Wednesday 1 July 2009

The Swedish EU-Council presidency (1): It's a little like with Obama

Today, the Swedish take over the EU-Council presidency and you can feel relief all over the place.

After the presumptuous French presidency under Sarkozy and the [insert friendly but critical adjective that I don't find] Czech presidency, the Swedish taking over the lead among the EU member state is a bit like the change to Obama:

As a realist, I know that the change they can bring in practice is limited. But knowing that the spirit behind their actions is different to the previous presidencies, I have the hope that they will make a positive difference.

Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister confirmed in his blog that he will continue blogging during the presidency because he thinks this is part of the transparency promise on which they run. I love to follow Mårten Wierup on Twitter because he gives insights into the diplomatic work at the Council in Brussels.

Can you imagine any other EU country's officials doing this?

I am also the glad that it will be the Swedish who will be responsible of the Council when it comes to the Copenhagen climate conference at the end of this year.

These were the three issues that marked the hopes connected to Obama:
  • A new spirit compared to the previous presidency,
  • a call for more transparency, and
  • a clear stand on climate change.
Very important: These three points come together in a country that is small but important enough to make them felt realistic.

There is neither fear that they will dominate the Union for their own interests nor that they are not prepared enough to lead the bloc of the 27. They are the perfect broker, and I hope that they will manage to realise some things that will make them remembered in this way.

Whether the hopes will come true has to be seen at the end of the chapter - but at least the book starts extremely promising!