The President of the European Council, Prime Minister Costas Simitis described the signing of the Accession Treaty as ‘a historic event’ at a press conference following the ceremony at the Stoa of Attalos. He also noted that the EU would now face a number of institutional and political challenges, particularly in the areas of defence and external relations, since it had admitted 10 new members, was anticipating the accession of Bulgaria and Romania and would be examining the accession of Turkey. Simitis underlined that the will for unification of the Member States was sufficiently powerful to overcome any possible dangers.
Simitis referred also to the political will of the EU for the Union to play a key role in global developments. He said that the difference of opinion observed among the Member States with regard to EU-US relations and the war in Iraq should not be seen as a novel phenomenon, nor did it constitute a rift, either within the EU or in the EU’s relations with the United States. Simitis stressed that the EU would soon demonstrate that it can create a new framework of transatlantic relations on the basis of equal cooperation.
In the same spirit, the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, spoke of decisions being taken at the forthcoming EU-US summit in June which would consolidate the friendship between the two sides.
The Heads of State and Governments of the new Member States referred to a number of common themes in statements following the signing of the Accession Treaty, including acknowledgement of the importance of the moment, the transcending of historical divisions in Europe and their conviction regarding the conclusion of accession negotiations with the three candidate countries.