Saturday 14 January 2012

EU Council presidency of Denmark in the media 2/2

Jon Worth's earlier as well as his two latest blog posts (here and here) about his press trip to Denmark and the launch of the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union offer both his personal impressions and references to media. He has also actively taken part in the Twitter discussion under the hashtag #eu2012dk (although many tagged tweets seem to disappear into a black hole, here as elsewhere).

In the first part I limited my references to the blogs of Worth, the Copenhagen British Embassy and myself, but here I am going to widen the scope with regard to the Danish presidency.

EU Council presidency

Commission and official

Officially the presidency was kicked off by festivities in the host country, where the European Commission met the government in customary fashion to discuss the priorities for the next six months. Commission president José Manuel Barroso issued a press statement where he emphasised fiscal consolidation, growth reforms such as in the single market and the next long term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework).

Barroso did not volunteer a single word on the fascinating Danish paradox between four priorities and four opt-outs from the EU treaties (the paradox I discussed in a Finnish entry).

Those interested can see the press conference of prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barroso through the presidency pages, which offer the presidency programme in four languages (English here).

The home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström blogged briefly about her discussions in Copenhagen (in Swedish here and English translation here). She has just become active on Twitter: @MalmstromEU.

The European Parliament published short comments from the Danish MEPs Bendt Bendtsen (EPP),
Dan Jørgensen (S&D), Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE), Margrete Auken (Greens) and Anne Rosbach (ECR), as well as Morten Messerschmidt (EFD) who only answered the second question, about the greatest challenge for the EU as a whole and for the Danish presidency.

According to set patterns, the European Parliament is going to hear and debate the Danish priorities at the first 2012 plenary session in Strasbourg next week.

For people interested on what happens at Council level, the agenda shows the high level events during the next two weeks.

Presidency communication

The communication expert Michael Malherbe saw the invitation of the euroblogger Jon Worth to participate in the press tour as a step towards recognition of bloggers. He also discussed how Denmark profiled itself as a low-cost presidency and made interesting comparisons between how the new and seven previous Council presidencies positioned themselves.

A number of observers (I included) have remarked on the tap water presidency, where the government of Denmark created a symbol for both economic and ecological thinking by announcing that it would replace bottled water with tap water at the meetings it chairs. One of those to notice was EUobserver.

Georgi Gotev saw the less flamboyant and more frugal Danish style as a message to president Nicolas Sarkozy.


Here is an assortment of articles in EU media, including euroblogs.

Encarna Hernández, on Más Europa, emphasised the green agenda of the Danish presidency in a pedagocical blog post where she presented the essentials of the four priorities. She also discussed the Maastricht Treaty and the resulting Danish opt-outs (in Spanish).

Recent developments in European consumer law presented the Danish programme priorities.

Gli Euros (the Italian version of The Euros) saw the Danish programme as ambitious and farsighted, in the short article: Danesi in cattedra. discussed the background and the aims of the Danish presidency, but also mentioned Romanian interests and finally tried to assess the chances for a small country during the severe crisis (in Romanian).

The defence blog Bruxelles2 reported that Denmark intends to scrap its defence opt-out and to reduce its opt-out concerning justice and home affairs (JHA) to an opt-in. The other French defence blog EGEA took this as its starting point for a short discussion about Denmark in Europe.

Bruxelles2 has also discussed Denmark's desire to strengthen the international influence of the European Union in international affairs, as well as the loss of 27 consular service points managed by other EU countries (due to the security policies of the previous government).

Green hiccup

Quite a few observers noted the uncannily timed layoffs announced by the Danish wind power company Vestas during the launch of the green presidency.

The FT Brussels blog commented on an awkward start, EurActiv spoke of sidewinds blowing the Danish presidency off course and noted the disappearance of green jobs.


Hopefully these examples help to give you some indications of politics and policies during the Danish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

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