On 1 July 2018, Austria takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time after 1998 and 2006. The motto of the Presidency is "A Europe that protects".
To that effect, the Austrian Presidency will prioritise the protective role of the European Union, in particular concerning three priority areas:
- security and migration
- securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalisation
- stability in the neighbourhood – rapprochement of the Western Balkans/South-eastern Europe
Austria views its role during the forthcoming Council presidency as that of a neutral broker. In line with its traditional role as bridgebuilder, Austria will endeavour during its Council presidency to contribute to the unity within the EU.
FORESTS & PLANTS.
- The Austrian Presidency will devote its attention to improving Europe’s supply with vegetable protein, implementing the Bio-economy Strategy in the agriculture and forestry sectors, and working on the dossiers on veterinary and phytosanitary matters, forestry and fisheries.
- At the start of the Austrian Presidency, the members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will set out their priorities for forestry for the next two years. In addition, it is planned to sound out possibilties for resuming the negotiations on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe. Other relevant dossiers include a review of the EU Forest Strategy and of EU activities on deforestation, the EU FLEGT Action Plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade), and the United Nations Forest Forum (UNFF).
- In the area of plant health, 2018 will see more work on the new Plant Health and Controls Regulation, as more than 20 delegated or implementing acts will have to be finalised in 2019. Preparations for the 2020 United Nations International Year of Plant Health will pick up the pace during the Austrian Presidency.
As per the Austrian delegation, some of the main focuses of the incoming presidency will be:
1) Clean Energy Package. The efforts of the Austrian Presidency will build on the valuable achievements of the Estonian and Bulgarian presidency in the negotiations on the Clean Energy Package. In particular, Austria will focus on the electricity market design, which is decisive for the functioning of the future energy system. The numerous interlinkages and dependencies will require utmost care and careful calibration. In negotiations, the Austrian Presidency will strive for compromises and balanced solutions. The Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers in Linz on 17 and 18 September 2018 in will be an important milestone in building consensus on the remaining legislative files. At the TTE Energy Council on 19 December 2018, legislative efforts shall be concluded.
2) Innovative energy technologies
Innovation is key to implementing the European Energy Union. The Austrian Presidency will therefore put a strong focus on renewable hydrogen, storage technologies and the role of energy intensive industry for the energy transition during the Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers on 17 and 18 September 2018 in Linz. In the framework of a High Level Conference on 17 September 2018, innovative energy technologies will be discussed and presented.
Also, the 11th SET Plan Conference on 20 and 21 November 2018 in Vienna shall be dedicated to innovative energy technologies and focus on the following topics:
- Smart and Resilient Cities and Buildings
- Sustainable Energy Systems (Renewables and Storage)
- Energy Efficiency in Industry
- Joint projects for achieving the EU-2030 targets and the potential of the new European financing platform for renewables
The conference shall highlight the successful efforts of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan to implement transnational joint actions towards a low carbon energy system in Europe.
3) International Energy Hub Austria
The Austrian Presidency wants to stimulate dialogue across national and institutional borders. It seeks to foster active cooperation between international energy organizations and to strengthen energy relations of the EU and its Member States. Some of these international organizations are based in Vienna, such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Sustainable Energy for All or the Energy Community. The Directors’ General Meeting on 15 November 2018 will therefore bring together international organizations’ representatives and will be dedicated to “Energy Security in the Era of Decarbonization”.
Copy of the working programme is available HERE