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What is the EU Council Presidency?

The Presidency, i.e. the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is held by each Member State in turn for a period of six months. During this time, the Presidency is the "face and voice" of the European Union, speaking on behalf of all Member States.

In the first half of 2008, Slovenia holds the Presidency for the first time, as the first of the twelve “new” member states that joined the EU in the 2004 and 2007 enlargements to do so.

Slovenia’s Presidency follows its Trio partners Germany and Portugal. The next Trio consists of France, Czech Republic and Sweden.


Tasks of the Presidency


Chairing the Council

During the first six months of 2008, Slovenia will chair all meetings of Heads of State or Government and all Council meetings. According to the division of duties among the ministers of the Presidency country, the Prime Minister chairs the European Council meetings, whilst other ministers chair the Council formations that correspond with their ministry’s policy areas. These meetings vary in frequency depending on the policy area. Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers generally meet every month, while other Councils may only meet once or twice during the term of the six-month Presidency.

sejna svetaThe presidency will also organise and chair 12 informal Council meetings in Slovenia. These gatherings allow Ministers to discuss topics in a more relaxed environment. Furthermore, some 150 Presidency meetings at lower levels will be held in Slovenia.

During Slovenia's EU Presidency, some 2000 official meetings will be organised in Brussels or Luxembourg. Most of these include the weekly meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee, which consists of the ambassadors of the EU Member States (Coreper II) or their deputies (Coreper I), and the regular meetings of committees and working groups.

It is the Presidency's responsibility to prepare the Council's work as efficiently as possible and to deliver progress by drawing up compromise proposals and brokering agreements between Member States. It signs approved legal acts and carries the political responsibility for all adopted decisions. It is therefore important that it acts as a neutral mediator in representing European interests and avoids promoting national priorities as far as possible.



Relations with other institutions and bodies of the European Union

The Presidency represents the Council in dealings with other institutions and bodies of the European Union, in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament. The Presidency acts in these relations on behalf of the Council, and thus on behalf of all Member States.


Cooperation with the European Parliament is intensive and demanding. At the beginning and end of the Presidency, the Prime Minister of the presiding country presents the programme for the Presidency and a final report at a plenary session of the European Parliament. He also speaks before the European Parliament after sessions of the European Council.The Presidency also reports regularly to the plenary sittings of the Parliament on work in the Council, whereas the ministers of the presiding country speak before the committees of the European Parliament, wherethey take part in question-and-answer sessions on topical issues, and exchanges of views and debates on the work of the Council in their particular policy area.

The Presidency also represents the Council in negotiations with Parliament in the legislative process. Meetings of the trialogue for the negotiation of compromise texts and for reaching agreement on proposals for legislative acts are usually held under the co-decision legislative procedure. The trialogue usually consists of the President of the Council (generally Chairman of Coreper), the Commissioner responsible, and the President or one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament and/or the chairperson of the relevant European Parliament committee.


The European Commission has the exclusive right to initiate legislative proposals, which is why the agenda of the Council relies heavily on the dynamics of work. The European Commission also has great expertise, so good relations with the Commission and its services are paramount for a successful Presidency.Furthermore, it has become the practice when planning the six-monthly programme, for the Presidency, represented by the relevant minister, to meet the Commission (President and relevant members) for the purposes of drawing up the work programme of the Presidency.

The Presidency similarly represents the Council in the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.



International representation of the European Union

As the importance and influence of the EU in international politics grows, the international representation of the EU has evolved into a key task of the Presidency. The latter, when meeting with non-EU countries or regional groupings, works in close cooperation with the European Commission and is supported by the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Since the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, they constitute the Troika that represents the EU in dealings with non-member states. The Presidency may also be assisted by the Member State next in line to take over the Presidency, the so-called incoming Presidency. Meetings with third countries are also organised at the level of Summits, which is attended by the Heads of State or/and Government of all 27 EU Member states.

The Presidency also speaks on behalf of the European Union at major international conferences, and issues declarations and statements in international organizations such as the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The role of the EU Presidency is particularly important in these international forums, where it is responsible for running day-to-day EU coordination, for representing the Union in discussions/negotiations with third countries, regional groups or organisations, and for delivering the demarches, statements, explanations of voting, etc. on behalf of the EU. The Presidency's role is especially vital in the United Nations, where the EU has no formal status.




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Date: 28.12.2007