At the Thessaloniki European Council, the Greek Presidency attained the three key targets it had set, while at the same time, as noted by the President of the Council, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the Presidency scored an important victory in “the struggle for consensus within the EU”.In addition, the Greek Presidency was able to conclude the initiative it had undertaken to send “a strong message of peace and security” to the Balkan states on the occasion of the EU -Western Balkans Summit.
As emerges from statements by Simitis at the concluding Presidency press conference, as well as from the Council conclusions, at the Thessaloniki European Council:
1. Approval was given to the draft Constitution of the EU, which was presented by European Convention President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, while a decision was taken to convene the Intergovernmental Conference and a timeframe was set.
2. There was agreement to upgrade the policy on migration and the right of asylum, while decisions were taken on a number of issues or specific points (financial assistance, improved coordination, promotion of cooperation with third countries to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, etc.)
3. EU High Representative for CFSP Javier Solana was mandated to advance his European Security Strategy paper so as to present it in December 2003.
Furthermore, the Council agreed to upgrade transatlantic relations, approved guidelines for economic policy and employment issues, and gave instructions to promote development and investment in transeuropean networks.
At the EU-Western Balkans Summit, the European vocation of the countries of the region was reconfirmed, with emphasis being placed on the process of approximation through the Stabilisation and Association agreements. An increase in financial assistance to the Balkan countries of 200 million euro for three years was announced, while it was clarified that the actual timetable for their accession would depend on the countries themselves (fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria).
The commencement of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on the issue of Kosovo was announced and the Thessaloniki Declaration was adopted.
The peaceful marches and events of the social movements which took place parallel to the Council sessions constituted a positive development. Indeed, it was the first time that representatives of the various movements were received by the President of the Council of Ministers (Foreign Minister George Papandreou), to whom they presented a text setting out their positions.