Spain will hold the first rotating EU Council Presidency under Lisbon rules and will thus have to launch implementation of the new treaty and manage the transition process, which will not necessarily be an easy task. It will also try to secure swift ratification of a protocol on the additional 18 members of the European Parliament.


The Spanish Council presidency plans to speed up negotiations on application of certain treaty provisions, particularly the External Action Service that will assist the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton (UK). The European Council will have to adopt a decision on this subject, with the Commission's endorsement and in consultation with the European Parliament. The Council and Parliament have already tabled their positions, but, before starting the talks, the institutions are awaiting the high representative's formal proposal on the structure and organisation of the future service. The Presidency's aim is to conclude a final agreement in April.

Spain also wishes to launch the European citizens' initiative, another innovation of the Treaty of Lisbon. Under this new measure, one million citizens may request Commission proposals in a specific policy area. The executive kicked off a public consultation on 11 November since several questions still need to be answered, such as the minimum number of member states from which the citizens must come, the minimum number of signatures per member state and the minimum age for participation in the initiative. The European Council invited the Commission to present a proposal for a regulation "as soon as possible", with the aim of adopting it in the first half of 2010.

The Presidency will also tackle application of the solidarity clause', which obliges the Union and all member states to provide assistance to any country struck by a natural disaster or a terrorist attack and to defend the accession of the EU as an entity with legal personality to the European Convention on Human Rights.


Spain's Presidency will mark the transition to the Union's new institutional architecture. A running-in period will be inevitable. Certain questions on the division of competences still need to be addressed. For instance, the European Council will become a fully-fledged institution, with its own President. Belgian national Herman Van Rompuy will chair the summits of heads of state and government, a task that will therefore not fall...

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