Updated: 06/06/2017

The Presidency of the Council of the EU

January 2017

The Maltese European Union Presidency Priorities

Malta is currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union since 1 January 2017 and will hold it until 1 June 2017. This is the first time that Malta is undertaking the Presidency.

Malta is holding the Presidency in an economically, socially and politically challenging time for European Union (EU). The presidency will have Brexit to contend with, facing the possibility of the formal process being triggered in the next months. There are also crucial elections coming up in France and the Netherlands. On the other hand, migration, security, the rise of extremism and populism in Europe and Italy’s shaky banks which has the potential to trigger a Europe-wide economic crisis are some of the other challenges which can shape the future of EU that Malta is going to face with.

In this tough period, Maltese presidency declared his priorities under 6 topics; migration, security, single market, social inclusion, neighbourhood policy and maritime affairs.

Migration is one of the most important priority topics. Ensuring that the issue remains at the top of the political agenda and pushing for the swift implementation of measures that have already been agreed upon are two important goals of the Presidency.

In this sense concrete objectives of the Presidency are;

  • Strengthening and streamlining the Common European Asylum System in order to distribute the migration load among Member States more fairly,
  • Attempts to revise the Dublin Regulation which delineates Member States’ responsibilities for examining asylum applications,
  • Transforming the European Asylum Support Office into a fully-fledged European agency,
  • Ensuring better implementation of the relocation of migrants,
  • Working to complete the work in relation to the European External Investment Plan to promote sustainable investment in Africa and the Neighbourhood to tackle the root causes of migration.

(A stronger cooperation and dialogue with Turkey is very crucial in order to increase the success that has been achieved in dealing with the problem of irregular migration.)

Single Market is another priority for the Maltese Presidency. Bringing tangible benefits to economy, businesses and families by removing barriers to trade, improving protection and access to services for consumers is a key goal. In order to achieve this goal, managing to fully exploit the Single Market, developing the Digital Single Market and completing the Internal Energy Market are seen as major steps. The presidency is planning to deliver as much as they can in this area, by improving and concluding key legislation already being negotiated.

Concrete objectives for this priority are;

  • Ending roaming charges throughout Europe,
  • Making progress towards ensuring that consumers seeking to buy products and services in another EU country are not discriminated against based on nationality or country of residence in terms of access to prices, sales or payment conditions,
  • Addressing the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as by enabling the development of a wider range of funding sources through action on the Capital Markets Union,
  • Extending the capacity of the European Fund for Strategic Investment,
  • Reviewing the Energy Efficiency package aimed at reducing energy consumption in residential buildings and industry through improved energy efficiency,
  • Strengthening security of energy supply for all EU citizens,
  • Reassigning the high speed 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) currently used for digital television broadcasting and wireless microphones, to wireless broadband services.

Security has become one of most important priority especially following horrific terror attacks in the past 12 months. Maltese Presidency aims to contribute towards concrete progress on proposals that address regional and global challenges, while upholding the values that underpin the very existence of the Union. Effective diplomacy and in this respect working closely with the European External Action Service under the umbrella of the EU’s Global Strategy is a priority for the Presidency.

In this respect the objectives of the Presidency are;

  • Continuing action on combating terrorism; taking forward the fight against serious and organised crime through the EU Policy Cycle,
  • Continuing action on the Fight Against Terrorist Financing,
  • Achieving significant progress on current initiatives aimed at better managing the Union’s external border, including the establishment of an EU system to register entry and exit of third country nationals,
  • The creation of an EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to determine the eligibility of all visa-exempt third country nationals to travel to the Schengen Area,
  • Taking steps to broaden consensus on the outstanding elements concerning the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office,
  • Improving the governance of Eurojust in order to ensure more coordinated criminal justice cooperation across borders.

(Showing unhesitant and stringent will and action in fighting against all of the organisations that are accepted as terrorist organisations by the EU is a very crucial point. This is one of the indispensable aspect of Turkey- European Union relations)

Social Policy is another area that the Maltese Government values highly. Work here will be guided by close consultation with social partners, civil society and citizens in order to advance gender equality and rights of minorities and vulnerable groups.

In this frame concrete objectives of the Presidency are;

  • Improving participation of women in the labour market,
  • Combatting gender-based violence, in particular by promoting the sharing of best practices and exchanging information on existing legislation, policies and strategies, as well as statistical data and studies,
  • Holding a Ministerial Level Conference on LGBTIQ issues in order to further explore the Commission’s roadmap on this area.

Europe’s Neighbourhood is a quite crucial priority as Europe’s security and prosperity are interlinked with neighbourhood. Taking into account potential ripple effects of instability beyond Europe’s borders, the Maltese Presidency will focus EU engagement on the stabilisation of its neighbourhood.

Objectives of the Presidency in this area are;

  • Paying special attention to the stabilisation of Libya and contributing to a peaceful transition,
  • Supporting EU and international efforts for the resumption of the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and Palestine,
  • Ensuring that the democratic transition in Tunisia remains on track and keeping up the momentum on the continuation of trade negotiations,
  • Contributing to the EU and international efforts to address the Syrian conflict,
  • Deepening the relationship between the EU and the League of Arab States,
  • Engaging with the Eastern Neighbourhood, including with respect to supporting Ukraine and ensuring cooperation with Russia on issues of global and regional concern.

Predicting that The EU will be increasingly dependent on the seas and oceans, Maritime remains as a key priority and fits naturally with an island nation in the southern Mediterranean. As the sustainability and continuing development of the maritime sector under the EU Integrated Maritime Policy is of great importance, the sector also provides a diverse spectrum of innovative research and commercial activities that could be developed into high value-added job opportunities.

In this vein the objectives of the Presidency in this area are;

  • Formally putting International Ocean Governance on Malta’s agenda, with the aim of ensuring political endorsement on the way forward on a more coherent, comprehensive and effective EU policy to improve the international ocean governance framework and the sustainability of Europe’s oceans,
  • The expected launching of the Western Mediterranean Sea Basin Initiative early in 2017, targeting a specific geographical area of interest to Member States and neighbours.

The Priorities of the Maltese Presidency is mostly in line with the 21 key initiatives to implement European Commission’s 10 political priorities in 2017. The key initiatives such as;

  • Implementation of the Single Market and Digital Single Market,
  • Implementation of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan,
  • European Pillar of Social Rights,
  • Progress towards an effective and genuine Security Union,
  • Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration,
  • Implementation of the EU Global Strategy,
  • EU Strategy for Syria,
  • Africa – EU Partnership

are on a large scale related with the priorities of the Presidency except for Maritime which has no correspondence in any of the 21 key initiatives.

Please click for official website of Maltese Presidency.

Updated: 06/06/2017 / Hit: 81,383