July 2015 – The Luxembourg presidency of the European Council started on 1st July for six months. It’s the 12th time that Luxembourg takes on the rotating presidency of the EU.
The challenges for Europe are important, emphasised Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s Prime minister, Minister of State for Communications and Medias, and Minister for Religious Communities. This is “a critical moment for the Union” that requires “we focus on what is essential and on what unites us,” said Mr Bettel. Indeed, the EU faces pressing challenges such as the Greek crisis, the problem of migratory flows, and the preparation of the United Nations’ Paris Climate Conference (30 November – 11 December 2015).
The priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency for the second semester of 2015 are based on seven pillars: stimulating investment to boost growth and employment; deepening the European Union’s social dimension; managing migration, combining freedom, justice and security; revitalising the single market by focusing on its digital dimension; placing European competitiveness in a global and transparent framework; promoting sustainable development; strengthening the European Union’s presence on the global stage.
Concerning security, one important priority will be the implementation of the EU’s new internal security strategy for the period 2015-2020. The aim is to design a common response to threats to the security of European citizens such as foreign fighters, crime against the environment, cybercrime and financial crime.
Luxembourg says it will adopt an open approach while pushing these priorities, based on listening to citizens, supporting enterprises and fostering cooperation among EU countries. The social dimension of this presidency is also important, as attested by the title of the presidency programme, “A Union for the Citizens”.
Both the European Commission and the European Presidency have emphasised they share these views during their common press conference. Xavier Bettel said cooperation between these two bodies would indeed be key. Furthermore, he said Luxembourg intends to “create bridges regarding the various conflicts taking place at the door of Europe and to re-create bridges that once existed within the EU and are now more vulnerable.”