The Minister of Interior, Giannis Michelakis, presented on 30 January the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU at a plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
At the beginning of his presentation, Minister Michelakis identified the Committee of Regions as the common conscience of local and regional authorities and hence of European citizens and the peoples of Europe in the course of achieving European integration and unification. Underlining the increasing role of regions in the European edifice, the minister noted the importance of the review of the “Europe 2020” strategy for the future of the Union.\
In this light, Minister Michelakis welcomed the main strategic priorities of the Committee of Regions for 2014, as the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU acknowledges the European regions as a driving force for development and, in particular, for achieving the goals set by the “Europe 2020” strategy on sustainable development, guaranteeing economic, social and territorial cohesion, creating employment opportunities and enhancing citizens’ trust in Europe.
Greece, a country that has been under unprecedented pressure, assumes the Presidency of the Council of the EU with a very specific agenda summarized into four priorities:
• Invigorating development and employment. With regards to this, the framework for promoting Development, Employment and Cohesion consists of :
- the interim review of the “Europe 2020” Strategy, to begin in the first quarter of 2014
- the “Compact for Growth and Jobs” adopted by the European Council in June 2012
- the deepening of the Single Market
- the new Multi-annual Financial Framework, and
- the coordination of financial policies within the “European Semester” with the rightly enhanced role of the European as well as national Parliaments.
• Supporting the common currency while reinforcing trust in the European economy which entails the deepening of economic and monetary union by achieving the completion of the banking union.
• Tackling the migration issue which tragically manifests itself almost everyday at both the land and sea borders of Europe. A comprehensive management is required for this European problem, with proportionality in burden sharing, cooperation with third countries, measures for the return of irregular migrants and a firm answer to trafficking and smuggling networks bringing people from various parts of the world to Europe.
• Redefining the European Maritime Policies in order to respond in the best possible way to the needs of citizens and future challenges on the basis of development which includes energy as well as security. This redefinition includes the delineation and management of maritime zones, as underwater resources can, in the foreseeable future, provide an answer to our energy supply needs.
Minister Michelakis, emphasised that the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU attributes particular importance in the development of a EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, as well as in the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty for a continuous dialogue between local and regional authorities and EU institutions before any related legislation is approved and adopted in order for it to cover, in the most efficient way, the needs of local communities and regions.
Lastly, the minister referred to the damages caused on the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca by the earthquake a few days ago, requesting the activation of the EU Solidarity Fund for natural disasters. To this effect, Minister Michelakis is going to meet with Commissioner Johannes Hahn next week in Athens.