Lindh sets tough agenda for Nyköping

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Series Details Vol 7, No.18, 3.5.01, p9
Publication Date 03/05/2001
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Date: 03/05/01

By Simon Taylor

Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh will confront fellow ministers this weekend with some of the most difficult policy issues on the EU's agenda.

Lindh will ask her opposite numbers in the member states to debate the Union's policies in the Middle East, human rights, relations between the two Koreas and stability in the Balkans. They will also focus on the most sensitiveissues in the enlargement process and discussions on the future of Europe.

The Swedish minister has invited her counterparts for an 'informal' meeting in the small coastal town of Nyköping, where she lives.

Kicking off with enlargement, Lindh will ask ministers for their views on the free movement of people in preparation for the first formal debate on the controversial issue at the general affairs council on 14 May.

The Commission has called for a five-year delay before granting citizens from new member states the right to work in the EU - with the possibility of extending the ban to seven years.

Lindh wants to discuss the worsening situation in the Middle East and has invited EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to present his ideas on how the Union can contribute to restarting the peace process.

The Swedes are also planning an extensive debate on how to put human rights standards at the core of EU foreign policy. Lindh wants to concentrate on how to boost the role of non-government organisations and trade unions in EU policy, improving the protection of children, combating their sexual exploitation and fighting trafficking in humans.

The debate will also highlight the EU's concern about media freedom in the light of the deteriorating situation in Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Turkey.

External relations chief Chris Patten will also present the key points of a Commission paper on the EU's human rights strategy.

On Sunday, the ministers are being asked to discuss the Union's policy in the Balkans, focusing on the implications of the elections in Montenegro for stability in the region; they will also debate ways to prevent "prolonged constitutional crisis" between Podgorica and Belgrade. EU governments have recently welcomed comments from President Milo Djukanovic, saying that he will negotiate a new constitutional arrangement with the Federal Yugoslav government.

At the end of the meeting, ministers will receive their counterparts from the 13 applicant states for a discussion on the future of Europe. This follows the agreement at the Nice summit to hold a new round of treaty reforms in 2004, by which time some of the countries should have become members.

Lindh has asked ministers to outline issues "emerging in their national debates".

They will also examine the different methods which could be used to prepare the next Intergovernmental Conference.

While the European Parliament is in favour of a convention made up of national and European parliamentarians and representatives of national governments to draft a new treaty, officials believe that groups of legal and constitutional experts will be needed to deal with technical issues.

Preview of informal General Affairs Council, Nyköping, 5-6 May 2001.

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