Energy and climate policy as top priority

The French Pres­i­den­cy has gen­er­al­ly received very pos­i­tive crit­ics in the Dan­ish media and has been praised for its solu­tions to the many unex­pect­ed crises the EU has been fac­ing: the Rus­sia-Geor­gia con­flict, the Irish ‘No’ and the finan­cial crisis.

The Dan­ish For­eign Min­is­ter, Per Stig Møller, has on sev­er­al occa­sions paid trib­ute to the French Pres­i­den­cy for its han­dling of the con­flict in Geor­gia and its abil­i­ty to dis­sem­i­nate between the two sides and put a hold to the fight­ing. Møller believes that the French Pres­i­den­cy secured a strong and cohe­sive EU.[1] The Dan­ish gov­ern­ment kept a low pro­file in the Euro­pean debates about the finan­cial cri­sis due to the Dan­ish EMU opt-out.[2] Coun­tries out­side the Euro­zone, except from the UK, were not invit­ed to the extra­or­di­nary sum­mit on 12 Octo­ber 2008 in Paris where the first guide­lines for a Euro­pean res­cue pack­age were nego­ti­at­ed togeth­er with the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and the Euro­pean Commission.[3] From a Dan­ish per­spec­tive, there is a wish for greater clar­i­ty and har­mo­niza­tion amongst the dif­fer­ent nation­al finan­cial regulators.[4] The Dan­ish Prime Min­is­ter, Anders Fogh Ras­mussen, there­fore showed great sat­is­fac­tion with the agen­da of reform­ing the glob­al finan­cial sys­tem agreed by the EU heads of state and gov­ern­ment pri­or to the G‑20 meet­ing in Washington.[5]

Since Den­mark is host­ing the Unit­ed Nations Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence “COP15” in Decem­ber 2009, an impor­tant mat­ter has been to con­vince Euro­pean lead­ers that a solu­tion to the finan­cial cri­sis must not pre­vent an ambi­tious cli­mate policy.[6] Get­ting an agree­ment on an ener­gy and cli­mate change pack­age was a top pri­or­i­ty for Den­mark dur­ing the French Pres­i­den­cy as an EU cli­mate deal would cre­ate the cru­cial basis for the fur­ther nego­ti­a­tions in Copen­hagen. The Dan­ish gov­ern­ment there­fore wel­comed the ener­gy and cli­mate pack­age after the Euro­pean Coun­cil in Decem­ber although many changes were made to the ini­tial Com­mis­sion pro­pos­al which Den­mark strong­ly sup­port­ed. Envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions in Den­mark strong­ly crit­i­cized the cli­mate change pack­age. The Dan­ish “World Wide Fund For Nature” (WWF) regards the deal as a sig­nif­i­cant fail­ure since strong con­ces­sions were made to the heavy indus­tries by allow­ing a major­i­ty of emis­sions reduc­tions to be off­set by pay­ing for projects out­side Europe rather than mak­ing cuts at home. Fur­ther­more, the Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of the Dan­ish WWF, Gitte See­berg, crit­i­cized the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment for not using its polit­i­cal pow­er momen­tum to tack­le the cli­mate prob­lems in a more ambi­tious way.[7]

Low expectations for the Czech Presidency

There are low expec­ta­tions in Den­mark for the Czech Pres­i­den­cy because of the unsta­ble Czech gov­ern­ment with a very tiny major­i­ty and the euroscep­ti­cal Pres­i­dent, Vaclav Klaus. Not much atten­tion has been giv­en to the main pri­or­i­ties of the pres­i­den­cy since the finan­cial cri­sis is con­sid­ered to over­shad­ow oth­er agendas.[8] Con­cerns have been raised about the Czech Presidency’s abil­i­ty to lead the nego­ti­a­tions with Ire­land on a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum since the Czechs have not them­selves rat­i­fied the Lis­bon Treaty. Fears of a lack of action and author­i­ty to deal with the finan­cial cri­sis have also been voiced.[9]

 

 

 

[1] Erhvervs­bladet: Kro­nik: Frankrig for bor­den­den, by Per Stig Møller, 12 Sep­tem­ber 2008.
[2] Berlingske: Fogh uden ind­fly­delse ved EU-top­mødet, 7 Novem­ber 2008
[3] Poli­tiken: Nyhed­s­analyse: Euroland træder i karak­ter- hvad gør Dan­mark?, 14 Octo­ber 2008.
[4] Jyl­lands-Posten: Enighed gør stærk, 7 Novem­ber 2008.
[5] Jyl­lands-Posten: EU-dra­ma før top­møde i Wash­ing­ton, 8 Novem­ber 2008.
[6] Berlingske Tidende: Euro-samar­be­jdet styr­ket efter finansind­greb, 15 Octo­ber 2008.
[7] WWF.dk: Kli­maet tabte slaget i EU, avail­able at: http://www.wwf.dk/dk/Menu/Nyheder/Klimaet+tabte+slaget+i+EU

(last access: 26 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] Jyl­lands-Posten: Ringe EU-tiltro til Tjekki­et, 31 Decem­ber 2008.
[9] Poli­tiken: Tjekkerne vil vise, at de nye små også kan styre, 28 Decem­ber 2008.