Proposals on the institutional renewal of the EU as well as policies on migration and illegal immigration – issues that will comprise the main part of the agenda at the Thessaloniki European Council – were at the centre of talks between the President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Medgyessy.
Referring to the possibility of a delay in the ratification by the Union of the Accession Treaty of the ten new countries, Simitis said there was a large majority in favour of the accession of the new Member States, while adding that although there were certain problems arising from the different levels of social and economic development, it was common knowledge that “the European Union cannot exist as a powerful union having only half the European states as its members”. In addition, Simitis reiterated that with the Thessaloniki European Council as the starting point, the Union must be restructured so as to become more flexible and more efficient.
Simitis said that despite shortcomings in the implementation of a common policy in international relations, and the differences of opinion within the EU on the Iraq crisis, a number of joint decisions had been taken during the Greek Presidency, the main aim of which was to shape common policies with a view to the future. Simitis said he was opposed to the participation of European forces during the phase of restoring order in Iraq, while stressing that EU participation in the phase of reconstruction was a possibility, provided there was a UN Security Council resolution to this effect and key roles were given to the Iraqis themselves. He reiterated that the UN should constitute the epicentre of international legality.
Medgyessy said he was in favour of Hungary participating in the peacekeeping force in Iraq but stressed the need to strengthen the role of the UN. He added that Europe could become stronger through a systematic dialogue.
The Hungarian premier said transatlantic cooperation was an important issue for all, noting that “we do not necessarily have to draw demarcation lines between the US and the EU.”
Lastly, Medgyessy said he agreed on the need to shape a common policy on migration and secure the funds necessary for upgrading security on the EU’s borders with third countries.