1. Security (the fight against illegal immigration by securing external borders),
  2. Maintaining Europe’s competitiveness through digitization, and 
  3. Stability in Austria’s neighboring countries (working towards EU accession for Western Balkan countries).

On July 1, 2018, Austria takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time after 1998 and 2006. Austria is part of a trio presidency together with Estonia (Presidency in the second half of 2017) and Bulgaria (Presidency in the first half of 2018).

The most important points of the trio programme are:

  • Implementation of the European Agenda on Security and the European Agenda on Migration;
  • Fight against radicalisation and violent extremism;
  • Implementation of the EU Global Strategy;
  • Enlargement as regards the Western Balkans;
  • Cooperation with partners in the Mediterranean region in order to tackle root causes of flight and irregular migration;
  • Continuation and finalisation of Digital Single Market proposals;
  • Efficient taxation, fight against tax fraud; support for young people (education and training);
  • Further implementation of the United Nations “Agenda 2030” for sustainable development;
  • Investment in growth and jobs, including research and innovation;
  • Fight against poverty and social exclusion; $
  • Continuation of the work on a sustainable, resilient and effective energy union;
  • Implementation of the Paris climate agreement and the EU’s 2030 targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Austrian Presidency of the Council in the second half of 2018 will have to work on a large number of complex and challenging dossiers, e.g. internal and external security, protection of external borders, reform of the Common European Asylum System, Digital Single Market, Energy Union, budget 2019, Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020, EU enlargement, European neighbourhood and conclusion of the negotiations about the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit).

Another important aspect for the work of the Austrian Presidency concerns the elections to the European Parliament in spring 2019. As the Parliament’s legislative period is coming to a close, it will be crucial to prepare the finalisation or reach agreements on as many open legislative proposals as possible. Thus, one of the main tasks of the Austrian Presidency will be to reach common positions of the Council on individual proposals. These common Council positions are a precondition for negotiations with the European Parliament. These negotiations, also known as “trilogues”, are usually very intensive and present a particular challenge for the Presidency.

After Austria, the next trio presidency will take over: Romania (first half of 2019), Finland (second half of 2019) and Croatia (first half of 2020).

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