European Union: an optimistic and strong Polish presidency

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Poland took the presidency of the European Union for six months on July 1st, 2011. The country is working in a trio with her two successors, Denmark and Cyprus, and a common working plan has been established by this troïka[1]. Assuming the EU presidency for the first time since its accession in 2004, Poland is today one of the six economic leaders of the EU, and has resisted the current financial crisis better than most other countries. Long prepared and associated with an important communication operation, this presidency wants to be euro-optimistic, strong and ambitious, in the wake of a Hungarian presidency that obtained mixed results, and has been debilitated by heated debates about its interior policy (revision of the Constitution and restrictions on press freedom).
The priorities for the next six months are to foster economic growth in Europe and to save the euro-zone, even though Poland is not a member. As debates on the long term budget of the EU are starting, Poland ambitions to bring “solidarity” to her EU presidency, as suggested by the logo it chose in reference to the Solidarnosc movement[2]. One of the main issues of the “cohesion policy” is financial solidarity, and maintaining the cohesion and structural funds of which Poland is one of the main recipients.
Another major objective for the Poles is to pursue the enlargement process, in particular to finalise the membership treaty of Croatia, that could be ratified before the end of the year. Warsaw will also promote the entry of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Iceland, and will seek to move forward in the ongoing negotiation chapters with Turkey.
On Justice and Internal Affairs[3], the initial objective of the presidency is to implement effectively the Stockholm programme. Thus, activities will be engaged to protect EU citizens and facilitate their access to Justice. Started in July 2010, negotiations prior to adhesion of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights should resume.
Another priority of the presidency is the defense of the freedom of movement for people and goods, together with the improvement of the management of the Schengen zone, which should be a real challenge given the current tensions (recent re-establishment of frontiers between France and Italy, and Denmark and Germany).
Development of new tools in the Asylum and Migration policy is also a priority area, especially considering the crisis situations generated by the sudden massive inflow of migrants from Southern Mediterranean countries. The presidency aims at developing effective measures against illegal immigration, and a “sustainable” voluntary return policy that will respect fundamental rights. Improving mechanisms in the fight against organised crime and especially drug-related crimes is also a top priority of the Polish presidency.
Finally, regarding crime prevention, a notion that has yet to be included in general programmes related to Internal Affairs and Justice (although prevention is mentioned in matters of civil protection and radicalisation), it is to be noted that the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) will be chaired by Juliusz Galkowski, Chancellor (high civil servant) in charge of the anticorruption unit of the Polish Ministry of Interior. The EUCPN annual Best Practice Conference will be held in Warsaw in December 2011. The European Crime Prevention Award will be given[4] during this event.

[3] See : Programme of the Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union