Sweden assumed the Presidency of the European Union Council for the first six months of the year on January 1, 2023, succeeding the Czech Republic, which led the Council in the second half of 2022.
Sweden is assuming the presidency of one of the EU's three most significant decision-making organisations for the third time.
The Swedish Presidency has identified four priorities for the next six months: security - unity, competitiveness, green & energy transformation, and democratic values and the rule of law.
According to a Council statement, in addition to these commitments, Sweden will prioritise economic and military support for Ukraine in 2023, while also assisting the nation on its path to EU entry.
“It [Sweden] will devote its attention to European competitiveness, reducing risks of volatile energy prices and energy market reform, the green transition and the upholding of the rule of law,” the statement adds.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated in response to his country's new role that Sweden is taking on this duty at a time when the EU bloc is facing unprecedented challenges.
"Our unity and readiness to act remain critical to EU security, resilience, and prosperity. Sweden assumes the presidency at a time when the European Union is confronted with unprecedented challenges. "Our priorities are built on a greener, more secure, and freer Europe," he said.
The EU Council Presidency is rotated every six months among EU Member States. While France and Czechia each held the presidency for six months last year, Slovenia and Portugal will do so in 2021.
Sweden's first act in this role has been to summon a meeting of the Council's crisis management mechanism on Wednesday, January 4, to consider whether collective restrictions should be implemented on travellers arriving in the EU from China amid a Coronavirus outbreak there.
“Sweden strives for a common line for the entire EU when it comes to the introduction of possible travel restrictions,” the Swedish Ministry of Social Affairs has noted in a statement calling for the meeting.
It has also been underlined that the EU Commission may issue a recommendation for the measures that should be implemented prior to this meeting.
Several European Union countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, have already implemented limitations on visitors from this country. While Italy enforced mandatory COVID-19 tests for Chinese travellers on December 26, Spain placed COVID-19 limitations on Chinese arrivals a few days later on December 31.
By fLEXI tEAM