State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner and his Danish counterpart EU Minister Nicolai Wammen today discussed the priorities of the presidency of the EU Council that Denmark is to take over on 1 January 2012. Finding solutions to the financial and economic crises, as well as possible amendments to the Treaty will be the general priority of the EU and therefore also in the foreground during Denmark’s EU presidency. “We are pleased to see that Denmark is working with vigour on the burning issues of the EU and supporting the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, in his endeavours. Given the tense situation on the financial markets, we consider it to be important that the resolutions taken at the summit meeting of December 9th are implemented as soon as possible. Preparations are already under way”, the State Secretary said.
In addition to the management of the current critical situation, the EU member states will focus their attention on the EU budget for the years 2014 – 2020 in the months to come. In view of the current challenges, the utmost care will need to be employed in negotiating the next budget. In his discussion with the Danish EU Minister, State Secretary Waldner underlined that “Austria, as a net contributor, will press hard to keep the next EU budget significantly below the original proposal of the Commission. In times when all member states are subject to severe austerity measures, we are expecting to see consolidation efforts fully in line with this at the European level too.”
After the meeting, Waldner explained further: “We are confident that together with Denmark, another net contributor, we will guide the negotiations into the right direction. We will provide Denmark with our full support in all its efforts here.”
He added that it would be important to send out positive, forward-looking signals, focusing on growth and jobs and taking action in the areas of green growth and energy efficiency. “The EU and its member states must use the crisis to carry out essential reforms that will make us stronger and above all more competitive in the long run”, the State Secretary said.
In addition to the development of the Euro zone and the future EU budget, Austria took the opportunity of a one-hour video conference to stress how important it was to keep all promises concerning EU expansion, i.e. candidate status for Serbia in March 2012 and taking up negotiations with Montenegro in June 2012. Other topics discussed were the negotiations about sensitive subjects such as genetically engineered organisms, nuclear energy and the refusal to accept “giga-liners”, or mega trucks, on Austrian roads – topics that are of great importance for Austria.
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