Austrian Presidency announces three main priorities
On 1st July 2018, Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the third time, under the motto ‘Europe that protects’.
Helen Brand, OBE, chief executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) said: “ACCA welcomes the start of the Austrian Presidency at the helm of the Council of the EU and we wish Austria success for its goals in the coming months. Even for this experienced country entering its third presidency, the challenges of its mandate are considerable in these politically sensitive times. These challenges are exacerbated with the time constraints, due to the end of the European Parliament’s legislature in 2019, as well as the European Commission’s term of office. This means that numerous dossiers have to be finalised before the European elections in Spring 2019.'
The Austrian Presidency announced three main priorities for its term in office: security, by securing Europe’s external borders and the reform of the Common European Asylum System ; competitiveness, with a focus on digitalisation- and stability, with work towards EU accession of the Western Balkan countries.
Helen Brand says: 'ACCA fully shares the view of the Austrian Presidency that digitalisation must be a top priority. Europe and the world’s future is digital. As new paradigms are emerging in accounting and finance, it is our duty, as a professional body, to lead the way and ensure our members and students are equipped with the skills they need for the future. ACCA has already embarked on the journey, including global thought leadership on technology and it’s impacts, modernising our qualification and a comprehensive Continued Professional Development offering to our members.
'ACCA also sees artificial intelligence more as an opportunity than a threat. But to fully reap its benefits, it is vital to tackle socio-economic challenges in the labour markets, including modernising Europe's education and training systems. We need to enable upskilling services and life-long learning for impacted workers. At the same time, the acquisition of advanced digital skills, as well as transversal skills and non-digital key competences must be absolute priorities for the education and training of tomorrow’s workforce.'
A number of ongoing complex and challenging dossiers will also be very high on the presidency’s agenda during the second half of 2018, such as global trade tensions, Brexit, the inter-institutional negotiations of a new EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and the reform of the EU.
Helen Brand adds: 'Global trade is on all minds. Within Europe we need to ensure the Brexit does not create unnecessary disruption or barriers. ACCA and its members have long called for clarity on the UK government plans for access to the single market, regulatory alignment and talent mobility post-Brexit. The recently published White Paper is a significant step forward, in which we welcome calls for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications across the UK and EU. But the move away from mutual recognition and towards a new “economic and regulatory agreement” on financial services comes as a disappointing surprise.
'But this is merely the UK’s starting point for negotiations with the EU. ACCA will be consulting its members and share the results with the negotiating teams on both sides, to help secure the best possible outcome for March 2019 and beyond', Helen Brand concludes.
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ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
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