EU-27 in 2010

EU Member States' busy schedule

A number of initiatives mark the European Union’s activity in 2010. The ordinary political and institutional activity is accompanied by new initiatives, commitments, opportunities and challenges which EU-27 is called to address as a whole.Enforcing the new Treaty. EU’s “new endeavors” are many, but before probing into them, we must refer once again to the Lisbon Treaty, the reform package that came into force on December 1st and is set to be implemented within the European integration framework. Regulations envisage various “changes of gear”, new portfolios and responsibilities. The treaty calls citizens into question, (with the right to petition for example) and national parliaments (tasked with giving the green light to EU regulations or raise objections on directives that do not comply with the subsidiarity principle); it grants greater powers to the Euro-Assembly, which takes on the full role of co-legislator in conjunction with the Council. However, the first and perhaps most difficult test is the coexistence of the ‘stable’ EU presidency (assigned to Herman Van Rompuy from Belgium), with the high representative for foreign affairs (Catherine Ashton from the UK), who will also act as Commission vice-chairperson, and the rotating presidency (Spain), due to coordinate the “thematic” Councils of ministers (agriculture, industry, research, education etc.).Barroso succeeds Barroso. The year 2010 will see the new Commission chaired once more by José Manuel Barroso from Portugal, whose composition was extensively modified. The Commissioners designated by the Member States are due to undergo hearings by European Parliament portfolio committees. The new College will take office in February, ensuing the EP plenary assembly of January 26. However nothing can be taken for granted. The curriculum of some of the personalities sent to Brussels by their home offices do not fully comply with the fields they have been designated to and not all Commissioners-designate were previously true supporters of the EU. As relates to the Commission, ensuing MEPs approval and the endorsement of the Council of the Heads of Government and State, it is due to address a number of serious issues: the implementation of the EU budget, definitively approved last month, and a series of measures put in stand-by Lisbon Treaty deadlines upon the end-of-term of the previous executive. Copenhagen, Stockholm, Lisbon… The EU will need to resume issues left hanging at the end of 2009: the reported failure of the Copenhagen Conference and the prospects of the international fight against climate change; the enforcement of internal financial control regulations and the “exit strategy” from the crisis, in view of the fact that the recession had serious consequences on the job market (unemployment rates are surging) and caused national budgets deficits across the EU. Thereafter, the “Stockholm program” regarding security, citizenship, freedom and migration and the revision of the Lisbon Strategy (knowledge-based competitive economy) are the major items on the agenda of the special summit due to take place February 11.The past months’ achievements. Almost reassuringly, given the complications that open up for the forthcoming future, the Commission published the traditional booklet with the EU’s achievements over the past year. Not by chance the booklet (for download in all languages go to http://ec.europa.eu/snapshot) is titled “Europe and You: a snapshot of EU achievements”. The document states that over the past months the EU “paved the way towards economic recovery”. “The EU and its member states have mobilized huge resources to put the economy back on its feet and to protect citizens”. Under the “EU’s economic recovery plan, about 5.5 % of GDP is being pumped into the economy from national and European budgets. The focus is on jobs, infrastructure and energy efficiency”. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provided new opportunities to people who lost their jobs, “interest rates were cut to record levels in the euro area” while the Commission “has tabled radical reforms to financial markets”. The list of “achievements” includes “Fighting hunger in the world’s poorest countries”, “Pooling resources to fight dementia” such as Alzheimer’s disease, “cheaper mobile communication charges”, “keeping online shopping hassle-free”, and coordinated response when natural disaster strikes. is titled “Europe and You: a snapshot of EU achievements”. The document states that over the past months the EU “paved the way towards economic recovery”. “The EU and its member states have mobilized huge resources to put the economy back on its feet and to protect citizens”. Under the “EU’s economic recovery plan, about 5.5 % of GDP is being pumped into the economy from national and European budgets. The focus is on jobs, infrastructure and energy efficiency”. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provided new opportunities to people who lost their jobs, “interest rates were cut to record levels in the euro area” while the Commission “has tabled radical reforms to financial markets”. The list of “achievements” includes “Fighting hunger in the world’s poorest countries”, “Pooling resources to fight dementia” such as Alzheimer’s disease, “cheaper mobile communication charges”, “keeping online shopping hassle-free”, and coordinated response when natural disaster strikes.

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