As Sweden assumes the presidency of the European Union today, it inherits financial crisis, a tenuous balance of power in the region, and major concerns over climate change policy leading up to Copenhagen’s summit this December. Not the easiest role to step into, something Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt admitted to the TT news agency when he commented, “Miracles are not on our agenda.”
In addition to the many issues facing the EU, Swedish ministers have expressed their desire to fast-track Iceland into EU membership. Sweden is regarded as “expansion friendly” by many other EU member states, an attitude that some eager non-member nations hope will aid their cause.
Topping Sweden’s list of priorities for its term is negotiating a global treaty dealing with climate change and dealing with the financial crisis, according to The Local. But many other European issues will remain in limbo until Ireland votes on the revised Lisbon treaty in October. A newly elected EU Parliament and an EU Commission on its way out will also slow down the initial pace of progress.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has commented that he feels the EU presidency will be “extremely trying” for his country but added that getting Iceland into the club is one of his missions. Unfortunately for the island nation, there’s a pervasive sense of “expansion fatigue” right now in the EU over the induction of new members. But Iceland can apparently speed up the process by not making too many exemption demands.