The Finnish EU presidency – a remarkable approach for a future-oriented Union

On July 1st,  2019 Finland takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In times of tougher global competition, protectionism, Brexit and climate urgency, the Presidency rightfully recognises that it is only by strategically mainstreaming sustainable leadership that future competitive advantages can be drawn. CEC European Managers welcomes the integration of the social dimension to the prospective EU’s industrial strategy, which shall include a strong sustainability and digital pillar. To enable acting upon these new priorities of the Union, the negotiations on the new Multiannual Financial Framework have to be concluded.

The recently published Presidency programme « Sustainable Europe – Sustainable Future » is in many regards remarkable. By recognising planetary (environmental) boundaries and social needs in an evolving world, the programme is the first strategic EU documents to identify business opportunities and design policy responses within such constraints. Furthermore, it offers a vision for an innovative and well-being oriented development of the EU’s economy instead of purely reacting to imminent threats and short-term challenges. If the EU is to become world leader in innovation, it indeed has to centre its efforts on the sustainable transformation of agriculture, manufacturing, the digital industry, research and innovation and the EU’s institutional framework.

As regards the social dimension of Europe, an unspecified « further development of the European Pillar of Social Rights » is foreseen to ensure that citizens, workers and managers can benefit from modern employment and social standards. Since the digital transformation will require a highly skilled workforce, the Presidency calls for making education, training and research in the EU the best in the world. Concretely, a stronger Erasmus+ programme, a European « super university model » [1]  and easier labour mobility are foreseen. In this respect, CEC will advocate for making access to continuous education when living abroad easier.

To ensure that the EU becomes leader in climate action and a sustainable economy, several measures and targets are announced in the document. Among others, an effective implementation of the Commission’s updated bioeconomy strategy, the move to the circular use of materials, the submission of long-term emission reduction strategies of UN member states by 2020, halting biodiversity loss and a Common Agricultural Policy that can better respond to climate change are envisioned.

Besides these issues directly relevant to the managers CEC represents, the Finnish presidency also aims at focussing on the rule of law, security and defence cooperation, cybersecurity and a common migration and asylum approach.

If you want to know more about how we think management has to evolve to put these political ambitions into practice, please check our Sustainable Leadership Guidelines.

[1] This term refers to the development of so-called « European Universities », piloted at EU-level :