Spain holds the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2023. Under the motto ‘Europe, closer’, and working around four priority areas, Spain seeks to advance in European unity, bringing citizens closer to the decisions present in day-to-day lives. The Presidency will feature several topics and initiatives of relevance for EU Funds and for Roma equality and inclusion, including Council Conclusions regarding the Roma population and the eradication of segregated settlements and shantytowns.
Spanish Presidency is framed within the trio of Presidencies made up of Spain, Belgium and Hungary, which works in line with the long-term goals and the common agenda agreed for the 18-month period from July 2023 to December 2024.
The Spanish Presidency’s actions will revolve around four priorities:
- Reindustrialising the EU and guaranteeing its open strategic autonomy. As part of this priority, the Presidency will work to place the EU at the forefront of the technological revolution, fostering a regulatory framework that combines incentives for technological development and innovation and the defence of the EU users rights protection model; to promote competitiveness and sustainable and inclusive economic growth, strengthening and deepening the single market; and to advance towards responsible digitalisation, bridging the digital divide and guaranteeing digital privacy for all Europeans.
- Advancing ecological transition and environmental adaptation. The Spanish presidency aims to do its utmost to facilitate this transition by, among others, completing a socially just green transition, promoting the mitigation of the effects of climate change and taking into account social exclusion and energy poverty; fostering a green economy, one which ensures quality jobs and the competitiveness of European companies.
- Promoting greater social and economic justice. Spanish Presidency will work to ensure that Europe has a more competitive economy, but also a fairer and more united economy. It aims to ensure that the wealth generated reaches all citizens and serves to improve their opportunities and living conditions. In this context, it will develop actions for specific and vulnerable groups, including Roma, as well as specific groups such as children, women or youngsters. As part of this priority, it will also work for a proper revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
- Strengthening European unity. Spanish Presidency will promote the progress on integration and develop tools that will enable them to face the major challenges of our time together. It will also focus on further deepening of the internal market, the consolidation and improvement of common instruments such as the ‘NextGenerationEU’ funds, more efficient and coordinated management of migration and asylum processes, and coordinated support for Ukraine and other neighbouring states.
Relevant initiatives for Roma equality and inclusion and for EU Funds
In the different Council configurations, several topics of relevance for Roma equality and inclusion and for EU Funds will be addressed, including:
The Spanish Presidency will promote the mid-term review of the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027, a debate that is very closely linked to sustaining financial aid for Ukraine and other key initiatives for the economic future of the EU. The Presidency will also work towards the approval of new own resources for the EU, aimed at repaying the loans that financed the Next Generation EU investment programme, thus contributing to equip the EU with greater financial capacity.
The Presidency will also adopt a 2.0 cohesion approach, identifying essential elements such as shared management, the regional approach, pre-financing, and cofinancing rates. The inclusion of criteria relating to exposure to climate change, unemployment and youth unemployment rates, social exclusion, school drop-out rates, on migratory pressure will be considered. Incentives for digital transformation and the full use of the green transition to generate opportunities in every territory will also be taken into account. The negotiation of the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) will also be promoted.
With the goal of making Europe more social, more feminist, greener and more democratic, the roll-out of this agenda for employment will be guided by three principal themes: social dialogue, decent work and the social economy.
As regards the social economy, the Spanish Presidency will work hand in hand with the Commission to include all the actions within the new Social Economy Action Plan and to achieve the adoption of the proposal for a Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions.
With the aim of promoting the social dimension of the economic governance framework of the European Semester, it will support the launch of the Social Imbalances Framework initiative, introducing indicators to detect and correct possible social imbalances, with a view to its first-time application by the Commission in the next cycle of the European Semester in autumn 2023.
The Presidency will also work towards Conclusions on the promotion of social protection for the self-employed, as well as in relation to the digitalisation of social security systems.
The Spanish Presidency will complete the mid-term review of the European Education Area 2025 by promoting its social, democratic, and digital pillars. In the social sphere, the Presidency will develop the educational dimension of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.
Moreover, in the context of the digital transformation of our societies, the Spanish Presidency will propose two Council Recommendations on improving digital skills in education and training and on the key enabling factors for successful digital education and training. The importance of these skills, and of professional training, ongoing training and lifelong learning, are underscored in the 2023 European Year of Skills. In this framework, work will be done to improve the inclusion of companies into the training system.
The Spanish Presidency has committed to housing and urban development occupying an important place in European policies and will work to advance Council Conclusions on the Roma population that address ways to eradicate segregated settlements and put an end to slums.
Health In the sphere of health, three principal priorities will be promoted: improving the protection of vulnerable groups in the European Union, fostering preparedness and response initiatives for facing new health alerts, and aligning the European health agenda with the 2030 Agenda and the One Health approach.
Social inclusion and fight against poverty
The Spanish Presidency will foster social inclusion by strengthening the European social shield through two major lines of action. Firstly, by defining social return on investment metrics in public policy, with Presidency Conclusions on flexible and coherent income protection models. And secondly, by working towards Recommendations on minimum income, promoting initiatives to reduce the non-take up of benefits, and sharing the outcomes of inclusion itineraries.
The Spanish Presidency has committed to working on the adoption of a Council Declaration to advance in the fight against poverty and to convert decent work into a pillar of inclusive and sustainable growth, prioritizing equality between women and men in the labour market and the employment of young people.
In line with the European Child Guarantee, the Spanish Presidency will work on the adoption of a Council Declaration to advance in the fight against poverty and to deinstitutionalize the child protection system. Lastly, the Presidency will work on attaining the approval of Conclusions on person-centred and community-based care, as well as a Council Declaration on increasing care for children and adolescents.
Equality In the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the defence of human rights as a driver of EU external action, the Presidency will maintain efforts to protect women and girls. Efforts will be focused on applying the tools developed by the European Union in the framework of the Temporary Protection Directive, the Ukraine solidarity platform and the 10-Point Plan, paying particular attention to combating human trafficking.
Equality and discrimination
In addition, the Presidency will champion the idea of a Europe committed to equal treatment and equal opportunities and to combating all forms of discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Our aim is to tackle this issue across policies, making this fight an essential pillar of the acquis of European values.
The Presidency will advance work on the proposal for a Directive on standards for equality bodies in the field of equal treatment and will seek to push forward with the proposal for a Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Likewise, it will promote a debate on ways to effectively and definitively eradicate hateful behaviour in sport, as expressions that are incompatible with the values and principles of the European Union. The Presidency will also promote the European Union’s accession process to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Within the framework of the EU Youth Strategy (2019-2027), and with the aim of strengthening the Strategy, and of placing the future of young people at the heart of the European project, the Spanish Presidency will undertake to strengthen European instruments for youth.
The Presidency will continue to defend giving support and protection to the Ukrainian persons displaced for as long as they wish to remain abroad and until it is safe for them to return. It will promote a debate on challenges such as assisting the persons already admitted, including the extension of their Temporary Protection and the future legal framework for such persons after their Temporary Protection expires.