On January 8, Spain formally assumed the rotating presidency of the European Unon for the next six months.
Taking over from Sweden, Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, is leading his country’s fourth such presidency of the bloc.
But this time, it is a journey into the unknown.
That is because a new institutional era has begun with the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty.
It has created the post of Permanent President of the European Council, a seat occupied by Belgium’s former Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and an EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton. Added to that are the existing European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso and the Rotating President, currently Zapatero.
So the head of Spain’s government will have to cooperate with the EU’s Permanent President Van Rompuy to guarantee an effective and friction-free governance of Europe. Van Rompuy has already asserted himself by ensuring he will chair all EU summits organised over the next six months.