"Pragmatic, dynamic and smooth running" were some of the words used by MEPs to describe Denmark's 6-month Presidency of the Council of Ministers in a debate on Tuesday morning. However, they also pointed to recent controversy over Schengen and criticised the Council's "foot-dragging" on finding solutions to the economic crisis and unemployment as well as member states' haggling over the seat of the patent court.
"Europe has been built through solid achievements", with "bricks made of solidarity - "some small, some enormous", said Danish Prime Minster Helle Thorning-Schmidt, listing the outgoing Presidency's achievements.
"Yours was a Presidency at work" said Commission President José Manuel Barroso, in a reference to its working title. He thanked the Presidency for its dynamism and the progress made, but also set out the Commission's reservations about the Council's handling of legislation on the EU patent and the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism.
Speaking for the EPP group, Krišjānis Kariņs praised the Presidency for looking beyond the crisis, saying "Denmark has focused on the most important problems but also tried to get to solutions for others", citing progress in energy policy.
Hannes Swoboda, for the S&D group, noted with irony how "wonderful" it was that the UK had now managed to ensure 3 seats for the patent court. He advised the Council "to do its own job" and not the work that should be done by the Parliament.
It would have been nice to have heard more about "the bricks of solidarity", said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE), reminding the outgoing Presidency that Parliament had called for a debt redemption pact. "Last week's Council meeting left much to be desired", he added.
"Let's call a spade a spade", said Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens/EFA), calling for more balanced accounts to enable the public to "understand what is going on".
For the ECR, Martin Callanan praised the Presidency's "efficiency" and "practicality". He congratulated the Danes on "burying the financial transaction tax", "refusing to reopen negotiations" on the maternity leave directive and pushing for budget restraint.
Søren Søndergaard (GUE/NGL) recalled the Prime Minister's previous emphasis on the need for growth and employment in both the short and long terms. "It has definitely not been achieved in the short run", he said calling the measures taken during the Presidency a "band aid on a compound fracture".
"No one has ever sold out so much and still dropped everything on the floor", said Morten Messerschmidt (EFD). "You have had 20 summits to save the euro, but all you saved was a poor tombstone for yourself".