Thursday, 12 January 2012

Work to do for the EU. The plans of the Danish Presidency for the first half of 2012

It’s the start of a new year, and with the beginning of 2012 we also enter into a new Presidency for the EU. For the next six months it is up to Denmark to set the course for European policies. Last Friday, 6 January, the Danish Presidency presented its plans for the first half of 2012 under the title ‘Europe at Work’.

What can we expect? Perhaps not surprisingly, the most urgent matters for EU policy relate to the ongoing crisis: ‘The paramount task will be to emerge safely from the current deep crisis in the EU, to ensure economic stability and to create the foundation for future growth and employment. At the same time, Europe must address new cross-border challenges relating to i.a. climate, energy, environment and security.’ (p. 4).

How to get there? The Danes will be working with Herman van Rompuy (permanent President of the European Council) and Catherine Ashton (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), and they also coordinate their actions with the previous Presidency of Poland and the upcoming Presidency of Cyprus in a so-called trio presidency. In that institutional context, the programme sets the following goals: ‘The Danish Presidency will work for a strong European economy, revitalized growth in the EU and for a stronger EU that effectively addresses the problems that occupy Europe’s citizens and enterprises on a daily basis. We will unite and strengthen the EU by delivering concrete results that demonstrate the value of European cooperation.’ (p. 4).

To achieve those results, the programme of the Danish Presidency focuses on four main areas:
- A responsible Europe: focus on the European economy, financial regulation and supervision;
- A dynamic Europe: focus on revitalizing the single market (including a digital single market), a competitive market for knowledge, sustainable growth and development, the future of the labour market, and trade policy;
- A green Europe: focus on a ‘greener’ Europe, with particular attention for energy and climate policy, agriculture and fisheries policies, and transport;
- A safe Europe: focus on safety in a broad range of aspects, e.g. cross-border crime, migration policy, food safety, and disaster response.

Not surprisingly, the word that appears to come up most often in the document is ‘cooperation’. Europe can’t do it alone. Internal cooperation as well as cooperation with neighbouring countries is vital for ensuring the future of the EU and the welfare of its citizens.

‘Europe at work’ indeed… For all consumer related issues, we will keep an eye on what is happening and keep you posted on this blog. Updates can also be found on the Danish Presidency’s own website: http://eu2012.dk/en.

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