The end of 2017 also marked the end of the Estonian Presidency. Since 1 January 2018 up until 30 June, it is Bulgaria that will chair the European Council meetings and set its agenda.
In the programme published on the Presidency website, Bulgaria presented its priorities for the upcoming semester. Four topics will be at the centre of the attention.
- The future of Europe and young people – Economic growth and social cohesion;
- European perspective and connectivity of the Western Balkans;
- Security and stability in a strong and united Europe;
- Digital economy and skills needed for the future.
With regard to sport policy, the Presidency will work towards promoting European values through sport (Council Conclusions will be delivered on this issue). The focus will also be set on the fight against doping. In this regard, a conference will be organised on the “Prevention of Doping in Professional Sport and Sport for Everyone through Education and Investigation”. Finally, the concept of sport for all will be used for social integration and as a “bridge between tradition and innovation”.
Looking at other policy fields, the following initiatives of the Presidency could be relevant for sport:
· The Bulgarian Presidency will continue the debate on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, as well as the future Cohesion and Agricultural Policy;
· The Bulgarian Presidency’s goal will be to support all countries from the Western Balkans in their efforts to move forward on their European path, provided that this process is based on the principles of individual merit, established criteria and necessary reforms;
· The Presidency aims to conclude an Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) on the Transparency Register, affecting sport organisations getting in contact with EU Institutions.
· Bulgarian Presidency intends to strengthen democracy, stability, prosperity and sustainability of the countries in the European Neighbourhood;
· Bulgarian Presidency will make efforts to achieve significant progress on the introduction of the definitive Value Added Tax (VAT) system, which could have an effect on current tax exemptions for sport activities;
· The Presidency aims to reach agreement in the Council on the proposal to amend the Visa Code as well as to conclude negotiations on the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which could have effects on sports people travelling to the Schengen area;
· The Bulgarian Presidency will work constructively on the Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market and the Regulation on Copyright in online transmission and retransmission, which could have an effect on sports broadcasts;
· The leading priority of the Bulgarian Presidency in the education sector is the preparation of the next generation of the EU Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport (Erasmus+);
· It will work towards a general agreement in the Council on the proposal for a Council Recommendation regarding the promotion of social inclusion and shared values through formal and informal education and training;
· It will focus efforts on successfully concluding negotiations with the European Parliament on the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps:
· It will also organise a debate on the role of young people as a driving force for the sustainable development and equality in Europe of the future.