Presidency Of The Council Of The European Union

The Council of the EU comprises national ministers meeting to adopt laws and coordinate policies. At the Council meetings, the presidency of the Council takes charge of the agenda, promotes legislative decisions and encourages compromise between members. To do this, the presidency must act as an ‘honest and neutral broker’.

The presidency has two main tasks:

  • Planning and chairing meetings in the Council and its preparatory bodies

    The presidency chairs meetings of the different Council configurations (with the exception of the Foreign Affairs Council) and the Council's preparatory bodies, which include permanent committees such as the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), and working parties and committees dealing with very specific subjects.

    The presidency ensures that discussions are conducted properly and that the Council's rules of procedure and working methods are correctly applied. It also organises various formal and informal meetings in Brussels and in the country of the rotating presidency.
  • Representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions

    The presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, particularly with the Commission and the European Parliament. Its role is to try and reach agreement on legislative files through trialogues, informal negotiation meetings and Conciliation Committee meetings.

    The presidency works in close coordination with the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. It supports their work and may sometimes be requested to perform certain duties for the High Representative, such as representing the Foreign Affairs Council before the European Parliament or chairing the Foreign Affairs Council when it discusses common commercial policy issues.

Rotation of the presidency

The presidency rotates among the EU member states every six months. During this six month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council. Member states holding the presidency work closely together in groups of three. The system of presidency trios was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. The trios set long term goals and prepare a common agenda to determine the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over the 18 month period. Each of the three countries will then prepare its own more detailed six month programme which will highlight each presidency’s goals to achieve during the six month period.

The current trio is Italy, Latvia and Luxembourg.

Presidencies 2015-2020

Latvia: January – June 2015
Luxembourg: July-December 2015
Netherlands: January-June 2016
Slovakia: July-December 2016
Malta: January-June 2017
United Kingdom: July-December 2017
Estonia: January-June 2018
Bulgaria: July-December 2018
Austria: January-June 2019
Romania: July-December 2019
Finland: January-June 2020

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