Swedish Presidency of the  Council of the European Union  – first semester 2023 


Sweden is assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a time of  historic challenges for Member States and the Union as a whole. Russia’s illegal,  unacceptable and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a threat to European security, with  dire consequences for migration, as well as global food and energy supplies. Ukraine is  fighting for its survival as a nation – and for the security and lives of its citizens. The EU  and its Member States have rallied unprecedented support for Ukraine and will remain  firmly by its side. Continued cooperation with trusted partners, including a strong  transatlantic link, needs to be secured.  

European economies are severely affected by Russia’s war as well as the ongoing  manipulation of energy supply. Rising inflation levels, interest rates and energy prices have  left companies and citizens struggling. While decisive action has been taken, it is imperative  that we stay firm in our transition to the green economy and safeguard the basis of our  economic model for long-term growth.  Our unity and readiness to act remain key to EU security, resilience and prosperity. 

Security – unity  

The swift and decisive EU response to the invasion of Ukraine is a manifestation of our  strength when we act together. The Swedish Presidency will prioritise continued economic  and military support for Ukraine, as well as support for Ukraine’s path towards the EU.  This will require further efforts at both national and EU level. Further steps are needed for  reconstruction and reform towards EU integration.  

To strengthen the security of our Union and citizens, we must build consensus towards a  robust European security and defence policy, in close cooperation with partners. Further  steps will build on our common action to counter Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, as  well as the implementation of the Strategic Compass and other initiatives. The fight against  cross-border organised crime will continue, responding to citizens’ legitimate demands for  safe and secure communities.

Resilience – competitiveness 

The most urgent political attention is by necessity devoted to the war in Ukraine and its  short-term consequences. Simultaneous attention on efforts to drive economic growth  remains necessary to meet our long-term challenges. Europe’s strength, resilience, and  global standing depend on our economic output, which is closely linked to the single  market and global trade opportunities.  

Economic actors profit from operating in the largest single market in the world and  compete successfully on world markets, laying the foundations for European wealth,  welfare and international standing. The EU must continue to provide the best possible  conditions for a sound and open economy based on free competition, private investment  and successful digitalisation.  

The Swedish Presidency will seek to anchor a concerted approach to European  competitiveness at the top of the political agenda. 

Prosperity – green & energy transition  

The Swedish Presidency will continue efforts to tackle high and volatile energy prices while  addressing long-term energy market reform.  

The global climate challenge requires a global response. Europe must lead by example, by  delivering on ambitious climate goals, boosting growth and competitiveness. We will put  Fit for 55 into action and speed up the energy transition. 

In periods of industrial and technological transition, early movers have a competitive edge.  European companies and industries are already leading the transition. Joint European steps  towards independence from fossil fuels are necessary not only for the green transition, but  for our security. European companies that provide green solutions will be in high global  demand and can help drive the transition towards a circular economy. 

The transition to a resource-efficient, fossil-free future will require major investments in  innovative industries that can translate the best ideas and innovations into functional  solutions. We need to provide the right regulatory framework and policies to attract these  investments.

Democratic values and the rule of law – our foundation  

The European Union is based on democratic values, paving the way for cohesion,  individual freedoms, non-discrimination, increased economic output and global influence.  Upholding the principle of the rule of law and fundamental rights is therefore an essential  element of Sweden’s – and indeed every – Presidency of the Council. 

General affairs 

The Swedish Presidency stands ready to actively contribute to the European  Union’s response to the consequences for the Member States of Russia’s illegal  aggression against Ukraine. In light of the current geopolitical situation, it is all the  more important that we safeguard the Union’s fundamental values, which are  prerequisites for the trust upon which our deep-rooted legal and economic  cooperation within the EU is based.  

Taking as its starting point the Commission’s annual Rule of Law Report, which includes  recommendations addressed to the Member States, the Presidency will continue the  Council’s country-by-country rule of law dialogue. The Presidency will take the Council’s  work on the Article 7 procedures forward in a constructive spirit. 

The Presidency will follow up on the European Council’s decision to grant candidate status  to Ukraine and Moldova and to offer a European perspective to Georgia, and will continue  the EU integration process of the Western Balkan countries. The future of these countries  and their citizens lies in the EU. The EU needs to continue to support these countries in  their efforts to implement reforms as part of the accession process. Reforms in the area of  the judiciary and rule of law are crucial.  

Not much is yet known about the Commission’s review of the functioning of the  Multiannual Financial Framework, which is due to be published during the second quarter  of 2023. The Presidency is, however, ready to deal with the matter in whatever way the  Member States find most appropriate, in close coordination with subsequent presidencies.  

The 2024 European Parliament elections will raise such issues as election integrity and the  importance of facilitating the free formation of opinions. Russia’s aggression against  Ukraine has further demonstrated the risks associated with disinformation and the  importance of protecting democratic elections from it. The Presidency will work to  advance the EU’s work regarding the negotiations on the Regulation on the transparency  and targeting of political advertising. The Presidency will also continue working on the  proposed amendments to the EU Electoral Act, with the aim of achieving a broad  consensus.  

The Presidency will support the Commission’s efforts in the day-to-day implementation of  the EU-UK agreements and thus work to establish a forward-looking and deeper  relationship.

The Presidency will work to strengthen and improve the EU’s crisis preparedness and crisis  management capabilities. In the area of cybersecurity, the Presidency will continue to build  on the EU’s efforts to prevent and deal with cyber threats.  

The Presidency will follow up on the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe and  strive to achieve a broad consensus among the Member States on how to proceed with its  proposals. If circumstances permit, the Presidency will advance the discussions on effective  decision-making processes, including qualified majority voting in certain areas of the  Common Foreign and Security Policy.  

The Presidency will support the Commission’s work to present an initial voluntary review  of the EU’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Presidency intends to work to ensure  that there is broad and ambitious agreement among the Member States ahead of the  midterm review of the 2030 Agenda and the continued implementation of the Sustainable  Development Goals.  

The role of the General Affairs Council in coordinating preparations for meetings of the  European Council, and their conclusions, will be safeguarded by the Swedish Presidency.

Foreign Affairs  

Sweden is taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU at a time when war  is raging in Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that the Common Foreign  and Security Policy will be high on the EU agenda during the Swedish Presidency.  

It is in the interest of the EU to contribute to counteracting Russia’s aggression.  Continued support for Ukraine – political, economic, military, humanitarian and  legal – will be critical, as will various types of measures in response to Russia’s  aggression and action in a large number of areas affected by the war. This includes  the ongoing enlargement process, cooperation with our key partners such as the  United States and the United Kingdom, enhancing the EU’s crisis management  capability, and the broader global agenda. This places great demands on the EU as  a foreign and security policy actor. The EU needs to promote its institutional  integrity and strategic interests, uphold the rules-based international order, and  safeguard fundamental values, international law, democracy, human rights and the  rule of law in the EU’s neighbourhood and globally.  

The Swedish Presidency will support the President of the European Council and  the High Representative in their efforts to fully utilise the unique set of tools at the  EU’s disposal, in close coordination with the Commission. The Presidency’s most  important task in the area of foreign and security policy is to contribute to a united,  engaged and effective EU. The Swedish Presidency will work to strengthen the EU  as a global actor. 

Foreign Affairs 

The Swedish Presidency will promote a continued active and united EU policy to  counteract Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This involves putting pressure on Russia,  Belarus and other responsible parties, including by imposing sanctions and demanding  accountability, and providing Ukraine with political, economic, military, humanitarian and  legal support, including in its reconstruction. Establishing an international coordination  platform for reconstruction support is a priority task, and the EU has an important part to  play. EU efforts to mitigate the serious global repercussions of the war, in terms of food  security and ensuring broad and sustainable international support for EU policy, for  instance, need to continue. Globally, including in UN activities, the EU must also remain a  clear voice and a strong force for support for Ukraine and against Russian aggression. In  parallel with the aggression against Ukraine, repression continues to increase in both Russia  and Belarus. These countries’ civil societies and democratic oppositions need EU support.  EU consensus remains crucial. 

Developments in the EU’s neighbourhood are crucial for the EU. During its Presidency,  Sweden will contribute to the efforts to foster closer contacts with relevant countries.  Developing well-adapted formats for relations with the countries in the Eastern  Partnership will be high on the agenda and, in addition to fostering closer ties with the EU,  will also include strengthening the security dimension. Security developments in the  Western Balkans are important to both the region and the EU. The EU has a strategic  interest in stable and secure conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including cooperative  and mutually beneficial relations with Turkey.  

The European Policy Centre contributes to political dialogue and cooperation on issues of  common interest to enhance security and stability on the European continent.  

At a time of global democratic backsliding, the EU’s voice is more important than ever.  Sweden will work to ensure that human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality,  and peace and security have an impact on the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.  Sweden intends to contribute to the midterm review of the EU Action Plan on Human  Rights and Democracy, which will be implemented during its Presidency. Sweden will  strive to ensure that the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in  External Action 2021–2025 (GAP III) is implemented.  

The global and foreign policy dimensions of climate issues, including the security  implications of climate change, will be important during the Swedish Presidency, as will  continued efforts to enhance EU climate diplomacy. 

Sweden will contribute to strengthening the EU’s role as a security actor both in its  neighbourhood and globally, with the implementation of the Strategic Compass playing a  key role. During its Presidency, Sweden will also continue to show leadership in civilian  crisis management and work to develop a new Civilian Common Security and Defence  Policy Compact, as well as to enhance collaboration between EU internal and external  crisis management formats. Sweden will continue the fight against terrorism and violent  extremism, and against cross-border crime.  

Within the context of the Presidency, Sweden will promote continued strong EU  engagement in, and support for, the UN system. 

The work to implement and develop the EU’s response to antagonistic cyber threats will  continue during the Swedish Presidency. Furthermore, Sweden will work to better integrate  cyber diplomacy issues and the EU’s external digital policy into its overall foreign policy.  Sweden will also continue to work to achieve an effective and uniform implementation of  EU sanctions and coordination with EU partner countries.

At this geopolitically turbulent time, EU cooperation with international partners is key. The  Swedish Presidency intends to actively contribute to ensuring that the EU develops and  enhances its transatlantic cooperation with the United States, but also EU-NATO  cooperation, and cooperation with the United Kingdom, Canada and Latin America.  Sweden intends to continue the efforts to implement the Global Gateway Strategy to  enhance global connectivity. 

Sweden will continue to support ongoing efforts for a clear, united and effective EU policy  on China, based on the interests and values of the EU. The Swedish Presidency will work  to increase information exchange and strengthen consensus and solidarity on issues relating  to China. The Swedish Presidency will also continue to implement the 2021 EU Strategy  for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the conclusions of the 2022 ministerial conference.  The focus will be on security and defence, value chains, climate and sustainability, and trade  relations.  

Sweden will support the implementation of the European Commission Communication on  the Gulf region. The Swedish Presidency will work to strengthen the EU’s commitment to  the crisis in Yemen. A continued principled and common approach to the conflict in Syria  will be sought. The Swedish Presidency will encourage the EU to continue its pursuit of a  coherent Iran policy, including continued efforts to revive the nuclear deal and an increased  focus on respect for human rights. Sweden will also strive to ensure that EU efforts to  contribute to a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine  continue. Sweden will support the implementation of the EU partnership with the  Southern Neighbourhood. 

The Swedish Presidency will contribute to highlighting the EU’s added value as a strategic  partner of African countries, including on development, trade and security issues. The  Presidency will also strive to strengthen relations with African countries and with the  African Union, not least in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its severe impact on  the continent. Cooperation with Africa will be very important in promoting democratic  development, upholding the rules-based international order and tackling global challenges.  The African countries are important partners in global climate efforts, in promoting safe,  orderly and managed migration, and in combating terrorism and transnational organised  crime.  

The Presidency will contribute to developing cooperation with the countries of the  European Economic Area (European Free Trade Association) and ongoing work on the  EU’s future relations with Switzerland. Sweden will monitor the progress of the association  agreement negotiations with Andorra, San Marino and Monaco, with a view to their  conclusion.

Democracy, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights are important elements of  EU cooperation with partner countries, for example in contributing to long-term security  and development. Migration is an important aspect of EU cooperation with third countries,  for example in counteracting irregular migration and increasing returns.  

Defence  

Given the deteriorating security situation in Europe, security and defence issues in the EU  have become more important. Sweden welcomes efforts to strengthen European defence  capabilities and the EU’s ability to act. The Presidency will support EU efforts to continue   providing military support to Ukraine, and issues such as long-term planning and  consensus are particularly important. The Strategic Compass provides a framework for the  development of EU security and defence policy in the years to come. The Swedish  Presidency will work to implement the defence-related sections of the Strategic Compass.  

The Swedish Presidency intends to contribute to the development of the EU’s bilateral,  multilateral and regional security and defence policy partnerships by highlighting the  importance of enhanced cooperation and dialogue with strategic partners. Promoting EU  NATO cooperation is a particular priority. Discussions on developing EU military  operations and utilising the European Peace Facility will continue.  

The Presidency will advance negotiations on a short-term instrument to enhance the  European defence industry through joint procurement. The Presidency is prepared to  initiate negotiations on an upcoming long-term European investment programme in the  area of defence.  

Sweden will support EU efforts to strengthen resilience to different types of threats and  risks, in both digital and physical infrastructure. During its Presidency, Sweden will  promote work on a space strategy for security and defence. The Presidency will also  advance the work on the proposal concerning an EU cyber defence policy.  

Development  

In the area of EU international development, the Swedish Presidency will focus on support  for Ukraine and addressing the global impact of Russia’s aggression. The role that the EU  and its Member States play as the world’s largest aid donors will be further strengthened.  The Presidency will contribute to developing and strengthening the EU’s role in global  health based on the new EU Global Health Strategy and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Sweden also intends to continue strengthening EU efforts to  combat development obstacles such as corruption.  

The European development policy agenda will continue to be developed, using the Global  Europe instrument as a basis and the Team Europe Initiatives as tools. The work must be  clearly linked to principles of effective development cooperation and sustainable financing  for development, with a focus on mobilising private capital for sustainable investments in  developing countries. The Swedish Presidency will contribute to utilising and advancing  synergies between trade and development cooperation. 

The Presidency will strive to conclude negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement with  the aim of implementing a modern partnership agreement between the EU and African,  Caribbean and Pacific countries. The Swedish Presidency is also an important platform for  advancing the EU’s leading role in global humanitarian contexts, including Sweden’s  hosting of the European Humanitarian Forum. 

Trade 

The Swedish Presidency will work to ensure that the EU continues to build open, strong  and sustainable trade links with the rest of the world, and that it enters into modern  bilateral and regional free trade agreements. The EU’s ability to act both in its  neighbourhood and globally is also strengthened by an open and sustainable external trade  policy and a deepened single market. Trade policy aspects that contribute to the  reconstruction of Ukraine are a priority. The Presidency will also prioritise trade relations  with the United States, including in the Trade and Technology Council.  

The Presidency will actively continue negotiations on ambitious free trade agreements with  third countries to strengthen EU competitiveness. The Presidency will strive for continued  support for the EU’s free trade and partnership agenda in the Indo-Pacific region and Latin  America, including Australia, Chile, India, Indonesia, Mercosur, Mexico and New Zealand.  

The Swedish Presidency also intends to carry on with the review of the Regulation on  removing or reducing tariffs for developing countries, and the negotiations on protection  against economic coercion. The Presidency will continue to reform the system for  investment disputes with the aim of setting up a multilateral investment court.  

A modern and forward-looking EU trade agenda must include the digital transition and the  transition to a sustainable, climate-neutral and fossil-free economy. The Swedish  Presidency will thus facilitate digital trade through bilateral trade agreements and the joint  initiative on eCommerce in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and support the application of the Commission Communication on enhanced sustainability in trade  agreements and the subsequent Council conclusions. The Presidency will also strive for  continued reforms of the WTO.

Economic and financial affairs 

The economic outlook in the EU has deteriorated drastically following Russia’s full  scale invasion of Ukraine. The Swedish Presidency will be operating in an  environment of great economic uncertainty, with high inflation, a serious energy  crisis and rapidly rising interest rates curbing consumption, production and  investment. Member States’ governments are under severe pressure to manage the  repercussions for households and businesses. The Presidency will strive for unity in  this challenging situation, and for effective use of the joint instruments that are in  place. 

Ukraine needs extensive economic support from the EU in both the short and the long  term. In the short term, it needs liquidity support. At the same time, the long-term  reconstruction of Ukraine is a pressing concern. The Presidency will work to ensure  constructive discussions and progress on ways in which the EU can support Ukraine,  together with bilateral partners and international financial institutions. Other countries in  the EU’s neighbourhood, e.g. Moldova, may also require support in 2023 to deal with the  economic consequences of the war.  

Much work remains to be done both in the Member States and at EU level to implement  important reforms and investments within the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The  Presidency will move this work forward, taking account of REPowerEU. The Presidency  will also work to ensure the effective implementation of the European Semester, which is  an important tool for handling the current exceptional economic circumstances and  modernising the EU economy.  

The economic governance review will enter an intensive phase in the first half of the year.  Taking the Commission’s proposals and the progress made under previous presidencies as  its starting point, the Swedish Presidency will move the work forward and help achieve  consensus. The results of this review are important in terms of achieving responsible  economic policy that supports a transition towards sustainable public debt and growth in  all Member States. The Presidency also intends to tackle the deactivation of the Stability  and Growth Pact’s general escape clause ahead of 2024.  

A review of the Energy Taxation Directive is under way, as the current directive is outdated  and is not coordinated with other EU measures. The Presidency will continue discussions  in the Council. The Presidency will also continue the work on the proposal for new VAT  rules for the digital age. 

In the area of direct taxation, priority will be given to measures aiming to prevent tax  evasion, tax avoidance, aggressive tax planning and harmful tax competition, such as  updating the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. In addition, the Presidency will work  to ensure greater tax transparency and to reinforce the exchange of relevant information  within the EU. The Presidency stands ready to advance the work on further strengthening EU administrative cooperation on taxation.  

In the financial area, the Presidency will seek to continue the fight against international  crime by advancing the efforts to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  This will involve advancing the negotiations on establishing a new EU body in this area and  on the ‘rulebook’. The Presidency will also prioritise efforts to create an open and  competitive capital markets union to strengthen the internal market and bolster the green  transition. It is crucial to ensure continued high consumer and investor protection and help  ensure transparency and sustainability in the capital market. For this reason, the Presidency  will continue the work on regulatory frameworks for funds and financial instrument  markets, and a European single access point for financial and non-financial information.  Financial stability efforts will continue, including through progress in the area of banking  and insurance with regard to enhanced resilience, the implementation of international  standards, and crisis management. The Presidency is also ready to initiate discussions on  new proposals presented by the Commission during the first half of the year, including on  the digital euro and consumer protection. 

The Presidency is prioritising efforts to ensure the correct, appropriate and effective  application of the conditionality mechanism to ensure sound financial management of the  EU’s budget and protection of the EU’s economic interests. The Presidency will also seek  to make progress on efforts to modernise the regulatory framework for sound financial  management, in the form of a revised Financial Regulation. In addition, the Presidency  intends to continue the ongoing dialogue on the Commission’s proposal on next generation own resources. 

In the first half of 2023, the Council will undertake its customary scrutiny of the European  Commission’s implementation of the budget, and provide a recommendation to the  European Parliament on whether to grant the Commission discharge. This scrutiny is  significant in light of the special instruments and support established in the wake of the  COVID-19 pandemic, which will be scrutinised for the first time.  

In the area of customs, the Presidency will move the ongoing efforts to reform the customs  union forward. The customs union plays an important role in many areas, not least in  facilitating competitive neutrality in international trade. Improved cooperation among the  Member States, and between the European Commission and the Member States, is crucial. 

The Presidency will also move the negotiations forward on the revision of the Regulation  concerning the illegal manufacture of, and trade in, firearms.

Justice and home affairs 

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has consequences for the EU’s internal  security and migration in our neighbourhood. At the same time, we are reminded of  the power of the rule of law and fundamental rights. 

Combating organised crime, terrorism and violent extremism is a priority in order  to ensure the safety of EU citizens.  

The EU needs an effective migration and asylum system. Achieving this requires  action within the EU, and also outside its borders in cooperation with third  countries. A review of the migration and asylum system is important as a matter of  principle and in strategic terms, and also critical for ensuring effective Schengen  cooperation.  

Europol and Eurojust play a crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of cross border crime. To ensure the effective prosecution of crime linked to several Member  States, it is important that criminal investigations and prosecutions can be more easily  coordinated in a single Member State. This requires clear rules. The Presidency will  therefore prioritise the forthcoming proposal for a Directive on the transfer of criminal  proceedings.  

To ensure that the authorities can effectively confiscate proceeds of crime, the Presidency  will intensify the continuing negotiations on the proposal for a new Directive on asset  recovery and confiscation. If EU sanctions against Russia, Belarus and other countries and  actors are to be effective, the Member States must prosecute sanction breaches. The  Presidency will lead the work on the proposal to set a minimum level for the  criminalisation of, and sanctions for, breaches of EU restrictive measures, as well as on  demanding accountability for the war crimes and other serious crimes being committed in  Ukraine.  

To combat crimes committed online or planned and communicated using digital services,  EU law enforcement authorities need access to readable information and electronic  evidence, including encrypted data, from those digital services. States governed by the rule  of law must be able to prosecute crimes whether they are committed online or offline. The  Swedish Presidency therefore supports continued and intensified efforts to ensure and  develop access to communication data and eEvidence. Increased automation and common  standards are important prerequisites for more effective exchange of information. The  Presidency will also move negotiations forward on the Prüm II Regulation, as well as on the implementation of the interoperability programme and the Directive on information  exchange. The Presidency intends to initiate negotiations on the Commission’s proposal to  improve the possibilities for collecting and using advance passenger information in order to  strengthen border controls and law enforcement.  

We must prevent and combat sexual offences against children. The work to combat men’s  violence against women and intimate partner violence is important, and the Presidency will  drive negotiations forward on a new directive. Furthermore, the Presidency will advance  the negotiations on the revision of the Environmental Crime Directive as far as possible.  The Presidency will also continue to work to ensure that the EU ratifies the Istanbul  Convention.  

To safeguard the wellbeing of society and individuals, public health and public safety, the  Presidency will work on the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy and the EU Drugs  Action Plan 2021–2025. The Presidency will also advance the work on a new mandate for  the EU Drugs Agency.  

In addition, the Presidency intends to advance the negotiations on a Pact on Migration and  Asylum in accordance with the agreement between the institutions to conclude  negotiations during the current parliamentary term. The Presidency also intends to work to  ensure more operational, effective and coordinated cooperation with third countries and  effective implementation of migration-related actions within the framework of the EU’s  external action. This will be done by, for instance, following up on the EU’s work with  priority third countries and current political issues. Returns are a central part of this. The  Presidency will also have to deal with the migration consequences of Russia’s invasion of  Ukraine. In light of this invasion and the increased risk of natural disasters induced by a  changing climate, the Presidency will also support EU civil protection cooperation.  

The EU is founded on shared values and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. The  EU Charter of Fundamental Rights forms one of the cornerstones of the Union. We  cannot take these rights and values for granted; safeguarding them is a continuous process.  The Swedish Presidency therefore intends to actively continue the Council’s efforts to  uphold respect for fundamental rights and follow up on the application of the Charter  within the EU. To strengthen the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms  throughout Europe, the Presidency will strive to ensure that the EU accedes to the  European Convention on Human Rights as soon as possible.  

It should be easy to live in the EU. People should be able to work, study, trade and have a  family across borders without their access to justice being compromised. Civil law  regulations play an important role in this context. The Presidency will proceed with  ongoing negotiations and take on new proposals, including on rules concerning the  recognition of parenthood, insolvency and liability for defective products. In addition, the Presidency will continue the work on a proposal designed to strengthen the protection of  journalists and other media professionals participating in the public debate against baseless  legal proceedings and abusive litigation.  

Digitalisation is an important tool in making life easier for citizens and businesses. To  improve individual access to justice and cooperation between judicial authorities, the  Presidency will continue the work on the proposals concerning the digitalisation of judicial  cooperation.

Employment, social policy,  health care and consumer  affairs 

The Swedish Presidency will take place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and  Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and the energy crisis. These  crises have considerable social, employment and health policy implications for  European citizens, and demonstrate the importance of cooperation in addressing  common challenges. All citizens must be equipped for a rapidly changing labour  market. Basic skills and lifelong learning are the building blocks that resolve skills  supply challenges. Work is the most important prerequisite for self sufficiency and  reduces the risk of poverty and social exclusion, which also leads to increased  opportunities to invest in publicly financed welfare. 

Employment and social policy 

All employees have the right to a good working environment regardless of the size of the  employer or form of employment. The Swedish Presidency intends to advance the  proposal to revise the Asbestos Directive and begin work on the anticipated proposal to  revise the Chemical Agents Directive. The Presidency also intends to advance the proposed  Directive on improving working conditions in platform work. An initial progress briefing  on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021–2027 is planned.  

The social partners play a vital role in a well-functioning labour market. The Presidency  intends to strengthen the social dialogue by addressing the proposal announced by the  Commission for a Council recommendation on enhanced social dialogue.  

The Swedish Presidency will continue working towards increased gender equality, including  by following up on paragraph 202 of the Beijing Platform for Action on institutional  gender mainstreaming.  

Equality and non-discrimination are fundamental EU values that play a major role in  ensuring equal rights and equal opportunities for all. Equality bodies play an important role  in this work, and the Presidency will thus advance the proposed Directive on equality  bodies. For the same reason, the Presidency intends to advance the trilogues on the proposed Directive on binding measures for transparency in salary-setting and negotiations  in the Council on the proposal for an anti-discrimination directive.  

It is essential that the rules for coordinating social security are modernised and reflect the  social and economic reality in the Member States. The Presidency will thus continue  working on the revision of the regulations on social security coordination. 

The Presidency will continue working on the strategy for health and social care and  highlight issues concerning independent living for older people and an ageing population.  In this context, the Presidency will highlight the forthcoming report of the High-Level  Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state in the EU. The  Presidency will also strive to strengthen the rights of the child and promote the integration  of these rights. The Presidency intends to use the EU Strategy for the Rights of Persons  with Disabilities as a springboard for highlighting disability policy issues to promote,  protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of human rights for people with  disabilities. 

Health care 

The Swedish Presidency intends to build on lessons learned from the COVID-19  pandemic. The Presidency will address the many issues in the area of health and medical  care that are due to be negotiated, such as the proposal concerning a Regulation for a  European Health Data Space, and the proposal concerning a Regulation on standards of  quality and safety for substances of human origin intended for human application.  

The Presidency will also promote the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.  The Presidency will promote effective EU coordination during negotiations in the World  Health Organization on an international pandemic treaty and supplementary amendments  to the International Health Regulations. Another important issue is advancing efforts to  renew the EU Global Health Strategy. The Presidency will also highlight public health  policy risks relating to increased loneliness. 

In the area of health, the Swedish Presidency will prioritise pharmaceutical products. In the  case of unforeseen events, access to medicines and medical devices can be affected and  shortages may occur. This was further accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The  Presidency will advance the Commission’s forthcoming proposals on updating the general  pharmaceutical legislation and proposals on new regulations concerning orphan medicinal  products and paediatric medicines. Another issue that is expected to come before the  Council is the proposal for a new Regulation concerning the European Medicines Agency’s fees. The Presidency will also support the work on implementing the newly adopted  Medical Devices Regulation. 

Antimicrobial resistance, particularly antibiotic resistance, is one of the greatest health  threats of our time and affects high-, middle- and low-income countries. The Presidency  will strive to maintain the possibility of effective treatment of bacterial infections in  humans and animals, and to keep the issue at the top of the international agenda. In order  to contribute to this, the Presidency will highlight efforts to ensure sustainable access to  effective antimicrobials and the EU’s contribution to reducing antimicrobial resistance at  global level. 

Competitiveness 

The Swedish Presidency will strive to ensure that the ambition of strengthened  European competitiveness is the guiding principle. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,  the energy crisis and rising inflation entail significant challenges for European  businesses. Short-term emergency measures are needed to tackle these. However,  temporary crisis measures cannot become the ‘new normal’, and the EU needs to  plot a course for how it will handle future challenges and crises. It is therefore  necessary to put competitiveness front and centre. Only through competitive  businesses can we create sustainable growth, accelerate the green and digital  transitions, increase economic resilience and strengthen the EU’s geopolitical  importance. Measures at EU level need to be based on fundamental values such as  openness, freedom of movement, effective competition, uniform and growth promoting regulatory frameworks and innovation. The Presidency will mark the  30th anniversary of the launch of the internal market. This is a natural starting point  in establishing a path for how EU competitiveness can be strengthened in the long  term. 

Internal market and industry 

Markets with effective competition play an important part in EU competitiveness. The  Presidency will ensure that the importance of competition is highlighted in EU work on the  green and digital transitions in the business sector and in the response to ongoing and  potential future crises. The Presidency will work towards long-term and predictable rules  that promote effective competition and reduce the regulatory burden, allowing the EU to  take the lead on digital innovation. Among other things, the Presidency will work to  promote comprehensive impact assessments and evaluations in the Commission, the  Council and the Parliament. 

In the area of the internal market, efforts to eliminate trade barriers for both goods and  services will continue, along with efforts to improve the application of and compliance  with the existing internal market regulations. The Presidency will mark the 30th anniversary  of the launch of the internal market, with a view to attempting to establish a path for how  EU competitiveness can be strengthened in the years to come. The need to develop the  possibilities for strengthened competitiveness and an accelerated digital and green  transition in the digital and services sectors will play an important part in this regard.  

The Swedish Presidency will prioritise work on the interconnected negotiations on the new  Ecodesign Regulation and Construction Products Regulation, both of which aim to ensure an efficient and effective internal market that contributes to a circular economy with  reduced environmental and climate impacts. Furthermore, the Presidency will also work on  the negotiations on the legislative draft of the Single Market Emergency Instrument, which  is intended to help respond to crises. Two other legislative proposals to be dealt with  concern prohibiting the placing on the market of products made using forced labour, and  short-term accommodation rentals in the internal market. The Presidency will initiate  negotiations on an upcoming proposal for a directive to expand and upgrade the use of  digital tools and processes in company law.  

In the area of industry, the Commission has announced an initiative on critical raw  materials that is intended to be an important step towards reducing vulnerability and  ensuring that the EU remains a world leader in the green transition. The Presidency will  also prioritise the review of the Euro 7 emissions standards for combustion engine  vehicles, and intends to initiate negotiations in the Council. The European Chips Act is a  step towards strengthening Europe’s semiconductor ecosystem and creating diversification  opportunities for an increasingly digital economy. The Presidency will move the work on  this forward.  

In the area of intellectual property, the Presidency will highlight the entry into force of the  unitary patent system, which is groundbreaking for the future of innovation in the EU.  Furthermore, the Presidency will initiate negotiations on a review of the design protection  legislation. The Presidency will also focus on informal trilogues on protected geographical  indications for craft and industrial products. On the intellectual property front, the  Presidency will focus on the question of remuneration when music from third countries is  played in the EU. In the area of consumer protection, the Presidency will take the Directive  on distance marketing of financial services and the negotiations on the Directive on  empowering consumers for the green transition forward as far as possible.  

Research and innovation 

Alongside effective markets, knowledge and innovative capacity are important prerequisites  for enhanced competitiveness. Research and innovation are also prerequisites for tackling  crises and societal challenges, ensuring security and prosperity for the citizens of Europe  and implementing the green and digital transitions. The Presidency will work to support  measures that promote open exchange of knowledge and data within the European  Research Area, increase knowledge valorisation in our societies, accelerate the transition to  open science and allow increased access to research infrastructures.  

Research infrastructures contribute to research quality and societal benefit, for example in  efforts relating to the green and digital transitions. The Presidency will highlight the importance of measures that increase access to research infrastructures, and to their data  and services, for researchers, businesses and society at large.  

The transition to open science entails comprehensive change, making as many stages and  tools as possible in research processes freely available online. To facilitate and drive the  transition to open science, there are challenges and needs that must be addressed at both  national and international level. These concern costs, skills and merits, for example.  Questions are also raised concerning security and protection of research data, which actors  have intellectual property rights over various publications and research findings, and how  actors’ knowledge and strategic use of those rights can be promoted. The Presidency will  work to promote open science.  

One of the five strategic objectives in the draft European Chips Act is strengthening  Europe’s research and technological leadership through a European partnership focusing  on semiconductors and related technologies. The Presidency will continue processing the  amendments to the Regulation establishing the Joint Undertakings under Horizon Europe,  as regards the Chips Joint Undertaking.  

Space 

Space activities are a strategic asset in developing the information society and intersect with  many other important societal issues. The Presidency’s aim is to work towards measures  that promote fair and sustainable use of space. The Presidency intends to take up the  negotiations on the proposal for a Regulation establishing the Union Secure Connectivity  Programme for the period 2023–2027, and to take these negotiations forward as far as  possible. 

Transport, telecommunications  and energy 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having a major impact on both the European energy  market and the European transport market. The consequences, namely high energy  prices, an uncertain energy supply and disruptions in the supply of goods, have  quite clearly demonstrated that the EU must quickly become independent of  Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the green transition, which is also necessary if  the Union is to achieve its climate targets. To achieve a successful climate  transition and strengthen competitiveness, the EU needs a secure supply of more  fossil-free electricity. At the same time, the Member States’ right to determine their  own energy mix must be respected. By accelerating the transition to a sustainable  transport system, the EU will lead the way in the green transition. At the same time,  infrastructure and transport need to be competitive and efficient and make the  entire EU accessible.  

The digital changeover also provides great opportunities for society and individual  citizens. At the same time, the EU needs to remain open to the rest of the world in  order to become a technological leader and navigate in a more geopolitical world.  

Transport 

Putting in place the regulatory framework required to achieve the EU climate targets and  reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 is a priority. The  Presidency therefore intends to focus on trilogues on transport legislation within the Fit for  55 package.  

The further development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is an  important aspect in terms of sustainably and efficiently strengthening and modernising  Europe’s transport infrastructure. The Presidency therefore intends to advance the TEN-T  negotiations and, if necessary, take forward the work on revising the Intelligent Transport  Systems Directive. This is an important step in promoting connected and automated  mobility in road and other modes of transport. Negotiations on the revision of the Single  European Sky rules will also continue.  

There is high demand for green, safe and efficient transport within the Union and the EU  needs to meet this demand. In line with this objective, the Commission is expected to present a number of proposals on road, rail and intermodal transport in the first half of  2023, including a revision of the Directive on driving licences and a package for green  freight transport. The Presidency intends to initiate negotiations in the Council on a  number of these proposals.  

A well-functioning internal aviation market is vital, not only to ensure good accessibility for  all EU citizens but also to create conditions that are favourable to improved access to non  EU regions and countries. The Presidency is ready to negotiate the Commission’s  forthcoming proposals to improve the internal aviation market and strengthen the  resilience of aviation.  

In the area of maritime transport, the Presidency will initiate negotiations in the Council on  the legislative acts in the Maritime Safety Package: a revision of the directives on  compliance with flag State requirements, port state control and maritime accident  investigation. The proposals are necessary in order to adapt the EU regulatory framework  to international regulatory developments and recent digital and technological  developments, and to streamline supervisory activities.  

Telecommunications 

Developing new technologies, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, is a tool for  achieving a more innovative, competitive, inclusive, secure and sustainable Europe. This  includes introducing uniform rules on artificial intelligence within the internal market. The  Presidency will initiate negotiations with the European Parliament and advance them as far  as possible. 

Efforts to put in place an interconnected European electronic ID and digital wallet system  have the potential to lead to groundbreaking internal market reform. The Presidency’s  ambition is to initiate negotiations with the European Parliament and to advance them as  far as possible.  

Data is a strategic resource and the Presidency intends to contribute to the implementation  of the European Data Strategy. At the same time, the EU must not cut itself off from the  rest of the world. The Data Act is an important part of this work. The Presidency intends  to take over work on the Act in the Council, initiate negotiations with the European  Parliament and advance these negotiations as far as possible.  

Digital infrastructure is a prerequisite for taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by  digitalisation. The Presidency will begin the Council’s work on the Connectivity Infrastructure Act, which is designed to reduce the costs of expanding the high-speed  electronic communications networks.  

The Interoperable Europe Act is a key initiative to create the conditions for better EU wide cooperation on data exchange and IT solutions between national administrations.  Cooperation lays the foundations for both economies of scale and innovation. The  Presidency intends to advance negotiations on this Act in the Council.  

With increased digitalisation and a new global environment, the EU’s information and  cyber security efforts assume greater importance. The Presidency’s objective is to advance  as far as possible the negotiations in the Council on the Cyber Resilience Act and the  trilogues on the Regulation on cybersecurity measures for the EU’s own institutions,  bodies, offices and agencies. 

Security and protection of privacy in electronic communications remain of great  importance for the further development of the digital single market. The Presidency will  continue negotiations with the European Parliament on the ePrivacy Regulation. 

Energy 

The EU must be well-equipped for next winter and to address challenges in subsequent  years too. The Presidency is ready to act quickly and resolutely to meet the pressing  challenges presented by the current energy crisis. The priorities will be to closely monitor  developments in the energy markets and the implementation of measures, deal with any  further emergency proposals and reform the design of the EU’s electricity market.  

Implementating the Fit for 55 package is important so that the EU can achieve its goal of  climate neutrality by 2050. The Presidency will continue to drive the informal trilogues with  the European Parliament forward regarding the proposals for a revision of the Renewable  Energy Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive. It is important that the EU  maintains high ambitions, while also taking into account the fact that the Member States  are differently placed to help achieve its energy targets for 2030.  

The Presidency will also advance the work on the proposal for a revision of the Energy  Performance of Buildings Directive. By reviewing the regulatory framework, the EU can  jointly improve the energy performance of buildings, reduce emissions from buildings and  improve the availability of charging infrastructure. 

The Presidency will advance the work on the proposals in the hydrogen and decarbonised  gas market package. It is important to increase the proportion of renewable and low-carbon gases in the energy system while reducing natural gas use. The Presidency will also  continue to work on the proposal for a Regulation on the reduction of methane emissions  in the energy sector. Reducing methane emissions from fossil energy sources is an  important measure in the efforts to achieve the green transition. The Presidency will also  continuously manage and, where necessary, coordinate the EU’s position for international  energy negotiations. 

Agriculture and fisheries 

The European Union’s work within the purview of the Agriculture and Fisheries  Council will also be affected in 2023 by developments in Russia’s aggression  against Ukraine. Food production and food security issues will remain at the top of  the agenda. In addition, the Swedish Presidency will actively promote the EU’s  work to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, in parallel with an increase in  competitiveness, employment, food production, and health and welfare. In this  spirit, the implementation of the European Green Deal will be high on the agenda  in the first half of 2023. The green and blue industries’ contribution to achieving the  climate targets and their climate adaptation are important in this context. 

Agriculture 

The Presidency will monitor the market situation, not least in light of Russia’s invasion of  Ukraine, and trends in the prices for agricultural inputs, and will maintain a readiness to  deal with any crisis or other market disturbances. The Russian invasion has affected  agricultural costs for inputs such as diesel, fertiliser, electricity and feed. In addition, the  scarcity of fertiliser poses a problem for future crop seasons. The Commission  Communication on guaranteed access to, and fair prices for, fertilisers is important in this  respect. The Presidency intends to follow up on any proposals and initiatives designed to  strengthen European food production. Moreover, the Presidency will address trade-related  agricultural issues and prioritise work on the role and potential of the bioeconomy.  

The Presidency will move the negotiations on the revision of geographical indications  forward as far as possible. In addition, the Presidency will advance the negotiations in the  Council regarding the proposal for a Farm Sustainability Data Network.  

The Presidency will prioritise negotiations on the revision of the Food Information to  Consumers Regulation and its food labelling provisions. These proposals are an important  part of the Farm to Fork Strategy and play a major role in helping consumers and  producers make conscious and sustainable food choices. Moreover, the Presidency plans to  advance the negotiations on the Regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection  products. 

The Presidency will initiate discussions both on the proposal for the revision of the  legislation on seeds and plant and forest reproductive material and on the Commission’s  forthcoming proposal for a revision of the legislation for plants produced by certain new  genomic techniques. 

The Presidency may initiate discussions in the Council on the legislative proposal on forest  monitoring and strategic plans. In global forums such as the United Nations Forum on  Forests, the Presidency will encourage the promotion of sustainable forestry and value  chains. The Presidency will monitor the implementation of the EU’s Forest Strategy and  ensure that the balance between the three dimensions of sustainability is observed.  

Fisheries 

In addition to participating in a number of international negotiations within the framework  of the UN/FAO, sustainable fisheries partnership agreements and regional fisheries  management organisations, the Presidency will initiate a debate on a review of the EU  Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), including the common market organisation. In the  fisheries sector, the Presidency will also work to advance the trilogues on the Fisheries  Control Regulation in line with the objectives and principles of the CFP. 

Environment 

The climate crisis and biodiversity loss are existential problems that must be  resolved together. The EU has an important role to play as a global leader of the  green transition. The EU reducing its net emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030  and achieving climate neutrality by 2050 will make a key contribution towards  halting climate change. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has further  highlighted the need to reduce emissions, complete the transition to a more  resource-efficient and circular society, and make the EU independent of fossil  energy. Technological advances by European companies and citizens point the way  towards the green transition for industry, transport and societies. This is crucial for  jobs and welfare in the EU today and in the future.  

Environment and climate issues are high on the EU agenda, and a large number of  proposals are already on the table or will be presented by the Commission in the near  future. The Fit for 55 proposals presented in July 2021 lay the foundations for the way in  which the EU will achieve its climate targets. The pricing of carbon dioxide emissions is  crucial, and emissions trading is a mainstay of the EU’s climate framework. Certification of  carbon sequestration and carbon capture is expected to be important in the future, not least  for the development of biogenic carbon capture. The rate of transition and electrification  in the EU’s world leading automotive industry is an excellent example of the significance of  the green transition in driving innovation.  

The EU’s actions for the climate transition within the Union affect the whole world’s  prospects of achieving the commitments in the Paris Agreement. For this reason, the  Swedish Presidency will prioritise moving the negotiations on any remaining parts of the  Fit for 55 package forward with a high level of ambition in the Environment Council. It  will also be important to take the results of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27)  forward. The EU plays a crucial role in keeping global ambitions high.  

A review of the CO2 emissions standards for new heavy-duty vehicles will provide an  important framework for accelerating the transition of the transport sector. The Presidency  will take forward the proposal for a certification scheme for carbon removal to promote  the emergence of a commercial carbon capture market. The Presidency will also continue  the negotiations on a revised Regulation on F-gases and on the Ozone Regulation, with the  ambition of making as much progress as possible. The Swedish Presidency will also  prioritise the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive. Another important proposal in  terms of realising the EU’s zero pollution vision is the revision of the Ambient Air Quality  Directives.

Developing a circular economy is important for the green transition. The Presidency will  work to ensure that the EU is at the forefront in this area too. This involves both how the  products we consume are produced and how they are packaged and transported before  they reach the consumer. The Presidency intends to advance the work on the revision of  the Packaging Directive. The Presidency will also work on the EU regulatory frameworks  that promote non-toxic material cycles, increased use of high-quality recycled materials in  products, and other business models that promote a circular economy. The Presidency will  also strive for as much progress as possible in the negotiations on the revision of the Waste  Shipments Regulation. This plays an important part in increasing controls of waste streams  and tackling illegal waste shipments. A number of international negotiations, including on a  legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution, are due to take place during the  Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. 

The green transition needs to happen in all areas, and one vital condition is the protection  of natural environments and biodiversity – today and for future generations. The  Presidency will therefore continue the work on the Regulation on nature restoration.  Another important task for the Presidency will be following up on the outcomes of the UN  Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and ensuring the prompt implementation of the global  biodiversity framework.

Education, youth, culture and  sport 

Artistic and cultural freedom has to be constantly reinforced and defended, not least  due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Education, continuing education  and further education can help equip individuals, societies and businesses for the  digital and green transitions and are important tools for achieving the objective of  enhanced EU competitiveness and the right skills for the jobs of the future in the  EU. 

Education  

The European Year of Skills is taking place in 2023, and the Presidency intends to link up  with this and one of its focus areas, matching skillsets to labour market needs. The  Presidency will highlight how education can contribute to transition and upskilling and will  initiate a discussion on the conditions necessary for both individuals and businesses to be  able to obtain the skills they need for the green transition.  

In addition, the Presidency will move the work on the European Education Area forward,  for example regarding mutual recognition of qualifications. The Presidency also plans to  begin considering both of the Council recommendations announced by the Commission  on digitalisation in the area of education.  

Youth 

Young people’s participation in political decision-making enables better, more sustainable  decisions. Young people’s knowledge, perspectives and experiences offer important  contributions to the democratic process. The current themes in this area follow a common  overarching priority decided on by the presidency trio and the national culture councils in  2021, based on Youth Goal 3 on inclusive societies and Youth Goal 10 on a sustainable  green Europe. The Swedish Presidency intends to highlight the social dimension of  sustainable development. The Presidency also intends to work on a Council resolution on  the conclusions of the ninth cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue, as is customary at the end of  each cycle, and on a Council resolution on the midterm review of the work plan for the EU  Youth Strategy 2022–2024. 

Culture and media 

In the area of culture, the Presidency intends to present Council conclusions on the subject  of displaced artists, with the aim of emphasising the importance of giving them protection  and support to continue their artistic endeavours within existing programmes and  structures. The Presidency also intends to highlight other aspects of the prerequisites for  artistic creativity, as well as artistic freedom and the conditions for the cultural and creative  industries.  

Independent and strong media and cultural sectors are crucial elements of a vibrant and  resilient democracy. The Presidency will advance the work on the proposal for a European  Media Freedom Act. 

Sport 

Sweden will work on current matters such as the EU Work Plan for Sport 2020–2024,  which includes good governance and administration in sport. The EU’s work in the World  Anti-Doping Agency will also be highlighted.