Vienna, 29 April 2003 - "Just a few days after the presentation of the Draft Articles of the Constitutional Treaty concerning European Union institutions, we took the opportunity to exchange opinions on issues relating to the future of Europe," said Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner today after her talks with the French Minister for Europe, Noëlle Lenoir, in Vienna.
"It was important for me to use these talks to highlight our Austrian concerns, and I have also asked Mrs. Lenoir for her support in bringing these to the attention of the President of the Convention, Giscard d'Estaing," continued the Foreign Minister, adding that one thing above all should not be allowed to happen, namely "that the concerns of some states are not taken into consideration, just because these states are smaller than others."
Ferrero-Waldner went on to say that she viewed the Draft formulated by the Presidium of the Convention as extremely problematic, since it deviated substantially in several points from the principles that had held good so far. The tried-and-tested path taken in the EU to date had been based on the Community method, i.e. on a strong role for the European Commission, Ferrero-Waldner pointed out, but the Draft failed to consistently pursue this path.
"I will continue to defend the principle of equality of all Member States within the European Union," stated the Foreign Minister, adding: "I also made it absolutely clear to my French colleague that we are opposed to the establishment of an elected long-term president of the European Council. Here Austria is in full agreement with her neighbouring states, who are our allies on this issue."
The Minister for Foreign Affairs also reiterated her support for greater uniformity in the EU's conduct of its external relations. "To this end I especially welcome the proposal to create the office of European Foreign Minister to unite the functions of Mr. Patten and Mr. Solana in one person, as reflected in last week's Draft," concluded Ferrero-Waldner.