Saturday, 26 December 2009

Spanish presidency of EU Council 2010

After Sweden’s six months chairing the Council of the European Union, summed up in a blog post yesterday, the start of the Spanish presidency is just a few days off.

Spain becomes the first member state to steer Council work under Lisbon Treaty rules for the duration, and it is the first in the presidency trio consisting of Spain, Belgium and Hungary, which will take the EU until the end of June 2011.

The Spanish presidency website was launched a while ago, with basic information in Spanish, English and French. It promises to present information in the regional languages Catalan, Galician and Basque, although these pages are still in Spanish at the moment.

The pages offer an eight page summary of the Spanish work programme, which mentions the following four priorities:

• The first and essential priority for the development of the others is the full and effective application of the Lisbon Treaty.
• The second is to guarantee the economic recovery of Europe through greater co-ordination of every member state and the approval of the European strategy for sustainable growth for 2020.
• The third is to reinforce the presence and influence of the European Union in the new world order.
• Finally, the fourth is to place European citizens at the centre of EU policy, with initiatives designed to develop their rights and freedoms.

The summary of the work programme is available in Spanish as well.

More detail is on offer in the [Draft] 18 month programme of the Council, prepared by the Spanish, Belgian and Hungarian presidencies (Council document 16771/09; 89 pages).

Two RSS feeds are promised: Eventos (Events) and Noticias (News).

The Swedish presidency achieved the highest standard among EU presidencies yet, but at this stage it is impossible to predict the quantity and quality of the Spanish communications effort, including the use of social media and interactive features.

Devil’s advocate

Open Europe has published a briefing: The EU in 2010 – what to expect from the Spanish EU Presidency (18 December 2009; 24 pages).

The EU in 2010, an 18 December 2009 post on the Open Europe blog makes the unsurprising observation that the Spanish government wants to use its Presidency to achieve greater political, social and integration in Europe – to work for a more ‘unified’ EU.

The self-evident position for every member state signed up to the Lisbon Treaty and previous treaties to see European integration as an ongoing work, is described by Open Europe as being “fundamentally at odds with British priorities in the EU in 2010”.

I do not know which British government (?) priorities Open Europe refers to, or if the lobby group just assumes the role to be the sole voice for UK interests.

Anti-integrationist in a union aiming at closer integration: Why be on the team, if you want to play against it, Open Europe?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Get to know the emerging EU blogosphere Margot Wallström wrote about, conveniently aggregated by multilingual, our common “village well” for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs.