Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
L’Austria è uno stato di modeste dimensioni: 8.7 milioni di abitanti ed un pil ppa di 432 miliardi Usd.
Per motivi storici, negli ultimi settanta anni è stato un paese non schierato, anche se a grande vocazione occidentale. È un paese con salde radici cristiane cattoliche ed un retaggio storico di tutto rilievo.
Negli anni sessanta e settanta espresse dapprima il Cancelliere Josef Klaus, e quindi Bruno Kreisky, considerato il leader socialista di maggiore successo dell’Austria, una figura che elevò la posizione neutrale del piccolo stato alpino sul palcoscenico mondiale durante l’epoca della guerra fredda.
Caratteristica principale di Herr Kreisky fu l’uso di quel sano buon senso così difficilmente riscontrabile nei politici, e non solo in quelli di quei tempi.
Sempre misurato nelle posizioni prese, sempre cautissimo dell’esprimere le proprie opinioni, ottimo ascoltatore di ogni sorta di interlocutori, sempre propositivo e conciliante. Aveva l’arte di saper tessere accordi, non compromessi. Il suo parere fu ricercato da tutte le classi politiche mondiali del’epoca. Seppe conquistarsi in altri termini una moral suasion a livello mondiale e concorse a mantenere la pace nel mondo.
Fu anche persona onesta e corretta: quando alle elezioni del 1983 il suo partito perse la maggioranza assoluta in parlamento, si dimise e si fece immediatamente da parte: aveva a cuore il bene dell’Austria, non quello suo personale.
Adesso l’Austria sembrerebbe regalare all’Europa un’altra figura politica, emula sulle orme di Herr Kreisky: il Cancelliere Sebastian Kurz, che si appresta a reggere la Presidenza del Consiglio Europeo.
Durante la Presidenza Kurz avranno luogo quattro tornate elettorali, i risultati delle quali potrebbero cambiare il volto sia dell’Unione Europea sia del mondo.
– Il 14 settembre 2018 si vota il Svezia.
– Il 14 ottobre 2018 si vota in Baviera.
– Il 28 ottobre 2018 si vota in Hessen (Assia).
– Il 7 novembre si vota negli Stati Uniti per il midterm.
Se in Svezia l’esito è incerto, essendo le due coalizioni con proiezioni percentuali quasi eguali, il governo che ne scaturirà potrebbe anche scostarsi dall’appoggio finora dato a Francia e Germania.
Le elezioni in Baviera ed in Hessen (Assia) dovrebbero vedere un’ulteriore avanzamento di AfD, una discesa dell’Spd ed un ridimensionamento sia della Csu sia della Cdu. La Cancelleria Merkel potrebbe anche non sopravvivere.
Tuttavia sono le elezioni di midterm quelle che potrebbero costituire persino una svolta storica. Dalle previsioni attualmente disponibili sembrerebbe essere verosimile che il Presidente Trump possa mantenere la maggioranza in Senato e, forse, conservare anche quella al Congresso. Nel caso, la sua posizione ne uscirebbe rafforzata e condizionante in modo pesante la situazione europea. Diciamo che Mr Trump e Frau Merkel non hanno coincidenza di vedute.
Oltre a tutto ciò, Herr Kurz avrà anche per le mani la faccenda dei migranti, il disfacimento del governo tedesco, le beghe dell’Unione Europea con la Polonia e con l’Ungheria, più tutto il resto
Staremo a vedere l’evolversi degli eventi.
European Council. Council of the European Union. The presidency of the Council of the EU.
«A rotating presidency.
The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-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.
Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’. This system was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18 month period. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries prepares its own more detailed 6-month programme.
The current trio is made up of the presidencies of the Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria.»
European Council. Council of the European Union. The Austrian presidency of the Council of the EU: 1 July – 31 December 2018
«The priorities of the Austrian Presidency are driven by this motto: “A Europe that protects”.
The presidency programme places a focus on asylum and migration issues, on protecting external borders, on fighting radicalisation, terrorism and organised crime, on digital security, and on protecting European values.
Since joining the EU in 1995, this is the third time that Austria holds the presidency of the Council of the EU after 1998 and 2006.
The tasks of the presidency
The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council’s work on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and cooperation among member states. To do this, the presidency must act as an honest and neutral broker.
The presidency has two main tasks:
Planning and chairing meetings in the Council and its preparatory bodies
The presidency chairs meetings of the different Council configurations (with the exception of the Foreign Affairs Council) and the Council’s preparatory bodies, which include permanent committees such as the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), and working parties and committees dealing with very specific subjects.
The presidency ensures that discussions are conducted properly and that the Council’s rules of procedure and working methods are correctly applied.
It also organises various formal and informal meetings in Brussels and in the country of the rotating presidency.
Representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions
The presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, particularly with the Commission and the European Parliament. Its role is to try and reach agreement on legislative files through trilogues, informal negotiation meetings and Conciliation Committee meetings.
The presidency works in close coordination with:
– the President of the European Council
– the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
It supports their work and may sometimes be requested to perform certain duties for the high representative, such as representing the Foreign Affairs Council before the European Parliament or chairing the Foreign Affairs Council when it discusses common commercial policy issues..»
→ Deutsche Welle. 2018-07-01. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: The EU’s new power broker?
Austria takes over the EU Council presidency on July 1. Its conservative new leader Sebastian Kurz sees himself above all as a gatekeeper, with migration at the top of the agenda for his country’s mandate.
The dispute over a common EU migration policy is far from resolved. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition has been teetering on the brink of collapse over the issue. The Visegrad countries continue to stoke tensions with fellow member states, while Italy has just sealed its ports in an effort to deter vessels of rescued migrants.
While the EU summit unanimously agreed to do more protect its external borders, the problem of how to distribute migrants within the bloc went unsolved in Brussels on Friday. The question mark continues to weigh heavily on the bloc just days before Austria takes the reigns of the EU Council presidency.
With a right-wing populist chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, at its helm, the bloc is about to be led by a country whose policies on migration in recent years have shown little willingness to compromise.
In 2017, Kurz and his conservative ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party) formed a government in a coalition in Vienna with the far-right FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria). He was serving as foreign minister at the peak the refugee crisis in 2015, and has credited himself with having curbed migration via the Balkan route into the into the EU.
A consensus on external border protection
“I think people are justifiably fed up of hearing migration talked about at the EU level, but not seeing anything happen in practice,” said Kurz a few days ahead of his country’s ascendence to the EU Council presidency in Brussels. The six-month Austrian tenure will be governed under the motto “A Europe that protects.”
In line with the slogan, Kurz is emphasizing his agenda to reduce immigration into Europe via all routes. The recent decision by the EU to establish camps for migrants in North Africa is, in Kurz’s view, a positive development.
Kurz lauded the bloc’s shift in policy: “It wasn’t like that in 2015. Now we are seeing action, and it’s heading in the right direction.” Austria is committed to improving the protection of the EU’s external borders, and a massive expansion of the EU border protection agency Frontex is on the agenda.
Aspirations to expand Frontex are not new to EU policy. The EU Commission had beat Austria to it with a proposal set out at the previous summit of bulking up the agency with a further 10,000 personnel by 2020. But even if improved external border protection meets with broad approval, some see it as being difficult to implement. The last increase of just 1,500 staff has still not been achieved. EU governments are reluctant to send their own servants to the EU border guards.
Saskia Stachovitsch, director of the Austrian Institute for International Politics in Vienna, considers the latest and much larger increase in staff at Frontex to be unrealistic: “Knowing how difficult the last Frontex increase was to achieve, I do not think that the next one will be easy.”
Austria a new power broker?
There is still little agreement on what to do with migrants who are already in the EU. Rome has been demanding for years that refugees registered in Italy be relocated to other EU states. Slovakia and Hungary unsuccessfully appealed against EU policy in 2015, both countries still took fewer refugees than is required of them by the bloc. Austria, like many other EU states, also did not fulfill its refugee intake quota.
“A presidency carries the task of bringing together fundamental positions,” said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn on German national radio channel Deutschlandfunk. “I consider it not right, not good, not European, and misleading that the Austrian presidency is aligning itself so strongly with the Visegrad countries. It will damage the European Union!”
Without a common European solution to “share the burden” – a balanced distribution of migrants within Europe – the ongoing dispute over immigration plaguing the bloc will not be solved, said Asselborn.
In the run-up to the to his role presiding over the EU presidency, Kurz repeatedly emphasized that his government wanted to play a bridging role and mediate between the more hardline positions. Whether Austria will actually succeed in implementing its agenda over the next six months remains to be seen, according to Janis Emmanouilidis, the director of the European Policy Center think tank in Brussels.
Two tasks, too little time: The EU budget and Brexit
Another topic on which Austria could enjoy a key authority position on is the negotiation of the next seven-year EU budget. The financial framework is to be set for the period from 2021 to 2027 – the first EU budget without the United Kingdom, following Brexit.
In order to compensate for the financial hole left by the Brits, the EU Commission has set forth a proposal for an increase on the payments by the remaining members of the bloc.
Kurz rejects the proposed contribution increase as “unacceptable” and announced “long and tough negotiations.” The tug-of-war over the previous EU budget for the period from 2014 to 2020 took a total of two-and-a-half years.
Some member states, including Germany, are demanding a much faster turnaround this time, ideally ahead of the European elections next May, according to political scientist Emmanouilidis.
Austria’s EU presidency coincides with the final stretch of the Brexit negotiations, set to be finalized this year in order to pave the way for the UK’s exit from the bloc in early 2019. Whether such the deadlines can be met remains to be seen. There are several points of contention in Britain. The topics of border control between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and whether Britain will remain in the single market, remain hotly contested.
The EU presidency would then have the task of ensuring that there is no disagreement among the remaining EU countries in order to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible – no small order.
European Council. Council of the European Union. Voting system.
How does the Council vote?
Depending on the issue under discussion, the Council of the EU takes its decisions by:
simple majority (15 member states vote in favour)
qualified majority (55% of member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population, vote in favour)
unanimous vote (all votes are in favour)
The Council can vote only if a majority of its members is present. A member of the Council may only act on the behalf of one other member.
The Council can vote on a legislative act 8 weeks after the draft act has been sent to national parliaments for their examination. The national parliaments have to decide whether the draft legislation complies with the principle of subsidiarity. Earlier voting is only possible in special urgent cases.
Voting is initiated by the President of the Council. A member of the Council or the Commission can also initiate the voting procedure, but a majority of the Council’s members have to approve this initiative.
The results of Council votes are automatically made public when the Council acts in its capacity as legislator.
If a member wants to add an explanatory note to the vote, this note will also be made public, if a legal act is adopted. In other cases, when explanations of votes are not automatically published, it can be made public on the request of the author.
Where the Council is not acting as legislator, it is also possible for the results of votes and explanations of vote to be made public by a unanimous Council decision. The Council and Commission members may make statements and request that they be included in the Council minutes. Such statements have no legal effect and are regarded as a political instrument intended to facilitate decision-making.
European Council. Council of the European Union. Unanimity.
The Council has to vote unanimously on a number of matters which the member states consider to be sensitive. For example:
– common foreign and security policy (with the exception of certain clearly defined cases which require qualified majority, e.g. appointment of a special representative)
– citizenship (the granting of new rights to EU citizens)
– EU membership
– harmonisation of national legislation on indirect taxation
– EU finances (own resources, the multiannual financial framework)
– certain provisions in the field of justice and home affairs (the European prosecutor, family law, operational police cooperation, etc.)
– harmonisation of national legislation in the field of social security and social protection.
In addition, the Council is required to vote unanimously to diverge from the Commission proposal when the Commission is unable to agree to the amendments made to its proposal. This rule does not apply to acts that need to be adopted by the Council on a Commission recommendation, for example, acts in the area of economic coordination.
Under unanimous voting, abstention does not prevent a decision from being taken.