Thursday 10 December 2009

Better information? European Council 11-12 December 2009

First I looked at the fate of the noble principles of openness and representative democracy, as well as for comprehensive pre-summit information on the agenda, ahead of the first European Council meeting under the Lisbon Treaty and the new Rules of Procedure.

Then I asked, if there is better public information available somewhere.

Starting from the viewpoint of an interested EU citizen, who cannot be expected to know if there are more or less final public documents available from previous stages, I limited my search to pre-meeting materials dedicated to the European Council 10 to 11 December 2009, when it has already started.

To facilitate matters, I decided to take a look at the Nordic member states, considered to be among the more open.


This time I found no additional information on the EU web page of the Swedish government, which holds the EU Council presidency.


There was one generic press release: EU Heads of State or Government to discuss Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (3 December 2009; available in Finnish, Swedish and English).

The bare bones provisional agenda dated 9 December 2009 had been posted.

The potentially interesting item was a one page paper with Finnish positions (perhaps speaking points):

10 December 2009


The Lisbon Treaty brings major changes for the European Council. This is a great opportunity for the Union. We should take full advantage of these reforms.

The European Council needs to have more political debates on the Union’s main challenges. Fewer items, but more time for real deliberations on strategic priorities and the direction of the Union. The European Council has to concentrate on the big picture.

During next year The European Council should debate major items like our economic competitiveness and the main priorities for the Union’s work. The members of the European Council need to have a good debate on major EU policies – like agriculture, cohesion policy, future financing – well before detailed negotiations on the next financial perspectives are launched. These are fundamental political issues.

A striking example - during the seven years I have been a member of the European Council, I can not remember one single comprehensive debate about agriculture, even though it is a major policy area.

This European Council is a first of its kind and at the same time the last meeting to be chaired by the rotating presidency. The Swedish Presidency has done a great work in managing this transition. Prime Minister Reinfeldt has been an excellent chairman.

The new president of the European Council will assume his chairmanship in a few weeks.
President Herman Van Rompuy visited Helsinki last week. His vision for the European Council is very promising and I want to give him my full support in his work as our new Chairman. The European Council has to assume the function it was originally created for: show political leadership for the Union.


Not everything is public yet, but the EU Committee (Europaudvalget EUU) of the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) has the best available information, and in good order on its page: Det Europæiske Råd 10-11/12-09.

The most interesting are the 13 pages of draft conclusions dated 4 December, but before the General Affairs Council, the Foreign Affairs Council and the Energy Council.

The latest drafts of the relevant substantive EU documents (annexes) are not presented on the web page.


As a newly hatched formal institution, the European Council continues in the footsteps of the Council, instead of heralding a new era in tune with the Lisbon Treaty and future challenges for Europe. It is opaque instead of open, a misfit of representative democracy instead of an encouraging example, distant from the citizens instead of close to them.

Ralf Grahn

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