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Past Greek Presidencies
1st July- 31st December 1983
Greece held the Presidency of the EEC for the first time in the second half of 1983. Among the main results of the Greek Presidency of 1983 were the enactment of the new supplementary budget in 1983, substantive progress in the third round of negotiations for enlargement, the commencement of negotiations with African, Caribbean and Pacific States on the signing of the Lome III Convention and the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the EEC and the Andean Pact.
During the same Presidency it was proposed that there should be an increase of the own resources of the Community.
Ahead of the entrance of Iberian countries, that is Spain and Portugal, which needed to be supported (facilitated) by special financial programmes Greece proposed the establishment of regional financing to remove inequalities.
The Integrated Mediterranean Progammes became reality two years later (1985).
1st July – 31st December 1988
The second Greek Presidency took initiatives to discuss major issues relating to the future role of the Community and the content of the process of European integration. Characteristic examples in this respect were initiatives for the international role of the Community, the single European area, environmental protection and general discussions on East-West relations.
This second Presidency coincided with the application of a deadline for establishment of the Unified Internal Market (White Paper).
Jacques Delors, who was at that time President of the European Commission,had already presented (tabled) the «Delors Package» which contained measures for revision of the Commun Agricultural Policy (CAP), for the increase of the financing and the resources of structural Funds (what was already been proposed by Greece, two years ago) and for the improvement of the coherence between the member states.
The package was accepted from Greece which added to this catalogue the balanced growth of the member states as well as the promotion of new politics like the Unified Social Charter.
Among them were included proposals concerning unemployement, equality of sexes, education and culture and the encouragement of the social coherence.
As far as the External Relations are concerned, Greece played a very important role in the negociations of the Lomé IV Convention with ACP countries and in the revision of the GATT (General Convention of Taxes and Trade).
The second Greek Presidency came to an end in the impressive surroundings of the Knight’s Castle on Rhodes, where the necessary foundations were laid for adoption of the Community Social Charter.
1st January 1994-31st June 1994
It was a Presidency completely different from the two previous ones. The Treaty of Maastricht establishing the European Union had just entered into force and there were a number of exceptionally complex and difficult issues relating to the process of European integration which had to be tackled. The driving force behind the Presidency was the idea of European integration, thus its programme had a purely European orientation.
At the same time it was adopted the White Paper of the European Union, a text cointaining guidelines reducing unemployment, establishing transeuropean networks (especially in energy and transports), enhacing the competitiveness of the European economy.
During this period it was created the Coherence Fund. It was approuved the European Charter of Energy and it was promoted the 4th Pilot-Project of Research and Technology.
The Committee of Regions was established, the external politic was financed from the communities budget and the European Center of Development of the Professional Education was transfered from Berlin to Thessaloniki.
At the Corfu Summit held on 24– 25 June 1994 efforts to enlarge the European Union with the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden were completed with the signing of the respective Acts of Accession. During its third EU Presidency, Greece promoted the prospect of EU enlargement towards the south and east of Europe so as to ensure stability, development and collaboration in South-eastern Europe.
A particularly important policy area which was successfully handled by the third Greek Presidency was that of Justice and Home Affairs. Seeking to contribute in a substantive manner to the establishment of a new institutional identity for the activities under the Third Pillar of the European Union, the Greek Presidency promoted:
• The stepping up of work to prepare a Treaty for the establishment of Europol
• The stepping up of implementation of the Dublin Convention as well as promotion of the idea of signing a parallel convention with non-member states in order to achieve a broader, harmonised European policy on asylum
• Preparation of an overall strategy to combat illegal drug activity
• Support for judicial cooperation and joint action as part of efforts to fight international organised crime.
During this third Presidency and especially during the session of an Informal meeting of foreign ministers, the 29 march 1994, in Ioannina, in Greece, it was adopted the known «Ioannina compromise».
This compromise is like a clause which allows every member state which is near a blocking minority but it has not succeded it to ask for a revision of the decision. More explicity:
The resulting compromise laid down that if members of the Council representing between 23 votes (the old blocking minority threshold) and 26 votes (the new threshold) expressed their intention to oppose the taking of a decision by the Council by qualified majority, the Council would do all within its power, within a reasonable space of time, to reach a satisfactory solution that could be adopted by at least 68 votes out of 87.
1st January 2003 – 31st June 2003
The presentation of the draft European Constitution along with the Signing Ceremony for the Accession Treaty of 10 candidate countries constituted two landmark events in the development of the European Union, during Greece’s fourth EU Presidency. The latter, the Signing of 10 Accession Treaties, marked the last phase of the largest wave of enlargement in the history of the EU and set the seal on the re-unification of Europe. It was a supreme moment of the Presidency, celebrated at the foot of the Acropolis. (photo: http://www.eu2003.gr//multimedia/image/2003_4/862.jpg )
The fourth Greek Presidency (2003) prioritized enlargement in the Western Balkans and pushed for a clear EU commitment to the European future of the Western Balkan countries. The Thessaloniki Agenda, adopted in June 2003 included a set of concrete measures aimed at achieving this important objective.
(Thessaloniki European Council photo: http://www.eu2003.gr//multimedia/image/2003_6/1087.jpg )
The Greek Presidency’s curtain fell in a climate of praise for Greece’s contribution, with the first-half 2003 presidency being characterised during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg on July 1st 2003 as a “model for the effectiveness of medium-size countries in exercising the Presidency” (Maij Wegen, European Popular Party), while the Greek Presidency was also praised for its ability to handle affairs in a “humanitarian spirit” (Carlos Lage, Socialist Group). In addition, it was stressed that the Greek Presidency managed “with great leadership skills to hold the rudder on a course that was no cruise but an Odyssey” (Baron Crespo, Socialist Group).
Read more about the results of the fourth Greek Presidency.