Greece takes on the rotating presidency of the European Union at a critical moment

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Paris, January 2014 – On 1 January 2014 Greece took on the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the fifth time since its accession to the European Community in 1981.

It so happened that Greece’s “turn” for EU Presidency has come at a time when this mandate will be exceptionally significant as Greece will oversee the European elections next May amidst a sense of disenchantment with European institutions.

While Europe implemented restrictive fiscal policies in order to safeguard financial stability and gradually return to sustainable public finances, the Greek presidency is focusing on parsimony.  “We will spend less than previous presidencies,” said a Greek civil servant to the press in Brussels on 1 October.

The following is a summary of the main principles of the Greek presidency as stated on their website (http://www.gr2014.eu):

Enhancing civic and society engagement in the EU, through policies and initiatives in response to citizens’ everyday problems, concerns and insecurities. Greece’s effort will focus on the areas of economic recovery, employment, cohesion, mobility of EU citizens and European security, both internal and external.

– Reinforcing EU democratic legitimacy and accountability along with building up solidarity links among member states, as well as expanding civil rights.

Migration policy will be one of the priorities of the Greek mandate. Instability in the European periphery, together with the causes that lead continuously to ever-increasing immigration flows into Europe, place an extra burden on EU member states in this period of economic crisis when all forces and efforts should be focused on reforms aiming at safeguarding stability and revitalising growth. This burden falls mainly on the EU member-states that are at Europe’s external borders, particularly in the South, as well as on those heavily affected by recession and unemployment.

In this context, the Greek presidency will concentrate its efforts on highlighting the positive aspects of a comprehensive migration management not only from a humanitarian point of view but also because such management will help boost growth.

More specifically, policies linked to migration, as part of the “Global Approach on Migration and Mobility”, constitute the main framework for EU policy and action in the area of external relations (partnerships for mobility with Third World countries, PPMs).

This approach focuses on three objectives:

  • better organising legal migration and fostering well managed mobility
  • preventing and combating illegal migration while safeguarding respect for human rights
  • enhancing synergies between migration and growth

As the Stockholm Programme 2010-2014 is coming to an end in 2014, the Greek Presidency is focusing on formulating the future EU objectives for 2014-2018. It will promote the implementation of the “Common European Asylum System” and will focus on solidarity measures in order to help the member states most affected by migration.

Developing an area of freedom, security and justice has been, and will continue to be, a major objective for the EU. “It is more than necessary to strengthen common European policy in matters of Justice and Home Affairs,” said the Greek presidency. “This common policy must be founded on genuine solidarity, joint responsibility and cooperation between member states.”

Greek Presidency of the EU website: http://www.gr2014.eu