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Priorities of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has presented Italy's priorities for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union which started on 1 January 1996 for a six-month period.

In general terms the Italian Presidency aims to "ensure consistency and continuity in Europ...
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has presented Italy's priorities for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union which started on 1 January 1996 for a six-month period.

In general terms the Italian Presidency aims to "ensure consistency and continuity in Europe's action, respecting the institutional balance, and to impart fresh momentum into European ideals by paying greater heed to the problems perceived most sharply by public opinion". These will include, in particular, employment, economic stability, internal security and security in international relations.

Special attention will be paid to education and training bearing in mind that 1996 is the European Year of Lifelong Learning, and that continuing education is central to attaining the objectives of the Commission's White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment. In the same context, emphasis will be placed on widespread promotion of the equal opportunities policy in the private and public sectors.

With regard to the development of major European infrastructure networks in transport, telecommunications and energy, the Italian Presidency will strive to obtain final approval of the guidelines for the trans-European networks and identify projects of common interest for funding from the Community budget.

Discussion will also be held on the decisions required of the Council to adopt the supplement to the RTD Framework Programme. In this respect, the Commission's proposals to focus the extra resources on a limited number of strategic objectives (aeronautics, clean cars, multimedia educational software, multi-modal transport, environmentally friendly technologies) will have the Presidency's wholehearted support.

A matter of paramount concern to the Presidency will be the liberalization of key sectors such as telecommunications and energy, whilst respecting the need to guarantee universal service at affordable prices. It will also push forward the legislative process for supplementing Community rules in areas where the principle of mutual recognition of national provisions has proved ineffective or has left gaps. By the same token, priority will be given to the consolidation and simplification of existing legislation to remove unnecessary burdens on business.

In the field of the environment, the Italian Presidency attributes special importance to the start of the debate on revision of the Fifth Environmental action plan, and to the documents expected from the Commission on integrated water management and against pollution from motor vehicles.

With regard to the reinforcement of a "Citizen's Europe", the Presidency will strive for more clear-cut and higher-profile action in sectors which can help reinforce Community values, such as culture, youth, education, tourism and health.

Finally, the Italian Presidency will place particular emphasis on strengthening the Union's external dimension and ensuring the recognition of the Union as a leading player in international relations. It will also play an active role in the preparation of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference.
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