Interview of Ambassador Torbjörn Haak Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU
On 1 January 2023, Sweden took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Could you tell our readers about the main priorities of the Swedish Presidency in particular for the European tourism and hospitality sector?
Security, competitiveness, green transition, democratic values and the rule of law are the priorities of the Swedish Presidency. Sweden takes over the Presidency in a challenging time with increasing energy prices, a high inflation as well as when a war going on in Europe. These challenges effect many sectors but not least the least the tourism sector who has also severely struggled to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A competitive economy is a prerequisite for a strong and resilient EU and we must create the best possible environment for doing business, including for the tourism Industry in the Union. This is something we are looking forward to focus on.
As one of the most severely affected industry by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector is now experiencing unprecedented labour shortages. 2023, being the European Year of Skills, what will be your priorities and initiatives concerning this issue?
In the field of education and training, one focus area of the Swedish Presidency will be to move the work on the European Education Area forward, for example regarding mutual recognition of qualifications. This will contribute to encouraging mobility within the EU and further understanding and recognition of study periods between EU Member States. The SE PRES will also bring the topic of skills for the green transition to the Council with the view to highlight how education and training can contribute to transition and upskilling and to discuss the conditions necessary for both individuals and businesses to be able to obtain the skills they need for the green transition. The Swedish Presidency also plans to begin the Council work on the recommendations announced by the Commission on digitalisation in the area of education.
Looking to the future, what are your key messages for the European hospitality industry?
In November of 2022, the Commission presented a Regulation on data collection and sharing related to short-term accommodation services. This regulation is foreseen to increase the transparency in the sector and our ambition is to reach a general approach during the Swedish Presidency. We encourage the European hospitality Industry to play an active role in the negotiations for us to find a balanced solution.