BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Q&A: Gothenburg aftermath

As the European Union summit in Gothenburg draws to a close Europe correspondent Oana Lungescu looks at what it managed to achieve.

What has the summit achieved?

The summit has succeeded in giving a new impetus to EU enlargement, which was its main ambition and one of the priorities of Sweden's term at the presidency of the EU.

In the wake of the Irish "no" to the Treaty of Nice, Sweden pushed hard to get a clearer timetable, despite strong opposition from France and especially Germany.

They argued that to set a date now would be tantamount to giving a blank cheque to the biggest candidate country, Poland, which is lagging behind in its preparations.

In the end, EU leaders set 2002 as a target for the completion of negotiations with those that are ready, putting the onus on the candidates to speed up reforms.

They also said that the objective was that these countries should participate as EU members in the 2004 elections for the European Parliament.

But the summit was arguably less successful in its other main goal, which was to set clear targets for EU member countries on sustainable development, or environmentally-friendly economic growth.

However, EU leaders did say they would take a leading role in trying to save the Kyoto Protocol, which was rejected by the United States, agreeing to ratify it by the end of the year.

How has the EU's statement on a target date for enlargement been received by applicant states?

The leaders of the candidate countries, who came to Gothenburg for lunch with their EU counterparts, welcomed the EU's commitment that the enlargement process is irreversible.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country is generally seen as the leading applicant, said with a beaming smile, "It is very rare in life to have all wishes fulfilled, but this time it is so."

Hungary sees the setting of 2002 as a target date as a commitment that it will not have to wait for Poland in order to join the EU.

The Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said that his country did not expect any political favours and would be doing its own homework.

His Czech colleague Milos Zeman noted that the EU was no longer speaking of hope or belief or visions, but of objectives.

And Estonia's foreign minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves said: "Knowing that there were countries opposed to that wording, we have achieved more than we as pessimistic realists would have expected."

How has the mood of the summit been affected by Ireland's rejection of the Nice Treaty?

The results of the Irish referendum triggered a wave of concern in the candidate countries and gave an added urgency to the EU leaders' discussion on enlargement.

But the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern went out of his way to reassure both his EU colleagues and the leaders of the applicant states that the vote in the referendum was not a vote against enlargement.

The summit concluded that the ratification of the treaty would continue and expressed the EU's willingness to help the Irish government to find a way forward.

Have the EU leaders been shaken by the violent protests in Gothenburg?

They certainly have. In fact, they took the unprecedented action of cancelling their dinner, originally planned for a restaurant in the middle of Gothenburg's Botanical Gardens, because the police could not guarantee their security.

At least four leaders at the summit - among them the Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok - had to use the emergency exit in order to pack an overnight bag and change hotels under police escort.

It was a particularly bitter blow for Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson, who had personally met the protesters to discuss arrangements for peaceful demonstrations.

What will such actions mean for future summits?

Similar protests took place during the French Presidency of the EU last year and Mr Persson said more could be expected in the future.

He announced that the foreign and interior ministers of Sweden, France and Belgium, which takes over the EU presidency in July, will hold consultations on how to prevent similar violence from recurring again.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

16 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Blair: Anarchists will not stop us
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories