PositionBrief Article

The Member States added to the economic and social strategy initiated at the Lisbon Summit in March 2000, agreeing four new axes for work: reflection on the structural consequences of demographic change and an ageing population; the contribution of biotechnology to growth and competitiveness; integration of the concept of sustainable development, with further clarification to be provided at the Gothenburg Summit in June; and the involvement of EU candidate countries in the process. The European Council also agreed to set intermediate targets for Member States regarding rates of employment (see article in Section IV). One of the most hotly debated topics proved to be the level of and procedures for the liberalisation of the energy sector (see article in Section IV). Heads of State and Government also reviewed negotiations on the telecoms package (see article in Section IV). Finally, they confirmed their commitment to the Galileo European satellite navigation programme (see separate article in Section IV).External issues were well represented on the Council agenda. Talks with President Vladimir Putin in the morning and over lunch on 23 March provided the Presidency with an opportunity to demonstrate a warming of relations with Russia. It precedes the EU/Russia Summit scheduled for May, though this should not be taken as an indication that the EU is prepared to relax the pressure regarding its political concerns (see article in section V). The invitation extended to...

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