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Countdown

2009/12/14

The Swedish Presidency of the EU is rapidly approaching its end. We have worked intensively and made progress in a lot of important questions, but it is still to early to evaluate, sum up and relax. The climate negotiations is entering its final week in Copenhagen, with head of states and governments arriving at the end of the week.

The European Parliament is also meeting, for the last time this year. I am going there tomorrow for debates on transparency, the Middle East, Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus and others. Wednesday, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will arrive in the Parliament to sum up these six months.

And in Brussels, the Council for Agriculture and Fisheries as well as for Transport and Telecommunication will be meeting.

To conclude, we have an important week ahead of us, before we can start to think about Christmas celebrations…

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Jobs, crime and climate at European Council

2009/12/10

All 27 Heads of State and Government will gather tonight and tomorrow in Brussels for the European Council. Discussions on how to create conditions for new jobs in Europe will on top of the agenda. A new ”EU2020 strategy” is planned to follow on the Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth. Assisted by this strategy, Member States should be encouraged to green their economies, while focusing on sustainable public finances, a better business climate and a knowledge-based economy. The Commission is expected to table a proposal for the new strategy early 2010.

The Stockholm Programme – the new EU plan on Justice and Home Affairs – is to be formally adopted, and the summit will also serve as an opportunity to discuss the current status of the climate negotiations taking place in Copenhagen.

This will be the first EU summit under the Lisbon Treaty, and this involves a few changes. As from now on, the European Council is a formal EU institution of its own, and foreign ministers are no longer present at the summits. This will also be the last summit chaired by the rotating presidency. As from January, the European Council meetings will be chaired by the new permanent President, Herman van Rompuy.

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A Green light In Malmö

2009/12/09

At this moment I am on my way to Malmö to participate in the Green Light Days. This event, where green lamps will be lightning up the central parts of Malmö, is taking place on 8-9 December and is focusing on climate change.

The idea behind Green Light is to show that it matters how we act in our daily lives and how we act together if we are to put an end to climate change. The two days has been filled with cultural activities, exhibitions and seminars.

This evening, I will visit Meeting Place Malmö, where you can pick up ideas on how to live a more climate-friendly life or follow the discussions at the COP15 conference, which is held just across the bridge. The Green Light Days will end tonight with musical preformances and speeches at The Palladium in Malmö.

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Climate talks

2009/12/09

The climate conference in Copenhagen has started Negotiations will be going on this week and next in different formations in order to make progress in the different issues we strive to come to an agreement on, such as emission reductions and financing. Even though the positions of the important actors differ more than one would hope – we have not only different ambitions, but even different ways of calculating our ambitions – it is pleasing that more than one hundred heads of states and governments, including Barack Obama, has declared their intention to participate.

For my own part, I chaired my last General Affairs Council meeting on monday. We had extensive discussions on enlargement, and it is obvious that the EU can continue to help European integration. The discussions were long and difficult, especially on Turkey and on FYROM, but in the end we reached a conclusion in a positive spirit. The long discussions forced us to cancel the discussions I had planed on crises and disaster management. But we have also prepared for the European Council later this week, where the Stockholm Programme will be adopted and important issues such as the EU 2020 strategy for growth and jobs as well as exit strategies and financial regulation will be addressed in the light of the economic crisis.

We also talked about climate, as the European Council will review the EU position in the ongoing negotiations on its meeting. The EU has a strong, common position in the negotiations, were we are pushing for an agreement that would put the two degree target within reach. Hopefully we can also present a figure for the fast-start financing of climate adoptation the coming three years.

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Enlargement, disaster management and Santa Lucia buns

2009/12/07

Later today, I will be chairing the last meeting of the General Affairs Council during this presidency. As the Copenhagen climate summit has just started, today’s meeting will also serve as an opportunity for possible small adjustments to the Union’s mandate in the negotiations. Discussions on the conclusions for the European Council on 10-11 December will also be held. The European Council later this week is the point where the Presidency will be delivering on a number of the priorities set.

Enlargement is also on the agenda for the General Affairs Council, with a view to adopting conclusions. In the margins of the meeting, I will also host an informal discussion with colleagues on disaster management. The new Treaty contains a solidarity clause, which obliges Member States to assist each other in case of a disaster. However, if this is to work in practice, the Union will need a more effective and well-coordinated capacity to manage disasters. During today’s discussion – accompanied by Swedish Christmas ‘glögg’ and traditional Santa Lucia saffron buns – we will have a first exchange of views on how this capacity should be developed further.

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Three supervisory authorities for the Financial market

2009/12/03

The exit of the current crisis and the avoidance of future financial crises, together with the climate issue, was our presidency’s main priorities. Therefore, I am glad to hear that Finance Minister Anders Borg yesterday made Member States agree to establish three authorities for the surveillance of financial markets. One authority for banks, one for insurance and one for securities markets. Previously had ECOFIN agreed on a board to monitor the EU’s macroeconomic stability. Hopefully we have learned so much from this crisis that we do not need to experience an equally dramatic crisis in the future.

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A more effective and democratic Union

2009/12/01

Finally, it’s Lisbon Day. Just a few hours ago, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force. The process initiated by the European Council in December 2001 has now finally resulted in a clear and comprehensive set of rules, which will be governing the European Union for the foreseeable future.

I dare to say that the Lisbon Treaty is the result of the most transparent and democratic process in the Union’s history. Member State governments, national MP’s and the European Parliament were all part of the European Convention that tabled the proposal for the Constiutional Treaty back in 2003. Although the outline is different, the actual contents of the Lisbon Treaty is very similar to the Convention’s original draft.

With the Lisbon Treaty, the EU will be able to take a great leap forward. New provisions will pave the way for more effective and transparent decision-making, a more democratic Union, and a clear focus on citizens.

The discussions on how Europe should be governed has gone on for years. This debate has been important, but it has also prevented Europe from delivering on important policies. As from today, we will need commit all our efforts to take on the great challenges currently facing Europe. It’s climate change, it’s creating conditions for jobs and growth, it’s the fight against cross-border crime and it’s the challenge to turn the Union into a stronger global actor.