Priorities of the Belgian presidency

Belgium holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2024, from 1 January to 30 June.

The six priorities of the Belgian presidency from the semester are the following, as listed also in the Programme of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union:

  1. Defending rule of law, democracy, and unity
  2. Strengthening our competitiveness
  3. Pursuing a green and just transition
  4. Reinforcing our social and health agenda
  5. Protecting people and borders
  6. Promoting a global Europe

If we look into the details, the focus of the programme in R&I is as follows:

“Research and innovation play a pivotal role in achieving the overarching objectives of the EU and are essential for addressing urgent societal, global and economic challenges such as climate crisis, health, and the digital transformation. The Belgian Presidency will therefore prioritise the contribution of research and innovation as our foremost catalyst for achieving greater open strategic autonomy for Europe, while focusing on better valorisation of research results and reinforcing the role of research and innovation in society to overcome key industrial and societal challenges.

The Belgian Presidency acknowledges the importance of space activities as a strategic asset, particularly in domains such as security, defense, climate change mitigation, and the empowerment of New Space actors. It will aim to advance cybersecurity and secure connectivity and to promote the safe, sustainable, and secure use of space. In dealing with these challenges, including also responsible international cooperation, the commitment to nurturing the EU’s open strategic autonomy will run as a common thread.” (p 32)

Regarding education, culture, youth and sports, the following key areas have been identified:

“The Belgian Presidency plans to strengthen the European Education Area, enhance the quality of education, and promote lifelong learning. It aims to ease mobility for learners and educators across Europe and initiate discussions on the forthcoming higher education package. Digital education and teacher shortages will be addressed, while youth participation, empowerment and inclusion will be mphasised. It will review and refine youth strategies, including a Council resolution on youth work policy.

In the cultural realm, the Presidency will stimulate the digital transformation of cultural sectors and reinforce media freedom and pluralism. The role of influencers will be highlighted. In sport, the Belgian Presidency will adopt the EU Work Plan 2024-2027 and discuss the role of non-organised sport and free physical activity within a European sport model.” (p 46)

Geographical focus:

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