President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed that with conclusion of the European Convention’s work, Europe will come closer to its citizens. Simitis was in Vienna (13/6/03) for talks with his Austrian counterpart, Wolfang Schussel as part of his tour of EU capitals in preparation for the Thessaloniki European Council next week. ‘When there is a European Foreign Minister, we will know who is representing Europe and what Europe says. When there is a permanent President of the Council for a two and half-year tenure, the face of the permanent President and the representation of Europe will become clearer”, Mr. Simitis added.
There are difficulties though that Europe needs to face, Mr. Simitis noted. “That meetings will continue to convene exclusively in Brussels will not contribute to the European citizens’ understanding of Europe. The complexities related to the role of the European Parliament will make the situation even more difficult’, Mr. Simitis stressed.
Mr. Schussel welcomed the Convention’s proposals for the incorporation of a Human Rights Charter in the European Constitution and for the promotion of a single legal personality of the EU, whilst he noted that the draft Constitution forms a good basis for further work. He also expressed hope that the issues of the representation of member-states in the Commission and of the division of competences between the European Council and the President of the Commission—where Austria has some objections—will be discussed by the Intergovernmental Conference.
Mr. Simitis and Mr. Schussel gave emphasis on the participation of the Western Balkans countries in the European Summit, noting that the goal is to significantly enhance the current mechanisms of cooperation between the two parties.
Finally, the two sides discussed the issues of migration and asylum. Mr. Simitis stressed the need for the introduction of appropriate measures and the application of economic funds in order that the decisions taken in the European Council will get implemented.