Programme of the Danish EU Presidency (January – July 2012) regarding EU external action

Danish EU Presidency  The Danish Presidency will actively support the activity of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the continuing establishment process of the European External Action Service (EEAS), as particular focus will be placed on ensuring the greatest possible effectiveness. Through the High Representative and the EEAS, including EU delegations in third countries, a stronger basis has been secured for pursuing a more integrated approach to promoting European interests, values and priorities . The Danish Presidency will work towards strengthening the cross-sectoral strategic coherence between the EU’s external policies by ensuring that:
•    Coherence between the EU’s vari- ous policies is enhanced through mutual interplay between the actors within the external policies
•    EU development policy is renewed with maintained focus on poverty eradication
•    The EU uses its trade policy relations as an active instrument in the work on increasing European growth and employment

Greater coherence in EU external policies

The Danish Presidency will seek to support efforts by EU institutions and the permanent offices in ensuring greater coordination between European and national efforts as well as greater synergy and cooperation between existing institutions and structures . The goal is to contribute to promoting a coherent EU which also in its external relations bases itself on the fundamental and universal values.

The European External Action Service contributes to increasing the EU’s foreign policy dynamism and is an important tool for the European countries in a globalised world . During the Danish Presidency, the Council will review the High Representative’s first progress report on the functioning of the EEAS . During the Danish Presidency, the Council will need to initiate discussions on the content of the legal basis for the financing of the external actions in the period 2014-2020 under the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework . Each finance instrument will i .a . need to take account of the establishment of the EEAS and the High Representative’s responsibility for ensuring general political coordination of the external policies . In step with a new and more coherent effort, the EU should also be enabled to act more effectively and flexibly in relation to crisis situations, disasters and fragile states .

During the Danish Presidency, in close cooperation with the High Representative and the Commission, the Council will work on improving resilience to natural disasters, food security and increased coherence between humanitarian aid and development in prolonged crises . It is important that the EU’s humanitarian efforts are effective and coherent and that the European disaster response capacity acts swiftly and in a well-coordinated manner . The Presidency will support the legislative process regarding a new humanitarian volunteer corps and the efforts to promote greater synergy between humanitarian efforts and civil protection, including a reinforced EU disaster response capacity based on flexible use of Member States’ operational resources . The Presidency supports the role of the United Nations as an overall coordinator of emergency aid delivered in response to natural disasters and crises.

The European Neighbourhood Policy is an important tool for ensuring good relations with and securing development in EU neighbouring countries . The Neighbourhood Policy must contribute to enabling the EU to remain an attractive partner for the neighbouring countries, i .a . by ensuring increased trade, strengthened cooperation within the energy field and extensive institution building . The Presidency will also place emphasis on cooperation being based on conditionality and merits (“more for more”) . The Danish Presidency will maintain focus on this aspect and on the continued implementation of the revised Neighbourhood Strategy . The Danish Presidency will make a particular effort to promote the liberalisation of trade with European neighbours to the east and the south .

A strengthening of the relations with the strategic partners will benefit both the EU and its partners . In particular, the Danish Presidency will work towards ensuring the necessary coordination internally in the circle of EU Member States and with the relevant European institutions . The Presidency will in particular seek to support the potential for strengthening European growth and employment . At the same time, the values on which the EU is based constitute the point of departure for the efforts to become an effective global actor, also in the relations to the strategic partners.

The EU must lead the way in the efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism in order to protect the lives and freedom of citizens . The Danish Presidency will work towards ensuring that the EU achieves the best possible coherence between measures internally in the EU and externally, and that effec- tive action to fight terrorism goes hand in hand with respect for fundamental rights .

Renewal of EU development policy

During the Danish Presidency, the Council will need to renew EU development policy in a way that enables it to respond more effectively to global challenges such as climate change, migration, gender equality, security and the consequences of the financial crisis . The Presidency will ensure that the EU meets its development assistance commitments and will work towards ensuring that EU development cooperation becomes more effective, targeted, results-oriented and based on mutual responsibility . The opportunities of European citizens to exercise and enforce their rights must be given greater attention . Budget support is an important part of EU development assistance, and it should be considered how the use of this type of aid modality can be strengthened . It is important that there is close coordination with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission in order to ensure maximum possible coherence between the EU’s external policies and instruments benefiting development in the world’s poorest countries.

The environmental and development policy agenda will have a prominent role at the United Nations Conference on sustainable development (Rio+20) . The Danish Presidency will work towards ensuring that the EU participates actively and constructively in the process and thus contributes to securing ambitious, development-oriented results. The goal is to strengthen the political will to secure sustainable development.

EU trade policy as a contribution to growth and employment

The EU trade policy is a crucial tool for stimulating European growth and employment in the wake of the economic crisis . It is essential that the EU maintains and enhances its position as a key global economy . At the same time, it is necessary that the EU attempts to promote liberalisation of environmentally sound and climate friendly products across trade policy matters . Within the trade policy sphere, the Danish Presidency will therefore prioritise the following:
•    Increased market access to the BRIC countries and the new emerging economies, including negotiations regarding a free trade agreement with Brazil and the other Mercosur countries, Russia’s admis- sion to the WTO, a free trade agreement with India and possibly the initiation of negotiations regarding an investment agreement with China
•    Trade and development . The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on trade and development . The Presidency must i .a . negotiate the GSP regulation regarding special tariff preferences for developing countries .
•    Consensus in the Council regarding the initiation of negotiations between the EU and Japan regarding a free trade agreement which will be of mutual interest both commercially and strategically .
•    Next, a strengthening of the multilateral trading system, including the WTO negotiations regarding the Doha Development Round, is to be prioritised. The Presidency will contribute to supporting the WTO system’s credibility as a bulwark against protectionism and a tool for integrating developing countries in global trade
•    Lastly, the Danish Presidency will make a particular effort to promote trade liberalisation with EU neighbouring countries, in particular through negotiations regarding deep and broad free trade agreements.
•    In addition, a major task for the Danish Presidency will be to handle a number of other legislative matters and trade matters, such as EU accession to and implementation of the free trade agreements with Colombia-Peru and Central America. The Presidency will attach importance to the inclusion of the European Parliament in the negotiations within the trade policy sphere in light of the Lisbon Treaty as well as to the issue of third countries’ access to EU markets for public procurement in connection with the revision of the European public procurement directives.

For more information read the full Programme of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012.

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