Federal Chancellor Kurz: Maintaining security, stability and prosperity in the EU
Europe statement in the National Council – preview of the Austrian Presidency
"On 1 July, Austria will be assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union during a very challenging phase. Around 300 pending trilogues still need to be dealt with and both the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU and the Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework have to be negotiated. In addition, the European Parliament elections are due to be held in May 2019," said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in his Europe statement before the National Council on 14 June. The Chancellor thanked all those already involved in the intensive preparations for the next six months for their commitment to making the Austrian Presidency a success.
"It is not just in Europe that we find ourselves in times of radical change; also beyond Europe, we are experiencing political tensions and upheavals," continued Sebastian Kurz. Austria therefore intends to play a part in easing these tensions, he said, and in living up to the motto ‘United in Diversity’. "This means that despite different approaches, we need to be able to discuss the issues as equals in the EU and treat each other with respect." There should be no feeling that there are 1st and 2nd class members in the European Union because this would endanger European unity.
"Even in Europe, we cannot take security and stability for granted," continued the Federal Chancellor. It is therefore a key objective for Austria during its presidency to contribute to maintaining security and prosperity in the EU. "The Federal Government has chosen as the motto for the presidency: ‘A Europe that protects’. This means a clear focus on the protection of external borders, because it is necessary for the protection of internal security to know who is coming to Europe. It must not be left up to traffickers to make these decisions." The summit of heads of state and government in Salzburg in September will therefore focus on the issues of security, border control and the fight against illegal migration. The Austrian government will also advocate for strengthening Frontex "with regard to content, staff and funding". Frontex’s mandate needs to be extended and staffing levels must be increased more rapidly than proposed by the Commission. "This will enable us to regain control in the EU and achieve a Union of security and stability," said the Chancellor.
However, security also means protecting prosperity in the EU. "We must therefore do everything we can to remain competitive. This means that we must move forward with the digital single market, implement fair taxation and invest in research and development," continued Federal Chancellor Kurz. The Austrian Presidency will therefore also prioritise these areas. Finally, Austria will also focus on neighbourhood policy. "Stability in the neighbourhood also means security for the European Union. In particular, we intend to support the Western Balkan region in its efforts to move closer to the European Union." In conclusion, the Federal Chancellor asked the House for its fullest support during the Austrian Presidency. "We look forward to being able to play an even more active role in shaping the EU over the coming months than we have been doing as a Member State."