The official programme of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second half of 2018 (1 July to 31 December 2018) has as its motto “A Europe that protects”. The Presidency will be part of the trio Estonia-Bulgaria-Austria.
This includes first and foremost the negotiations on Horizon Europe, the world’s largest and most successful research programme. The ninth edition of the programme will continue well-established funding instruments but will also provide new impetus, be it with respect to the European Innovation Council or developments towards stronger mission orientation of research and innovation. The Austrian Presidency will strive for quick and efficient progress on this negotiation package.
Moreover, the Presidency aims for Council conclusions on the European Research Area, which is to give prominence above all to activities that hold out the promise of major progress towards a Single Market for Knowledge, such as the European Open Science Cloud.
Demand will have to play an even stronger role in research and innovation. The challenges of digitalisation or climate change, for instance, are major factors in driving demand for research. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide an important reference framework for the demand for research and innovation. The Austrian Presidency sees research and innovation as a generic policy area that must be put to work for all sectoral policies.
Among the various topics, several issues of great interest for the e-commerce industry will be tackled. Those areas include digitization, taxation of the digital economy, SMEs, P2B relations and consumer protection.
Prosperity, competitiveness and digitization
The Austrian Presidency believes that the EU should focus on avoiding over-regulation and making progress in the fields of innovation and digitization to ensure prosperity and competitiveness of the EU economy. The Presidency, therefore, aims at continuing the EU’s work on the taxation of the digital economy to ensure that profits are taxed in the country in which they are generated.
Taxation of digital economy
The Presidency believes that tax systems should be efficient, fair and transparent as well as that tax rules need to be modernized in view of globalization and new technologies. Because of this, the Presidency aims to take strong and unequivocal positions vis-à-vis international partners, especially when it comes to taxation of the digital economy.
Particular importance will be given to this issue in a bid to advance the negotiations and to outline potential solutions considering the developments at G-20, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and EU level. The work on the European Commission’s proposal for the introduction of a common corporate tax base will continue as well. In the field of indirect taxation, the Presidency plans to achieve progress on the numerous European Commission proposals for modernizing VAT.
SMEs, P2B and consumer protection
To keep the EU competitive on a global stage, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and scale-ups will assume a central role during the Austrian Presidency. The aim is to establish an environment that offers legal certainty while at the same time it promotes growth and innovation to help them become more competitive. Austria will ensure systematic application of the “Think Small First” principle and will focus on the specific needs of SMEs to help them grow. The Presidency will encourage the development of innovation, artificial intelligence and professional skills as well as the improvement of conditions for digital services and digitization in enterprises. A focus will be on finalizing the platform-to-business trading (P2B) dossier.
Further development and deepening of the Single Market will be another priority. Austria will, therefore, continue constructive negotiations on the Single Market Programme, the goods, services and compliance packages as well as on the ‘New Deal for Consumers’ package.
The Austrian Presidency programme is available for download in English and in German below and on the official Austrian Council Presidency website