Denmark, the EU-presidency and Korea
As a Danish member of the European Parliament the EU presidency of 2012 is going to be interesting to follow. There are issues where I expect much from the Danish government, areas where I hope that the member states of the European Union can be inspired by the Danish approach and finally there are the areas where I hope that things will be pushed for hard – but where I know that my expectations might not be fulfilled.
While this article goes to print, the priorities of the Presidency have not yet been published – at least not all of them. However there are certain issues that we know will be amongst them. Amongst these is a reform that, from my point of view, is going to be very important: The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. In many European countries, including the UK and Denmark, the need for a substantial reform is being increasingly debated – which is good. However it is clear that the member states of the EU are trying to pull it in different directions. Therefore it is a huge and difficult issue to deal with the CFP-reform. However as a country with a long tradition for fishing and fishing being an important part of the economy, Denmark can hopefully get the countries to agree more on the importance of the reform,. That this is not as easy as it might sound is underlined by the discussions already talking place on the issue; including what we have already seen in the European Parliament. Two of the many thorny subjects in this reform are the discussions of quotas as well as of a ban on discards; and maybe not only regarding discarding of the species from the quota-system but from all species that are being caught, intentionally or not. Coming from a fishing family and living by the coast in a area with many fishermen I understand the economic concerns of some – but I know that it is a question if we want to have enough fish in the future. I believe this is the line the incoming Danish presidency will take – but I do not expect it to be without battles.
As a vice-chair of the European Parliaments delegation for relations with the Korean-peninsula I have hopes when it comes to the issue of EU-Korea relations.
First of all I hope to see an increase in the exchange of green technology, an issue that have been raised when the President of Korea visited the country. There both governments agreed to form a green alliance. I have high expectations for this and expect the new Danish government to commit to it; and I also hope that the European Union as a whole can be inspired. With Denmark, a country with a large Green Energy-sector, in the presidency of the EU I expect that the issue of green technology is pushed for, not so much of the basis of ideology but on the basis of the market advantages it brings; something Denmark have good experiences with.
With the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Korea I foresee an increase in trade, as a great opportunity for both sides; especially if we can use the trade to strengthen the economies and at the same time reduce our reliance of imported fuels.
Furthermore it is my firm belief that the EU-Korea FTA was a good example of what we need: More free trade, something that in times of crisis is strongly needed.
Besides this I still dare to have the dream that the travelling circus of the European Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg will be raised and dealt with under the Danish presidency. The issue needs to be addressed – and since all Danish MEPs seem to be in favour of ending the sessions in Strasbourg, it would be logical if the Danish government was pressed to raise the issue. It is an issue that some say is small and insignificant – but it is costing the taxpayers a lot of money and it seems that the fear of a French veto keeps surprisingly many from speaking out against it. But it is an issue that for many have become symbolic of much of what is wrong with the EU today. For that reason we need to deal with it; because if we cannot deal with something that so many – both politicians and citizens – think is wrong, then how are we going to be able to deal with issues that are much more controversial?