On Tuesday morning, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson discussed the priorities of the Swedish Council Presidency with MEPs in Strasbourg.
During his address, Mr Kristersson said that his country’s first priority at the helm of the Council would be Europe’s security by continuing to support war-torn Ukraine and highlighting the EU’s geopolitical significance in an increasingly uncertain world. However, he also stressed that “when we build security, we must also look at other aspects that are close to our citizens”, pointing out that the EU needs to cooperate more effectively against organised crime and work towards a common and coherent migration policy.
He went on to talk about the EU’s crucial role in the green transition, its links to Europe’s long-term competitiveness and that many companies want to take advantage of the shift from a fossil-dependent to a fossil-free economy. The job of politicians should be to provide the right framework, he said.
“If European companies are to produce the energy, and make the batteries, the electric cars and the fossil-free steel of the future, they need good conditions to compete”, he underlined.
Lastly, Prime Minister Kristersson highlighted that another Swedish priority will be to uphold the EU’s common, fundamental values.
“It is not corruption and cronyism that Ukraine, Moldova and other candidate countries are aspiring towards. (...) Liberal democracy - the combination of popular sovereignty and individual rights - is what separates the EU from other international institutions”, said the Swedish Prime Minister.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič highlighted that the EU must maintain its unity and determination to support Ukraine and that those in Russia responsible for the aggression and crimes in Ukraine must be held accountable.
The green transition will also be a key area, he highlighted; in 2022, the EU got twice as much energy from renewables than expected, and it should seek to double the amount again in 2023. Europe should boost its competitiveness, reinvigorate EU investments under Repower EU and support its clean tech industry - especially at a time when countries like the USA and China are using subsidies that harm European competitiveness. He also welcomed the Swedish Presidency’s focus on migration, reiterating the need for a robust asylum and migration system.
Speakers on behalf of political groups
EP political groups’ leaders agreed on most of the priority areas the Presidency should focus on, like innovation, job opportunities, migration, climate change and the Single Market, while putting forward different proposals on how to achieve results in these areas. Some groups stressed the need to counteract the recent US industry subsidies by boosting EU competitiveness also through trade agreements. Others focused more on building a strong social Europe to protect vulnerable families and ensure the integrity of the single market as well as protecting the EU’s borders and rescuing migrants at sea.
Watch the full debate here.