In spite of the EU's disappointment at the "disaster" of the Copenhagen conference, which the Union still sees as a "first step", it is as determined as ever to conclude (in 2010 if possible) a binding international climate agreement. It confirmed this ambition in the brief EU presidency conclusions(1) adopted by environment ministers, who met on 22 December 2009 in Brussels. "The EU must take the necessary measures to ensure that this objective is attained," said Council President and Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren after the meeting.

The Council invited the Commission to conduct a detailed analysis by mid-January 2010, when ministers will meet for an informal session in Seville, after which they will strive to define their strategy for the coming months. Drawing the conclusions from Copenhagen also means that the Union must recognise or, as Council President Carlgren put it, place itself in the geopolitical context. "It is obvious that the United States and China did not want to go beyond the result achieved." In this connection, more and more leaders are speaking up to say that the EU, a major economic player and one of the world's leading donors, (for example Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium), chair of the Liberal group in the European Parliament compares it to "the Switzerland of the world"), carries little weight on the international political stage.

The EU27 will therefore endeavour to restore a minimum level of credibility. They want the EU to continue being "the driver" in the negotiations. "In spite of our frustration," said Theresa Ribera, on behalf of the Spanish EU Council Presidency, "we are convinced of the EU's leadership in Copenhagen. [ ] The achievement of Copenhagen comes from the EU's proposal capacity and is inspired by its action. We have to continue our efforts and, on top of this determination to conclude an agreement, evaluate and adjust while taking account of the positive and/or negative value of what happened and of our behaviour." Ribera is not under any illusion though: while Spain will make every effort to "relaunch" the machine, it would be "unrealistic" to...

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