Source: EU News, issue 5, July 2009.
On the 1st of July, the Czech Republic handed over the Presidency of the European Union to Sweden. In this time of crisis, the Swedish Presidency has nominated economy and climate change as its key priorities for the next six months.
With regards to development issues, the Swedish Presidency will focus on climate and democracy. It wants to bring on the one hand development and democracy-building and on the other hand development and climate change agendas closer together. For the latter, the Swedish Government will use the report of the International Commission on Climate Change and Development that was launched in May and will encourage actions towards climate proofing investments, increasing attention to adaptation and finding ways to better integrate climate change into development assistance. Furthermore, the Swedish Presidency emphasizes the importance of aid effectiveness and policy coherence for development. Sweden aims to prioritize the Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) agenda with the European Commission’s submission of its second EU biennial PCD report in October.
The Presidency will also call for an action-oriented response to the commitments made in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action.
Increased free trade continues to be a major priority under the Swedish Presidency. Trade negotiations are being prioritized, primarily a rapid conclusion of the Doha Round, but also progress in negotiations with regional groupings. The Presidency aims to work towards making substantial progress in the negotiation and conclusion of regional Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific countries and in the negotiations on a revised Cotonou-agreement.
It is the Swedish Presidency’s ambition to strengthen EU preparedness to deal with the unexpected and coordinate its actions in crisis situations, in particular in Africa. Therefore, it wants to use all of the EU’s instruments; from civilian and military crisis management operations to dialogue and diplomacy within the common foreign and security policy, and trade and development policy initiatives.
The Swedish Presidency aims to enhance the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) both with regard to the Eastern dimension through the Eastern Partnership, concerning Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus, and to the Mediterranean dimension, within the Union for the Mediterranean. Sweden will oversee the development of the new ENP Action Plans, with particular emphasis on policy reform, good governance and human rights. The work on enlargement will also continue under the Swedish Presidency, with the continuing of the accession process of the Western Balkan states and Turkey. Croatia’s negotiations with the EU could enter a final stage during the autumn. Moreover, the Presidency will work to make further progress in the EU integration process of the countries of the Western Balkans.
Regarding asylum and migration, the Presidency strives for common policies and systems, focusing on the common asylum system, and resettlement (see article on Stockholm Programme). The Swedish Presidency supports the Stockholm Programme, which should allow increased labour immigration to the EU, and the EU Global Approach to Migration, which Sweden considers as an important tool to strengthen the positive link between migration and development, and to counteract irregular immigration.
More at www.se2009.eu/en
CIDSE Presidency Outlook for Development available soon at www.wdev.eu and www.cidse.org
See also Euforic's newsfeed on the EU presidency