On 1 January, Austria took over the role of Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the United Kingdom.
For the next six months, the Austrian Presidency will have to address a number of major issues crucial to the future of the European Union.
First and foremost, Austria must get Parliament's agreement on the Financial Perspective 2007-2013, adopted by the 25 Heads of State and Government in December 2005. This will be the main topic at the Spring European Council.
Moreover, Austria will have to play the role of catalyst in the Growth and Jobs Strategy, one of the main priorities of the European Union in the light of its pledge to become the world's leading knowledge economy by 2010.
The second half of the Presidency will see an intensification of the debate over the future of Europe. At the June European Council, the Austrian Presidency will have to draw conclusions from the reflection period decided by Heads of State and Government following the negative referenda on the Constitution in France and in the Netherlands last year.