The 1st of January has also ushered in the Spanish presidency of the EU and there was an impressive light show in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol to mark the moment. Much is riding on the six-month term only a month after the bloc’s controversial Lisbon Treaty took effect.
That aims to streamline decision-making but critics argue the new system is no less complex than the previous one.
They claim the EU’s new leadership structure with the recently created posts of President of the European Council and foreign policy supremo create too much scope for overlapping roles.
Despite that, Spain will chair important meetings on the economy, environment and energy as well as host certain summits. The government says smooth implementation of Lisbon and tackling Europe’s financial gloom are its top priorities.