The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among the member states of the EU every six months (January-June, July-December). The country holding the Presidency of the Council is responsible for setting the agenda of the Council, chairing the Council Working Groups and all meetings that are not chaired by either the High Representative or the Presidency of the European Council.
The presidency is expected to accelerate legislative and political decisions and promote common solutions between all Members. The presidency is currently (as of July 2018) held by Austria.
The Austrian Presidency of the Council - July-December 2018
After 1998 and 2006, Austria holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time.
Major challenges for the Austrian Presidency are the negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU (Brexit) and the negotiations on the new Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020.
The Austrian Federal Government has drawn up a National Presidency Programme, which defines the priorities of the Austrian Presidency. In this programme, the Austrian Presidency declares its motto to be "A Europe that protects". In its role as a neutral broker, Austria is committed to upholding the goals, the unity and basic agreements between the Member States of the EU and the confidence of its citizens.
The three priority areas of the Austrian Presidency are:
- Security and the fight against illegal migration
- Securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalisation
- Stability in the European neighbourhood – EU perspective of the Western Balkans
For the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs priorities include:
- Digitalisation and completing the European Digital Single Market
- Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
- Pursuing the creation of a renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy
- The dual education system as best practice
18-month-programme of the Trio-Presidency Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria (July 2017-December 2018)
Austria is part of a Trio-Presidency that is made up of Estonia (July-December 2017), Bulgaria (January-July 2018) and Austria (July-December 2018). The 18-month-programme of the Trio-Presidency - the so called Trio Programme - has been approved at the General Affairs Council on the 20th June 2017 and has come into effect on 1st July 2017.
The Trio Programme, which is based on the Strategic Agenda for the Union in times of change from 2014, forms the strategic framework for the work of the three presidencies.
Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria will seek to ensure a safe and collaborative way forward for the EU. Communication with citizens must be improved and important societal topics such as employment, growth and security should be prioritised.
The Trio Programme is divided into the following five thematic areas:
- A Union for Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness
- А Union that Empowers and Protects All its Citizens
- Towards an Energy Union with a forward-looking Climate Policy
- A Union of Freedom, Security and Justice
- The Union as a Strong Global Actor
The work on the EU-Level is furthermore guided by the Annual Programme of the European Commission as well as the respective Presidency Programme.