Under the motto ‘A Europe that protects’, Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the second half of 2018 on 1 July. Austria follows on from Estonia and Bulgaria as part of the trio presidency. This is the third time that Austria has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (previously in 1998 and 2006).
Based on the joint programme of its predecessors, the priorities of the work programme of the Austrian Presidency for the European Union are securing the EU’s external borders, economic growth and competitiveness. The Austrian Presidency is also dominated by two other key issues for the European Union. Firstly, negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union over Brexit and the planned transitional phase take place. Secondly, there are negotiations over the Multiannual Financial Framework following 2020, which are conducted on the basis of proposals from the European Commission.
As far as social and health issues are concerned, the Austrian Presidency has set itself a number of priority topics for rest of this year which fall under the heading ‘A Union to benefit everyone’.
Employment and social policy
Digitalisation in the workplace is a central theme of the Austrian Presidency. Austria wants to achieve a shared understanding and common rules to prevent distortion of competition.
Austria intends to build on the work done by its two predecessors by focusing on platform-based work under the heading of ‘Fair working conditions for everyone’. The work and employment conditions for these types of jobs will be discussed in the context of labour market effects and social protection.
In addition, the Austrian Presidency has set itself the goal of further advancing the European Commission’s ongoing initiatives in the field of health and social affairs. The aim is to continue the negotiations on the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union and on the new employment guidelines. It will continue work on initiatives on equal treatment and non-discrimination, and on the initiative for work-life balance.
Mobility, safety in the workplace and accessibility
The Austrian Presidency’s programme will continue the negotiations on the Regulation on the coordination of social security systems and the existing proposal for an EU Recommendation on access to social protection for the self-employed and for people in non-standard employment.
The Austrian Presidency also intends to conclude the negotiations on both the amendment of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive and the proposal for a Directive on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States as regards the accessibility requirements for products and services (European Accessibility Act).
The Austrian Presidency will continue to work on three main areas in the field of health policy over the coming months. These are:
- to continue the work started under the Bulgarian Presidency on Health Technology Assessment, with the aim of preparing a progress report,
- to adopt a Council Recommendation for strengthened cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases, and
- to prepare a common EU position to the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control in October 2018 in Geneva.
Austrian Presidency events
At an informal meeting of EU employment and social policy ministers taking place between 19 and 20 July 2018 in Vienna, the ministers and experts discussed ‘New forms of work with a focus on platform work – social and legal protection’ and ‘Robotics: impact on quantity and quality of work’.
More information about all events and other information regarding the Austrian Presidency can be found here.