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Sweden assumes EU presidency

July 1, 2009 at 12:59 PM

BRUSSELS, July 1 (UPI) -- Sweden began its six-month presidency of the European Union Wednesday in the midst of a global economic crisis and difficult institutional problems.

Observers say it will take great diplomacy by the Swedes to keep member states focused on dealing with the issues of the day such as climate change and the global recession, the EUobserver reports.

At the top of the list is Ireland's October referendum on the Lisbon Treaty that opinion polls suggest will pass this time around.

In addition to known problems, observers point out most EU presidencies find themselves forced to deal with unplanned events such as the Russian-Georgian war last fall or the energy crisis at the beginning of this year.

"I recently read that we are about to face a water crisis too and I thought, why not -- let's add that one to the list as well," said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, a few weeks before beginning the job.

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