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The Danes hold the EU Presidency until mid-2012

On 1 January 2012 Denmark took over from Poland the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU). The Polish Presidency was held at a time of serious economic and financial challenges; however, attention was paid during this period to the higher education agenda. Polish efforts to strengthen cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries, particularly with regard to mobility issues and broader access to programmes funded by the EU, were especially notable.

As for the Danes, this is the seventh time they take the helm of the Union since their accession in 1973, but their first time in this role since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which significantly changed the EU legislative process and the balance of power between EU institutions. The Danish minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, announced the official presidency programme on 6 January 2012 during a press conference in Copenhagen. The programme is governed by 4 core priorities:

  • a responsible Europe;
  • a dynamic Europe;
  • a green Europe; and  
  • a safe Europe.

The programme also outlines the priorities in the fields of education and research. While research objectives seem to enjoy slightly greater visibility within the programme, due to their innovation potential and perceived impact on economic growth, the presidency declares it will “work for placing greater focus on the correlation between research, innovation and education”. In the area of education, the presidency will strive to ensure more coherence between the Strategic Framework for Education and Training (ET2020) and the Europe 2020 strategy, and will put particular emphasis on strengthening the link between education and training and employment. As for research, efforts will focus on negotiating an amendment to the regulation on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and a proposal for the Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) to facilitate the future functioning of the EIT.

The presidency stresses more generally that the negotiations for the Multiannual Financial Framework will receive particular attention in the coming six months, being one of the biggest agenda items for the period. In this respect the presidency will work to ensure that the Erasmus for all proposal will “contribute to making EU programmes within the education, youth and sport sector more user-friendly for students, educational institutions and companies” and that the Horizon 2020 programme “provides researchers, knowledge institutions and companies with easier access to funding”.

The Danish Presidency will end on 1 July 2012, when the EU Presidency will be handed over to Cyprus, with whom Denmark already cooperates in the EU troika (together with Poland—the immediate past presidency holder).

Danish EU Presidency