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Programme and Priorities

Programme & Priorities

Greece will hold the Presidency of the Council 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 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 financial crisis imposed the implementation of restrictive fiscal policies in order to overcome initial deficiencies in the architecture of the EMU, safeguard financial stability and gradually return to sustainable public finances. However, the extent and intensity of the crisis, as well as the level of recession and unemployment that have ensued, have shaken the confidence of an important segment of European citizens in EU institutions and their ability to design and implement reliable, sound and growth-enhancing economic policies aiming at recovery, prosperity and high levels of employment. At the same time, austere fiscal policies had a great effect on social cohesion, particularly in countries directly affected by the crisis.

At this important juncture, the EU’s biggest challenge is to foster growth, competitiveness and jobs and to ensure stability and prosperity for all; for this the EU has to reaffirm its mission at the hearts and minds of its citizens. In this context, the EU is called upon today to safeguard financial stability through the deepening of the EMU, to boost growth-enhancing economic policies aiming to fight unemployment by, and inter alia, enhancing synergies between migration and growth and to restore lending to the economy, in particular to SMEs.

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 EU enlargement, formulate the priority framework of Hellenic Presidency.

Elections for a new European Parliament during the first semester of 2014 is yet another factor that sets the context of the Hellenic Presidency.

Main principles - objectives

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

  1. Enhancing civic and society engagement in the EU, through policies and initiatives in response to citizens’ everyday problems, concerns and insecurities. Our effort will focus on the areas of economic recovery, employment, cohesion, mobility of EU citizens and European security, both internal and external. The ultimate goal is the evolution of the EU into a community of shared values ​​and "common destiny" for all its citizens, while preserving and strengthening the European social and economic model.
  2. Deepening the Union, especially the EMU, by promoting policies and actions to remedy and restore initial deficiencies in the Euro area architecture, which have been unveiled by the recent crisis.  In this context, the aim remains to preserve the integrity of the common currency, on a solid and sustainable basis, and to ensure financial stability. EMU deepening will take place fully respecting the Single Market, through a procedure open to non-Eurozone member-states.
  3. Reinforcing EU democratic legitimacy and accountability along with building up the collectivity and solidarity links among Member States, as well as incrementally constructing European democracy and expanding civil rights.

Fields of Action

Growth – Jobs - Cohesion

In a period when unemployment has reached unacceptably high rates in several EU member-states, affecting especially the youth, and when recession is a constant threat to European economies, growth becomes a matter of overriding importance for the Hellenic Presidency. Growth benefits the economy and promotes social cohesion and political stability in the Union, in a multifaceted way From the Presidency’s perspective, Jobs and Growth are structurally and inextricably connected. Within this framework, the initiatives and actions at the European level for reversing the negative employment trends and for boosting job creation are absolutely necessary in order to avert the danger of a “jobless growth”.

Striking the right balance between fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing policies (in full alignment with the Europe 2020 Strategy) is considered to be the catalyst towards achieving the necessary cohesion among national economic policies, hence among European societies. It is such a cohesion that constitutes the laying foundation of further European integration, which is the second priority of the Hellenic Presidency.

The main objective is to return to sustainable public finances while promoting jobs-creating growth policies. This could be achieved through the enhanced implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs, a focus on employment, as well as improved SME’s access to finance, by, inter alia, prioritizing the implementation of the EIB-Commission Investment Plan.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) can have a strong role in relation to the labour-intensive projects (e.g. projects for SMEs, basic infrastructure, energy and climate) also having the support and trust of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The Hellenic Presidency welcomes the EIB’s new mandate to the European Investment Fund (EIF) of up to EUR 4 billion and will support the Commission and the EIB in their efforts to further enhance the EIF capacity through an increase in its capital with a view to reaching final agreement by May 2014.
The Hellenic Presidency will further explore all possible ways to increase funding for the real economy, and particularly for the SMEs, by promoting the discussion on the financing of growth, including long-term alternative sources of funding.

In any case, it would be essential to launch the dialogue on those specific subject areas that offer high growth potential and, at the same time, job creation, such as innovation, services to firms, transport, shipping and tourism.

The interim evaluation of the "Europe 2020 Strategy", which will begin at the Spring 2014 European Council, lends the context and offers the opportunity for concrete initiatives. A first, but not sufficient, step in the right direction was taken by the European Council in June 2013, when European leaders decided to strengthen efforts to combat youth unemployment, and, at the same time, to endorse the joint EIB-Commission initiative («Investment Plan») to finance SMEs, as the key employers in the European economy.


Further Integration of the EU - eurozone

Deepening the new EMU architecture, restoring financial liquidity and returning to growth will certainly remain key priorities for the EU rotating presidencies of the coming years, including the Hellenic one. These priorities will need to be developed in their full potential, while respecting the integrity of the Single Market.

In this framework, progress on the following building blocks will be emphasized as follows:

  1. The promotion of the banking union, by the adoption of its cornerstone legislative piece, the Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation, before the end to the European Parliament’s current legislature.
  2. Further progress concerning the effective implementation and further integration of the new EU/Eurozone economic governance mechanisms, so as to enhance synergies between member-states in a growth- and jobs-friendly way, including by facilitating discussions on the establishment of  the Partnerships for Growth, Jobs and Competitiveness.
  3. We will strive to lay the foundations of an ever-prosperous, well-coordinated EMU, with the right balance between solidity and solidarity. This new Eurozone would put a definite end to the instability and uncertainty observed, in particular in the “periphery”.
  4. Special emphasis will be attached to the social dimension of the EMU, as one of the pillars for its further deepening. For the first time, the social dimension of the EMU will be integrated in the 2014 European Semester cycle.

At the same time, we will need to work towards the strengthening of an institutional structure that would ensure enhanced transparency, accountability, national ownership and credibility towards the citizens of Europe. This dimension entails particular importance as an answer to the demographic and fiscal crisis of the European welfare state.


Instability in the European periphery, together with the perseverance of the causes that lead to immigration flows into Europe, increase these flows and place an extra burden on EU member states, in a period of economic crisis, when all forces and efforts should be focused on reforms aiming at safeguarding stability and revitalizing growth. This burden falls mainly on the EU member-states that are at Europe’s external borders, as well as on those heavily affected by recession and unemployment.

In this context, the Hellenic Presidency will concentrate its efforts at highlighting the positive aspects of a comprehensive migration management to the benefit of boosting growth and will spare no efforts in promoting all dimensions of migration and mobility policies. At the same time, action is envisaged to tackle the problems arising from illegal migration in economy, social cohesion and political stability.

More specifically:

Since its launch in 2005 the Global Approach constitutes the main framework for EU policy and action in the area of the external relations in the field of Migration and Asylum. The renewed Global Approach on Migration and Mobility focuses on four operational priorities: i) better organizing legal migration and fostering well managed mobility ii) preventing and combating illegal migration and eradicating trafficking in human beings iii) maximizing the development impact of migration and mobility iv) promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimension of asylum.

Developing an area of freedom, security and justice has been and will continue to be a major objective for the EU. Today that Europe is facing multi-faceted challenges, it is more than necessary to reinforce the common European policy on the areas of Justice and Home Affairs. Such a common policy must be founded on genuine solidarity, joint responsibility and cooperation between member states.


Maritime Policies- A thematic that will run horizontally through the Presidency’s priorities

The Sea is an area of privilege in terms of knowledge and action for Greece and an inexhaustible source of growth and prosperity for the whole of Europe.

Being a traditionally maritime country, Greece acknowledges the great potential and opportunity that marine and maritime activities hold for the EU economy as a whole, on the condition of sustainability. At the same time, Europe has obvious strategic interests that justify the urge to bring to the fore and deal with security problems of sea borders management.

In this context, Greece introduces an horizontal thematic that will run through all three of the presidency’s priorities, namely the EU Maritime Policies.

The main idea of this thematic is to redefine and re-launch the EU Maritime Policy in all its aspects. Building upon the work of previous Presidencies and, in particular, the Cyprus Presidency (Limassol declaration) and combining it with the security dimension tackled in the forthcoming Commission-EEAS Communication on a European Maritime Security Strategy.

Objective: Adoption of a text on Maritime Policies at the June 2014 European Council, highlighting the two dimensions: security and growth, including energy.

In this context, the Hellenic Presidency will endeavor to promote the following actions:

  1. Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) in the “Marine and Maritime Agenda for Growth and Jobs”. The Hellenic Presidency will work to promote the European Commission initiatives, as these are set in “Blue Growth, opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth” (the IMP’s contribution to achieving the goals set on the Europe 2020 Strategy), in continuation of the Limassol Declaration (IMP relaunch) and the GAC Conclusions (December 2012) in this sector (“Marine and Maritime Agenda for growth and jobs”). Draft conclusions on IMP, expected to be adopted June 2014, include references to all relevant issues, namely blue energy, aquaculture, seabed mapping, exploitation of marine mineral resources, blue biotechnology and environmental issues and insularity. In the draft text, the dimension of intersectional and trans-border cooperation in the Sea could be added as a priority, with special emphasis on actions to be taken for further promoting the European Coast Guard Functions Forum (see no.6 below).
  2. Maritime Spatial Planning. The Hellenic Presidency will play a decisive part in the adoption of the proposed Directive by the European Commission aiming at improving maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal regions management in EU member-states.
  3. EU Maritime Transport Policy. Given the importance of Maritime activities in the efforts for the recovery of the European economy and its overall contribution to EU wealth production, our goal is to update the relevant EU strategy on Maritime Transport until 2018, in light of the recent international developments (Asian economies’ booming, developments in the maritime markets, boosting job creation in the wider maritime activities).  Considering the fact that a mid term review has been requested by the Member States to the Commission until the end of 2013 according to the Council Conclusions in March 2009, emphasis is attributed to a respective follow up regarding Council Conclusions on maritime transport policy (mid-term review). 
  4. EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (ΕUSAIR). In implementation of the December 2012 EC Conclusions –in which it was decided to prepare an EU Macro-Region Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region- preparation of the EUSAIR has been launched.  Maritime & Marine growth, Transport, Environment, and Tourism comprise the four pillars of the EUSAIR. The Commission is expected to adopt and present the Communication and the Action Plan to the Council by June 2014. The Hellenic Presidency considers the EU Macro-Region Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region as a priority and, in this context, will organize a Stakeholder Conference to promote it.
  5. Maritime Security Strategy (MSS). The preparations for a joint European Commission/High Representative Communication on elements for an EU Maritime Security Strategy are underway (to be presented by early in 2014). The joint Communication is expected to address both internal as well as external aspects of  EU maritime security and promote global solutions in dealing with maritime security challenges of European concern; in this context, all EU and member-states’ capabilities should be fully exploited and relevant coordination should be sought. An actual EU Maritime Security Strategy is expected to be adopted during the Hellenic Presidency (June 2014 European Council).
  6. Cooperation of Coast Guard functions. Our goal is the introduction of the issue to the Council Conclusions presented for Integrated Maritime Policy. During the European Coast Guard Functions Forum 2012-2013, under Hellenic Chairmanship, the adopted Conclusions of the 5th Plenary stressed the need for better cooperation in this field.
  7. Maritime and Coastal Tourism. The European Commission is preparing a Communication to set up an EU Strategy on Maritime and Coastal Tourism. The Hellenic Presidency will promote all initiatives on this field by, among other actions, organizing a High Level Conference on Maritime and Coastal Tourism.
  8. Sea-borne Migration. It constitutes a sensitive issue, due to its obvious importance for European security. Our goal is to promote this issue, inter alia, in the framework of the third priority of the Greek Presidency (Migration, Borders, Mobility).


For more Information, check out the detailed thematic programme of the Greek Presidency.