Following his meeting with French President Jacques Chiraq in Paris, the President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined the need for decisions on the institutional reform of the EU to be taken at the Thessaloniki European Council.
«Decisions must be taken in Thessaloniki concerning the Intergovernmental Conference. It must also be decided that this IGC will conclude its sessions before European Parliament elections in June 2004, because Europeans must be aware of the draft for the new Constitution before they vote,» Simitis said.
The Greek premier stressed that EU Member States must commit themselves to make the EU more effective through its new Constitutional Treaty. «We want Europe to become a ‘leader’, to set the pace, to be the reference point for changes in the modern world. We want a Europe that adapts to present-day global demands. Not a Europe that submits to the petty interests of the Member States,» he added.
After expressing his appreciation for the Greek Presidency’s handling of affairs during its tenure, the French president said that a great effort would be needed to overcome the differences. He reiterated France’s positions on the new European architecture, expressing support for a a full-time president with a mandate of two-and-a-half-years renewable only once, elected by a system of qualified majority, a strong Commission with a president elected by the European Parliament and a European foreign minister. Chiraq said he was also in favour of expanding the rule of qualified majority voting.
The two sides examined issues relating to the shaping of a common migration policy, the European vocation of the Western Balkans, Iraq and the Middle East. Lastly, they discussed the Commission’s proposal to establish a global fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.