European Union Presidency Proposes a Roadmap

Denmark, in its capacity as President of the European Union (EU), presented what it calls "Elements for a Roadmap Leading Up to the Creation of Palestinian State by June 2005". The proposal was discussed by the EU Foreign Ministers in Denmark at a meeting in Elsinore from 30-31 August 2002 where it was adopted after some amendments. The Danish Foreign Minister, Mr. Per Stig Moller, was mandated to discuss the proposal with the parties and later on with the Quartet.

Accordingly, the Foreign Minister undertook visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and then visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where he successively met with Prime Minister Sharon and President Arafat in separate meetings. During those meetings, he presented the EU proposal. Media reports indicate that Mr. Sharon rejected what his office referred to as "European ideas". While Mr. Arafat accepted the proposal in principle and promised a detailed Palestinian response to be given at a later date in New York prior to the Quartet meeting, scheduled to be held on the margins of the General Debate of the 57th session of the U.N. General Assembly on 17 September.

The EU proposal discusses a background, a road map and a time matrix. It presents a three-phased plan, beginning from now until 2005 and consisting of a pre-election phase; a post-election phase until the establishment of a Palestinian State with provisional borders; and a third phase from a Palestinian State with provisional borders until the creation of the Palestinian State.

In general, the ideas in the EU proposal represent an attempt to build on the June statement of U.S. President Bush on the Middle East, while trying to maintain the positions of the EU, especially those affirmed in the Seville European Council Declaration.

The Palestinian side did indeed submit a detailed, written response to the EU, which was presented to concerned parties. The response called, inter alia, for giving more prominence to the Arab peace initiative; the need to support Palestinian elections under the current constitutional basis and in a speedy manner; and the need to maintain an overall balance with regard to the steps to be taken by the two sides.

As the Quartet meets in New York in September, we await to see how those ideas will be received and whether a meaningful agreement on a substantive and feasible roadmap will be achieved. It remains to be seen, moreover, how such proposals will evolve in light of that meeting and the current situation on the ground and in the region.