Sweden's 2009 EU Presidency: possible policy priorities

11:30, 20 November 2008
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Enlargement, climate change, migration...

Sweden is likely to "spend most of its energy" on enlargement, climate change, migration and asylum and the Baltic Sea Strategy and the Eastern Partnership during its EU presidency in autumn 2009, argue Fredrik Langdal and Göran von Sydow of the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, according to EurActive.

Their October paper bases its predictions on "quite solid empirical material" in the form of ministerial speeches, interviews with senior officials and government positions for the Trio Presidency programme negotiations. It acknowledges, however, that only an informed guess can be made at this stage, as no official programme has been fixed.

One thing is certain: the Swedish Presidency will face a challenging period because the shorter autumn term and a new European Parliament and Commission will serve to slow decision-making down, the authors write. The uncertainty of another referendum in Ireland means Sweden must prepare to hold its presidency under either Nice or Lisbon Treaty rules, they add.

The paper states that a number of policy outcomes must be achieved in its priority areas for Sweden to declare its presidency a success. On climate change, the EU has to forge an ambitious common position, enabling the bloc to bring the US on board in negotiations over a more comprehensive successor to the Kyoto Protocol, it says.

Regarding migration and asylum, the authors stress that Sweden should lead successful negotiations for a successor to the Hague programme, "aptly labelled the Stockholm programme". They believe the Swedes would like to see a system of burden-sharing and mechanisms for coordinating national procedures under European Court of Justice case law.

Langdal and von Sydow believe Sweden will be keen to achieve a "substantial Baltic Sea Strategy and progress on the EU`s Eastern Partnership". Nevertheless, they acknowledge that it is much easier to launch such strategies than to deliver the desired outcomes, which require time and continuous political momentum to take effect and depend on the cooperation of other countries, such as Poland.

Concerning enlargement, the paper suggests that Sweden would like to finalise accession negotiations with Croatia and advance on Turkish membership, while ensuring that the door is not closed to Ukraine. It adds that Sweden will also have to oversee the progress on new European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans, "an integral part of the proposed Eastern Partnership".

The authors conclude that while Sweden will support the Czech Presidency in finalising the budget review next spring, the issue might end up on their agenda. Should this be the case, they argue that the Swedish government would probably seek to shift money away from the CAP and regional and cohesion funds to "better reflect what it labels new challenges, such as competitiveness in a globalised world, climate change and the effectiveness of the instruments of foreign and security policy".


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