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Brussel European Council, 17 and 18 June 2004 - Presidency Conclusions


European Neighbourhood Policy

The European Council welcomes the Commission's proposals for a European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and endorses the GAERC Conclusions of 14 June. Enlargement has brought the Union closer to its neighbours to the east and to the south. The European Council reiterates the importance it attaches to strengthening co-operation with these neighbours, on the basis of partnership and joint ownership and building on shared values of democracy and respect for human rights.

The European Council welcomes enhanced dialogue with all ENP partners, east and south. It notes that the forthcoming Summit on 8 July will provide an opportunity to take stock of EU Ukraine relations. It also welcomes the inclusion of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the ENP. This gives the EU another important instrument to promote progress on the wider reform agenda in each of these countries. In this context, the European Council welcomes the very positive outcome of the international Donors Conference for Georgia held in Brussels on 16 June. It will also be possible to extend the full benefits of the ENP to Belarus when that country has established a democratic form of government, following free and fair elections; strengthened support for civil society in Belarus will help to build a more democratic, stable and prosperous country.

The European Council agrees that ENP action plans be developed with all Euro-Mediterranean partners that have association agreements in force. It invites the Council and the Commission to take the work forward. It notes that the Commission, with the contribution of the High Representative where appropriate, will present by July proposals for a first series of action plans with countries in the east and south, which have been prepared in consultation with the partner countries, for consideration by the Council.

Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East

The European Council endorsed the Report of the Presidency, SG/HR and Commission on the EU's Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, which will establish a consistent basis for the EU's policies towards the countries concerned by setting out general principles and objectives.

1. The objective of this Strategic Partnership is to promote the development of a common zone of peace, prosperity and progress in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It sets out a concrete policy agenda under which, through partnership and dialogue, and recognising diversities, the Union will seek to:
2. Promote political reform, good governance, democracy and human rights;
3. Stimulate trade and economic cooperation, economic liberalisation and people to people contacts;
4. Promote conflict prevention and resolution in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and measures to combat terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illegal immigration.

The European Union reiterates its view that it will not be possible to fully build a common zone of peace, prosperity and progress unless a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is found. However, progress on the resolution of the conflict cannot be a pre-condition for confronting the urgent reform challenges facing our partners in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, nor vice versa.

The European Council recognises that the challenges identified cannot be addressed by maintaining the status quo. It welcomes the fact that this understanding is shared by the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Their commitment to reform has been expressed both in their consultations with the Union and through public statements, in particular the Tunis Declaration of the Arab League Summit of 22/23 May 2004 as well as the earlier Alexandria and Sana'a Declarations.

The European Union will pursue these goals with its partners primarily through existing structures and arrangements. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the European Neighbourhood Policy will remain the cornerstone of the Union's framework for relations with the Mediterranean countries. The EU will also strengthen relations with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and other countries of the Middle East. It will ensure that regional and bilateral assistance programmes under these instruments and frameworks reflect and contribute to the achievement of the objectives outlined above.

The European Council reaffirms the readiness of the EU to work with the US and other partners in cooperating with the countries concerned. It looks forward to reviewing the Middle East Peace Process and exploring the possibilities for coordinating our respective efforts to assist the reform process at the coming EU-US Summit on 26 June 2004.

The European Council will monitor development under the Strategic Partnership, and will review its progress and future direction in June 2005.

Middle East Peace Process

The European Council reviewed recent developments in the Middle East. The European Union is fully committed to give new impetus to peace efforts.

It expresses concern at the continuing violence affecting both Israelis and Palestinians. It repeats its call for an end to terrorist attacks by extremist groups which have claimed many innocent lives. It calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take action against those involved in terrorism. While recognising Israel's legitimate right to self defence, it recalls the obligation on Israel to exercise this right within the parameters of international law. It expresses deep concern at the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and calls on the Israeli Government, in line with international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1544, to cease demolitions and to take urgent action to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

The European Council welcomes the prospect of Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Such a withdrawal would represent a significant step towards the implementation of the Roadmap, provided that it is implemented in accordance with the elements identified in the conclusions of the European Council of March 2004. The EU will not recognise any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties. In the framework of the Quartet, the EU will work with Israel for a complete withdrawal and with the Palestinians to assure security conditions. The European Council is determined to seize the opportunity presented by this initiative and invites the High Representative to meet Israeli and Palestinian authorities to examine the European contribution to the withdrawal and the implementation of the Roadmap, and to formulate proposals to that end.

The European Council welcomes the outcome of the Quartet meeting held in New York on 4 May. It also welcomes the renewal of the Beirut Peace Initiative of the League of Arab States and continued support for the Roadmap at the Summit meeting held in Tunis on 22/23 May and the League's rejection of acts of violence against civilians without discrimination. The European Council welcomes the G 8 Statement inviting the Quartet to meet in the region before the end of this month. The EU looks forward to such a meeting which should serve to further advance the peace process.

The European Council reaffirms its belief that the Roadmap represents the only route to achieving a negotiated two-State solution. It is determined to pursue vigorously the course set out in the Roadmap and calls on both sides to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap.

The European Council urges the Palestinian Authority to take immediate, decisive steps to consolidate all Palestinian security services under the clear control of a duly empowered Prime Minister and Interior Minister. It reaffirms its readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order, and in particular, in improving its civil police and law enforcement capacity. The EU will study practical steps to that end. The European Union commends and supports the involvement of the Government of Egypt in this regard and reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with it. The European Council urges the development of contacts and dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The European Council also urges Israel to reverse its settlement policy and to freeze all settlement activity, to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001 and to end land confiscations and the construction of the so-called security fence on Palestinian land, all of which threaten to render the two-State solution physically impossible to implement.
The European Council calls for renewed efforts towards a comprehensive ceasefire as a step towards dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure and renewed progress towards peace.

The European Council welcomes the establishment of the World Bank's Trust Fund and urges international support for this important initiative for Palestinian economic and social reconstruction.

The European Council reaffirms its conviction that a just and durable solution in the peace process can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties and the support of the international community. Violence and terror have no place in the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. A political perspective is essential to the peace process. The European Council recalls that a comprehensive peace must also include Syria and Lebanon.

Brussels,06 28 2004
European Union
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