The rotating presidency of the European Union has turned to from the Czech Republic to Sweden.
The occasion was marked with a gathering at the royal castle in Stockholm. The six-month shift will be a busy one, with much to do on both the European and global fronts. Domestically, there is a new European parliament to be sworn in and the Lisbon Treaty to deal with. As for international priorities, the Swedish prime minister identified two major issues: fighting both the economic crisis and climate change. “The challenges that the EU presidency faces, well there are a lot of them, and they are far from simple. Europe is currently in the most serious financial crisis of the modern times, and we are going to continue trying to manage the financial crisis and try to overcome unemployment which is effecting the whole of Europe. Our aim is to bring us out of the financial crisis and the main challenge of course of our generation is climate change. There is no time to be wasted there,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld as he accepted the presidency of the European Council on his country’s behalf. The Swedes have promised to get down to work straight away. Sweden’s own environmental record is among the best in the world but it now has to lead Europe’s bid to persuade other developed countries to follow its lead. The climax of these efforts will be the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Another key moment in this presidency comes in October, when Ireland is expected to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. If the Irish ratify, Sweden will set about implementing the treaty. That will include the introduction of a full-time European Council president, making Sweden the last country to hold the rotating presidency.