Slovakia holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July until 31 December 2016.
The EU Council presidency rotates among the governments of the EU member states every six months (the previous presidency was made up of the Netherlands and the next of Malta). The presidency's function is to chair meetings of the Council of Ministers, determine its agendas, set a work programme and facilitate dialogue.
The Slovak presidency programme has a large economic focus with key areas such as driving economic growth and modernising the single market, achieving tangible results to improve citizens’ quality of life, and overcoming fragmentation while bringing citizens closer to the EU decision making process.
Relevant commitments of the Presidency in the Council configurations are:
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO):
Competitiveness Council (COMPET):
Many of these priorities are a continuation of the Dutch Presidency’s agenda. The strong focus on reducing regulatory barriers and improving competition will potentially offer a better scope for innovation in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. Furthermore, promoting a healthy and strong workforce is also central to the new Presidency commitments, which will be central to the prevention and thus reduction of chronic diseases and improving healthy ageing. Unfortunately access to medicines was not highlighted, a commitment the Dutch Presidency undertook with high priority.
The large economic focus could lead to huge improvements in policy for the industry and the economy. Research and innovation is briefly mentioned, once again to create a strong workforce. Unlike the Dutch Presidency, there is no mention on research related funding or Horizon 2020.
The Slovak Presidency has explicitly said it will engage with the Dutch Presidency to continue on its projects. It is expected that the Maltese Presidency may follow suit with similar commitments when it starts in January 2017.