Spain first EU leader after Lisbon Treaty

Dec. 31, 2009 at 11:00 AM
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BRUSSELS, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Spain's assumption of the European Union's rotating presidency Friday is the first presidency under the EU's new legal framework in the Lisbon Treaty.

While creating a permanent president of the European Council, the recently enacted Lisbon Treaty retains the six-month rotation of the EU presidency, but at a less prominent level, the EUobserver reported Thursday.

Under the new governance system, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be responsible for the day-to-day operations, including overseeing most of the monthly ministerial meetings in Brussels, the EU headquarters. Belgian Herman Van Rompuy, the new EU president, will represent the organization at summits and will provide a political element at the regular meeting of EU leaders.

"My first objective during the six months is that there is institutional consolidation (and) clear visibility for the highest function that the Lisbon Treaty gives to the president of the European Council," Zapatero said.

A key issue facing Zapatero is the economic crisis, EUobserver said. The European Commission next year will offer a proposal for a 10-year financial strategy. Leaders said they hope to reach a preliminary agreement by the March meeting of European Union leaders.

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