions against Iran. The discussion concerning the Middle East will focus on the alarming situation in Gaza and on how to ensure the arrival of humanitarian aid. The ministers will review the political situation in Zimbabwe in the light of the elections to be held at the end of March. The situation in Georgia is also on the agenda.

The trade ministers will discuss the state of the negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Key negotiators are committed to bring the talks to a conclusion before the year-end. During the spring, conclusive stages will be reached, particularly, in issues relating to agriculture and market openings for industrial goods. Finland considers that the EU should continue to work actively and constructively toward reaching the conclusion of the negotiation round and a comprehensive result.

Further information: Jari Luoto, State Secretary for EU Affairs, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2180 and Mika Kaijamo, Counsellor, Project Assistant, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6204 or +358 40 758 2002