Wien, 16. December 2008 Press release

Spindelegger: "Six months in which Europe has made good progress"

Foreign Minister on the track record of the French EU Presidency

Vienna, 16 December 2008 – "President Nicolas Sarkozy today presented the results of the French EU Presidency to the European Parliament, and they are results that deserve applause," stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. "In difficult times, France has demonstrated that the EU-27 are in agreement and in a position to take future-oriented decisions," continued the Foreign Minister.

Spindelegger referred to both the Georgian crisis in August and the international financial crisis. "In both cases the Council Presidency responded without delay, with Europe acting in accord. In close coordination with the conflicting parties Russia and Georgia, and with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union succeeded in putting an end to the hostilities in the Caucasus and creating the framework for a negotiation process." Commenting on the measures taken against the financial crisis, the Foreign Minister stated: "The dynamic attitude and efficiency of the EU Presidency were essential prerequisites for mitigating the shockwaves through concerted national policies and creating new confidence among the citizens."

Spindelegger also commented on the European Council meeting held last week: "The decisions on cyclical measures to stimulate the economy and climate protection were an impressive demonstration of European spirit characterised by both a feeling of community and confidence in the future. France did some important preparatory work in this regard. At the summit the Council succeeded in elaborating a schedule which should allow the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon towards the end of 2009. Austria has always made it clear that the Reform Treaty is an important milestone for our Europe that should be preserved."

Finally, the Foreign Minister pointed out that the European Project had to prove itself time and again – in the perception of the people and in response to new challenges. "Europe is our everyday work, as President Sarkozy rightly put at the latest summit. Courage, determination and clear views are the most important ingredients for making Europe progress, and this has been impressively proved by the French Presidency over the past six months. I am confident that the Czech Republic will resolutely continue this course from January onwards. Austria will be a reliable European partner and neighbour of the forthcoming EU Presidency," concluded Spindelegger.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213
abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at