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.