After 1998 and 2006, Austria held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time in 2018. Major challenges for the Austrian Presidency were the negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU (Brexit) and the negotiations on the new Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020.
The Austrian Federal Government had drawn up a National Presidency Programme, which defined the priorities of the Austrian Presidency. In this programme, the Austrian Presidency declared its motto to be "A Europe that protects". In its role as a neutral broker, Austria was committed to upholding the goals, the unity and basic agreements between the Member States of the EU and the confidence of its citizens.
The three priority areas of the Austrian Presidency were
- Security and the fight against illegal migration
- Securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalisation
- Stability in the European neighbourhood – EU perspective of the Western Balkans
For the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs priorities included
- Digitalisation and completing the European Digital Single Market
- Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
- Pursuing the creation of a renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy
- The dual education system as best practice
18-month-programme of the Trio-Presidency Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria (July 2017 to December 2018)
Austria was part of a Trio-Presidency that was made up of Estonia (July to December 2017), Bulgaria (January to July 2018) and Austria (July to December 2018). The 18-month-programme of the Trio-Presidency – the so called Trio Programme – had been approved at the General Affairs Council on the 20th June 2017 and had come into effect on 1st July 2017.