On 1st of July Finland will take over from their Romanian colleagues the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Already in normal years, presidencies falling into the second half of the year are structurally shorter. For one the summer break stretching from mid-July to the end of August takes out a month and a half. Then December is also shorter as not much happens in the last third of the month because of the end of the year festive season. This usually doesn’t leave much time to achieve for ambitious presidencies. This year around a new European Parliament and a new European Commission provide for very few interinstitutional negotiations or new legislative proposals.
This lack of ongoing files sharpens the focus of the Finnish Presidency. One of the priority files seems to be to finalize the Council’s position on the taxonomy in sustainable finance and engage with the new European Parliament and the Commission in interinstitutional negotiations. Another will be to progress in the Council’s work on the legislative proposal on CCP recovery and resolution as well as on the crowd-funding proposal. The future Presidency is also expected to continue working on the remaining issues in the non-performing loans draft legislation.
Non-legislative ground work is also expected in particular on how the Member States see the vast second phase of the Capital Markets Union. At the initiative of a handful of Member States informal work has already started and the issue is expected to feature on the agenda of the informal ministerial meeting of the ECOFIN Council in September.
The Council is also expected to have a discussion on the future of anti-money laundering policy and the respective involvement of the EU and national levels in that area. The issue has become very topical after a number of AML scandals earlier this year and a transfer of AML competencies to the European Banking Authority.
The incoming Presidency is also understood to favor steps forward in creating more competition in payment services, more accessibility of consumers to cross-border mortgage credits and addressing issues that create barriers to cross-border investing. In true Nordic tradition Finland would like to see an enhanced use of digitalization in particular in creating an EU level personal identification standard. For all these areas the prerogative of a legislative proposal doesn’t nevertheless lie with the Council Presidency but squarely with the European Commission. One can nevertheless expect discussions among Member States and potentially written suggestions to the Commission to come up with initiatives.
By Antoine Kremer, ABBL & ALFI Head of European Affairs