Wien, 17. December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Course set for the future”

17.12.2005

Foreign Minister welcomes agreement on the Financial Perspective in the European Council

Vienna, 17 December 2005 - In the early hours of 17 December, after long and hard negotiations, Foreign Minister Plassnik welcomed the agreement on the Financial Perspective that had been achieved in the European Council between the 25 Member States, saying that Europe had once again demonstrated its ability to act.

"We have managed to bring the Austrian and European interests into line. This financial framework for the next seven years reflects the principles of economy and solidarity. The fair distribution among the Member States of the costs of enlargement in particular successfully resolved one of Austria’s core concerns," said Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister recalled that 2005 had been a difficult year for Europe with the negative referendums on the Constitution, sluggish economic growth and the failure of the first round of talks on the Financial Perspective. "With today’s agreement the Union has now set the course for the future," said Plassnik.

Investments in the future were now secured, continued the Foreign Minister, through the focus in the Financial Perspective on the future-oriented areas of research, competitiveness and employment, and the inclusion of a far-reaching verification clause.

Plassnik referred in this context to the close collaboration with the "emergency committee" in Vienna made up of National Council members Molterer, Fasslabend, Scheibner, Einem and Van der Bellen, with whom continuous contact had been maintained during the long negotiations.

Apart from the agreement on the Financial Perspective, Plassnik also drew attention to the decision of the European Council to award the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the status of a candidate country. "This is an important signal for the region," said the Foreign Minister but pointed out that this decision was not the same as the start of membership negotiations. Further steps could be considered, continued Plassnik, only when the Copenhagen criteria and the conditions for the stabilisation and association process had been fulfilled, and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement had been actually implemented. The EU’s capacity to absorb new members also had to be taken into account.

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