Malta takes over EU presidency for the first time
(VALLETTA) - The small island of Malta took over the EU presidency on 1 January, facing the challenges of Brexit and important elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Malta takes over the rotating presidency from Slovakia. For the next six months the island state will play a key role in setting the agenda, finding compromises and addressing a range of challenges such as the migration crisis and the likely start of the UK's Brexit negotiations
The presidency of the Council rotates among EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU's work in the Council.
The priorities of this first-ever Maltese presidency will be driven by the objective to restore trust in the EU, need for a dialogue and reflection on the EU's future as well as the pertinent issues relating to migration, security and economy.
During the next 6 months, the presidency will focus on six key areas: migration, single market, security, social inclusion, Europe's neighbourhood and maritime sector.
Maltese MEP Marlene Mizzi said: "Having the EU presidency for first time is always challenging for smaller countries and having the presidency in such a turbulent times will make the work more difficult."
"The next six months must be about putting citizens at the heart of the EU agenda", she added. "Europe needs to start listening to its people and acting on their concerns and aspirations."