Ref. :  000026772
Date :  2007-07-03
Language :  English
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Portugal's EU Presidency: MEPs on their expectations

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With Portugal now holding the EU Presidency, we asked MEPs what they hope the Union will focus on over the next 6 months. After the deal brokered under Germany's Presidency, the government of Prime Minister José Sócrates will be in the Chair of an intergovernmental conference that will draft a new Treaty - a process the Portuguese hope to finish by October. Economic reform through the Lisbon strategy, work on security and justice and more efficient external policies are also Portuguese aims.

In the first few days of the Presidency we took a tour around the Parliament and asked MEPs what they hoped the Portuguese would concentrate on. See their reactions below.

Joseph Daul leads the right of centre EPP-ED (European People's Party and European Democrats) in the Parliament. He stressed the need for the Portuguese to finalise a new Treaty by October. This was particularly important as "the goal is so that citizens can elect MEPs in June 2009 on a solid institutional base and with a clear political choice".

He went on to say that "the other priorities of my group are growth and a freeing of the economy that will create jobs". He also asked what the Portuguese could do to reduce administration barriers to boost the Lisbon jobs and growth agenda and breathe "oxygen into our society". Mr Daul also stressed the continuing fight against terrorism.

The leader of the Socialist PSE Group Martin Schulz said that "we expect the Portuguese Presidency to be concerned about not to soften the reform package on a new EU treaty agreed at the latest EU summit". He also welcomed Lisbon's plans to work on relations with Africa and South America and stressed the PSE commitment to work with the Sócrates government on social policy.

Graham Watson - the leader of the Liberal ALDE Group in the Parliament - said that "Portugal has clear plans for its Presidency, a competent team of ministers and a favourable wind. If their Presidency is as good as in 2000, the EU will be well served".

In international terms the Chair of Parliament's foreign affairs committee Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (also EPP-ED) said "I expect the Portuguese Presidency to further strengthen foreign and security policies and to pursue efforts leading to the creation of EU common foreign policy on energy...with targets and a timeframe".

Enrique Barón Crespo - also of the PSE - said he hoped "the presidency of Portugal, country of discoverers and sailors, leads to a good port the treaty of the reforms of the EU, aiming at a new turn".

Cristiana Muscardini (chair of the Union of Europe of the Nations Group - UEN): "Europe needs to be more nimble, transparent, well-timed and responsive, but unfortunately it is showing slowness, and a poor ability to look ahead. The EU President will have a difficult role of mediation between the different national interests which came out during the last Council, and will have to manage them towards our common interest: building a Union of States able take the decisions which the EU has to make during this thorny moment of our history. The terrorist attacks of these days call for a firmer fight against any fundamentalism in and outside our borders".

Monica Frassoni - chair of the Greens/EFA group said "I expect a positive impulse to the climate change issue in view of the International Conference planned in Bali in December. I moreover expect it to close positively the Intergovernmental conference, guaranteeing transparency since this process has so far appeared as a secret negotiation between Governments".

Chair of Civil Liberties Committee Jean-Marie Cavada (also ALDE) stressed the need for more transparency and democracy from the EU. He said he would wait with interest the way the Portuguese Presidency cooperated with his committee especially over sensitive information concerning CIA flights in Europe. He also urged the Portuguese to reflect on the EU's asylum and immigration policies.

Rihards Pīks (EPP-ED) said "the Portuguese Presidency should bring to a positive result the Intergovernmental Conference inherited from the Germany Presidency. I also expect it to focus on the illegal immigration in the Mediterranean".

Portuguese PSE Member Edite Estrela expressed her hope that "the Reform Treaty will be approved by the informal Council of October, that the EU-Brazil and EU-Africa summits meet the expectations and that the Lisbon Strategy is made more dynamic".

Gintaras Didžiokas (UEN): "I hope that the work started by German presidency will be successfully carried on and concrete actions in developing biogenetic policy will be taken. I think that first steps in the dialogue of Commission and Council on the "health check" of CAP could be taken".

Raül Romeva i Rueda for the Greens said he hoped for concrete measures in the reform treaty on climate change and said: "I ask the Portuguese presidency to unblock the conversion of the Code of Conduct on Arms exports in common position, thus making it legally binding".

Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL) a Portuguese MEP said "the Presidency should not stay marked by the unacceptable recovery of the essence of the rejected "European constitution" that represents a new qualitative jump in the federalist, neo-liberal and militarist project that is EU".

He went on to say that this would be an opportune moment to adopt "policies that fight against globalisation and the end of the liberalisation and privatization of the public services".

Nigel Farage - chair of IND/DEM group - said "the present Portuguese Presidency is just another head of the EU hydra that is attempting to destroy democracy and the nation state".

Further information: Portuguese Presidency website

REF.: 20070703STO08734

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