Austria begins Presidency of the Council of the European Union
The Council is the main decision-making body of the European Union (EU), and its presidency rotates every 6 months.
On 1 July 2018, Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time after 1998 and 2006. The motto of the Austrian Presidency is “A Europe that protects”.
Austria will hold the Presidency from July to December 2018. This comes at the end of the trio presidency composed of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria, based on the European Council’s “Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change” of June 2014.
The Austrian Presidency will have to deal with the key negotiations regarding the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU (Brexit) and the Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020.
During the next 6 months, the Presidency will focus on security and the fight against illegal migration; securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalization; and building stability in the European neighbourhood while developing the EU perspective of the western Balkans/south-eastern Europe.
In relation to health, the Austrian Presidency will prioritize the health technology assessment proposal; prepare and present the common EU position for the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and focus on improving vaccination rates.
In this regard, the Austrian Presidency will invite health ministers to a conference on digital matters and the licensing of medicines on 10–11 September 2018. It will also organize a conference on peoples’ health and food in November 2018.
After Austria, the next trio presidency will be Romania (first half of 2019), Finland (second half of 2019) and Croatia (first half of 2020).
The current Parliament’s legislative term is coming to an end, with the elections scheduled to take place on 23–26 May 2019. This increases pressure to close many legislative dossiers.