The Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish EU Presidency
30 January 2023 11:57
From 1 January through 30 June 2023, Sweden holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers. With the Presidency, Sweden will plan and lead the work of the Council of Ministers for six months, and represent the Council in its relations with other EU institutions.
Each Member State has priorities for its Presidency, and the Government has decided on four priorities that will apply during the Swedish Presidency:
- Security - unity
- Resilience - competitiveness
- Prosperity - green and energy transition
- Democratic values and the rule of law - our foundation
The role of the Swedish Coast Guard during the Presidency
Given the Coast Guard’s work on security issues in various areas, the Authority is involved in several Council working groups. This may involve working groups conducting meetings in Sweden, including visits to the Authority, or the Coast Guard contributing to security efforts during certain high-level meetings. In its appropriation directions for 2023, the Coast Guard has been tasked with supporting the Government Offices in their work with the Presidency.
In one of the Council working groups, the Coast Guard has a greater role. This concerns the working group on the European Maritime Security Strategy.
Priorities for the working group
The working group will address a wide range of issues. Some that are particularly prioritised during the Swedish Presidency are:
- Update the EU Maritime Security Strategy, and the associated Action Plan, and then negotiate a so-called 'Council conclusion' linked to the Strategy's proposals.
- Issues regarding resilience and protection of critical maritime infrastructure. Following the Nord Stream incidents, critical maritime infrastructure issues have been given very high priority, and several proposals must be addressed during the Presidency.
- Maritime civil-military cooperation. Issues in the grey area between military and civilian tasks at sea will be of high priority. This is especially the case considering increasing hybrid threats, where it is not always clear whether military or civilian threats are to be managed.
- Other topics related to European security. A war is being fought in Europe, which means that the Swedish Presidency must be prepared to quickly address unforeseeable issues affecting the security of Europe.
Six meetings are planned in Brussels between January and June. In addition to these meetings, the working group plans to hold an informal meeting in Sweden. The meeting will last for three days in June, and will include a visit to the Coast Guard.
About the EU Presidency
- The Presidency rotates between the 27 EU member states every six months
- Sweden holds the Presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2023
- Under its Presidency, Sweden presides over approximately 2,000 meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg, and 150 meetings in Sweden
- In addition to the ministers, some 200 Swedish officials chair various working groups in the Council (the Coast Guard contributes to the Department of Justice's leadership in one of these groups)
- This is Sweden’s third Presidency, with previous Presidencies in 2001 and 2009
Tasks of the Presidency
The Presidency pursues the Council's work on EU legislation, ensures continuity of the EU agenda and ensures that legislative processes are orderly and that Member States cooperate. To do so, the Presidency must act as a neutral mediator.
The Presidency has two main tasks:
- Planning and presiding over meetings of the Council and its preparatory bodies
- Representing the Council in its relations with the other EU institutions
The Coast Guard's day-to-day EU cooperation
Independently of the Presidency, the Coast Guard is continuously working on several cooperative projects within the European Union. Examples include cooperation with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), the EU Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), and the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX).
Cooperation with FRONTEX has been a particular priority in recent years, as the Coast Guard has been one of the authorities tasked with contributing to the development of the standing corps within FRONTEX.
FRONTEX's various tasks also include EU-wide operational interventions aimed at guarding the EU's external border. The task of the Coast Guard and the Police during these interventions is to assist the national public authorities leading the intervention with border surveillance at sea. The Coast Guard is currently involved in an operation in Italy, and this role includes:
- To be at the disposal of FRONTEX and the host country, Italy, with boat, crew and management staff for the relevant period of time.
- To monitor designated areas and detect, identify, report and track relevant objects.
- To assist in maritime rescue operations by relaying information and actively participating in rescue operations if a vessel or persons are in, or are likely to be in, distress at sea.
Changed 30 January 2023 11:57