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Sweden hosts final summit of its EU presidency

December 10, 2009 - BRUSSELS

The final summit of Sweden's six-month presidency of the European Union could be a triumphal affair as the bloc has succeeded in securing its Lisbon Treaty and has elected a president and foreign minister to preside over the soon-to-be streamlined body. The EU gathering parallels part of the Copenhagen climate change conference. Recriminations are likely to flavor the EU summit if no agreement is found in Copenhagen.

The installation of an EU president and foreign minister was intended to give the bloc a stronger voice on the world stage, but the selection of low-key figures for the posts -- Van Rompuy, the prime minister of Belgium, and Catherine Ashton, a European commissioner for trade -- is seen as a retreat from the strong-EU presidency idea. The Lisbon Treaty streamlining of the bloc's operations was supposed to include replacing the 6-month rotating presidency system with the central presidency. It is looking as if both systems will operate and the Swedish December summit might not be the last under the old system. If the world leaders of 181 states at the Copenhagen summit fail to agree on a post-Kyoto Protocol global plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Sweden will regard it as a significant setback and severe blow to its prestige. One of its two stated priorities as EU president was to engineer a coherent negotiating position for the bloc, and to be a prime mover in the new deal. Its other stated priority of its presidency is ameliorating the economic crisis in EU countries. UPDATED Nov/09

Challenges loom for Sweden's EU presidency (NYT 30 Jun 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-12-10