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Schadenfreude – Greek’s EU presidency: plus ça change

The reality of the six-month rotating EU presidency is that the incumbent member state delivers little except a change of language for its successor. Our secret columnist in Brussels Schadenfreude investigates

All European Union presidencies announce their priorities. There is rarely anything new and the subjects are usually self-selecting. Greece has one innovation but it needs further explanation.

It is no surprise that the top of the Greek wish list is growth, job creation and cohesion – the overworked words. Cohesion is a buzzword although growth and job creation are vital Greek national objectives.

The presidency wants to improve the EU-euro relationship, which could mean anything. However, it will face problems if the ideas involve new impositions on non-euro members. It plans to realise the banking union. This has been around for some time as a proposal without movement and, indeed, some setback from Germany – a country that can often find itself paying.

One new objective is the ‘social development of the European Monetary Union’, a concept this observer does not understand. The presidency also intends to secure recognition of the positive benefits of intra-EU migration, a generous task but one that will be hard going.

The innovation is the development of a EU maritime policy, not a matter of great interest to land-locked members but Greek ship owners might be looking for some advantage. The actual provision waits to be seen.

A notable omission from the list is mention of further enlargement. This will not please the list of applicants. Other the Greek priorities concern matters that every presidency has to tackle and bequeath to its successors. Another case of plus ça change, perhaps.

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