The European Union: Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Wednesday, 1 July 2020 - 02:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Editorial, EU blog post series, European Union
Reading Time:  25 minutes

The presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature. It rotates among the member states of the EU every six months. The presidency is not an individual, but rather the position is held by a national government. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the “president of the European Union“. The presidency’s function is to chair meetings of the Council, determine its agendas, set a work programme and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other EU institutions. The presidency is currently, as of July 2020, held by Germany. Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio (2020–21) is made up of Germany (July–December 2020), Portugal (January–June 2021) and Slovenia (July–December 2021).

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. Article 16(9) of the Treaty on European Union provides:

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 an 18-month 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: Formal Trilogue meetings 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 third 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

Germany will chair the Council in the second half of 2020. In view of the Corona pandemic, some of the original objectives have been abandoned or scaled down in order to focus more on coping with the Corona crisis and further deepening EU integration. Very big tasks and challenges are waiting to be solved.

DW, 30 June 2020: Opinion: Angela Merkel’s moment to define the EU’s future, Politico.eu, 30 June 2020: The EU’s most powerful Germans, DW, 1 July 2020: Angela Merkel’s last EU Council Presidency — what to expect, France24, 1 July 2020: Germany assumes EU presidency as Merkel pushes for massive bloc-wide recovery plan, Politico.eu, 1 July 2020: Germans need to stop with the finger-wagging, DW, 2 July 2020: Germany takes helm of EU presidency, Merkel urges resolve on virus recovery plan, DW, 5 July 2020: Faith leaders call to keep EU’s religious freedom envoy, Foreign Policy, 8 July 2020: Angela Merkel Is Back, Arab News, 9 July 2020: Angela Merkel right to promote EU solidarity in key speech, The Guardian, 13 July 2020: The world needs grown-up leadership. Time for Germany to step up, France24, 21 July 2020: EU leaders agree landmark 750 bn euro recovery deal, BBC, 21 July 2020: EU agrees €750bn virus recovery fund, The Guardian, 21 July 2020: EU Leaders seal deal on €750bn Covid-19 recovery plans, France24, 21 July 2020: EU leaders adopt Covid-19 rescue package after marathon summit, BBC, 21 July 2020: Coronavirus: EU leaders reach recovery deal after marathon summit, CNN, 21 July 2020: EU leaders have reached an agreement on a $858 billion coronavirus stimulus package, France24, 21 July 2020: It’s a ‘deal’ as EU leaders end marathon summit with historic rescue package, Politico.eu, 21 July 2020: EU leaders agree on €1.82T budget and coronavirus recovery package, France24, 21 July 2020: EU rescue deal: ‘The most important moment in the life of our Europe,’ says Macron, The New York Times, 21 July 2020: E.U. Adopts $857 Billion Stimulus to Fight Coronavirus Recession, Politico.eu, 21 July 2020: Toward an ever closer imperfect union, The Washington Post, 21 July 2020: E.U. leaders agree to $859 billion stimulus package, Politico.eu, 21 July 2020: POLITICO’s guide to the EU budget deal, The Guardian, 22 July 2020: With its recovery deal, is the EU finally starting to act like a unifying force?, Arab News, 23 July 2020: Why EU’s historic breakthrough is a major milestone, Politico.eu, 24 July 2020: EU summit insults and rubbish superheroes, Politico.eu, 24 July 2020: EU says landmark budget deal adds pressure on UK in Brexit talks, Politico.eu, 24 July 2020: Charles Michel, the budget deal and the art of the terrace tête-à-tête, France24, 25 July 2020: EU recovery plan deals a blow to popular Erasmus exchange programme, Politico.eu, 25 July 2020: The EU budget and recovery deal — in charts, The National, 26 July 2020: How much will the EU’s ‘historic’ new deal change life in Europe?, The Washington Post, 26 July 2020: Is Europe finally coming together?, The Guardian, 30 July 2020: Can Germany now hold the European team together?, Der Spiegel, 2 August 2020: China as a Systemic Rival to the EU: “The Security of Our Citizens Is at Stake”, Financial Times, 9 August 2020: National budget rules to remain suspended next year, Brussels says, France, 27 August 2020: EU trade official Hogan resigns under pressure for violating Covid-19 guidelines, Politico.eu, 27 August 2020: Phil Hogan’s golfgate downfall: What happened, swing by swing, Politico.eu, 15 September 2020: Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech: As it happened, France24, 16 September 2020: EU’s von der Leyen unveils blueprint for recovery in ‘state of the union’ address, Politico.eu, 16 September 2020: Von der Leyen challenges EU capitals to step up, Politico.eu, 18 September 2020: Poland joins Hungary in threatening to block EU’s budget and coronavirus recovery package (surprise, surprise .. that the EU treaties allow offenders to determine their own punishment is somewhat remarkable), Politico.eu, 21 September 2020: Conference on EU’s future derailed by leadership fight, Politico.eu, 29 September 2020: Poland, Hungary to set up rule of law institute to counter Brussels (of course, no extreme right-winger worldwide ever lived a law abiding life ever, even though they expect it from everyone else. The autocrats from the “new eastern block” are a bunch of weirdos and, on top, using the term “double standard” shows the full scale antisemitism in the east, by trying to equate themselves to the persecution of the Jews – typical brownshirt BS), DW, 29 September 2020: Hungary’s Orban calls for removal of EU Commissioner Vera Jourova, The Guardian, 29 September 2020: German compromise on releasing EU funds ‘caves in to Viktor Orbán’
communication_2020_rule_of_law_report_en
DW, 1 October 2020: Opinion: Words alone won’t enforce EU rule of law, Politico.eu, 30 September 2020: Live blog: European Council summit, DW, 1 October 2020: Turkey, Belarus, Armenia-Azerbaijan present EU with tough test, DW, 2 October 2020: Opinion: This isn’t how the EU increases its international influence, Reuters, 5 October 2020: EU budget rules to remain suspended in 2021: Commission, Politico.eu, 9 October 2020: As EU debates rule of law, Norway’s already making offenders pay, Politico.eu, 13 October 2020: Poland threatens to veto EU budget over rule of law (no problem. As a countermeasure, Brussels can stop all payments of development aid to Poland. As a result, the Polish economy will collapse within two years. Congrats, Kaczyński. Well done), Politico.eu, 13 October 2020: No more Mr. Nice Europe, Politico.eu, 20 October 2020: Parliament set to climb down in EU budget fight, DW, 21 October 2020: EU agriculture policy: What are the bones of contention?, DW, 21 October 2020: Opinion: EU fails to introduce real agricultural reform, Politico.eu, 30 October 2020: Cash clash and coronavirus lockdowns: Budget talks head into November, Politico.eu, 5 November 2020: Macron calls for a ‘refoundation of the Schengen area’, Politico.eu, 9 November 2020: Orbán threatens to veto EU budget, recovery fund over rule of law (that’s easy to solve. The payments to Poland and Hungary will be frozen until the matter is resolved to create enough time for renegotiations. In the meantime, the other states will receive the agreed funds in return for agreeing to the rule of law clause. The EU must clearly oppose the constant attempts of blackmail from the EU’s eastward expansion and south-east Europe, if only in the interests of its own ability to act), Politico.eu, 10 November 2020: Council and Parliament reach deal on EU budget, Politico.eu, 10 November 2020: EU budget deal: What you need to know, DW, 16 November 2020: Poland and Hungary veto EU budget plan, BBC, 16 November 2020: EU budget blocked by Hungary and Poland over rule of law issue (the main question is how one can take Poland and Hungary out of the disbursement processes and freeze disbursements in such a way that it continues to run normally for the other EU states, while Poland and Hungary gain time to find out whether they want to remain in the EU or to leave. Such a process can take years. Years during which the Polish and Hungarian governments would have to explain to their people why they had ruined their countries and given up democracy in favor of kleptocracy), The New York Times, 16 November 2020: Hungary and Poland Threaten E.U. Stimulus Over Rule of Law Links, Politico.eu, 16 November 2020: Hungary and Poland block EU coronavirus recovery package, NPR, 17 November 2020: Hungary And Poland Block EU Budget With Pandemic Relief Funds For Hard-Hit Nations, DW, 17 November 2020: Germany remains optimistic after EU budget veto, Politico.eu, 17 November 2020: EU’s €1.8T game of chicken over budget and coronavirus fund, Politico.eu, 19 November 2020: Hungary and Poland must back down in EU budget fight, says Romania’s PM, DW, 19 November 2020: Hungary, Poland hold EU hostage over budget (the EU25 should think much more about how to get rid of Hungary and Poland (possibly also Slovenia) as quickly as possible. The easiest way to get there would be to completely stop the payment of EU funds to the two countries, both from the Corona aid fund and from the budget, while excluding them from all decision-making processes. Poland would be bankrupt within a few months, the leadership of which will then lead the mock battle over alleged German war reparations, but to do so would have to terminate all contracts with Germany and de facto split up Poland in order to create the necessary basis and Hungary’s leadership has been in Putin’s pocket for years which is why it has wanted to cause the EU the greatest possible damage for years. In addition, Orban’s ramblings about Hungary as an alleged “freedom fighter” can then come true. At the same time, one has to wonder how much his voters must be blinded when they confuse Orban’s autocratic kleptocracy with freedom), Politico.eu, 19 November 2020: Germany to Turkey: Calm tensions or face EU sanctions, Politico.eu, 19 November 2020: Polish premier points finger at EU in budget fight, France24, 20 November 2020: ‘We will work relentlessly to find the solution’: EU’s Sefcovic on rule of law crisis, Politico.eu, 20 November 2020: EU will eventually resolve budget deadlock, Hungary’s Orbán says, France24, 20 November 2020: EU co-operation crisis: Hungary, Poland veto EU budget over rule of law, DW, 21 November 2020: Opinion: What role will the EU play in foreign affairs?, DW, 26 November 2020: Hungary, Poland vow to veto EU COVID recovery fund mechanism, Politico.eu, 26 November 2020: Hungary and Poland escalate budget fight over rule of law, Politico.eu, 27 November 2020: Europe: Caught between a rule-of-law fight and a hard Brexit, Politico.eu, 30 November 2020: Merkel says ‘all sides’ must make compromises to break budget deadlock, The Guardian, 1 December 2020: Von der Leyen Hungary and Poland should take EU budget row to court, The Guardian, 1 December 2020: An effective response to Europe’s fiscal paralysis, Politico.eu, 2 December 2020: Von der Leyen threatens EU recovery fund without Hungary and Poland (very good approach. The EU should even go further and organize the budget until 2027 without Poland and Hungary. This would mean that both countries could think about whether they want to continue to belong to the EU by 2027 – of course without receiving the previous, lavish support from Brussels, which in Hungary alone finances 50% of all infrastructure measures. Poland and Hungary are the largest net recipients of Brussels development aid payments. Their populations will certainly react enthusiastically to the complete failures of their national leaderships if they are missing several 100 billion euros in their budget over the period), DW, 2 December 2020: Poland and Hungary gamble on funding with EU budget veto, Politico.eu, 3 December 2020: Poland blinks first ahead of showdown at the EU budget corral, DW, 4 December 2020: Viktor Orban: Hungary will stick by EU budget veto threat (hopefully it stays that way. The money that Brussels doesn’t spent on Hungary and Poland can be spent on meaningful projects in other EU states instead), Politico.eu, 4 December 2020: Viktor Orbán rejects rule of law compromise idea, DW, 8 December 2020: Poland, Hungary face growing calls to drop EU budget veto, Politico.eu, 8 December 2020: EU lobby register falls short of transparency demands, DW, 9 December 2020: Hungary’s budget veto leaves Orban isolated, France24, 9 December 2020: Poland, Hungary accept German EU budget offer as ‘D-Day’ approaches, DW, 10 December 2020: EU breaks deadlock on budget, coronavirus recovery fund, Politico.eu, 10 December 2020: Europe’s existential crisis, France24, 11 December 2020: EU Summit: Turkey says European sanctions plan is ‘biased, unlawful’, The Guardian, 11 December 2020: Poland Rule of law fears remain despite EU compromise, Politico.eu, 11 December 2020: EU leaders move toward sanctioning Turkey, France24, 11 December 2020: EU reaches landmark budget deal with Hungary and Poland, Politico.eu, 11 December 2020: EU leaders demand banking union progress, The National, 11 December 2020: EU agrees to map out sanctions on Turkey over Mediterranean drilling, NPR, 11 December 2020: EU Ends Standoff, Moves Forward With Budget And Coronavirus Relief Fund, Politico.eu, 15 December 2020: Germany pushes EU regulator on approving coronavirus vaccine before Christmas, Politico.eu, 15 December 2020: Jourová: EU won’t use rule of law powers in ‘activist’ way, Politico.eu, 17 December 2020: EU top court gears up for rule-of-law battle (of its life), Politico.eu, 18 December 2020: Angela Merkel’s rule-of-law legacy: A divided Europe, Politico.eu, 18 December 2020: EU recovery fund deal may get money flowing in summer, France24, 24 December 2020: As it happened: Britain and Europe reach ‘fair and balanced’ post-Brexit trade deal, EU chief says, DW, 24 December 2020: EU, UK finally clinch ‘historic’ trade deal, BBC, 24 December 2020: What Boris Johnson’s mistake tells us about our future, The Guardian, 24 December 2020: The Guardian view on a Brexit deal Relief that leaves a bitter taste, France24, 24 December 2020: What we know so far about the EU-UK post-Brexit trade deal, The Guardian, 24 December 2020: Boris Johnson has ‘got Brexit done’. With a deal that will please no one, BBC, 24 December 2020: Brexit: EU diplomats to get trade deal briefing, The Guardian, 24 December 2020: At long last we have a Brexit deal – and it’s as bad as you thought, CNN, 24 December 2020: Brexit trade deal reached between UK and European Union with just days to spare, The Guardian, 24 December 2020: From tariffs to visas Here’s what’s in the Brexit deal, Politico.eu, 24 December 2020: UK-EU Brexit trade deal at a glance, The Hill, 24 December 2020: EU, UK negotiators finalize post-Brexit trade deal, The Atlantic, 24 December 2020: Why Britain’s Brexit Mayhem Was Worth It, NPR, 24 December 2020: U.K. And EU Agree To Last-Minute Brexit Trade Deal, The Times, 24 December 2020: We have a Brexit deal, but cultural divide is here to stay, The Economist, 24 December 2020: No-deal averted: Britain and the European Union agree on the hardest Brexit, The New York Times, 24 December 2020: Britain and the E.U. struck a landmark trade deal that defines how the two sides will coexist after severing ties., The Washington Post, 24 December 2020: Britain and E.U. reach trade deal, smoothing U.K.’s pending departure, European Commission, 24 December 2020: EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: protecting European interests, ensuring fair competition, and continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest, Irish Times, 24 December 2020: Devil in the detail: Here’s the main elements of UK-EU Brexit deal, BBC, 25 December 2020: Selling it as a big win on both sides of the Channel, CNN, 25 December 2020: EU ambassadors gather to review Brexit trade deal on Christmas Day, Irish Times, 25 December 2020: Brexit pact turns on compromise but British links with EU weakened, The Guardian, 25 December 2020: Brexit deal greeted with relief by European media, Daily Mail, 25 December 2020: Britain will have a ‘special relationship’ with the EU after Brexit and ‘ugly’ politics will end, says Gove as Boris urges hardline Brexiteers to support deal before final vote on Wednesday, The Sun, 25 December 2020: No more Brussels: Boris Johnson secured Christmas Brexit deal hours after warning Brussels ‘I won’t sign it’ in massive taxes row (it’s pretty likely, that Sun readers will believe this crap, as the Sun is one of the loudest and most ugly Brexiteers voice), Daily Mail, 25 December 2020: Nicola Sturgeon seizes on Brexit deal to make fresh demands for second independence referendum and calls the replacement of Erasmus with new scheme ‘cultural vandalism’, Daily Mail, 26 December 2020: As Sturgeon launches fresh Scottish independence drive, why splitting up the Union would be even harder than quitting the EU, Irish Times, 26 December 2020: Tory Eurosceptics run rule over Brexit trade deal with EU, DW, 26 December 2020: What’s in the EU-UK Brexit trade deal?, Irish Times, 26 December 2020: The year Boris Johnson became the sick man of Britain, Al Arabiya, 26 December 2020: How will the EU-British trade deal change ties?, The Guardian, 27 December 2020: Brexit: fishing chiefs cry ‘betrayal’ as MPs fear rush to ratify deal, Irish Times, 27 December 2020: Brexit deal marks only the start of complex talks, The Guardian, 27 December 2020: Throughout history Britain’s ruling class has created crisis after crisis – just like now, Politico.eu, 27 December 2020: Ireland to fund Erasmus scheme for Northern Irish students, The Guardian, 27 December 2020: Editorial The Guardian view on Britain out of the EU: a treasure island for rentiers, The Guardian, 27 December 2020: ‘Clock still ticking’ for settlement over Gibraltar despite Brexit deal, Irish Times, 28 December 2020: British government warns of bureaucratic hurdles despite trade deal, Irish Times, 28 December 2020: Cabinet to discuss Brexit deal as sectors of economy face disruption, New Statesman, 28 December 2020: Brexit is no cause for celebration – this is a moment of national shame, France24, 28 December 2020: EU states give green light to post-Brexit trade agreement, DW, 30 December 2020: Germany gets mixed scorecard for EU presidency, France24, 30 December 2020: EU agrees investment deal with China, says it will help ‘rebalance economic ties’, DW, 30 December 2020: EU and China approve major investment deal, CNN, 30 December 2020: Europe strikes major investment deal with China despite US concerns, The New York Times, 30 December 2020: China and E.U. Leaders Strike Investment Deal, Politico.eu, 31 December 2020: Merkel’s report card: Grading Germany’s EU presidency, Foreign Policy, 31 December 2020: What Merkel Really Thinks About China—and the World, Politico.eu, 1 January 2021: Germany’s drive for EU-China deal draws criticism from other EU countries, DW, 1 January 2021: Portugal’s EU presidency to focus on social justice.

The linked articles and contributions reflect the views, opinions and analyzes of the respective editorial offices, authors and journalists that we do not adopt.

Read more on Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, VOLT Europa, United Europe, Pulse of Europe and Wikipedia Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


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