- Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Presidency of the Council of the European Union Term length Six months Inaugural holder Belgium Website pl2011.eu European Union
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The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is the responsibility for the functioning of the Council of the European Union that rotates between the member states of the European Union (EU) every six months. The presidency is not a single president but rather the task is undertaken by a national government. It is also not the "Presidency of the EU" (although it is sometimes called that), as there is no such thing: each EU institution has its own President. Three successive Council presidencies, known as presidency trios, cooperate for an 18-month period to provide additional continuity by sharing common political programmes. The current (2011–2012) trio consists of Poland (which took up the position 1 July 2011), Denmark (which will take over in January 2012) and Cyprus (will take over in July 2012).
When the Council was established, its work was minimal and the presidency rotated between each of the then-six members every six months. However as the work load of the Council grew and the membership increased, the lack of coordination between each successive six month presidency hindered the development of long-term priorities for the EU. In order to rectify the lack of coordination, the idea of trio presidencies were put forward where groups of three successive presidencies cooperated on a common political program. This was implemented in 2007 and formally laid down in the EU treaties in 2009 via the Treaty of Lisbon.
Until 2009, the EU Council Presidency had assumed political responsibility in all areas of European integration, and it played a vital role in brokering high level political decisions through the contact among national diplomats in Brussels.
The Treaty of Lisbon strongly reduced the importance of the Presidency, significantly by officially separating the European Council (EU heads of state or government) from the Council of the European Union, thus terminating the capacity of the head of state or government of the member state holding the Presidency to be President of the European Council. Simultaneously it split the foreign affairs Council configuration from the General Affairs configuration and made the High Representative the chairman rather than the foreign minister of the Presidency state. In the current EU constitutional framework, the EU Council retains the task to actively engage in negotiating legislation among member states and among the EU Council and the European Parliament, although the most difficult dossiers are subsumed by the President of the European Council.
On top of the intended downgrading of the rotating Council presidency, the presidency has become even less influential in practice than planned. The High Representative has been taking on roles previously guarded by the presidency country's foreign minister and the European Council president has begun acting on finance policy; the most important policy area left to the rotating presidency. It is expected that the European Council president would be strengthened further when Belgium holds the rotating Presidency. There was some previous opposition to downgrading the rotating presidency too much with Sweden claiming it would disengage member states from feeling actively engaged in running the EU, especially smaller states.
The Council meets in various formations where its composition depends on the topic discussed. For example, the Agriculture Council is composed of the national ministers responsible for Agriculture.
The primary responsibility of the Presidency is to organise and chair all meetings of the Council, apart from the Foreign Affairs Council which is chaired by the High Representative. So, for instance, the Minister of Agriculture for the state holding the presidency chairs the Agriculture council. This role includes working out compromises capable of resolving difficulties.The Presidency of Council configurations, other than that of Foreign Affairs, shall be held by Member State representatives in the Council on the basis of equal rotation, in accordance with the conditions established in accordance with Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Each three successive presidencies cooperate on a "triple-shared presidency" work together over a 1.5 year period to accomplish a common agenda by the current president simply continuing the work of the previous "lead-president" after the end of his/her term. This ensures more consistency in comparison to a usual single six month presidency and each three includes a new member state. This allows new member states to hold the presidency sooner and helps old member states pass their experience to the new members.
The role of the rotating Council Presidency includes:
- agenda-setting powers: in its 6-month programme, it decides on the order to discuss propositions, after they have been submitted by the Commission in its agenda monopoly powers;
- brokering inter-institutional compromise: trialogues between Commission, Parliament and Council are held to reach early consensus in the codecision legislative procedure; the Presidency takes part to the Conciliation Committee between Parliament and Council in the 3rd stage of the codecision legislative procedure;
- coordinating national policies and brokering compromise between member states in the Council (“confessional system”)
- management and administration of the Council, external and internal representation;
Holding the rotating Council Presidency includes both advantages and disadvantages for member states; The opportunities include:
- member states have the possibility to show their negotiating skills, as “honest brokers”, thus gaining influence and prestige;
- member states gain a privileged access to information: at the end of their term, they know member states' preferences better than anyone else
- the Council programme may enable member states to focus Council discussion on issues of particular national/regional interest (e.g.: Finland and the Northern Dimension initiative)
The burdens include:
- lack of administrative capacities and experience, especially for small and new member states; the concept of trio/troika has been introduced to enable member states to share experiences and ensure coherence on a 18-months base;
- expenses in time and money, needed to support the administrative machine;
- not being able to push through their own interests, as the role of Council Presidency is seen as an impartial instance; member states trying to push for initiatives of their own national interest are likely to see them failing in the medium run (e.g. the French 2008 Presidency and the Mediterranean Union project), as they need consensus and do not have enough time to reach it. This element is particularly substantial: holding the presidency may be, on balance, a disadvantage for member states .
The rotating presidency is probably not needed anymore, with the 2009 reforms by the Lisbon Treaty, but reforming it has proved incredibly difficult: it still enables little states to stand up and try to push forward vital policies; it represents a sharing of administrative burdens, enabling the coordination of policies, the stability of the Council agenda (through the troika) and providing learning and experience for member states' public administrations.
List of rotations
Period Trio Holder Website 1958 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec West Germany 1959 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Italy 1960 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1961 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec West Germany 1962 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Italy 1963 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1964 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec West Germany 1965 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Italy 1966 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1967 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec West Germany 1968 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Italy 1969 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1970 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec West Germany 1971 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Italy 1972 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1973 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec Denmark 1974 Jan–Jun West Germany Jul–Dec France 1975 Jan–Jun Ireland Jul–Dec Italy 1976 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1977 Jan–Jun United Kingdom Jul–Dec Belgium 1978 Jan–Jun Denmark Jul–Dec West Germany 1979 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Ireland 1980 Jan–Jun Italy Jul–Dec Luxembourg 1981 Jan–Jun Netherlands Jul–Dec United Kingdom 1982 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec Denmark 1983 Jan–Jun West Germany Jul–Dec Greece 1984 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Ireland 1985 Jan–Jun Italy Jul–Dec Luxembourg 1986 Jan–Jun Netherlands Jul–Dec United Kingdom 1987 Jan–Jun Belgium Jul–Dec Denmark 1988 Jan–Jun West Germany Jul–Dec Greece 1989 Jan–Jun Spain Jul–Dec France 1990 Jan–Jun Ireland Jul–Dec Italy 1991 Jan–Jun Luxembourg Jul–Dec Netherlands 1992 Jan–Jun Portugal Jul–Dec United Kingdom 1993 Jan–Jun Denmark Jul–Dec Belgium 1994 Jan–Jun Greece Jul–Dec Germany 1995 Jan–Jun France Jul–Dec Spain 1996 Jan–Jun Italy Jul–Dec Ireland 1997 Jan–Jun Netherlands Jul–Dec Luxembourg 1998 Jan–Jun United Kingdom presid.fco.gov.uk Jul–Dec Austria ? 1999 Jan–Jun Germany ? Jul–Dec Finland presidency.finland.fi 2000 Jan–Jun Portugal ? Jul–Dec France ? 2001 Jan–Jun Sweden eu2001.se Jul–Dec Belgium eu2001.be 2002 Jan–Jun Spain ue2002.es Jul–Dec Denmark eu2002.dk 2003 Jan–Jun Greece eu2003.gr Jul–Dec Italy eu2003.it 2004 Jan–Jun Ireland eu2004.ie Jul–Dec Netherlands eu2004.nl 2005 Jan–Jun Luxembourg eu2005.lu Jul–Dec United Kingdom eu2005.gov.uk 2006 Jan–Jun Austria eu2006.at Jul–Dec Finland1 eu2006.fi 2007 Jan–Jun T1 Germany eu2007.de Jul–Dec Portugal eu2007.pt 2008 Jan–Jun Slovenia eu2008.si Jul–Dec T2 France ue2008.fr 2009 Jan–Jun Czech Republic eu2009.cz Jul–Dec Sweden se2009.eu 2010 Jan–Jun T3 Spain eu2010.es
Jul–Dec Belgium eutrio.be 2011 Jan–Jun Hungary eu2011.hu Jul–Dec T4 Poland pl2011.eu 2012 Jan–Jun Denmark eu2012.dk Jul–Dec Cyprus cy2012eu.gov.cy 2013 Jan–Jun T5 Ireland eu2013.ie Jul–Dec Lithuania TBD 2014 Jan–Jun Greece TBD Jul–Dec T6 Italy TBD 2015 Jan–Jun Latvia TBD Jul–Dec Luxembourg TBD 2016 Jan–Jun T7 Netherlands TBD Jul–Dec Slovakia TBD 2017 Jan–Jun Malta TBD Jul–Dec T8 United Kingdom TBD 2018 Jan–Jun Estonia TBD Jul–Dec Bulgaria TBD 2019 Jan–Jun T9 Austria TBD Jul–Dec Romania TBD 2020 Jan–Jun Finland TBD
1Germany was due to succeed Austria in 2006 but stepped aside as general elections were scheduled for that period. Finland, as next in line, took their place. In the event, the German elections took place in 2005 due to a loss of confidence vote, but the re-arrangement remained.
- List of presidents of EU institutions
- ^ Preview of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, by Piotr Maciej Kaczyński, Enrich Boll Stiftung
- ^ Poland to showcase its EU credentials in Brussels extravaganza EUobserver, 8 June 2010
- ^ .ie WHOIS lookup showing registration of eu2013.ie to Dept. Foreign Affairs
- Presidency of the Council of the European Union
- Logos of the Council Presidencies
- Presidency order of Rotation List to 2020
Council of the European Union Operation ConfigurationsEconomic and Financial Affairs Council (Euro Group) • Foreign Affairs Council • General Affairs Council Administration Buildings
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