A Swedish vision for Europe

Thank you very much for inviting me to the Scandinavian Cultural week here at College of Europe.

Plusieurs de mes amis, collègues et collaborateurs ont etudié ici, et je suis bien consciente de la qualité de l'éducation donnée par cette institution. Ici se forme des européens, avec beaucoup de connaissance, capacité d'analyse et avec une curiosité d'apprendre, comprendre et contribuer au procès quotidien qui est l'intégration européenne.

Je n'ai pas eu l'occasion d'étudier ici moi-même, mais je me considère néanmoins comme européenne aussi. J'ai grandi en France, travaillé en Espagne et Allemagne et j'ai passé toute ma vie d'adulte dans les matières européennes, d'abord comme chercheur et professeur en politique européenne à l'Université de Göteborg. Ensuite comme deputée européenne pendant sept ans et depuis 2006 dans ma capacité de Ministre des Affaires Européennes au sein du gouvernement suédois.

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I have been invited here today to speak on the following topic: A Swedish vision for Europe. I will do so by relating it to our presidency priorities.

So, what is this vision all about?

Well, it is a vision from a government whose main aim is to lead Sweden to the core of Europe.

I am proud to say that we have gone from a Member State quite sceptical towards Europe, to a constructive partner, embracing the European Union, its values and possibilities. Our citizens have followed suite, polls unanimously confirm that we have the strongest support for the European Union ever in my country.

The government and the citizens seem to agree: We want to see a Europe that is eco-friendly, enables economic growth and increasing welfare, that is secure and open, and that takes an important role in world politics promoting democracy, peace and stability. We want Europe to be democratic and make sure that it enjoys the trust of its citizens.

On 1 July, Sweden will be in the driving seat of the EU, as we take over the presidency. This is a unique opportunity to move processes forward and to facilitate decision-making in the important areas mentioned above.

But first, let me start by pointing to the particular circumstances surrounding our presidency. On the 7th of June there will be elections to the European parliament. Furthermore a new commission will be installed during the fall. That means that Sweden takes the wheel of the EU with a brand new parliament and a commission that has to be approved by the same parliament. This we must take into consideration when planning.

Secondly, we have to consider the complex process of the Lisbon treaty. Apart from some uncertainty in the Czech Republic, Ireland is the only country remaining to ratify the Treaty. There are still huge question marks surrounding this process that we have to consider. I surely hope that the Lisbon Treaty will enter into force. It is a Treaty that we badly need as it will make the European Union work in a way that is more transparent, democratic and effective.

Extensive work is now underway to prepare ourselves for the issues to be dealt with during our presidency. But sometimes things turn out like the John Lennon song "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans". Planning is important, but things seldom turn out the way you intended. That means that we also have to expect the unexpected and plan for the unplanned.

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The theme of this Scandinavian Cultural week is sustainable development.

Already in 1987 the Brundtland Report, also known as Our Common Future, alerted the world to the urgency of making progress toward economic development that could be sustained without depleting natural resources or harming the environment. The report provided a key statement on sustainable development, defining it as: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Tackling climate change is indeed the biggest task facing the world right now. It requires global solutions in which the EU must be on the offensive to reach agreements that will match the high expectations that exist in many countries.

If we continue like before, by 2030 world energy demand will be 50 per cent higher than today and global carbon dioxide emissions will have increased by nearly 60 per cent. We can already now witness dramatic facts:

- Climate change could further reduce available freshwater by as much as 20 to 30 per cent in certain regions.

- The UN predicts there could be approximately 50 million "environmental" migrants by 2020.

- Sea level rise may threaten the habitat of millions of people.

On this negative note, let me underline that climate change is not only a threat. It also brings opportunities. Time has come to seize these opportunities, since the opportunities both helps altering climate change and at the same time improving European competitiveness.

By being at the forefront, Europe can not only tackle the threat but also become a leader in developing the technology needed. Concerted action could offer new business opportunities, jobs and a vast export market.

Globally, the overall value of the low carbon energy sector could be high, and according to a Commission estimation employ more than 25 million people. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is worth 20 billion euros a year today and it could be worth twenty times that in 2030. A climate-friendly economy needs structural change but it is clear that we have enormous gains to make. Furthermore, it could make Europe more secure from possible supply problems.

This is the background to the first set of Swedish priorities - to halt climate change and improve the environment.

We are going to play a crucial role in ensuring that the EU delivers on important issues relating to climate, environment and energy.

Most important is of course to contribute to a global post-Kyoto agreement at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December. The climate package agreement by the European Council last December was an important first step. Now we must make sure that we get the rest of the world onboard. That will not be easy.

We will work to exploit the full potential of environmental technology and continue to work on market-based instruments, including the energy taxation directive, in order to achieve climate and environmental goals in a cost-efficient way.

We will look at several policy areas adaption to climate change in order to work to adapt an action plan. We will give priority to elaborating development policy and programmes that take into account the needs for adaptation to climate change in developing countries. We will work to foster trade and a well-functioning global market for climate-friendly goods, services and technologies.

We will press ahead with the transport dossiers the green house gas emissions from cars.

Last but not least, we will adopt a Baltic Sea Strategy. Almost a quarter of EU citizens - about 100 million people - are affected by the sensitive environment of the Baltic Sea. This requires a concerted European effort. A Baltic Sea Strategy will address regional challenges, mainly to the environment and to competitiveness in the Baltic Sea, through EU policies.

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The world is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the 1930's. Despite this Europe has proven to stand strong and unified, acting decisively to the current acute situation. It inspires me with hope in a time of uncertainty and economic unrest.

The second set of priorities is related to jobs. growth and competetiveness..

I'm convinced that our economic development and future prosperity in Europe will depend on how we together can shape better conditions to respond successfully to opportunities and challenges in a world of new markets and new competitors. If the EU makes the right economic reforms now, it can secure a prosperous, fair and environmentally sustainable future for Europe. It can ensure that our economies are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation.

To ensure this we need open markets. We need markets allowing money and people to move from declining into growing industries. We need to devote resources to research, innovation, better education and training systems. We need an open global trading system.

Protectionism cannot make Europe wealthier. We will gain nothing by trying to keep our doors shut, and we will gain nothing from trying to isolate our economies from globalisation.

We must take measures to strengthen the global competitiveness of the EU in a world with new markets and new competitors.

To my mind we need a strategy with a stronger focus on how to strengthen Europe's competitiveness globally, while transforming Europe into an eco-efficient economy as well as coping with an ageing population.

All of these three challenges call for a strategic, ambitious and well-coordinated policy for research and innovation in Europe. During the Swedish presidency we will lay the foundations for a renewed strategy for growth, post Lisbon. The focus will be on the main challenges of the 2010 and 20's.

We will press forward with work to further develop and deepen the internal market and further exploiting the services sector's growth potential. We will work to further reduce the administrative burden and work for better regulation.

We will put the job creation high on the EU agenda and intensify the discussion on the reforms needed - both on national and EU level - to overcome labour market exclusion and increase participation and labour supply in a time of aging population.

- We will work to adapt the EU budget to new demands and priorities, better reflecting today's objectives of the Union and the true European added value of common action. Comprehensive reforms and re-prioritisation of expenditures are needed, on the basis of the principles subsidiarity, proportionality and sound financial management.

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The third challenge concerns the mobility of people.

A challenge we have to face in a longer term is how we can ensure greater mobility of people on equal conditions.

Mobility of people from countries outside the EU, has by some been seen as a threat to European security. Our efforts have been focused primarily on the fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration. This is of course important, but time has come to also look at mobility as an opportunity and find ways to guarantee the individual legal rights. We must avoid building closed walls along the borders of Europe.

Europe is absorbing approximately 2 million migrants a year. The UN estimates that the number of migrants worldwide will increase by 40 per cent over the next 40 years.

This is good news since we have an interest in increasing mobility. One of the EU's core problems is a decreasing productivity. Europe also has an ageing population and will therefore soon face a declining working force. Fewer people in the work force will have to support a growing number of elderly people dependable on the social services.

We need more people working. Despite this, some Member States perceive migration as a problem rather than an opportunity. Increased mobility and migration puts new demands on harmonized legislation.

This is the background to the third set of Swedish priorities for the 18-month presidency period - to make Europe more open and more secure:

We will work to adopt a new five-year programme in the area of justice and home affairs, the so-called Stockholm programme. This programme will be broad and forward-looking and include a balance between coercive and legal rights measures.

We will develop a common migration policy based on an effective, coordinated and balanced approach. We will strive to improve policy coherence between migration and development.

We will do our utmost to create a Common European Asylum System and to harmonise the area further to maintain long-term sustainability of our asylum systems.

The fight against cross-border crime must also continue. Sweden will put extra emphasize on the fight of trafficking in human beings and illicit drugs. The police authorities must be given better tools, for example though better exchange of information.

In the fight against crime, we must have a clear citizens' perspective and to strengthen the individual's legal rights in criminal proceedings.

The fourth and "last" challenge - the world order, the EU as a strong global actor and continued enlargement.

I would argue that the 5th enlargement of the EU has been one of the most significant achievements of European integration. It has confirmed the success of the European model of cooperation and it has generally contributed to the peaceful transformation in the ten latest Member States.

Therefore, Sweden has a strong interest in the membership of Turkey, as should the EU as a whole. It would be the culmination of a long process of European modernisation for the country, including a deepening of the democratic system and full respect for human rights. Turkish membership would also improve prospects for stability in the entire region.

Moreover, enlargement contributes to economic dynamism, demographic vigour and cultural diversity to Europe. This is why we need to keep our doors open to all European countries interested in membership and with an aim to meet the all the necessary criteria.
That is especially important for the Balkan region. We support the European ambitions Bosnia, Serbia, lanai and Montenegro.
As a Swede, I would also welcome an application from Iceland.

If we get the Lisbon treaty into place we will have fantastic possibilities, through the European External Action Service to be present in the world. We can thereby have a more European view on conflicts and coordinate our action. .

We will also put priority to the development of European crisis management. Personally I believe that we should be active in getting the Commission to become more coherent, and this requires new thinking. When a new Commission is appointed in the autumn, I believe that a special Commissioner in charge of crisis management should be made part of the college. In this way, we will have fewer narrowly sectorised decisions.

We will initiate a broad discussion about the further development of Europe's common security strategy.

We will help the state-building process in Kosovo and we will continue to work to settle the conflicts in the Middle East
Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je sais pertinemment que les questions européennes engagent déjà beaucoup d'Européens. J'ai, au cours de plus de deux ans qui viennent de s'écouler, parcouru notre pays en tous sens et ai rencontré des Suédois dans de multiples circonstances.

J'ai pu remarquer, en bien des endroits, que les questions européennes et l'impact qu'a l'Union sur notre vie quotidienne intéressent les gens au plus haut point. Il s'agit de canaliser cet intérêt. L'objet des débats et rencontres citoyens est d'être à l'écoute des points de vue exprimés et d'engager la société civile par tous les moyens possibles.

Je crois qu'une Présidence ne doit pas avoir pour seule ambition de faire progresser l'agenda communautaire. Elle est aussi l'occasion idéale de montrer comment ce qui se passe dans la plus excentrée des communes du pays, dans les régions et dans l'Union font un tout indissociable.

Il faut montrer quels effets ont sur les citoyens les décisions prises au sein de l'Union, particulièrement cruciale si l'on aspire à légitimer l'Union aux yeux des citoyens européens, à mieux visibiliser les liens existant entre niveaux local, régional, national et européen. Ce qu'il nous faut faire, c'est mettre en évidence qu'il n'y a pas « eux à Bruxelles » et « nous en Suède ou en France », mais nous, tous ensemble en Europe.

Mesdames et messieurs,

Comme vous le voyez, il ne nous manque pas de défis pour le futur, pour contribuer à une Europe qui est d'avantage au service de ses citoyens. Une Europe qui prend sa place dans le monde et qui fait tout pour ressoudre les problèmes que nous avons en commun.

Il faut être réaliste, mais je vous promets que la Suède, avec les autres pays et institutions européennes, fera tout possible pour contribuer à faire avancer l'Europe. Durant notre présidence et après.

Merci pour votre attention.