The start of the Swedish Presidency went well.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Prime Minister, seemed to feel comfortable when taking the stage at the international press conference today. Maybe he has some use of his years as an amateur theatre actor (I have been one myself, so this is not ironically meant).
What was said in the bilateral meetings between Swedish ministers and the Commissioners, I don´t know. There are still questions remaing regarding the planning of the Presidency – for example on the sustainable development strategy to be proposed by the Commission (a draft by the General Secretariat was heavily critized and the issue is now in the hands of the Barroso cabinet).
However, two public comments caught my attention today.
One was by Barroso on Swedish Radio. When asked about expectations for the climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Barroso replied:
“The ideal have to be binding agreement for developed countries in terms of emissions”.
He then went on talking about the responsibily also of developing countries and the need to agree on financing.
Barroso is right in pushing binding emission targets for developed countries. Without such a result in the 2020 time-frame, the Copenhagen meeting must be regarded a failure (since the Kyoto protocol already set targets for 2012). However, Fredrik Reinfeldt has said that such targets would be difficult to agree. This might become a contenious issue.
The second comment was by Reinfeldt at the press conference, answering a question from the news agency AP regarding Iran. The Swedish Prime Minister was extremely cautious to say anything in substance, and referred the issue to the foreign ministers.
Perhaps Reinfeldt is afraid to fall in the Czech trap of saying too much and be rebuked, but it should have been possible to make a stronger statement based on positions the EU has already taken.
The comment also shows that Carl Bildt is running the foreign policy agenda. Symbolically, he missed the group photo today, instead taking an important phone call.