Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

3 are the main priorities of the Swedish Presidency

Adelina Marini, July 1, 2009

As of today Sweden is taking over the EU Presidency for the next 6 months after the extremely difficult Czech Presidency. Difficult - from global challenges point of view as well as from internal problems point of view. Now, as many commentators say, the EU will take a deep breath of relief because a country with great experience will take over one of the most important positions in the EU and that is why it is important for us to know what the priorities of Sweden are and what Stockholm will focus on.

3 are the main priorities of the Swedish Presidency and, in fact, those are the three biggest challenges - economy, employment and climate.

Stockholm will stand for a global approach in tackling the financial and economic crisis and that is why it will focus its efforts toward preparing the G-20 summit in September in Pittsberg. During the G20 will address issues concerning resources to international financial institutions, regulation and supervision of the financial markets, work against harmful tax competition. Regarding the supervision and regulation the EU, as well as the US, will go to the summit with their proposals for supervision and regulation of the European and US financial markets, respectively. Given this fact, Sweden will put additional efforts to secure the approval of the new Communication of the European Commission by the EP. And whether these measures would be accepted by the rest of the global leaders is too early to predict. At the moment the EU is developing its joint position for the G-20 summit.

And as the employment policies are mainly prerogatives of the member states, Sweden will propose the development of an active labour market policy for better adjustment and mobility in the EU’s labour market which should regulate better the mobility on EU's labour market with the active participation of member states and on EU level. It is very important that Stockholm has the ambition to propose entirely new strategy to replace the Lisbon one which has been radically transformed once but this did not help for its faster implementation and the results are quite disputable. The decision on the new strategy will be taken during the Spanish Presidency in spring 2010.

Climate is the second important challenge that Sweden has included in its priorities. The starting point for the EU is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that global emissions must be at least halved between 1990 and 2050 so as to limit the increase in mean temperature to two degrees Celsius. This means that the industrialized world must reduce its emissions by 25–40 per cent by 2020 and by 80–95 per cent by 2050 compared with the level in 1990. This target seems more and more achievable since the US started working aggressively in this direction.

One of the main goals of the Swedish Presidency would be the preparation of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention in Copenhagen in December. The idea of this conference is to reach a global agreement which is to replace the Kyoto protocol because it is quite outdated and the US has never supported it which forced many other countries to reject its implementation. It looks as though now there is more political will for a reasonable but functioning agreement because countries with fast developing economies are now keen on to cooperate, like China.

Among the rest of Sweden's priorities will be, as could have been expected, the strategy for the Baltic Sea, the Stockholm programme which will make an analysis of what's achieved so far in the field of justice and home affairs, migration, Schengen etc, and will give new impetus. Last but not least is EU's position globally and among its neighbours. In other words Sweden will continue to develop the "Eastern Partnership" initiative but from the point of view of EU's global position.

And the last priority, set out in a separate chapter, has the provocative title "New Parliament, Commission and the Treaty of Lisbon", because, in fact, all above mentioned intentions are quite good but are put in total dependence of the will of Irish voters that in October will vote again on whether they support the Lisbon Treaty which gives new rights, much stronger, of the EP, the national parliaments, the Commission and the Presidency in general.