The first priority of the Greek Presidency will be to secure the timetable for the accession of the 10 candidate countries according to the Copenhagen decisions. After the completion of accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Union looks forward to welcoming these states as members from 1 May 2004.
The historic decision at Copenhagen foresees that the new Treaty will be signed in Athens in April 2003. Before that, the drafting of the new Treaty must be completed, the opinion of the Commission must be received and the assent of the European Parliament and the approval of the Council must also be given. Moreover, if the settlement of the political problem in Cyprus is achieved before completing the Accession Treaty, the Treaty will accommodate the agreed terms in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.
The 10 candidate countries will participate as active observers in Council proceedings from the signing of the Accession Treaty until full accession, i.e. after the new Treaty has been ratified by the 15 present and 10 new member states, in accordance with each country’s constitutional requirements.
The present member states will continue to monitor the progress of applicant countries with respect to the adoption and implementation of the acquis, even after the completion of the negotiations and until accession. This monitoring process will, however, become more substantial during the second half of 2003 when, six months before the accession date, the Commission will be asked to present a report on the overall progress of candidate countries in this area.
The Greek Presidency will implement the new, enhanced pre-accession strategy for Bulgaria and Romania. The decisions of Brussels and Copenhagen include a specific timetable for closing the remaining chapters of the community acquis, provision for increased pre-accession aid and a target date of 2007 for the two countries’ accession.
The pre-accession progress of Turkey will be enhanced by supporting her efforts to move towards the starting of accession negotiations according to the timetable set by Copenhagen. As stated in the Commission’s annual report, there is a need for an analytical examination of the degree of implementation of the various legislative initiatives undertaken by Turkey to achieve the Copenhagen criteria. At the same time new methods will be sought for a better understanding of the Union’s requirements and Accession Partnership priorities that must be fulfilled in the next two years. The preparation of a new Accession Partnership for Turkey is also expected during the Greek Presidency.
Finally, we consider enlargement as a leap towards European integration and under no circumstances should it be allowed to create new dividing lines. Our aim is that enlargement serves as a point of departure for building stronger relations in the wider European space from Russia to the Mediterranean, based on common values and economic interests.
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