June 15, 2009
Sweden ready for the unexpected
According to Anna Stellinger, director of the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (SIEPS), Sweden’s presidency comes at a particularly challenging time, with uncertainties ranging from the renewal of the EU institutions to treaty matters and the global economic crisis.
The main challenges include the transnational crisis that cross EU borders, including the effects of the economic crisis, pandemic influenza and mass migration. Institutional challenges are the newly elected parliament, the appointment of the new Commission and the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
The prioritised areas of the Swedish EU presidency are climate change, with the aim of contributing to a global post-Kyoto agreement, the Baltic Sea Strategy, the follow-up of the Lisbon Strategy, the Stockholm programme on asylum and immigration, and enlargement, on which Sweden is taking a very active and consistent pro-enlargement position.
Also the economic recession that has dominated the agenda in Europe in recent months is a defined priority of the Swedish presidency. There is a clear Swedish standpoint that protectionist measures in response to the economic crisis are counter-effective and that the EU can prosper only by strengthening the global competitiveness of the Union and investing in research, innovation, education and training systems.
The Swedish Presidency is expected to bring forward the discussions on the Lisbon Strategy, advocate liberalisation and less regulatory burdens for SMEs, and to follow up on the ongoing work on financial regulation initiated by the de Larosière report.
The Swedish government faces the uncertainty of having to lead the EU under a new treaty. However, Ms Stellinger asserts, the new balance to be found in EU leadership between the new High Representative, the president of the Council, the president of the Commission and the rotating Presidency depends not only on Sweden but also on the persons that will be appointed or elected.
The personalities holding these key positions will undeniably influence the equilibrium to be found in the years to come, long after the Swedish EU Presidency and the current Commission’s mandate, Ms Stellinger added.