Kick-off event for the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU in Schladming
On 1 July 2018 Austria will assume the 6-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. On 30 June, the SERVUS Europe kick-off event took place on the Planai mountain near Schladming in Styria. In the presence of European Council President Donald Tusk, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov symbolically handed over the Council presidency to Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Federal Chancellor Kurz: Assuming the Council presidency is a “great honour and great responsibility”
“We are both proud and glad to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July. It is a great honour for us, but also a great responsibility”, stressed Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the joint press conference. He said that the international environment is currently a difficult one, and that the European Union is also faced with the internal challenge of Brexit – the first time that an EU member state is voluntarily leaving the Union. “We wish to use the Council presidency to act as a bridge builder in the European Union and to ease tensions within Europe, thereby ensuring that the European Union is a strong union.”
Federal Chancellor Kurz also said that Austria wants to do its part to build a Europe that is streamlined, united and most importantly focused. One of its priorities in this respect is security: “We want to create a Europe that protects – a Europe that, on the one hand, provides security and, on the other hand, also secures the prosperity that has been created and increased in Europe”, said the Austrian Federal Chancellor. He stressed that the Austrian Presidency could only be successful if there is strong cooperation with all EU member states and all EU institutions. He also took the opportunity to thank Prime Minister Borissov for the excellent work carried out by the Bulgarian Presidency and to thank European Council President Tusk for his cooperation in the run-up to the Austrian Presidency.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov promised Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz his full support during the Austrian Presidency, stating that security and protection were only possible if Europe stood shoulder by shoulder. Borissov handed the Austrian Federal Chancellor an EU pennant – in allusion to the current number 1 topic of football.
Council President Tusk stressed that Austrian couldn’t have chosen a better motto for its presidency than “A Europe that protects”. What Europe needs, he said, is stability rather than instability and security rather than a lack of security, but not to the detriment of freedom. Reaching these objectives would require cooperation, but the Council President believes that the Austrian Federal Chancellor is the right person to tackle these challenges. “I wish you all the best!”
Summit picnic, EU Trail and Europe LIVE concert
Under the motto “SERVUS Europe”, interested members of the public were also invited to a summit picnic to enjoy regional food and drinks and take a walk along the EU Trail – a hiking trail featuring stations with useful information about the European Union. A total of 5 000 people took part in the diverse programme offered on the Planai mountain.
The SERVUS Europe event also includes an evening concert in Schladming’s Planai stadium featuring musical highlights from artists such as OPUS, Die Seer and Austrian Eurovision Song Contest star Cesár Sampson. Hundreds of amateur bands and choirs perform together with the stars, creating Europe’s biggest band, Europe LIVE.
Photos of the event can be downloaded from the photographer services of the Austrian Presidency at www.flickr.com/eu2018at.