12 additional members
and 8 years later - Sweden takes on EU Presidency secondtime
On July 1 Sweden took on the Presidency of the European Union. We will
face various challenges - internal and external. This is a
responsibility we will shoulder in the firm conviction that the EU also
provides the best platform for Sweden's foreign policy action. My
Government's objective is to conduct a professional and result-oriented
Presidency. Our aim is to be an honest broker among the interests of the
We have taken over the Presidency of a Union that has changed
significantly since 1995, when we joined, and 2001, when we last held
the Presidency. The enlargement from 15 to 27 Member States has helped
to consolidate freedom and democracy in Europe and to create stability
and prosperity for an increasing number of countries and peoples.
Today the EU has a population of close to half a billion. It is the
world's largest integrated economy, accounting for some 30 percent of
global production, and is the largest trading partner for more than 130
countries. The EU contributes around 60 percent of the total global
development assistance. The voice of Europe is gaining in strength and
What will be on our agenda? In addition to the "normal" business of a
Presidency, Sweden will face a Union characterised by institutional
challenges - a newly elected European Parliament, the transition to a
new Commission and - hopefully - the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty.
EU cooperation will continue to be essential in order to counter the
effects of the economic crisis. We believe it is important not to
respond to this crisis with protectionist measures. Sweden will continue
to underline the importance of free trade, greater openness and
increased economic cooperation.
The climate issue will be on top of the international agenda and must
not be sidelined by the economic crisis. On the contrary, we believe we
have a great deal to gain by investing in green technology. The
agreement of the EU on an ambitious climate package will lay a good
foundation for continued international climate efforts. Sweden's
objective is for the conference in Copenhagen to result in a
comprehensive global agreement with forceful measures to curb climate
change and to strengthen international cooperation.
The European Union's common security and defence policy
has been a success so far. Sweden has the ambition to further develop
the EU's policy in this field through stronger collaboration between
military operations and closer cooperation between the European
Union and the UN, NATO and OSCE.
Securing peace and stability in Europe has come a long way through the
gradual enlargement of the EU and the deepened cooperation. Enlargement
is still the European Union's primary instrument for creating security,
democracy and prosperity in Europe. Sweden will therefore seek to
promote progress in the ongoing accession negotiations and in achieving
a closer relationship between the EU and Western Balkan countries. The
road to EU membership will require major reform efforts by the
candidates. Keeping the door open to further enlargement will help these
countries to direct their political energies towards constructive,
forward-looking reform policies.
East of the EU we have a number of States, the stability of which, is of
paramount importance also to us. While the contacts and cooperation with
other neighbouring countries have developed positively, there has been a
lack of strategic concept for the six easterly neighbours Ukraine,
Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Eastern
Partnership, adopted by the European Council last March, should be seen
as an attempt to filling this gap in the external relations of the EU.
The Swedish Presidency will have the important task of initiating the
implementation of the Eastern Partnership.
Lastly - let me assure you that we are aware of the fact that our agenda
could very well be driven by unexpected events. We are trying to be
prepared also for this.