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Sweden: the new EU Presidency

On July 1st, Sweden took over the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency from the Czech Republic. With the newly elected European Parliament due to begin its work imminently and a new Commission to be appointed, combined with a backdrop of Europe’s battle with economic recession and the EU’s uncertain institutional future, the Swedish motto of “taking on the challenge” could hardly be more apt.

In their six-month run, from July through December, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will focus on climate change, the financial crisis and EU institutional structure.

With the Copenhagen UN conference on climate change in December, one of the presidency’s key priorities is to push for a new global agreement. Sweden is not only pushing for more commitment from the EU in the climate talks, but is calling for more effort on the part of other large economies, such as the US. They also state that more support must be given to developing countries already affected by climate change, while encouraging them to take a development path - taking into consideration the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They also argue that the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which covers only 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, is not enough to address climate change rapidly and effectively. They call for CO2 taxation – something that Sweden have already embarked upon.

The ambition of the Presidency is to develop cooperation between their different policy areas of the economy and climate change, so that positive economic growth can be combined with reduced burden on the climate and environment. Whilst a run of EU presidency only lasts six months, this can be enough to set the agenda for change. We hope that the focus on climate change now, will help the EU push harder for a global agreement at Copenhagen and beyond.

Last updated on 10 June 2011

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