From 1 January 2010, Spain will take over the rotating presidency of the European Council for six months and be the first of a new ‘trio’ – comprising also Belgium and Hungary- to fully operate under the auspices of the Lisbon Treaty. It will face three main challenges: improving the single market with a special focus on small businesses, the intertwined environment and energy issues, and implementing the Lisbon Treaty while preparing the EU2020 Strategy. The latter is expected to bring a new emphasis on a more stable, low-carbon economy. This is good news but we all have to make sure that the new strategy has sharper and more realistic goals such as accrued and concrete support for entrepreneurs and innovation.

In its paper entitled “The 2010 Spanish Presidency of the EU: Priorities and Recommendations”, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) urges the Spanish Presidency to ‘think small first’ and place SMEs at the heart of economic considerations, recalling that it vital that no ‘knee-jerk’ legislation be brought in without full consultation and economic impact assessments. In this light, a reconsideration of the currently proposed exemption of accounting requirements for micro-entities should be a positive measure to take since the proposal is deeply misguided, ill-prepared, and worrisome, and may discourage the start-up of new businesses.

Spain will also be dealing with the aftermath of the December COP 15 Summit in Copenhagen, but it is crucial that a disappointing outcome from Copenhagen does not detract us from the following facts of life – the combination of energy dependency, climate change, and the real possibility that oil production is nearing its peak shall drive us towards a new and pluralistic future where energy needs will be met by a mix of renewable technologies, including carbon capture and clean coal, combined with a reduction in demand from individuals, households, corporations and the public sector, and an extensive retrofit of the existing built environment.

The forthcoming challenges are daunting, but they present an opportunity for Spain to leave its mark on a raft of issues and practices that have long-lasting ramifications for Europe.

Author :