On 1 July 2018 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov officially handed over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
to Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. As holder of the Presidency, Austria will contribute significantly to the legislative and political work of the Council for the next 6 months.
As the last member of the current “trio presidency
” (Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria), Austria 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, 2019 budget, post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework
, EU enlargement, European neighbourhood and conclusion of the negotiations about the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit).
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).
During the Plenary session of the European Parliament held in Strasbourg on 3 July, Chancellor Kurz formally presented the key priorities of the Presidency and highlighted that the major mission will be “reducing tensions by bringing people together”, as Austria intends to be a “bridge builder”.
Mr Kurz informed the European Parliament that the Presidency will mainly focus on three key areas:
- Building a “Europe that protects” and making sure that all Europeans feel protected against all kinds of threats;
- Protecting European welfare systems by boosting competitiveness and making significant progress in the areas of automation and digitalization;
- Looking at what the EU can do outside its borders to ensure stability, peace, and security in neighbouring countries
Finally, Mr Kurz announced that the Austrian Presidency will also work towards the EU accession for the Western Balkan countries.
As far as the health sector is concerned, Vienna is going to focus on 3 dossiers: