Wien, 12. May 2004 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner on the discussion surrounding the EU constitution

12.05.2004

Minister for Foreign Affairs received Dutch Minister for European Affairs Atzo Nicolaï

Vienna, 12 May 2004 - Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner met the Dutch Minister for European Affairs Atzo Nicolaï for talks in Vienna today. The discussion focussed on the ongoing negotiations regarding the future European constitution. Concerning the Austrian position, Ferrero-Waldner stated: "The resolution of the institutional questions must be in accord with the principles of equality of the Member States of the Union and maintenance of the institutional balance." The Foreign Minister also emphasised that Austria will not agree to isolated compromises on individual questions regarding the future design of the Union's institutions.

Furthermore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs underlined Austria's willingness to be flexible on the issue of qualified majority voting in the Council. "We can accept the system of double majorities. Of course, the requirement for a majority of the population must be kept at a reasonable level in order to guarantee the European Union's capacity to act", said the Foreign Minister. Austria, Ferrero-Waldner added, "would basically prefer the same majority requirements for both population and Member States, whereby 55 % would be ideal."

The Foreign Minister also expressed her opinion on the question of the future composition of the Commission, reiterating Austria's well-known demand for one Commissioner with equal voting rights for each Member State.

Further issues addressed at the meeting were cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs and the question of a European Public Prosecutor. The two ministers also discussed the EU financial framework for 2007-2013 and the continuation of the enlargement process. Regarding the Union's future policy towards Cyprus, Ferrero-Waldner said she welcomed the EU Commission's intention to provide economic support measures for the Turkish Cypriots.