At the meeting of the General Affairs Council on 11 December in Brussels, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Vytautas Leškevičius stressed that it was in the EU interest to make an objective evaluation of Serbia’s progress based solely on the facts and own merits.
“We should have in mind that the main impetus for implementing reforms in the candidate countries is the prospect of opening accession negotiations. If we hastily launch the negotiations, we will get ahead of reform assessment,” Leškevičius said at the General Affairs Council meeting.
Leškevičius acknowledged the latest positive developments in the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, but highlighted still pending hardest issues. “Before starting accession negotiations the candidate country has to achieve sustainable progress on meeting all membership criteria, including the rule of law, fight against corruption, business environment and other key areas,” Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister said.
The Council also took note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Leškevičius welcomed the Commission’s recommendation to begin negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and expressed hope that it was going to happen in the short run.
The Council also prepared the European Council meeting on 13-14 December. The representative of Lithuania expressed hope that a reasonable compromise on the Single Supervisory Mechanism would be reached prior to the meeting.
“The new instruments to ensure financial solidarity in the euro zone should not be created at the expense of the EU budget or applied before assessing their effectiveness. Moreover, we have to consider proposals to develop ever-closer coordination of economic policies in the light of the fact that tax policy remains the exclusive competence of member states,” Leškevičius said.
The Council also discussed the preparations for the substantial debate on defence and security matters of heads of state and government that will take place in December 2013, when Lithuania will be at the helm of the Council of the European Union.
“We propose to discuss the role of the European Union, as a significant provider of security in its own neighbourhood and around the world, and relations with other actors in international security field, such as the United Nations, NATO and the United States. Besides, the heads of state should make a political assessment of the EU’s intended ways of responding to the new threats that include energy security and cyber-security,” Lithuanian Vice-Minister said.
When discussing amendments to the statute of the European Court of Justice, Leškevičius argued that the designation of judges by the member states should be governed by the principles of equality and objectivity.
Ministers also endorsed the 18 month programme of the Council of the European Union, prepared by the future Irish, Lithuanian and Greek presidencies for the period from 1 January 2013 to 30 June 2014.