|Monday, 14 June 2021|
Greece's Contribution to the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference
Misc. Greek news Directory
From: News distribution manager <email@example.com>
M E M O R A N D U M
«For a European Union with Political and Social Content»
(Greece's Contribution to the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference)
C O N T E N T S
B. The European Union and its Citizens
C. The European Union'’s Social Dimension
D. Development and Reform of the Institutions
E. C F S P (2nd Pillar)
F. Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs (3rd Pillar)
a) The Challenges
1. On the eve of the 21st century, the European Union is confronted with acute challenges, demands and controversies caused by the sweeping changes that Europe has witnessed in the past few years. The Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty), in force since 1993, was a major step forward in the construction of the European edifice. The problems, however, that arose during its ratification, coupled with the European Union’s failure to cope effectively with mounting social problems, such as rising unemployment, social exclusion, environmental degradation and lack of economic cohesion, have demonstrated the Treaty’s limitations. These problems were exacerbated by the fact that, even after Maastricht, greater priority was given to single market and single currency issues than to social cohesion and real convergence.
The Intergovernmental Conference will take place in a climate of intense social pressures which stem from the citizens' lack of trust vis-a-vis the complex European edifice, and the evident inability of the European Union to intervene effectively for the preservation of peace and the establishment of a stable system of security and cooperation in today's Europe. This has revealed the weakness of the EU system of external action, and has undermined the credibility of the Treaty on European Union and, by extension, of the Union itself.
2. As a result of the above developments and circumstances, a considerable segment of Europe's citizenry has begun to question the European integration process, while challenging the usefulness of certain institutions, policies and procedures. For a large part of European citizenry, the EU system is the cause of, rather than the solution to, mounting social problems, such as unemployment. The lack of transparency and the insufficiently democratic character of some policy- and decision-making procedures of the European Union system have also contributed to the alienation felt by many of Europe’s citizens vis-a-vis European institutions and policy choices.
3. Within its immediate external environment, however, the European Union enjoys a high degree of appeal and acceptance. This is confirmed by the professed wish of all Central and Eastern European Countries, as well as of the European Mediterranean Countries (Cyprus, Malta), to become full-fledged members of the European Union as soon as possible.
The European Union represents for these countries the institutional framework within which they aspire to safeguard their external security, to increase their economic and social well-being and to consolidate their democratic political institutions. The European Union is therefore faced with the challenge of an enlargement to twelve new members, a challenge that, in principle, it cannot but respond positively to. The Union’s enlargement should, however, be conducted in a manner that will ensure the promotion of the integration process, the unity and effectiveness of the institutional structure, the preservation of the «acquis communautaire» and «finalite politique» and the achievement of economic and social cohesion. In other words, the new enlargement should not alter the European Union’s institutional and political character.
4. It is obvious, then, that the European Union stands face to face with a five-fold challenge:
i) Regaining the support of European society and of European citizens, i.e. the challenge of legitimisation.
ii) Proving that it can play a positive role in combating social and economic problems, such as unemployment, social exclusion, lack of social cohesion etc.
iii) Preparing for the new enlargement - i.e., admitting new members without any major shocks to its operation, or any alterations to its institutional identity and prospects. In parallel with institutional reforms and adjustments, the Union should ensure the sufficiency of the economic resources required for the unimpeded financing of common policies and of the needs bound to arise as a consequence of enlargement.
iv) Aiming at the development of deeper institutional links and unity through the safeguarding and development of national characteristics.
v) Strengthening its external action and identity, as well as the EU's international competitiveness, the accomplishment of which will require the intensification of a common research and industrial- and-technology policy.
b) The Responses: «What kind of Europe do we want?»
5. To respond to such challenges, Europe needs first to clearly define its role - to answer the question «what kind of European Union» we want for the 21st century. In order to answer this question, we need to have a political vision and a perspective for the future of Europe. The answer of Greece to this question is unequivocal: we want a European Union evolving towards the direction of deeper integration, with democratically structured and legitimate institutions that will guarantee the institutional equality of all member states; we want a European Union with common policies, actions and sufficient economic resources that will contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, social justice and solidarity and lead to a “Europe of citizens, development and democracy”, to a European Community of Law, open to the world and capable of protecting its member-states' and citizens’ security and independence.
6. In particular, Greece wishes Europe to have a strong political and social identity built upon the values of democracy, respect for national identities, cultural particularities, solidarity, cohesion and tolerance. The answer, then, to the challenges and crisis confronting the European Union can be summed up in the promotion of Political Union. For Greece, the Political Union is a global, comprehensive set of goals which include the development and adjustment of both the EU institutions and the Union’s common policies and resources. The Union’s endowment with adequate means, resources and policies is a prerequisite for the successful completion of the new endeavour: that of the forthcoming enlargement. The new enlargement is unlikely to provide the political and economic benefits anticipated by the candidate countries, if it results in alterations to the «acquis communautaire» and the EU policies, or ends up impeding decision- and policy- making.
The enlargement to the East will thus be facilitated both by the progress of the candidate countries themselves, as well as by the timely increase of the EU's own resources, required to meet increased financial obligations vis-a-vis the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The same applies for the reform of basic Union policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, which is driven by the logic of fund-saving beyond the adjustments required by the new WTO regime.
The Common Agricultural Policy will have to continue obeying certain fundamental principles, like the unity and organisation of the markets, recognition of the multi-dimensional role of farmers, definition of prices and specification of the accompanying measures, including the establishment of the system of direct income support, aiming at securing a sufficient income for the farmers.
7. The revision of the Treaty in the Intergovernmental Conference provides the opportunity for an overall answer to the challenges confronting the Union. It would be a mistake to confine the planned revision process to the institutional aspects. What is needed is the expression of a bold political vision for the Union’s preparedness to overcome the current crisis, accept the new members and enter the 21st century with confidence and dynamism, thereby making the pattern of European integration irreversible.
8. In short, the Greek approach to the Intergovernmental Conference consists of the following four main objectives:
i) Evolution of the European Union towards a pattern of deeper integration built upon the principles of democracy, solidarity, cohesion and social justice, i.e. development of «a Europe of citizens and social space» through policies, actions, means and resources designed to solve social problems, and especially unemployment and economic cohesion, as well as that of real convergence. ii) Development of the Union’s institutional system, so that it becomes more democratic at all levels and more effective in decision- making on the basis of the following principles: institutional equality for all member-countries, institutional unity without institutional discriminations or differentiations and institutional equilibrium. iii) Endowment of the Union with an efficient common foreign and security policy and, ultimately, defence policy, capable of safeguarding the independence, security, external borders and territorial integrity of the Union and its member-states and to contribute actively to the preservation of peace and stability, the settlement of conflicts and the management of crises. iv) Ensuring the institutional, political and economic conditions necessary for the E.U’s successful enlargement to Cyprus, Malta and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
9. The most serious challenge for the European Union is that an increasing number of its citizens question the relevance of the goals and content of European integration. Regaining the support of European citizens for the integration process and its institutions is an indispensable condition for overcoming the crisis, thus ensuring the European Union’s actual legitimisation. For Greece, the European citizens’ active participation in the integration effort constitutes the basis of the E.U’s legitimisation, its «raison d’etre». Without the active support of European citizens and societies, the European Union will be unable to achieve its goals.
10. To regain the support of its citizens and national societies at large, the European Union should take measures that will provide a substantial contribution towards solving their problems and allow citizens to participate actively in the integration process. To this end, the revised Treaty should include provisions aiming at:
i) Strengthening and enhancing protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this context, Greece supports the incorporation - in the revised Treaty - of a Catalogue of Human Rights or, alternatively, the Union’s accession to the Convention on Human Rights.
ii) Enriching the Treaty with a catalogue of basic social rights, as provided by the European Social Charter and the Protocol on Social Policy.
iii) Including in the Treaty specific provisions prohibiting any form of discrimination and explicity condemning racism and xenophobia.
iv) Enhancing the Treaty’s provisions on equality between men and women and including special actions in favour of disabled persons and other disadvantaged social groups by means of new provisions.
v) Enrichment of the Treaty’s references to European citizenship, by the expansion, among others, of the catalogue of associated rights.
11. The respect of the principle of transparency should be a fundamental principle of the Union. Democratic procedures are inconceivable without transparency. In particular, democratic control cannot be exercised in the absence of systematic information regarding the sector in question. Although the principle of transparency constitutes a principle of law stemming from the law of the Union in effect, its explicit enshrinement in the new Treaty would constitute a clear step forward. In addition, increased transparency and publicity in the operation of the Union’s institutions, the consolidation of the Treaties into a single text and a legislation simplified to make it easily comprehensible to the average European citizen, are likely to contribute to the Union’s regaining of the lost support of its citizens and to the reduction of the distance between the latter and the Union’s institutions. To the extent possible, the proceedings of EU institutions should be open to the public. Finally, the European Union should acquire legal personality.
12. In this context, the principle of subsidiarity must be made the most of, as a means of defining the manner in which E.U. competences should be applied. Subsidiarity, which constitutes a fundamental organisational principle for ensuring that decisions are taken as close as possible to the citizen, should be used as an instrument for strenghtening the role of the citizen, the local authorities and the regions within the integration process; it should not be used as a means to alter the «acquis communautaire», to renationalise Community policies, to retard the development of the Union, or as a means to expand unduly the Union's competences.
a) Social Policy and Employment
13. The crisis within, and questioning of, the Union constitute an acute crisis of legitimisation, which will not be overcome unless the Union evolves into an institution that makes a positive contribution to the solving of the day-to-day problems faced by European society and its citizens. Institutional and procedural adjustments, simplifications and clarifications may very well be important; they cannot, however, be a substitute for positive action on the part of the Union, manifested through actual policies. The European Union, therefore, can only win the support of European society if it develops the policies, means and actions that will make its contribution to the achievement of basic economic and social objectives visible, credible and effective. Such objectives are indispensable to the construction of a society of justice, solidarity, cohesion, prosperity and tolerance, as well as of respect for cultural and environmental values.
14. On this basis, it is imperative to achieve a better balance in the revised Treaty between the promotion of full Monetary Union and the goals of economic and social development and cohesion, promotion of a higher level of employment and social protection and improved living standards, as provided for by Art. 2 of the Treaty.
15. Efforts to achieve nominal convergence must not lead to a fracturing of cohesion and solidarity between the Union’s member- States. Our constant pursuit should be the reduction of interregional inequalities through the further promotion of policies of economic and social cohesion, employment and social protection, and through the Union’s common policies. Thus, economic imperatives should be balanced with socially acceptable objectives and values.
16. The serious problems of employment, joblessness and social exclusion have worsened to the point where they tend to threaten the social fabric of the Union’s countries. Ways should be found to combat such problems in an effective manner; undertaking investments to this end will help bring to the fore the social profile of the European Union.
17. Greece would consider favourably the introduction of a greater degree of coordination in the EU’s social actions and the formulation of a more active employment policy than those currently in existence. The Union should further strenghten its strategy on employment, as decided by the European Councils of Essen, Cannes and Madrid, which is based on a combination of macro-economic policies and structural interventions in labour markets, aiming at the creation of new jobs. We therefore support the introduction, in the new Treaty, of a special chapter for the promotion, at Community level, of employment issues and the investments that will underpin them, on the basis of common goals and procedures, as well as financial support (establishment of an Employment Committee; use of Structural Funds to finance employment objectives). However, national employment policies should also be kept sufficiently flexible, as the problem of unemployment differs from country to country.
18. Greece also supports the strengthening of the EU’s broader social policy and policy of social protection. We believe that a major contribution in this direction would be the incorporation, in the revised Treaty, of the social rights included in the Social Charter and the Social Protocol. The new Treaty should formally establish a minimum level of social protection, regulation of employment relations and social welfare in favour of disadvantaged persons and groups. We also support a more intensive social dialogue and a wider participation of social partners in the Union process.
b) New policies
19. To help combat the current economic and social problems of its citizens, the European Union should proceed to develop new policies, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity. More specifically, Greece supports the addition of new Titles in the revised Treaty concerning the sectors of civil defence, energy and tourism.
20. With regard to civil defence, in particular, the Greek side proposes the establishment of an assistance mechanism for member- states hit by natural calamities or disasters. This would be a further expression of solidarity between member-States, and a tangible way for the EU to come closer to the European citizen.
21. In the field of energy, Greece attaches importance to the definition of a «European Energy Policy». Greece stresses the need to add provisions concerning the security of supplies, to associate energy with the goal of cohesion and to include references to the Environment, to energy-saving and to the use of renewable sources of energy.
22. For Greece, tourism is a sector that not only contributes to the international recognition of our common cultural heritage, to Europe’s peoples being better able to become acquainted with each other and to the growing common European identity; it also represents a major economic activity, greatly contributing to the Community GNP and to employment, especially in areas with significant seasonal fluctuations in economic activity.
23. In the field of the environment, Greece intends to propose certain amendments in the direction, notably, of promoting the goal of sustainable development in the implementation of environment policy and of promoting environmental research and technological development. Greece will also support the inclusion of a specific reference to Environmental Trans-European Networks in Title XII on Trans-European Networks.
24. A goal to which Greece attaches particular importance is the inclusion in the Treaty of provisions on the Union’s Island Regions as regions of special cultural, ecological and social significance. The current EU’s structural policy has not managed to provide satisfactory solutions to the problems of isolation and economic fragility characterising such areas, since inequalities between mainland and island regions of the EU seem to be constantly growing. It is clear, therefore, that there is an imperative need to bring exceptional means and considerable efforts to bear, if these areas are to overcome the particular disadvantages they face and make full use of their natural wealth and human resources on equal terms with the Union’s other regions.
25. Greece is for the strengthening of the Treaty’s provisions on Public Health. This will make possible the adoption of binding acts aiming at the introduction of minimum standards in this area, taking due account of the particular conditions prevailing in each member-state.
26. Greece will seek improvements regarding the provisions on culture - a fundamental common element of the European identity. The development of such provisions must continue to respect and promote the Union’s variety of cultures. In addition, Greece considers as self-evident the maintenance of the principle of equality of languages in the Union.
27. Finally, special care will be required for the formulation of a demographic policy which will address the problem of low birth rates and population ageing, phenomena with negative repercussions on Europe’s social security systems.
28. There is an imminent need to develop and reform the institutional system of the European Union in order to make it more democratic, efficient and transparent, while also capable of facing the challenges of the future enlargements. In light of the Political Union’s prospective development, our goal must be to provide the EU with institutions which are transparent, democratically structured and capable of taking decisions and efficiently solving problems.
The Basic Principles:
29. The development and adjustment of the institutional system must be based on certain basic principles, including:
(i) institutional unity, and equality of all member states/reinforcement of the single institutional framework.
(ii) the preservation of the basic institutional balance, as has been shaped by the Treaties and historical experience.
(iii) the preservation of the institutional, legal and political «acquis» of the Union.
30. The respect of institutional unity and equality dictates, among others, that we avoid institutionalising forms of «differentiated» or «flexible» integration which under any guise or form would introduce permanent discriminations among member- states and upset basic principles of institutional equality. Greece is opposed to the institution of provisions which would lead to the fragmentation of the unification process. The notions of «differentiated» or «flexible» integration, of a «multi-speed» Europe, or of a «hard core» Europe can not be accepted by Greece. These notions are dangerous to the extent that they may lead to new divisions and antagonisms in Europe.
31. Greece believes that the method of “temporary transitional provisions” which is provided for in the Treaty and has been successfully tested is the answer to the problems posed by the need for a deepening of the unification and enlargement processes. This is the method which ensures the unity of goals as well as institutional unity and contributes to the cohesion of the European Union without hindering the acceleration of unification.
32. Greece believes that the European Parliament, as the elected, representative body of the Union, must gradually take up the legislative functions associated with its role. The strengthening of the E.P.’s functions must be considered on this basis.
33. More specifically, and with a view to promoting efficiency, transparency and democracy in the Union, we propose the following:
(i) the reduction of legislative procedures to three: assent, co- decision, consultation. «Assent» must be used in those cases where the Council decides unaminously on the modification of Treaties, the accession and association of third countries to the EU, own resources and article 235 of the Treaty. The co-decision precedure should apply in all the legislative acts where the Council decides by qualified majority. At the same time, the co-decision process must be simplified by abolishing the “third reading’’.
(ii) the simplification of the process concerning the adoption of the EU’s general budget.
(iii) The election of the European Commission’s President by the Parliament on the basis of a list submitted by the European Council.
(iv) The strengthening of the Parliament’s authority to supervise the executive bodies of the EU.
(v) The EP should have the possibility of attending, as an observer, intergovernmental conferences for the revision of the Treaties.
34. Greece is willing to examine proposals for the adoption of a unified electoral system concerning the election of the European Parliament’s members.
35. With respect to the number of E.P. members, Greece believes that the maximum number must be fixed in such a way as to allow all political forces to be satisfactorily represented on the body.
36. Greece favours the strengthening of the role of national parliaments in the unification process. This will contribute to the widening of the legitimising bases of the Union and will bring it closer to the European citizen. This can be achieved through greater contacts between the national parliaments and European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Commission. The latter must establish a procedure for the timely prior submission of legislative proposals and information to national parliaments. Another possibility is co-operation between national parliaments’ committees and the corresponding committees of the European Parliament. Further, members of the Commission should be requested to appear before the national parliaments in order to present the Commission’s views and exchange opinions. Greece, however, does not consider necessary the creation of new institutions, at EU level, in order to facilitate the abovementioned closer co-operation between national parliaments and the European Union.
37. The European Commission is a central element of the EU’s institutional framework. Hence, the Commission’s powers (monopoly of legislative initiative, guardian of the Treaties, executive powers) must be preserved, while its role in the areas of common foreign policy and co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs will have to be strengthened.
38. As already noted above, Greece supports the election of the Commission’s President by the European Parliament on the basis of a list submitted to it by the European Council. The President thus elected must have broader powers both in the selection of the Commission’s members from a list submitted to him by the member-states, and in organising the Commission’s work.
39. Greece is in favour of reducing the number of Commissioners, making it equal to the number of member-states, i.e. all member states should have the right to appoint a member to the Commission. It is strongly opposed to the idea of having fewer Commissioners than the number of member-states. Under present circumstances, such a development would seriously damage the authority, the legitimisation as well as the public’s acceptance of the Commission. After all, experience with the size of national governments suggests that a future Commission with 27 members would not face serious problems in its functioning on account of its size. It goes without saying that the distribution of portfolios among the members of the Commission cannot be subject to any discrimination among larger and smaller member states.
40. With the aim of strengthening efficiency and transparency in the functioning of the Commission, Greece supports the simplification of the “comitology procedure’’, through a reduction in the number of relevant procedures and committees.
41. The central political role of the European Council has proved especially useful and must therefore be preserved. Greece does not believe that the European Council should assume any additional new powers or functions.
The Council of Ministers
42. The Council of Ministers is the main policy- and decision-making institution of the Union. The new enlargement necessitates certain adjustments which will enable this body to fulfil its role effectively. These adjustments must respect the basic principles of institutional equality among member-states.
43. Greece believes that the organisation and functioning of the Council can be significantly improved through the strengthening of the role of the Council’s Secretariat and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).
44. Broadening the application of qualified majority voting must be accompanied by the wider use of the co-decision procedure with the European Parliament. However, unanimity will need to be maintained in respect of the whole range of issues relating to matters of vital national importance, to the law of the Treaties, constitutional issues which relate to the composition of the bodies, etc. (language matters, appointment of the Commission’s members, revision of the Treaties, etc.), the articles concerning the accession and association of third countries and article 235 of the Treaty.
45. Greece believes that the present system of weighting of votes in the Council and the rules of qualified majority can be applied - if technically adjusted - without considerable problems in an enlarged EU. The present system of weighting of votes secures a delicate balance between the more and less populated countries and must be maintanined.
46. As far as the present system of the Presidency of the Council is concerned, Greece believes that it must be preserved, with the following improvements:
(i) the strengthening of the Secretariat’s role as a body assisting the Presidency;
(ii) the essential strengthening of the Troika’s role so that the latter may contribute more effectively to dealing with the problems which will arise following the Union’s enlargement. Greece believes that proposals for a ’’team presidency’’ of the Council are neither realistic nor practically operational.
47. The proceedings of the Council can be improved by the streamlining of its working methods. The public character of the Council’s proceedings must also be strengthened.
Committee of Regions
48. The Committee of Regions has proved, despite its short life, that it provides a useful channel of communication between the EU, the regions and, ultimately, the European citizen. For this reason, a strengthening of the Committee’s role may contribute positively to the broadening of the democratic bases of the EU and its proximity to the European citizen. Therefore, Greece supports the idea that the Committee should be composed of elected members of the regional and local authorities. Their appointments should be revoked immediately in case of non re-election. Moreover, the Treaty should take into account the need of cross- border cooperation.
European Court of Justice
49. The ECJ must retain its role to authoritatively interpret EU law, which ensures uniformity in the application of Community provisions within the E.U.
50. At present, the basic powers of the ECJ must not be altered and whatever issues need to be resolved can be addressed at a later stage in the context of the possible revision of its Internal Regulation. Its authority should be extended to cover certain matters in the Justice and Home Affairs area.
51. Greece believes that the citizens’ access to the Court to seek and obtain preliminary rulings as well as the possibility of submitting questions by the national courts to ECJ must be retained.
52. The principle «one country - one judge» must be retained.
53. Greece agrees to the idea of a nine-year, non-renewable term for the members of the ECJ.
Court of Auditors
54. The role of the Court of Auditors has proved to be particularly important. For this reason, Greece favours strengthening the body’s efficiency. It also agrees that the Court of Auditors should be given the power to appeal to the Court of Justice in order to protect its prerogatives.
Economic and Social Committee
55. Greece supports the strengthening of the Committee’s role in the context of social dialogue.
Common Foreign Policy
56. During the last forty years, the contribution of the European Union to peace and stability in Europe has been significant. Nevertheless, as the Yugoslav and other recent crises have indicated, the EU lacks the instruments and clearly-defined objectives in order to deal effectively with the new situation which has arisen on our continent, as well as outside it, after the end of the Cold War. EU external action should aim at upholding the values constituting the essence of European integration. It should also contribute to the security of the continent and its periphery via the prevention and elimination of the sources of crisis.
A framework for the conduct of CFSP must include, as a minimum prerequisite, the recognition, respect, and guaranteeing of the provisions of International Law and Treaties. This framework will constitute the single legal system of the CFSP. Such CFSP actions should be undertaken on the basis of statutory principles agreed between the institutions and the member-States of the EU.
57. A genuine CFSP presupposes:
a) a clear definition of general principles and objectives having as a guide the gradual formulation of common basic interests, and b) the development of practical measures of an institutional and procedural nature which will contribute to the deeper «communitarisation» of the current CFSP system and will render CFSP capable of protecting the territorial integrity and the external frontiers of the EU.
58. The provisions of the Treaty on European Union concerning CFSP led to high expectations, yet at same time caused deep disappointment, due to their shortcomings.
We believe that this is due to a lack of political will, which is essential for the formulation of common positions and the undertaking of common actions, and the actual pillar structure, with all the ensuing defects. We, therefore, support bringing the second pillar closer to the first, that is to say, its partial communitarisation. This would imply: more consistency and coherence in all aspects of the Union’s external action wider participation of the institutions. The Commission should play a more active role in the fields of analysis, planning, implementation and management of common actions, while the European Parliament’s power should be reinforced inclusion of all CFSP expenditure in the Union’ s budget, allowing for the possibility of recourse, in exceptional cases, to national contributions.
59. Regarding the instruments and means that could make the CFSP more effective, we believe that the creation of an Analysis and Planning Unit, within the framework of the General Secretariat of the Council, along with the participation of the member states and the Commission, would greatly contribute to the formulation of common assessments and approaches concerning the problems which today are still subject to a variety of national approaches and interests. The functioning of this Unit will help promote the achievement of consensus. A more effective implementation of CFSP will require affording wider competences to the European Commission, while the role of the Council’s Secretariat will need to be reinforced.
60. The objectives of CFSP should be clearly defined and broadened to include:
the respect of human rights and democratic freedoms
the guaranteeing of the EU’s external frontiers and territorial integrity, as well as the adoption of a «solidarity and mutual defence assistance clause». Currently, the status of Member-State of the Union does not provide clear guarantees for its security. This fact constitutes a serious lacuna for an entity that presents itself to the outside world as a “Union”.
the contribution of the Union to the prevention of conflicts and the consolidation of stability, particularly in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean basin.
61. Community solidarity should be expressed in the revised Treaty with specific provisions. A clear commitment from the Union to protect its external frontiers, along with a mutual assistance clause, will contribute to the reinforcement of stability, particularly in the regions of potential political instability that border on the Union.
62. More specifically, in the case of Greece, the shaping of such a security environment will facilitate the transfer of substantial resources from the defence area, to the benefit of social and economic goals. In other words, there is a clear trade-off between the reinforcement of common security and the promotion of cohesion. It is worth reminding that, owing to the instability and insecurity in its surrounding region, Greece is obliged to spend a disproportionate share of its national resources on national and collective security purposes. As a percentage of its GNP, this share is the highest in the Union. Unlike the vast majority of Member States, therefore, Greece has been unable to reap the so- called «peace dividend».
63. Decision-making in this key-sector is exclusively based on the rule of unanimity. The extension of qualified majority voting to the second pillar in issues which do not affect the vital national interests of the country, should be considered in the light of the shape that this pillar will assume, as well as the degree of solidarity demonstrated, based on the adoption of the aforementioned goals.
64. Other means of Union external action could be examined, provided that the institutional integrity, the coherence of EU policy and the equal status of EU members is not endangered.
Common Security and Defence
65. Common Foreign and Security Policy should be complemented with a common defence policy and a common defence in order to become credible, effective and capable of facing the new threats and challenges that have emerged after the end of the Cold War. This policy will be complementary rather than antithetical to that of the Atlantic Alliance. NATO remains the main factor in the European security system.
66. In view of the need to develop an EU defence identity, the Western European Union (WEU) should be incorporated gradually in the EU, according to a specific timetable.
67. Greece supports the incorporation of the “Petersberg tasks” in the revised Treaty of the European Union.
68. Meanwhile, Greece supports the conclusion of a binding agreement between the EU and the WEU (i.e. for as long as the latter functions autonomously) on the basis of which the WEU will be obliged to carry out duties and missions assigned to it by the Union.
69. In any case, defence policy should be formulated within the institutions of the European Union. For this purpose, it will be necessary to provide for meetings of member states’ Ministers of Defence in the framework of the Council.
70. The area of Justice and Home Affairs (Title VI of the Treaty on EU) institutes intergovernmental cooperation in areas highly sensitive both to states and citizens, and directly affecting the free movement of persons, the security of the Union’s citizens as well as police and judicial cooperation.
71. Greece supports the gradual «communitarisation» of some of the Third Pillar’s areas, starting with asylum and immigration policy. A common asylum policy is considered necessary in light of the remarkable differences regarding the number of persons entering the Member-States resulting from the variety of procedural and actual guarantees provided by individual Member-States. A better harmonisation of procedural and substantive aspects of Member States’ asylum policies is, therefore, required. A more effective implementation of immigration policy would result, inter alia, in a better control of illegal immigration.
72. The formulation of a common policy against terrorism and drugs is also required, and would also reinforce the security of the EU’s citizens.
73. Due to the importance of the issues regarding cooperation in this field, and in light of the observed lack of institutional and democratic mechanisms associated therewith, it is necessary that actions of partners should be in conformity with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Beyond the provisions contained in Article K2, this could be ensured through the Union’s accession to the above Convention.
74. Greece supports the reinforcement of the institutions’ role which would guarantee, in conjunction with the Member-States’ political will, the more effective functioning of the Third Pillar. More particularly, Greece is in favour of: - the extension of the Commission's right of initiative in the areas of police, judicial and customs cooperation; - the wider participation of the European Parliament in the decision- making process relating to these areas of the Third Pillar, in the form of mandatory consultation; - the reinforcement of the role of the Court of Justice, through an expansion of its competences as regards the uniform interpretation and implementation of acts and the resolution of any emerging differences among the Member-States and between the Member- States and EU institutions.
75. In order to reinforce the cooperation aspects that are not subject to a common policy (police and judicial cooperation), we believe that the following elements, mentioned indicatively, would contribute to this purpose:
- the present decision-making based on unanimity should be
reconsidered. Decision-making based on qualified majority voting
should be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the
matter at hand.
76. In conclusion, we believe that the communitarisation of some areas through the reinforcement of the institutions and the creation of action programs with the appropriate timetables will effectively contribute to the achievement of the goals of Title VI of the Maastricht Treaty.
Athens, 22 March 1996