The last General Affairs Council under the Greek Presidency, chaired by Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, took place today (24.06.2014) in Luxembourg.
The Council decided to grant Albania EU candidate status, subject to endorsement by the European Council. Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Venizelos welcomed the decision: “We are sending a message of friendship, cooperation to Albania, to the Albanian government, to the Albanian political system, and we are certain that our Albanian friends understand that there is an institutional and political frame of reference. This frame of reference is the Copenhagen political criteria, respect for the European acquis, respect for international law, including the principle of good neighbourly relations. This message is a joint message of the 28 member states of the European Union and of the European Commission. I believe that this will be capitalized on in the best possible manner, so that at some point, as soon as possible, the accession negotiations can begin”.
Furthermore, on the initiative of the Greek Presidency, the Council endorsed an EU maritime security strategy as a framework for effectively and comprehensively addressing the EU's maritime security challenges.
The objective is to secure the EU's maritime security interests against risks and threats in the global maritime domain, such as cross-border and organised crime, threats to freedom of navigation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or environmental risks. The strategy covers both internal and external aspects of the Union's maritime security in a cross-sectorial and comprehensive approach.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the adoption of the EU Maritime Security Strategy, which was one of the Hellenic Presidency's key priorities. This Strategy constitutes a significant step forward in safeguarding the EU's maritime security interests against a plethora of risks and threats in the global maritime domain, in accordance with the fundamental values and principles of the EU, including respect for international law and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, underlined Evangelos Venizelos.
The Council also adopted a decision on the rules and procedures for the implementation of the solidarity clause (article 222 of the Treaty on Functioning of the EU). The solidarity clause provides for the Union and its member states to act jointly in assisting another member state being the subject of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster.
Finally, the Council made preparations for the next European Council meeting, which will take place on 26 and 27 June, and held an exchange of views via video link with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. The European Council will focus in particular on the economy, including growth, competitiveness and jobs, the area of freedom, security and justice as well as energy and climate.