The Swedish Presidency of the EU in autumn 2009

From 1 July until 31 December 2009, Sweden held the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. Under Sweden's leadership, the EU was a strong actor both within and outside the EU. The Swedish Presidency focused, in particular, on our priority issues, while the EU agenda was moved forward in all the other areas and the Swedish Presidency represented the EU in relation to third countries.

The Presidency was characterised by two overriding issues:

  • the climate change challenge, and
  • the financial and economic crisis.

The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and related institutional issues also required major efforts. Moreover, the Stockholm Programme was adopted, the Baltic Sea Strategy was launched and the role of the EU as a global actor was strengthened.

What did the Government want to achieve during the Presidency?

The Government's ambition is for Sweden to be an active and driving force in the EU. The Presidency was a unique opportunity for Sweden to lead and influence the work on important EU issues.

The objectives were to:

  • conduct an effective, open and results-oriented Presidency in the interests of the whole of Europe,
  • advance the EU's common issues and Sweden's priority issues, and
  • strengthen Sweden's role in the EU, serve the EU's interests and strengthen the EU's role as a global actor.

Work programmes drawn up ahead of the Swedish Presidency

The work programme for the Swedish Presidency

The Government drew up its own six-month programme for the Swedish Presidency. The programme contained the Government's overall priorities for the Presidency and the priorities for each Council configuration. The two most important challenges for the Presidency concerned handling the climate change issue and the economic crisis. The EU Baltic Sea Strategy, the Stockholm Programme and the EU as a global actor were also important priorities. A further ambition was to get the Treaty of Lisbon in place, which proved to require a great deal of hard work.

Sweden's programme extended from 1 July to 31 December 2009. It is available in PDF under Download.

The 18-month programme

The beginning of 2007 saw the introduction of the 'Presidency Trio' - three consecutive Presidency countries working together. Sweden formed a trio with France and the Czech Republic. The Trio drew up a joint work programme for the 18-month period of July 2008-December 2009. It is available in PDF under Download.

The work of the Presidency

The task of the Presidency involves leading the work of the Council of Ministers and representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions (e.g. the European Parliament and the European Commission). The holder of the Presidency also has the important task of finding compromises that are acceptable to all countries. During its Presidency, Sweden also led the meetings of the European Council, i.e., summits with EU heads of state and government; in addition the Swedish Presidency represented the EU in relations with other countries and international institutions. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, these tasks have now been transferred from the Presidency to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, respectively. Mr Van Rompuy and Ms Ashton were elected at the summit on 19 November 2009.

Who chairs the meetings?

The meetings may be chaired by ministers, ambassadors or senior civil servants depending on the level at which the meeting takes place. In brief, under the Swedish Presidency, Sweden led the work in the Council of the European Union at minister level, at ambassador level in Coreper and at senior official level in some 160 Council working parties. In addition, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt chaired the European Council meetings - the EU summits.

Apart from chairing the meetings, the Presidency is responsible for drawing up the agendas for the meetings and for ensuring that the work moves forward so that decisions can be made. This means that much of the job entails finding compromises that enable joint decisions to be made.

The country holding the Presidency must be impartial. This means that it must not pursue its own national interests or actively take a stance on the positions of individual Member States. Instead, the task involves seeking common solutions and agreements, and pursuing the issues on the EU agenda.