Spain has been celebrating the formal inauguration of its six-month European Union presidency, in Madrid. This included a ceremonial handing over from Sweden, which was the last EU presiding member state to fulfill the role before the Lisbon Treaty reforms came into force. VIPs were then due to take in an evening of cultural delights at the Teatro Real, or Royal Theatre.
A joint press conference was held earlier. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has suggested binding goals under a vigorous strategy to boost the bloc’s economy, is working with the newly-appointed full-time European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
Zapatero said: “If we move forward in European economic unity, we will create prosperity, the horizon of all Europeans.”
Doubts have been raised over Spain’s credibility in leading the effort, given its own serious economic difficulties.
Yet Belgium’s former prime minister, Van Rompuy, also called for improved efficiency and discipline: “It must be a collective effort. I also want us to have a close look at a better correlation between our overall objectives and the use of the European Union instruments during the coming years. We need tighter governments and a better control of the process.”
In view of public perceptions that the EU works aloof from its citizens, the government of the Kingdom of Spain says it hopes to boost complicity between them and Europe.