From 1 July the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU has been in the hands of one of the smallest, yet most experience member states. On 8 July MEPs hold a plenary debate on the challenges it will have to tackle, including the Greek debt crisis, an increase in irregular migration and the preparation for the climate change conference in Paris in December. Just before the start of the presidency, we asked all of the country's six MEPs for their views.
Georges Bach (EPP)
As a member of the transport committee, it is important to me that the fourth railway package is finalised with a satisfactory result for companies, customers but also railway employees. Growth and jobs are priorities for the social sphere. I expect to see concrete measures for youth employment, but also proposals on fighting long-term unemployment and on increasing the participation of female employees.
Frank Engel (EPP)
Rarely, if ever, have the challenges facing a Luxembourg presidency been so many and so great: a migration crisis; a Greek crisis; a United Kingdom that threatens to leave the Europe as we know it. If it was not enough, the European economy lacks investment, dynamism and growth. Fixing all this in six months will be impossible. Managing it as best as we can would be in the tradition of Luxembourg presidencies. We have to succeed. As so often, there is no alternative.
Viviane Reding (EPP)
Only by putting in place consistent policies followed by all member states can we tackle the challenges we face. Luxembourg has to give a new impetus to this. Economic growth and stability could be created by setting up a genuine common digital market, deepening the economic, monetary and financial union as well as concluding balanced trade agreements. Luxembourg will also be able to show leadership in balancing relations between Europe and its neighbours and responding firmly to foreign threats.
Mady Delvaux (S&D)
Migration will certainly be one of the main challenges that the Luxembourg presidency will have to address. We have opened our internal borders, now we should go further and create a common asylum and migration policy. Other great challenges include the digital market, energy, promoting European innovation and creativity and we shouldn’t forget the thorny issues of TTIP and LuxLeaks. Europe needs a new dynamic based on more solidarity. After having constructed an economic union, albeit an imperfect one, let’s now work together on creating a union at the service of its people.
Charles Goerens (ALDE)
We have known for some time now that the climate change conference in Paris will be the main challenge for the Luxembourg presidency. When it comes to the economy, we will need progress on fiscal issues and the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The success of the Luxembourg presidency will also be judged on its capacity to make the EU more cohesive and coherent.
Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA)
We are called upon to keep global warming within 2°C by the end of the century. Luxembourg’s presidency will have to get the 28 member states to agree on an ambitious common position and lead the EU delegation at the Paris conference in order to reach an agreement with our partners around the globe. Another challenge will be the energy union. Luxembourg is well placed to help create strong regional cooperation, as we have already done with our Belgian and Dutch neighbours within the Benelux.
The article was originally published on 1 July 2015.