The Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union: January-June 2014

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Greece will hold the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2014, before handing over reins to Italy on 1 July 2014. It is the fifth time that Greece will hold the EU Presidency since its accession to the European Communities in 1981. Read more about the Past Presidencies Greece assumes the Presidency of the Council of the EU at a time that Europe is going through a crucial transitional phase. The economic crisis imposed the implementation of restrictive fiscal policies to safeguard financial stability and consolidate public finances. The extent and intensity of the crisis, as well as the level of the recession and unemployment that ensued, have shaken the confidence of an important segment of European citizens in EU institutions and their ability to design and implement a reliable and effective economic policy in order to return to recovery, prosperity and high levels of employment. At the same time, dealing with the financial crisis through the implementation of strict austerity fiscal policies have greatly affected the social cohesion, particularly in countries which were directly affected by the crisis. The big challenge for the EU is to ensure prosperity and stability: for this the EU has to reaffirm its mission at the heart and mind of its citizens. In this context, the EU is called upon today to tackle the economic crisis, by safeguarding its common currency through the deepening of the EMU, through immediately promoting policies in order to deal with the recession and unemployment by boosting growth and through employing all existing instruments in order to enhance synergies between migration and growth. Briefly, the promotion of policies and actions for achieving growth, combating unemployment, promoting economic and social cohesion and structural reforms, deepening integration and completion of EMU, as well as addressing external challenges, including the EU enlargement, formulate the priority framework of Greek Presidency. Elections for a new European Parliament during the Greek Presidency is yet another factor that sets the context of the Greek Presidency.

Main principles - objectives

The main principles which will guide the work of the Presidency can be summarized:

1. In enhancing civic and society engagement in the EU, through policies and initiatives in response to citizens’ everyday problems, concerns and insecurities. Therefore, the effort will focus in the areas of economic recovery, employment, cohesion, mobility of Union citizens and European security, internal and external. The ultimate goal is the development of the EU in a community of shared values and "common destiny" for all its citizens, while preserving and strengthening the European model.

2. In deepening the Union, especially the EMU, by promoting policies and actions to improve initial deficiencies in the Euro area architecture, which have been unveiled by the ongoing crisis. The aim remains to safeguard the irrevocability of the common currency, on a solid and sustainable basis. The euro is a fundamental building block of the European integration project. As first step, we will strive for concrete progress on the banking union (Single Resolution Mechanism). In any case, all EMU deepening will take place fully respecting the Single Market, in an procedure open to non-Eurozone member-states.

3. In reinforcing EU democratic legitimacy and accountability along with collectivity and solidarity links among Member States, as well as in incrementally constructing European democracy and in expanding civil rights.