The 1st July marked the first day of Finland’s 6-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. During this 6-month period Finland will chair the meetings of the Council (which represents the governments of Member States) and will also represent the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU's work in the Council.
The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council's work on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and cooperation among member states.
To support it in its role the Finnish presidency has unveiled its work programme and priorities for the next 6 months. Under the slogan, ‘Sustainable Europe, Sustainable Future’, Finland’s 4 key priorities include:
- Strengthening common values and the rule of law
- Making the EU more competitive and socially inclusive
- Strengthening the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action
- Protecting the security of citizens comprehensively
Within its 17-page Presidency Programme Finland expands on these priorities, to set out how the EU can achieve these goals and successfully address its internal and external challenges.
In order to strengthen its common values, the Finnish Presidency highlights the need for the EU to promote equality and inclusiveness in all policy sectors. It is only by doing this, they argue, that it will be possible to overcome the significant loss of human and economic potential, both nationally and within the EU, that is created by inequalities.
To support the EU to become more competitive and socially inclusive the programme asserts that the EU needs to adopt a coherent approach to further development of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The programme also stresses that the EU should work towards achieving an ‘economy of wellbeing’, “a new holistic approach that will increase our understanding of how people’s wellbeing enhances productivity, generates economic growth and reduces public expenditure in the long term.”
When addressing the importance of high-quality education, the Finnish Presidency calls for the EU to develop a future-oriented, wide-ranging strategy for continuous learning, that takes into account the transformation of work and digitalisation. The programme adds that in order to promote education, skills and mobility and strengthen European universities, the EU needs a much stronger Erasmus programme.
As part of its ambition, to support the greater acquisition of skills and wellbeing for workers the Presidency has also suggested that the emergence of new forms of work calls for an assessment of whether our labour legislation and social protection systems are up to date. The programme also identifies young people as a group to which particular attention should be paid, highlighting that “all young people should have equal opportunities to enhance their digital competences, regardless of their background.”
EASPD’s upcoming conference “Staff Matters! Disability Workforce of Tomorrow” will be held as part of the official programme of the Finnish Presidency. To find out more about the conference, and to register, click here.
To read the Finnish Presidency programme in full, and to keep up-to-date with the latest news of the Presidency, visit the webpage here.