EU presidency

By United Press International  |  Dec. 31, 2009 at 8:10 AM
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BRUSSELS, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The rotating presidency of the European Union switches from Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt to Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Reinfeldt, whose term ends Thursday, said his goals for the six-month term at the head of the EU were reached, including ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and climate change moves.

But Zapatero will have a different post to fill as the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty established the position of president of the European Council, a position given to Belgian Herman Van Rompuy as of Dec. 1. Since he and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will be involved in EU foreign policy, Spain is left to reshape the EU presidency.

Officials said Madrid can be expected to focus on economic issues over the next six months. This is especially hitting close to home for Spain, where unemployment is about 20 percent and nearly twice the figure of the overall EU.

In other high-profile diplomatic changes effective Friday, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria begin two-year terms on the U.N. Security Council; Canada heads up the Group of Eight; and South Korea will lead the Group of 20.

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