Greece leading the EU this spring
Friday 4/11/14 time 12:22 PM
Greece took a hold of the rudder in the European Union in January when it took the Presidency of the EU Council.
With the Lisbon treaty the role of the Council presidency has been narrowed significantly. The EU Presidency still bears an important responsibility. The presidency's function is to determine the Council´s agendas during the upcoming half a year period. In addition, the Greek representatives chair meetings of the Council, suggest guidelines and compile the compromises which are pertinent for the proper functioning of the Council.
Finland was able to achieve a lot during its two EU presidencies. Without Finland we would not talk about Tampere Conclusion or Tampere headline goals. Perhaps the EU´s Northern Dimension would have never been revised without the efforts by the Finnish presidency. EU presidency still is a real showcase - especially for the smaller Member States and our new Eastern European members.
It remains to be seen if Greece will achieve something permanent during its presidency. On the other hand, many are hoping that Greece would leave no mark at all.
Aside the Greek presidency, even more worrisome talks in the corridors of Brussels are whispered on the upcoming European Parliament elections in May. Undoubtedly the Eurosceptic camp is feverishly planning its marching order all around Europe.
From this point of view the Greek EU presidency has been welcomed with trepidation. Greece has announced it will concentrate on growth, jobs for the youth, deepening the EU through EMU as well as enhancing the Union´s democratic legitimacy and accountability. Quite a list of tasks for one half a year period.
Greece´s own recovery can neither wait. The country must undergo heavy national reforms. One might predict a plethora of demonstrations this spring still to come on the Athen's Sintagma square.
Greece has a tough job ahead. Aside solving its national mess and being in the limelight during the EP elections, it will be affected by the instability in the neighbouring countries and the pressure from migration.
Greece is the bottleneck of both legal and illegal immigration to Europe. Should the already inefficiently run border control fail, the road to Europe without borders is open all the way to us in the North. Yet, so far there has been but a few who have willingly wanted to come up this far North.
Before the Parliament closes its doors in Easter, the still contested matters over the banking union must also be resolved and finalized. It now looks this will indeed be achieved.
Surely there must also be room in the Council agenda for the British second thoughts about opening the borders to workers from all EU countries, including those from Romania and Bulgaria. The much feared mass migration never came about - despite been widely browbeaten by British tabloids.
Political parties are just about ready with their scripts for the spring elections. It remains to be seen what kind of spectacle the Eurosceptics manage to offer. Urban legends about EU banning this or that, pointing fingers as well as catchy and snappy phrases should at least to be on their menu. Fact-based, critical yet appreciative debate is hard to sustain in the current political climate. Yet, it is the duty of our politicians to at least give it a try.
While the Greek presidency will be exceptionally eventful it will be considered a success should major scandals be avoided. Scentless, colourless and tasteless presidency - all in all invisible - would this time around be a victory for Europe.