Luxemburg, 13. October 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner: EU will only work if nobody dominates over anybody else

13.10.2003

Minister for Foreign Affairs comments on the procedure of the Intergovernmental Conference

Luxembourg, 13 October 2003 - Before today's session of the Intergovernmental Conference in Luxembourg, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner stressed that "the European idea will only work if nobody dominates over anybody else. We have to take concerted action if we are to achieve anything".

Ferrero-Waldner clearly expressed her standpoint in relation to today's session of the Intergovernmental Conference: "I will not give way on our demand for one Commissioner with one vote for each Member State. Europe must not be allowed to become a two-class society". A further important issue from Austria's point of view is the retention of the rotating presidency at the level of the Council of Ministers, as this guarantees formal and actual equality between the Member States at specific points in time, regardless of political events or other current developments, as well as being a clear expression of the decentralized structure of the EU. "This has important symbolic value, especially in terms of the EU's closeness to its citizens. However, the draft Constitutional Treaty contains no criteria at all regarding how the rotation is to continue to function in an objective and pre-defined manner in future", continued the Foreign Minister.

In Luxembourg today Ferrero-Waldner also reiterated the proposal that a working group should be set up to address specific issues within the framework of the Intergovernmental Conference. "Our debate in Rome on the rotation of the presidency showed that the big round-table discussions are otherwise not very satisfactory. Each Member State tables its proposed model, and then there is no time left for in-depth discussion of the various positions. A great deal of time is required in order to achieve a good compromise. That is why a working group should be set up, at least for selected issues where there are a multitude of options to be analysed", concluded Ferrero-Waldner.