The conclusions of Seville fix a link between the fight against illegal immigration and cooperation with third countries, but with an incentive aspect that is far stronger than retaliatory measures, as pointed out yesterday. The text is not as severe as that advocated by the Spanish, British or the Germans, but establishing a more direct link would have been unacceptable for France and Sweden, and difficult for others like Belgium and Luxembourg. The text adopted in Seville keeps to the threat of retaliatory measures, speaking of EU measures in foreign policy or in "other policies". This wording could allow suspension of agreements or any other measure. But appreciation differs on this point. And there is one serious obstacle, which makes any sanction other than political very unlikely: first of all, the Fifteen must unanimously note that there has been persistent violation of the agreements to combat illegal immigration before initiating any procedure. More concretely and more immediately, the Fifteen have fixed a whole series of precise dates to make up for their delay in implementing the programme for the common policy on asylum and immigration adopted in Tampere.
Decisions taken on Council reforms, that can be achieved without amending the treaties, are "a very important step", José Maria Aznar told the press. He felt that the "immense majority" of these reforms may begin to be applied under Danish Presidency. Among these reforms, he cited the reduction in the number of Council formations from 16 to 9, the creation of a new "General Affairs and External Relations Council" that will hold separate sittings with separate agendas (the idea of having two separate Council formations is therefore abandoned, following resistance from several countries), and transparency of decisions when the Council acts in co-decision with the EP. Regarding issues that require Treaty amendment, José Maria Aznar announced that reflection will begin on the system of EU Council Presidencies, and that a first report on this subject is expected for the European Council in Copenhagen in December. Javier Solana, in his capacity as Secretary General of the Council, said he, too, was pleased with the reforms of the Council and European Council. Furthermore, Romano Prodi noted that the institutional reforms "are proceeding along parallel lines" and that, as the Council moves forward with its internal reform, he had himself put forward ideas on improving the work of the European Commission and making it more readable. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, British and Irish Prime Ministers, also welcomed the fact that the work of the Council thus becomes "more streamlined". Their Swedish colleague, Göran Persson, said he too was pleased but regretted that the division of the General Affairs Council into two had not been approved. SHOTLISTLINKLINK