27th Jun 2019

Sweden demands EU role for leaders of future presidency countries

  • "A positive role of engaging different players of Europe would be lost," warns Frederik Reinfeldt. (Photo: European Parliament)

Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt has said the EU should outline a list of co-chairing tasks for leaders of future presidency countries after the new post of EU president is established.

Speaking to journalists after his address to the European Parliament on Tuesday (19 February), the Mr Reinfeldt suggested that if there is no role for EU leaders in the future, it could have a negative impact on their engagement with the bloc's agenda.

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The Czech Republic and Sweden are the two countries which are due to chair the EU in 2009 - just as the new Lisbon treaty is supposed to come into force.

Under the new treaty, the bloc is to shift from a rotating six-month presidency to a mixed system of a permanent EU president coordinating top level debates at European level and ministerial sessions chaired by ministers from presidency countries.

But according to Mr Reinfeldt, the EU should first discuss how to balance the future division of powers between holders of the new presidency post and other institutions, as well as with the leaders of presidency countries.

Otherwise, said the centre-right leader, "a positive role of engaging different players of Europe [in EU-related activities] would be lost in that process."

At the moment, "there is no list of tasks for prime ministers of rotating presidency countries and we need a discussion on that matter," he noted, suggesting that the debate could take place in the second half of 2009, under his country's EU presidency.

Yes to Turkey, unlike France

Mr Reinfeldt's address to the EU assembly in Strasbourg followed a meeting between parliament President Hans Gert Poettering and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, with France taking on the EU presidency in July.

While both France and Sweden highlighted climate change and immigration-related issues as among their top EU presidency priorities, there were sharp differences on further EU enlargement.

France is one of the strongest opponents of Turkish EU membership, proposing instead a Mediterranean union of both EU and non-EU states.

Mr Reinfeldt, for his part, insisted that enlargement is "close to the hearts of the Swedish people," arguing it should not be marred by "critical voices" from some quarters.

"Without continuing enlargement, we would run the risk of instability on our own continent. Enlargement is the most important strategic instrument for disseminating the values that European cooperation is founded on," he said.

"We demolished one wall in Europe. We should not start building a new wall against Turkey or other European countries."

Some criticised the fact that different countries publicly hold very different positions on EU membership hopefuls.

"You should speak to your colleague Sarkozy about Turkey," said the leader of the Socialists, Martin Schulz.

"It can't go on like this, with different prime ministers sending different messages" to candidate countries, said the German MEP.

EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs

The EU parliament might allow an extra 24 hours for EU heads of government to first come up with the new EU leadership names. Meanwhile, EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber is meeting Angela Merkel and AKK in Berlin for backing.

Additional summit over top EU jobs looms

It's quicker to elect the pope than to agree on the new EU leadership, quipped the Irish prime minister at the start of the EU summit - which may end only with another summit soon to pick the top jobs.

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