Vienna, 1 December 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "We want a strong Austria and a strong Europe"

Europe’s hands are finally free for forward-looking work

Vienna, 1 December 2009 – “We have been discussing the question of a better contractual basis for nine years – since the conclusion of the Treaty of Nice. Now the Treaty of Lisbon has finally entered into force and Europe can devote itself to its proper challenges, such as climate change, Europe’s role in the world and the successful management of the economic crisis,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to mark today’s entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

“With the new EU Reform Treaty we have established a solid and stable basis for the EU’s future work,” emphasised the Foreign Minister. The EU Treaty brings greater democracy and efficiency to Europe – through modern tools, a clearer description of tasks, the most modern fundamental rights catalogue in the world and modern control rights for citizens and member states. “Particularly in the fields of police and the judiciary, we need better cooperation in this common space of freedom, security and justice. The new Treaty has now given us the necessary tools,” affirmed Spindelegger.

The Foreign Minister emphasised that the Treaty continued to assign special weight to smaller states within the EU: “The Treaty secures the position of smaller and medium-sized states. We continue to have a disproportionately high representation in EU institutions and stand every chance of gaining influence and being heard.” Citing concrete examples, he pointed out that each country continued to have its own commissioner and that in the Council, in addition to the size of the population, every state had a vote of its own. In this context Spindelegger stressed the special value of Europe for Austria’s foreign policy which had a successful track record in the EU: “We want a strong Austria and a strong Europe. Today, our country is more firmly established than ever at the very centre of Europe, showing a clear Austrian profile. We are, for instance, playing an important role as an advocate for our partners in the Balkans and have initiated a new EU framework by introducing the EU Danube Strategy to allow us to cooperate still more closely with our neighbours.”

This day also marks the end of Javier Solana’s term of office as he hands over the post to Baroness Catherine Ashton. “I should like to thank Javier Solana for his longstanding, tireless efforts aimed at ensuring that Europe speaks with one voice on the world stage. As High Representative Solana not only exerted considerable influence on ESDP in the past ten years but also developed it further in key areas, thus considerably contributing to Europe’s reputation in the world. Javier Solana has always been a highly valued contact, partner and colleague, and I wish him the best of success in the future,” concluded Spindelegger.

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