* Sweden says EU must do more on deficits, unemployment
* Priorities for EU presidency include financial regulation
* Climate change also at top of agenda
By Timothy Heritage
STOCKHOLM, June 30 The European Union must do
more to fight rising public debt and unemployment to ensure any
recovery from economic crisis is sustainable, Sweden said on
Tuesday before taking over the EU presidency.
Setting out the priorities for its six-month presidency
starting at midnight, the Swedish government said EU leaders
must also tighten supervision of the financial system and
convince voters they are up to the task of ending the crisis.
"The time for pushing for more stimulus packages is
exhausted. It's exit strategies we will ask for," Prime Minister
Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters.
He said further deficit increases risked creating new
imbalances in the European economy and called for coordinated
action by all 27 EU member states.
The European Commission, the EU executive, forecasts the EU
overall deficit will be 6 percent this year and 7.3 percent in
2010 unless policies are changed. It was 2.3 percent last year.
Reinfeldt and other ministers who met reporters to discuss
Sweden's presidency made clear action was needed to win back the
confidence of voters who showed their discontent in a record-low
turnout for this month's European Parliament election.
They said lasting solutions were needed as European leaders
try to avert more street protests over the economic crisis, in
which their action has been criticised as too little, too late.
"We've seen a significant increase of debt and unemployment.
We strongly believe we have to find a common approach to an exit
strategy. Our hope is we could formulate ... progress on
long-term sustainability." Finance Minister Anders Borg said.
"The European leaders must be able to meet their voters and
say we met the worst crisis in decades and were able to deal
with it," he said.
Borg and Reinfeldt gave few details of what the EU should do
to cut deficits and boost unemployment, which rose in April to
9.2 percent among the 16 countries that use the euro currency.
Both are areas in which national governments have a stronger
role to play than the EU leadership.
Borg said a starting point was the EU's Stability and Growth
Pact which limits public deficits to 3 percent of gross domestic
product. But, acknowledging it was hard to meet targets during
the crisis, he said: "It won't be easy to get agreement."
Borg and Reinfeldt also said a "stronger rule book" was
needed on supervision of the financial system.
EU leaders have already agreed they will seek tighter rules,
including the creation of pan-European standard-setting and
risk-monitoring bodies in 2010. Reinfeldt said these would be
worked on during the Swedish presidency. [ID:nLT699475]
Sweden's other priorities during the presidency, which it
takes over from the Czech Republic, include agreeing an EU
position for climate talks in Copenhagen in December at which a
new United Nations treaty on emissions is sought. [ID:nLO732689]
Sweden's presidency could also be dominated by an Irish
referendum on the Lisbon Treaty which is designed to streamline
decision-making in the EU now that it has 27 member states, and
give the bloc a bigger say in world affairs.
The treaty needs the approval of all member states to go
into force. Ireland has rejected the treaty once. [ID:nLT603894]
Poland and the Czech Republic are yet to complete approval.
Germany's highest court ruled on Tuesday the treaty was
compatible with national law but demanded changes to domestic
legislation before it can be formally ratified. [ID:nLU253850]