Vienna, 21 October 2007 - "The new EU Reform Treaty represents a solid and seminal foundation for the future cooperation within the EU. This new manual for a united Europe was given a finishing touch at the EU Summit in Lisbon", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik during today’s "Pressestunde" on the results of the EU Summit in Lisbon, which saw the successful completion of the negotiations on the EU Reform Treaty.
The future "Treaty of Lisbon" will result in more democracy and more efficiency for Europe - through modern tools, a well-defined description of tasks, the world’s most modern catalogue of fundamental rights, and contemporary control rights for the citizens and the Member States. "We need and want better cooperation in this united area of freedom, safety and the rule of law, especially in the police and the judicial sector. The imminent enlargement of the Schengen area to include our neighbouring countries makes this even clearer. The new treaty will now provide us with the necessary tools", said Plassnik.
The Minister underscored that the Treaty by no means weakens the position of smaller states in the EU: "On the contrary, the Treaty strengthens the solid middle class of small and medium-sized countries. We continue to be overrepresented in the EU Institutions, and have more opportunities to exercise influence and make ourselves heard." As a concrete example, she cited the rotation system based on the principle of equality in the reduced European Commission, in which larger Member States used to be represented by two Commissioners.
Plassnik stressed that the EU Reform Treaty is intentionally a "further development of the previous legal basis", which was repeatedly adjusted to the requirements of the past. As already was the case with the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice, no referendum will be required for the future "Treaty of Lisbon" either. "The system of representative democracy, based on the division of labour, will be applied here. The elected representatives will do their work with the due diligence", said Plassnik.
What is required now is "objective and quiet information work by the Federal Government and the Parliament" on the Reform Treaty. The objective is not "a propaganda campaign, but patient, persistent persuasion", Plassnik continued. The Minister also pointed out to the Europe hotline, which citizens can use to inform themselves (weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm, number: 0800 22 1111). At the Foreign Ministry’s Open Doors Day on 26 October, citizens will also have the opportunity to obtain direct information on the Reform Treaty from the Ministry’s experts.
Asked about scepticism among the public, the Minister emphasized the stable public opinion in Austria. "The Austrians are satisfied sceptics. When they are asked whether Austria should leave the EU, there is a clear two-third majority since 1994 that supports Austria's membership in the Union." Plassnik said that, regardless of "fluctuations in the economy", Austrians know very precisely what benefits the EU brings for them. In this context, a particularly encouraging fact is the clear approval of the EU among the young.
"Governance is team work", stressed Plassnik with regard to the cooperation within the coalition. "This team work must improve even further. Only an interconnected and joint approach has a chance of succeeding. Especially at a European level, we must pull in the same direction to achieve results for Austria", said the Foreign Minister.
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