The Presidency of the Council of the EU
The Presidency of the Council of the EU rotates every six months among EU Member States. During this six-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council. Since the Lisbon Treaties (2009), Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’. For the first semester of the year, it will be Sweden is assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a time of historic challenges for the Member States and the Union as a whole.
In cooperation with the other two Presidencies of the trio (France and Czechia, who hold the Presidency throughout 2022), Sweden defined its political priorities for Europe in a comprehensive programme. While the programme is strongly centred on three generic pillars (“security, resilience and prosperity”), it aims to bear provisions for lifelong learning as well.
Sweden highlights the role of skills and in particular digital and green skills, to meet the goals of the Twin Transitions. The Presidency seeks to engage with the European Year of Skills and understand how both individuals and businesses can be equipped with the right skills. It is unfortunate; however, that education provisions are only linked with labour market participation and boosting the competitiveness of the European Union; in fact, in the programme, we read that “All citizens must be equipped for a rapidly changing labour market. Basic skills and lifelong learning are the building blocks that resolve skills supply challenges”.
Education and Youth
Sweden recognises the social dimension of education in its programme. “Education, continuing education and further education can help equip individuals, societies and businesses for the digital and green transitions and are important tools for achieving the objective of enhanced EU competitiveness and the right skills for the jobs of the future in the EU“.
The follow-up to the European Year of Youth has also been highlighted as a priority, linking it with young people’s participation in political decision-making, which is deemed a tool that “enables better, more sustainable decisions”.
What to expect?
The main feature of the Swedish Presidency will be the launch of the European Year of Skills. It is therefore only natural that a big part of the programme leans towards skills development. The Presidency is also expected to work on the European Education Area (EEA), for example regarding mutual recognition of qualifications as well as the first part of the process leading to the mid-term review of the EEA. Additionally, under the thrust of the European Commission, the Swedish Presidency will also see the launch of the Learning Lab on Investing in Quality Education and Training and will get to have a role in how this will go forward. Finally, the Presidency plans to begin considering both of the Council recommendations announced by the Commission on digitalisation in the area of education.
Check out the Council’s calendar for the upcoming months.