Interim PM Fischer’s performance calms nerves ahead of Swedish EU presidency
This Wednesday, Sweden takes over the EU presidency from the Czech Republic, and, as its slogan says, ‘takes on the challenge’. Like the Czechs, the Swedes want to use their presidency, which will run until the end of this year, to focus on the economy and the EU’s relations with its neighbours. As far as priorities are concerned, the Czechs and the Swedes may have been singing from the same hymn sheet, but can the handover itself be described as harmonious? I met Swedish Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Catherine von Heidenstam, to find out. My first question was whether the fall of the Czech government in March had complicated matters:
In the run up to the European Council’s summer summit, there was talk of postponing some important decisions because of the Czech caretaker government until the Swedish presidency in the second half of 2009. Has Sweden been left with more work to do because of the fall of the Czech government?
In what sort of state does Sweden inherit the European Union from the Czechs, in your view?
“You should always be ready for surprises, both the French and the Czechs had their surprises, what our surprises will be, we don’t know. There is of course talk of another energy crisis. But I think the Swedish government, as I said, realised from the beginning that this presidency will be very difficult and very complicated, and that’s because of the economic situation, it is because we don’t have the Lisbon treaty yet, and all of this is at a time when the EU institutions are not in place.”