Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018

Austria holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2018. "A Europe that protects" is the motto chosen by the government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Among the topics on the programme are security and migration, maintaining competitiveness through digitalisation, stability in the neighbourhood and bringing the Western Balkans closer to the EU. The presidency will also continue negotiations on Brexit. Before the United Kingdom's final withdrawal from the EU, scheduled for 29 March 2019, all national parliaments in the EU Member States must ratify a final deal on Brexit. The EU presidency will also continue the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. European affairs minister Gernot Blümel will be a guest at the EESC's July plenary session (11 and 12 July 2018) to present the work programme and answer questions from Committee members. (eh)