Data storage. Sweden was convicted in the European Court of Justice for not incorporating the EU’s data storage directive into Swedish legislation. The directive means that information about telephone calls, SMS, e-mail and Internet traffic must be stored with telephone and Internet operators. Information about eg from where and to whom a call was made should then be used in investigations of serious crimes. According to the schedule, the introduction into Swedish law should have been made by September 2007 (the parts on fixed and mobile telephony) and in March 2009 (the parts on the Internet). The case was taken to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission, which has the task of checking that EU legislation is being introduced in the Member States. Following the convict, Sweden was ordered to pay the costs of the Commission.
European Commission.The process of re-casting the European Commission began as early as 2009, when the five-year term of office of the Commission expired. The chairmanship became clear with the renewed confidence of Portuguese José Manuel Barroso for another five years. In January 2010, the remaining hearings were held in the European Parliament by 26 chopped Commissioners. The proposed commissioners were questioned in the committee dealing with the subject areas for which he or she would be responsible. The proposed Commissioner Rumjana Zheleva from Bulgaria was severely criticized at the hearing, which resulted in her withdrawing her candidacy. Bulgaria had to shake up a new candidate, who then coped with the interrogators’ grilling better. Cecilia Malmström from Sweden was approved when she answered questions in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. On 9 February, Parliament finally voted in favor of the entire new EU Commission. Thereafter, the Commission was formally appointed by the European Council.
The European Commission for 2010-14 has the following composition: José Manuel Barroso, from Portugal, President; Catherine Ashton, UK, Vice-President, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Viviane Reding, Luxembourg, Vice-President, is responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship; Joaquín Almunia, Spain, Vice President, is responsible for competition; Siim Kallas, Estonia, Vice President, responsible for transport; Neelie Kroes, The Netherlands, Vice President, is responsible for digital agenda; Antonio Tajani, Italy, Vice President, Responsible for Business and Enterprise; Maros Sefcovic, Slovakia, Vice President, is responsible for contacts between the institutions and administration; Janez Potocnik, Slovenia, is responsible for the environment; Olli Rehn, Finland, is responsible for financial and monetary issues; Andris Piebalgs, Latvia, is responsible for development assistance; Michel Barnier, France, is responsible for the internal market and services; Androulla Vassiliou, Cyprus, is responsible for education, culture, multilingualism and youth; Algirdas Semeta, Lithuania, is responsible for taxes and duties, auditing and combating fraud; Karel De Gucht, Belgium, is responsible for trade; John Dalli, Malta, responsible for health and consumer policy; Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Ireland, is responsible for research, innovation and science; Janusz Lewandowski, Poland, is responsible for financial planning and budget; Maria Damanaki, Greece, is responsible for maritime affairs and fishing; Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria, is responsible for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis management; Günther Oettinger, Germany, is responsible for energy; Johannes Hahn, Austria, responsible for regional policy; Connie Hedegaard, Denmark, is responsible for climate issues; Stefan Füle, Czech Republic, is responsible for enlargement and neighborhood policy; László Andor, Hungary, is responsible for employment, social policy and inclusion; Cecilia Malmström, Sweden, is responsible for domestic affairs; Dacian Ciolos, Romania, is responsible for agriculture and rural development.
Minister for European Affairs. People’s Party Birgitta Ohlsson was appointed in February as Sweden’s new EU minister after Cecilia Malmström, who during the year became EU Commissioner. Birgitta Ohlsson explained at the appointment that her heart issues are human rights, freedom and democracy. She gained renewed confidence following the autumn parliamentary elections when Fredrik Reinfeldt presented his new government.
Euro and economy.During the year, the economy in the EU was shaken by the fall of the euro against other currencies and large budget deficits in many of the member states. A particularly major economic crisis was discovered in Greece, with a budget deficit of almost 13 percent of GDP. For both its own population and other EU countries, Greece’s political leadership had withheld information that could have revealed the country’s poor economic situation. In May, eurozone countries made a decision on an international crisis package to Greece. The entire package meant that the euro area countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lend EUR 110 billion for three years. The condition of the loan is that Greece makes major cuts in government spending. Greece was criticized, among other things, for having too much bureaucracy and overly generous pension rules. Announced savings in the Greek economy led to several demonstrations,
In November, Ireland, which also suffered a financial crisis, was granted a three-year crisis package in the form of € 85 billion in loans. The package is jointly funded by the EU, the International Monetary Fund and Ireland (which itself contributes SEK 17.5 billion to support the banking sector). Ireland is committed to implementing a crisis budget that will manage the economy. The majority of EU funding comes from Eurogroup countries. But Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark, which are not part of the euro cooperation, also contribute loans.
According to Countryaah.com, several other EU countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Latvia were forced to review their finances during the year and cut government spending for the next few years.
At the EU summit in mid-December, EU heads of state and government decided to set up a permanent crisis fund for euro countries in economic crisis. The crisis fund replaces various temporary rescue packages, which in 2010 were set up for, among other things. Ireland and Greece. For Sweden and other countries that do not participate in the euro cooperation, it will be voluntary to contribute to the crisis fund. However, some processing remains before the crisis fund can become a reality (perhaps 2013). For example, an amendment must be made to the EU treaty. The European Commission and the European Parliament will also give their views on the matter, and then the amendment will be approved in all EU member states.
There were unusually tough negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in setting the EU budget for 2011. In November, negotiations broke down when several Member States could not accept the European Parliament’s demand for increased influence. Finally, in mid-December, Parliament adopted the 2011 budget of € 126.5 billion. This is an increase of 2.9 per cent compared to 2010 and corresponds to 1.01 per cent of the EU countries’ total GNI (gross national income). Just before Christmas, the Riksdag set Sweden’s EU fee for 2011 at SEK 30.6 billion. Sweden’s annual EU fees usually amount to SEK 25-30 billion, while the backflow in the form of EU support is approximately SEK 10-15 billion.
The euro crisis affected the Swedes’ attitude to the euro. An opinion poll by Statistics Sweden, Statistics Sweden, in June showed that the resistance to the euro as a currency had increased. Only 28 per cent of those surveyed stated that they would like to vote for the introduction of the euro in Sweden and 60 per cent stated that they would vote against a euro cooperation.
Euro-leaf. A new EU symbol, called the European leaf, began to apply from July 1, 2010. For pre-packaged, organic products made within the EU, mandatory labeling with the European leaf applies. However, the labeling is voluntary when it comes to importing products from other countries. It is permissible to supplement the EU marking with private, regional or national markings.
Film Award. The European Parliament’s annual film prize, Lux, went to the German film Die Fremde. It is directed by Feo Aladag and starred by Sibel Kekilli. The film highlights the problem of honor killings by depicting dramatic events in a Turkish family living in Germany. The European Parliament gives the winning film a grant worth 90,000 euros. The film can thus be subtitled in all official EU languages and adapted for visually or hearing impaired persons and distributed to all EU Member States.
Fishing. Surveys showed that the Baltic cod’s fish stocks had recovered and even increased, which became important when the EU in October set fishing quotas for 2011. The cod fishing quotas increased by 15 percent in the eastern Baltic and by 6 percent west of Bornholm. However, the quotas for salmon and herring in the Baltic Sea, for example, decreased, as the amount of these fish species decreased in recent years. The EU has negotiated with Norway when it comes to fishing in certain other waters. For cod fishing, a halving was agreed in the North Sea and the Skagerrak. The quota for herring in the North Sea was increased by just over 20 percent. In contrast, the quota for herring in the Skagerrak and Kattegatt decreased by just over 10 percent. Some of the herring that is fished in the area belong to the western Baltic Sea where the supply of this fish is poorer.
Agriculture. The European Commission demands that ten Member States, including Sweden, repay a total of just over EUR 265 million for incorrectly paid agricultural aid. The Commission considers that the established rules have not been complied with or that the control procedures have not been sufficient. A small part of the support money has also been paid out too late. To receive EU support, farmers must comply with environmental, plant protection, public health, animal health and animal welfare regulations. About 40% of the EU’s total budget goes to various agricultural support measures.
Climate and environment. Some environmental initiatives have had the intended effect. For example, since 1990, EU countries have increased the use of renewable energy sources as well as reduced total greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide. In some sectors, e.g. however, emissions have increased. Protected nature areas according to Natura 2000 (about 18 percent of the EU’s surface area) have contributed to the protection of threatened species and that green areas are preserved for leisure and recreation. At the same time, more intensive land use, overfishing, etc. have led to the EU not being able to achieve the goal of stopping the loss of biodiversity by 2010. These were some conclusions in the Environmental Report Environment in Europe – state and outlook (SOER 2010), which was presented in November. The environmental report is published every five years by the European Environment Agency (EEA). the state and prospects for the environment as well as possible action options. The report further states that the overall goal of limiting the temperature increase to 2 degrees worldwide will not be achieved. This is partly due to greenhouse gas emissions from other parts of the world.
Regarding the UN Climate Summit, COP16, in Cancun, Mexico, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek was positive about the successes achieved, but at the same time pointed out that the EU must push for a more ambitious agreement.
Meat glue. The meat paste product or not was discussed lively in the spring, not least among consumers. Meat paste consists of the enzyme thrombin and the protein fibrinogen, derived from beef or pig blood. It is used to join, “paste”, smaller pieces of meat into a larger piece of meat, which can then resemble, for example, a fillet or steak. In February, the European Commission approved the use of meat paste in food. In the European Parliament, however, a majority voted against the controversial proposal, thus banning meat paste within the EU. According to Parliament, there was a risk that the meat paste would be used to mislead consumers.
Citizens’ initiative. During the year, the European Parliament voted through a proposal for legislation on how to implement citizen initiatives in practice. The purpose of citizen initiatives is to increase the public’s ability to influence EU policy in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty. An EU citizen can call on the European Commission itself to submit a legislative proposal in an area where the EU has the right to legislate. Then it is necessary that the citizen first organizes a collection of one million signatures from at least seven member states. Signatures must be collected for a maximum of one year. Depending on the number of inhabitants, a minimum number of signatures is required in each country (13,500 from Sweden). It must also be possible to verify the authenticity of the signatures.
If the citizens’ initiative complies with the rules, the European Commission has three options: to investigate the issue further, to propose new EU laws or to do nothing at all if the proposal is not relevant. The Commission must openly explain how it arrived at the decision.
Trafficking in human beings. A new EU law against trafficking in human beings, adopted in December, provides better protection for victims and stricter penalties for people who engage in such activities. Hundreds of thousands of people are subjected every year to human trafficking to the EU or within the EU. The most common is prostitution (43%), with mainly women and children as victims. The second most common in human trafficking is that people are exploited in low-skilled work (32%). Trafficking in human beings includes sexual exploitation, forced labor, begging, organ trafficking, illegal adoption or forced marriage. EU countries have two years to incorporate the new EU law into national law.
Presidency. For the first six months of the year, Spain, with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was the EU’s Presidential country. Spain is the EU’s second largest country. Among the priority tasks of Spain were the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in December 2009. The new treaty means, among other things, that the six-year presidency should be exercised in close cooperation with the “EU President”, ie. The EU’s Permanent President, currently Herman Van Rompuy. The event is intended to strengthen the EU’s international role and create a united EU that speaks with one voice.
At the end of 2010, Belgium, with Prime Minister Yves Leterme, became the EU country of the presidency, while the country was in the midst of a government transformation. Belgium is one of the EU’s six founding countries, and the capital of Brussels houses most EU institutions. During the presidency, Belgium prioritized, among other things. issues related to the economic crisis, climate change, migration and asylum issues, and the establishment of the EU Foreign Office.
Pirate Hunting. Sweden’s largest combat ship HMS Carlskrona and crew participated in the EU operation Atalanta in the Indian Ocean and Aden Bay. The purpose was to combat piracy and to protect and escort transport with supplies to Somalia. HMS Carlskrona served from mid-April to mid-November as patrol and command vessels. Since 2008, EU pirate forces have escorted 165 vessels to Somalia. In 2010, the forces on site were able to interrupt about 115 cutting attempts. The important fairway in Adenviken is operated every year by 25,000 vessels.
Press subsidies. Sweden’s press support no longer contravenes EU state aid rules. That conclusion was reached by the European Commission in July.
The European Commission had launched a review of the Swedish press subsidy, which was considered to distort competition. The Riksdag then decided to introduce some adjustments, including of the support to the metropolitan newspapers Svenska Dagbladet and Skånska Dagbladet. For these newspapers, the maximum support was reduced from 60 million to 45 million per year. In addition, rules are introduced that newspapers that receive press support each year must submit a report to the Press Support Committee and the European Commission on how the money was used. The Swedish press support was added in 1971. The aim was to promote diversity in the media by providing financial support to the second newspaper (and smaller newspapers) in each city.
Sweden’s EU membership constitutional. According to parliamentary decisions in the spring and autumn respectively, it is stated in the Swedish constitution that the country is a member of the EU. This is done through an addition to the wording “Sweden is a member of the European Union” in the first chapter of the form of government. As it was about a change in the Constitution, two parliamentary decisions with elections were required, which was fulfilled in 2010.
Enlargement.Nine countries are queuing up to become members of the European Union. The candidate country Croatia is well on its way to becoming the EU’s 28th member. But first of all, Croatia needs to resolve the issue of its lack of cooperation with ICTY, the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Iceland, which started accession negotiations in the summer, is called for further progress in agriculture, rural development, fisheries, food security and veterinary issues. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been a candidate country for five years, but the dispute with Greece is an obstacle to opening membership negotiations. The candidate country Turkey did not come closer to membership during the year. In December, it was decided to include Montenegro as a candidate country. The status of potential candidate countries has Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina.