“On 1 July 2009, Sweden will take over the Presidency of the EU……for six months, Sweden will lead the EU’s work and be responsible for moving important EU issues forward….The Presidency is a unique opportunity for Sweden to lead and influence work on important EU issues. At the same time, the country holding the Presidency must be flexible and prepared to deal with unexpected issues.”
So says the Swedish Government. The key is in the last sentence. In current circumstances to say that this is rather an understatement is itself an understatement.
The Swedish Government is facing a hurricane of uncertainty – indeed several hurricanes. Mr Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister, and thus from tomorrow the leader of the Swedish Presidency, however appears calm. Indeed he is noted for his calmness. Perhaps has resolved that the Presidency motto should be “Keep Calm And Carry On.”
As the young and popular economist who three years ago was deemed ‘the most admired man in Sweden,’ Mr Reinfeldt may already have secured his place in EU history by being the last of the EU’s ‘rotating’ Presidents.
For if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified (which depends on the Irish voting ‘yes’ in their second opinion referendum on the matter in October, on the sceptical Presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic actually putting pen to paper and confirming what their Parliaments have approved and on the German constitutional court ruling that implementing Lisbon would actually be legal in Germany) a semi-permanent President will come into being who will in practice take over much of the responsibility for leading the Union in the eyes of the world.
Thus Mr Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, who is due to follow Mr Reinfeldt in January next year, may well find that he has to work behind a president imposed by the European Council over his head. He will be thus denied his chance to strut the European stage.