Madrid, 26 January 2007 Press release

Winkler: "Full support for the German Presidency's efforts to resolve the constitutional issue"


State Secretary Hans Winkler at the meeting of countries who have ratified the EU Constitutional Treaty

Madrid, 26 January 2007 - "Our life and our surroundings are subject to constant change. Not only Austria aims at implementing state and administrative reforms; the EU, too, has to take steps to make itself more democratic and efficient and to bring itself closer to its citizens," said State Secretary Hans Winkler at a meeting of the 18 EU Member States that have already ratified the Constitutional Treaty.

"No country of the EU can cope alone with the economic and social challenges we are facing in the 21st century. Issues such as security of energy supply, climatic change, migration and increased competition from emerging states such as China or India can only be resolved in the long run by common strategies and approaches," said Winkler. "However, a precondition for this is that the EU is equipped with the necessary tools that will allow it to continue representing our interests and values in the world quickly and sustainably in the future. Today, a better coordinated and highly responsive Europe is more important than ever," continued the State Secretary.

"The current text of the constitution is the best attempt elaborated so far to remedy shortcomings in the current arrangements, make improvements, anchor new elements and simplify structures. We have a forward-looking text on the table. However, the current debate also clearly shows that we have to take better account of concerns relating to the social area in particular," said Winkler, who also emphasised explicitly that Austria fully supported Germany's current efforts to arrive at a clear schedule for the further common procedure for all Member States by June.

However, Winkler also recalled that throughout the EU's history the process of changing and renewing the legal basis had always been one of intensified discussion and difficult decision-making. "Our common achievements thus far, which now cover almost half a century, are a valuable heritage which we should continue to build upon. An open and objective discussion is the best basis for constructive changes and new developments," concluded Winkler.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Office of the State Secretary
Mag. Katharina SWOBODA
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-3469