Presidency half-time report
It’s halftime for the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. By the end of June, we will be handing over the baton to the Spanish colleagues. Perhaps it could be of interest to get an update on how things are going.
The Swedish Presidency has been dominated by support for Ukraine and continued pressure on Russia, climate and energy issues, and long-term EU competitiveness. These issues are likely to continue being high on the agenda.
Support for Ukraine
The Russian aggression on Ukraine continues and so does the unrelenting will of the EU and its member states to support Ukraine and to keep up pressure on Moscow. A few of the examples of how this has translated into EU policy are that the EU adopted its tenth sanctions package on Russia in February, that the EU Member States have agreed on deliveries of artillery shells and joint purchasing of ammunition and that our presidency has established a working group to investigate how frozen Russian assets can be used to finance the rebuilding of Ukraine.
Fit for 55 – Energy & Climate
On climate and energy issues one example, among others, is the preliminary agreement in March between the Presidency’s negotiators and the European Parliament on energy efficiency, sustainable maritime transport, and infrastructure for alternative fuels. These legislative proposals are part of the Fit for 55 package aimed at ensuring that the EU reduces emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030.
In March 23 EU’s heads of state and government agreed on conclusions that pave the way towards strengthening the EU’s competitiveness. This involves eliminating red tape for businesses, reducing the EU’s strategic dependencies, and increasing investments in research, development, and skills for the future. We will use our Presidency to advance the Council’s work on implementing the strategy. Strengthening the EU’s single market is central to these efforts.
The local Presidency
The issues that dominate the agenda in Brussels of course also come back in what we do locally in the Netherlands. The Dutch government has been tremendously forthcoming in accepting our invitations to dialogue with the EU ambassadors in the Hague. We have had the pleasure of hosting, among others, the ministers for defence, trade, finance, climate, and foreign affairs at the Swedish residence on Lange Voorhout. Plans for the coming months have also been made and we have confirmation from high-level guests that will guarantee continued close and interesting dialogue with our host Government. It goes to show that the Dutch government is keen on upholding a close EU dialogue on these important issues and we, at the embassy, are both genuinely happy with the response from the Dutch government and, admittedly, a bit proud!
Heading the EU group in the multilateral institutions
Our presidency work in the crucial multilateral institutions located in The Hague, the city of Peace and Justice, is also to a large degree influenced by the unlawful and unacceptable Russian aggression on Ukraine. The EU continues to support and demand accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine. The EU is steadfast in its support, financially, practically, and politically, to uphold the respect for international law and to ensure that there is accountability for war crimes.
The work of many multilateral organisations is deeply affected by the Russian aggression on Ukraine. This has been proven true also in the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, that has its HQ in the Hague. This spring an important Review Conference will be held and as part of our Presidency we are working hard to contribute to a good result.
For the Embassy in the Netherlands the Presidency is a big undertaking. Everyone is involved. Now we have come halfway, and we are on the finishing stretch. We will continue to work hard until we cross the finish line. After that some rest. It is not unlikely that we will look back and miss this time.
Photo credit: Embassy of Sweden