Presidency Conclusions - Cardiff
15 and 16 June 1998


62. Noting that the Luxembourg European Council assessed the candidatures addressed in Agenda 2000 and took the decisions necessary to launch the overall enlargement process, the European Council welcomes the substantial progress made since Luxembourg in preparing for enlargement.

63. The Union's priority is to maintain the enlargement process for the countries covered in the Luxembourg European Council conclusions within which they can actively pursue their candidatures and make progress towards taking on the obligations of membership, including the Copenhagen criteria. Each of these candidate countries will be judged on the basis of the same criteria. All will benefit from strengthened relations with the EU including through political dialogue and tailored strategies to help them prepare for accession.

64. The European Council welcomes the Commission's confirmation that it will submit at the end of 1998 its first regular reports on each candidate's progress towards accession. In the case of Turkey, repots will be based on Article 28 of the Association Agreement and the conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council.

65. The European Council welcomes the launch of the Accession Process in Brussels on 30 March. It is an evolutionary and inclusive process. A productive further meeting of the Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs of the 15 Members of the European Union with their opposite numbers from the 10 Central and East European applicant states and Cyprus was held on 28-29 May. Further Ministerial meetings will take place as the need arises.

66. The European Council encourages the Commission to pursue rapidly the delivery of assistance within the Accession Partnership framework. Pre-accession aid will be increased substantially. In this context it endorses in general terms the legislative framework proposed by the Commission, and invites the Council to continue its work. The priorities for projects financed by these instruments and Phare, as well as operations funded by the EIB, EBRD and other international financial institutions will be essential. The European Council notes that the basis of funding for the countries included in the enlargement process was set out at Luxembourg.

67. Following the opening of accession negotiations on 31 March 1998 with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, the European Council notes that the screening exercises for seven chapters of the acquis have been completed. It also welcomes the opening of the analytical examination of the acquis with Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.

68. The European Council also welcomes the Commision's communication of 4 March 1998 on taking forward the European Strategy to prepare Turkey for membership. It agrees that, taken as a package, this provides the platform for devaloping our relationship on a sound evolutionary basis. The European Council invites the Commission to carry forward this strategy, including the tabling of any proposals necessary for its effective implementation. The Strategy can be enriched over time, taking into account Turkey's own ideas. The European Council further invites the Presidency and the Commission and the appropriate Turkish authorities to pursue the objective of harmonising Turkey's legislation and practice with the acquis, and asks the Commission to report to an early Association Council on progress made. Recalling the need for financial support for the European Strategy, the European Council notes the Commission's intention to reflect on ways and means of underpinning the implementation of the European strategy, and to table appropriate proposals to this effect.

69. The European Council welcomes the first meeting of the European Conference held in London on 12 March 1998, and its conclusions. The principles of participation in the Conference and its initial membership were agreed at the meeting of the European Council in Luxembourg.

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