Sweden faces some daunting tasks as it assumes the EU’s six month rotating presidency.
The Nordic country of just nine million people – home to less than two per cent of the 27 nation group’s population – is hoping size doesn’t matter when it comes to a range of challenges. At the top of the agenda is the global economic downturn. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says the EU must continue with its recovery plan. An integral part of that will be tackling public debt and dealing with unemployment. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has impeccable credentials. A former prime minister, his government programme was one of liberalising and reforming the Swedish economy. The Swedish presidency will be tasked with bringing together a coherent position on climate change. EU leaders are committed to replacing the Kyoto protocol. Managing the downturn, financial regulation, EU enlargement and unexpected crises such as the gas transit debacle on Ukraine all remain to be dealt with. Sweden’s presidency will be dominated by an Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty due to be held in October. Another resounding NO would plunge Stockholm into damage limitation mode.