Every six months, a different country holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, the institution representing EU member state governments. The country holding the presidency plans and chairs Council meetings at the different levels and represents the Council vis-à-vis other EU institutions, often trying to encourage agreement on legislative files.
Portugal holds the rotating presidency from January to June 2021. The programme of the Portuguese Presidency spells out three main priorities for these six months:
Stemming from these priorities, the Presidency envisages several action lines, on the themes of a resilient, green, digital, social and global Europe. Consequently, topics that will be of importance to the Presidency include the Recovery and Resilience Facility, industrial strategy, rule of law and democracy, carbon emissions, tourism, the blue economy, the circular economy, digital skills, employment, and the EU’s relations with its international partners, among many other issues.
With regard to the blue economy, the Presidency programme states that “the Presidency attaches great importance to the development of the blue (ocean) economy, including renewable energies, blue biotechnology, sustainable aquaculture, coastal and maritime tourism, green shipping, and maritime surveillance technologies for the protection of the marine environment. In this context, we will hold a ministerial conference on integrated maritime policy in Lisbon in June.” In addition, given the Presidency’s special interest in the preservation and sustainable use of ocean and sea resources, it will organise a high-level conference on sustainable oceans, to be held in the Azores in June.
The Presidency will also focus on tourism, with a number of conferences and events, as well as Council conclusions on digital and sustainable tourism.
The website of the Portuguese Presidency is www.2021portugal.eu.
With Croatia currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020, it plays a key role in the EU policy-making process and leads the policy discussions at EU level. An EBI delegation therefore met with Ambassador Goran Štefanić (Deputy Permanent Representative, Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU) and Nevenka Žiža (First Secretary for Transport, Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU) to discuss the key issues for the boating industry.
The importance of sustainability for boating industry was highlighted, including circular economy, EU funding for environmental transition and the importance of marinas as connecting point for citizens and marine environment. Furthermore, the role of tourism as an increasingly important and growing aspect of the recreational boating industry was underlined.
Several meetings of national ministers will address the issue of sustainable tourism and maritime industry during the Croatian presidency, including meetings of national Tourism Ministers and Transport Ministers. Tourism is an important element for the country’s Council presidency, and it wants to develop a European tourism brand and to develop tourism opportunities. The EBI delegation was made up of Robert Marx (Council member, EBI & President, BVWW), Yves Lyon-Caen (President, FIN) and Philip Easthill (Secretary-General, EBI).
The EBI delegation also met with the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries to introduce the recreational boating industry and its key priorities at highest political level. The discussion focused on the importance of sustainability for the boating industry, the need for mutual recognition of boating and skipper licenses through a clear legal framework at EU level and the overall challenges and trends in the industry.
Taking over the Council Presidency from Finland in the first half of 2020, Croatia has released its official programme outlining its plans and priorities. It will be leading the Council of the EU until June. The programme announced by Croatia centres around the presidency’s four key priorities:
A Europe that develops
A Europe that connects
A Europe that protects
An influential Europe.
Among the policy areas that the Croatian presidency will take forward some of interest to the recreational boating industry. It will include a focus on fighting climate change and protecting the environment through policies such as circular economy, protection of the marine environment and protecting coastal areas from pollution. The presidency will also promote sustainable tourism and overall sustainability of coastal and island communities. Another area of its work will be to take a leading role on the international stage in fighting climate change.
Other relevant policy priorities are to strengthen European industry and SMEs, as well as targeted development of green technologies and innovation. Trade also features as a priority regarding the safeguarding of multilateral rule-based trade and a strengthening of EU-US relations.
The full programme can be found here.