(CORDIS) — July is typically characterised by long school holidays, balmy evenings and, for the lucky ones, a few days break from the daily grind. But July also signals the changing of the guard at the Council of the European Union, with a new Member State taking over the six-month rotating Presidency.
And this time it’s Cyprus’ turn to take the reins, leading and organising the work of the Council until the end of the year, before in turn handing over the role to another island nation: Ireland.
The main objective of the Cyprus Presidency is to work ‘Towards a Better Europe’, one that is more relevant to its citizens and closer to its neighbours. The hope is to both make Europe more efficient and sustainable, at the same time as fostering growth and job creation. Admittedly no mean feat amid the ongoing economic crisis. To this end a key focus will be on implementing the new enhanced framework of economic governance and reinforcing budgetary surveillance so as to ensure fiscal stability.
Cyprus is prioritising further deepening of European integration, strengthening social cohesion and ensuring a better quality of life for European citizens. Although they proclaim austerity measures are important for restoring the confidence of the markets and stability, they also state that at the same time Europe needs measures that promote inclusive growth and job creation. The Presidency programme is built around the underlying principle of solidarity, so as to build a better Europe for future generations.
One task Cyprus will be charged with during its Presidency is setting the budget for the period 2014-2020, the Multiannual Financial Framework. This means working out how money will be divided to best contribute to growth and sustainable development, promote effective policies, increase the EU’s competitiveness and create more jobs.
Cyprus will champion a fair and effective EU budget that supports growth and enhances employment opportunities. Emphasis will be given to the quality of spending so that the policies and programmes that will be financed under the new Multiannual Financial Framework are policies with real ‘added value’.
High up on the Cyprus agenda are energy policy, the Trans-European Networks on transport, telecommunications and energy, and the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as youth employment, health and children’s well-being, the protection of personal data and food security.
Emphasis will also be placed on sustainable development in light of the Rio+20 Summit.
The Cyprus Presidency, their first since joining the European Union in 2004, follows the Danish Presidency, which itself followed on from the Polish Presidency. Together, these three Member States make up the latest presidency ‘trio’: the framework for connecting presidencies and ensuring presidency workflows are coherent and consistent with what has gone before and what will come after. Rather than replacing the individual national presidency agendas, the trio programme acts more like an overarching common framework.
The rotating presidency started with the 1957 Treaty of Rome that established the European Communities; however, it quickly became apparent that six months was too short a timeframe for any one presidency to realise all its objectives. Thus, from 2007 onwards, it was thought best to group together three Member States who hold the presidency one after the other. This allows each trio to coordinate a shared set of objectives to be met over the course of all three mandates. The set is made up of one large and two smaller Member States, as well as being a mix of Member States from the old and the enlarged Union.
On 1 January 2012, Cyprus will pass the baton on to the next trio: Ireland, Lithuania and Greece.