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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Gothenburg summit agenda
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, left, with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin last week
Sweden hopes the Gothenburg summit will press ahead on expansion
By Europe analyst Tamsin Smith

The final summit of Sweden's EU presidency in Gothenburg is expected to focus on the European Union's expansion which will bring the number of members up from 15 to 27 over the next decade.

Sweden has made enlargement its top priority and hopes that Gothenburg's message will be "full steam ahead".

This optimism may now be quashed by Ireland's rejection of the Nice Treaty in a referendum, and dealt a blow to Europe's enthusiasm for opening the door to central and eastern Europe.

The topics on the table at Gothenburg are:

EU-US relations

Europe's relations with the United States will feature.

A variety of contentious topics will be on the agenda:

  • European anger with the Bush administration's abandonment of the Kyoto agreement.
  • US plans for an anti-missile shield.
  • US-EU trade dispute.

The United States and Europe are, however, expected to agree on a first joint declaration on the Middle East conflict.

Enlargement

So far, no concrete entry dates have been set for enlargement and Sweden is determined to set a real timetable despite objections from some EU countries.

At Gothenburg, the EU will produce a report on the negotiations with applicant countries.

  • After weeks of disagreement, the EU has decided that workers from new countries will be barred from seeking jobs in current EU countries for up to seven years.
  • There will be a transition period of seven years before EU countries can buy farm land in new member countries.
  • EU leaders are likely to play down concerns from countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece that enlargement will mean they will get less financial aid for their poorer areas.

Environment

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom hopes the union's leaders will back radical plans unveiled by Commission President Romano Prodi last month to make the EU a world leader on "sustainable development".

European Commission President Romano Prodi
Prodi: EU must lead in sustainable development
Mr Prodi's proposals include:

  • EU-wide energy tax levels.
  • limits on dangerous chemicals.
  • measures to contain growth in road transport.

If backed by the leaders at Gothenburg, the strategy paper will form the basis for Europe's contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

But there are serious doubts as to whether EU leaders will endorse the Prodi paper.

Foreign affairs

The Swedes are to present a progress report on the EU's efforts to establish a common foreign and security policy that will outline the tricky relationship between the EU and Nato.

After failing to agree on how future EU crisis management operations will use Nato assets, EU leaders at Gothenburg are likely to agree that the EU rapid reaction force will follow Nato's rules to ensure compatibility and prevent duplicity.

The future shape of Europe

The Nice summit has presented the Swedish presidency and its Belgian successors the unenviable task of kicking off another round of EU institutional reforms.

The short-term goal is to be able to make a declaration on the future of the EU at the Belgian summit in December 2001.

EU leaders at Gothenburg are expected to examine ways to achieve this goal.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Europe
Bigger EU - smaller voice?
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