Linz, 23 October 2006 - At today’s Parliamentary Conference on Europe entitled "Austria and Europe - Together", which was organised by the Austrian Parliament’s Federal Council and the Province of Upper Austria, State Secretary Hans Winkler talked about European policy priorities in 2006 and 2007. Firstly, the State Secretary emphasised that strengthening citizens' confidence in Europe would have to remain an important priority. "More confidence in the European Union can only be achieved by constantly balancing different legitimate interests. In this effort the representatives of national parliaments occupy a special position as a link between the wishes and ideas of the citizens and developments at European level. Through its persistence, which has yielded many positive results, Austria has contributed a great deal to the shaping of Europe. This development should be continued by including the citizens to an ever greater extent," continued Winkler.
"This course, which was begun during our EU-Presidency, will be continued also by future Presidencies," emphasised the State Secretary. "At this year's "Europe begins at home", Conference, which was held in St. Pölten in April, we succeeded in elaborating specific proposals for increased responsiveness to the needs of the citizens and higher efficiency at all levels of political endeavour. The European Commission’s consent to making all new legal drafts directly available to national parliaments and giving them the opportunity to comment has already become a reality. This early inclusion of national parliaments enables them to play an important role by contributing their expertise at an early stage of lawmaking," stated Winkler.
The State Secretary also referred to the EU’s current negotiations with Croatia, the European perspective of the Western Balkan states, and the European Neighbourhood Policy. He also asserted the necessity of co-ordinating certain measures to promote growth and employment in the EU, as well as explained the next steps within the framework of the constitutional process.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
State Secretary’s Office
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Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-3469