The Presidency of the Council of the EU – Priorities of the Ministry of Finance

In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU each Member State holds a six-month term as Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The schedule is based on an equal system of rotation and is set by Council Decision 2007/5/EC of 1 January 2007. During the Presidency the Member States are able to demonstrate their achievements and knowledge in all areas of EU policies, as well as their negotiation skills.

The Member States which perform the Presidency functions work closely in groups of three Member States called “trios”. The trio defines long-term objectives and elaborates a joint plan which outlines the topics and the key issues to be considered by the Council over an 18-month period. Based on this, each of the three Member States drafts a more detailed six-month programme. The present trio consists of the presidencies of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria (July 2017 – December 2018). Bulgaria will hold the EU Presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2018, thus committing to pursue the priorities announced in the Bulgarian Presidency Programme approved by the Council of Ministers at the end of last year.

We present below our priorities in the field of economic and financial affairs:

  • Economic governance

The Bulgarian Presidency will be working towards creating optimal conditions for a strong economic growth across the EU through the initiatives for strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by focusing on productivity, long-term sustainability of public finance and faster economic convergence. The Republic of Bulgaria will promote the discussions for deepening of the EMU as presented in the strategic documents of the EU.

  • Financial services and markets

We will focus our efforts on gaining political consent on the measures aimed at minimising the risks in the banking system and will continue working on a legislative proposal for setting up a European Deposit Insurance Scheme as part of the measures for the completion of the Banking Union. The Bulgarian Presidency will continue working towards building the Capital Market Union and will continue the discussions of the legislative proposals for mitigation of the clearing and reporting obligations, of establishing the central counter-party recovery and resolution framework and reviewing the supervision thereof, as well as with regard of the requirements to third-party central counter-parties. Bulgaria will continue working on the legislative proposal for establishing a pan-European pension product in order to make maximum progress, and will launch the essential discussions of the review of the European Financial Supervision System and of the proposal for the introduction of a new prudential regime for investment firms.

  • Taxation

Among the key priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency will be the promotion of investment, the delivery of a sustainable economic growth and ensuring fair competition within the single market through fair and efficient taxation of corporate gains generated in the EU and prevention of the possibilities for aggressive tax planning upon increasing tax-related transparency.

The other key priority of the Presidency is to achieve a single VAT area as regards cross-border trade in goods among the Member States and to deploy effective tools for integrated VAT management, with enhanced administrative cooperation among the tax administrations of the Member States in order to curb VAT fraud.

  • EU budget

By attaching great importance to the issue related to the stable finance of the EU, the Bulgarian Presidency plans some initiatives for continuing the debate on the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework. Before the Commission releases its MFF proposal, the Bulgarian Presidency will host a conference on the same topic. Among the key topics for discussion will be the possibilities for a state-of-the art management of the traditional EU policies and their successful combination with the new EU and global challenges.

As regards the annual EU budget, the Bulgarian Presidency will be working towards the timely adoption of the Council discharge recommendations for the financial year 2016 and towards the preparation of budgetary guidelines for a realistic 2019 budget. The Presidency will be aiming at an effective implementation of the 2018 annual budget.

  • Customs Union

Implementing the priorities of the trio, the Presidency will commit to ensure continuity, sustainability and progress in Customs Union management reforms. In the context of the 50th anniversary of setting up the EU Customs Union, the topic of exchanging information with third parties will be a priority. There will also be discussions on several key topics among which introduction of the IT systems envisaged in the Union’s Customs Code and Customs Union management. The activities related to international customs cooperation and the joint customs operations will continue.