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Presidency of the Council of the European Union

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Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Emblem of the Council
Currently held by
1 January – 30 June 2024
Council of the European Union
AppointerRotation among the EU member states
Term lengthSix months
Constituting instrumentTreaties of the European Union
First holderBelgium Belgium
Presidency trio
Spain SpainBelgium BelgiumHungary Hungary

The presidency of the Council of the European Union[1] is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, which is the co-legislator of the EU legislature alongside the European Parliament. 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 program and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other EU institutions. The presidency is currently, as of January 2024, held by Belgium.

Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio is made up of Spain (July-December 2023), Belgium (January–June 2024), and Hungary (July-December 2024). The 2020 German presidency began the second cycle of presidencies, after the system was introduced in 2007.[2]


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 was 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 by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Until 2009, the Presidency had assumed political responsibility in all areas of European integration and it played a vital role in brokering high-level political decisions.

The Treaty of Lisbon reduced the importance of the Presidency significantly by officially separating the European Council from the Council of the European Union. Simultaneously it split the foreign affairs Council configuration from the General Affairs configuration and created the position of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

After the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union in 2016 and its subsequent relinquishment of its scheduled presidency in the Council of the European Union which was due to take place from July to December 2017, the rotation of presidencies was brought six months forward. Estonia was scheduled to take over the UK's six-month slot instead.[3] The presidency is currently (as of January 2024) held by Belgium.


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.[4]

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

Holding the rotating Council Presidency includes both advantages and disadvantages for member states; The opportunities include:

  1. member states have the possibility to show their negotiating skills, as "honest brokers", thus gaining influence and prestige
  2. member states gain a privileged access to information: at the end of their term, they know member states' preferences better than anyone else
  3. the Council programme may enable member states to focus Council discussion on issues of particular national/regional interest (for example Finland and the Northern Dimension initiative)

The burdens include:

  1. 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 an 18-months base
  2. expenses in time and money, needed to support the administrative machine
  3. 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 (for example the French 2008 Presidency and the Union for the Mediterranean 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

List of rotations[edit]

Period Trio Holder Head of government [note 1] Website
1958 January–June    Belgium Achille Van Acker
Gaston Eyskens (from 26 June)
July–December  West Germany Konrad Adenauer
1959 January–June  France Charles de Gaulle*
Michel Debré (from 8 January)
July–December  Italy Antonio Segni
1960 January–June  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
July–December  Netherlands Jan de Quay
1961 January–June  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
Théo Lefèvre (from 25 April)
July–December  West Germany Konrad Adenauer
1962 January–June  France Michel Debré
Georges Pompidou (from 14 April)
July–December  Italy Amintore Fanfani
1963 January–June  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
July–December  Netherlands Jan de Quay
Victor Marijnen (from 24 July)
1964 January–June  Belgium Théo Lefèvre
July–December  West Germany Ludwig Erhard
1965 January–June  France Georges Pompidou
July–December  Italy Aldo Moro
1966 January–June  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
July–December  Netherlands Jo Cals
Jelle Zijlstra (from 22 November)
1967 January–June  Belgium Paul Vanden Boeynants
July–December  West Germany Kurt Georg Kiesinger
1968 January–June  France Georges Pompidou
July–December  Italy Giovanni Leone
Mariano Rumor (from 12 December)
1969 January–June  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
July–December  Netherlands Piet de Jong
1970 January–June  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
July–December  West Germany Willy Brandt
1971 January–June  France Jacques Chaban-Delmas
July–December  Italy Emilio Colombo
1972 January–June  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
July–December  Netherlands Barend Biesheuvel
1973 January–June  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
Edmond Leburton (from 26 January)
July–December  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
Poul Hartling (from 19 December)
1974 January–June  West Germany Willy Brandt
Walter Scheel (7–16 May)
Helmut Schmidt (from 16 May)
July–December  France Jacques Chirac
1975 January–June  Ireland Liam Cosgrave
July–December  Italy Aldo Moro
1976 January–June  Luxembourg Gaston Thorn
July–December  Netherlands Joop den Uyl
1977 January–June  United Kingdom James Callaghan
July–December  Belgium Leo Tindemans
1978 January–June  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
July–December  West Germany Helmut Schmidt
1979 January–June  France Raymond Barre
July–December  Ireland Jack Lynch
Charles Haughey
(from 11 December)
1980 January–June  Italy Francesco Cossiga
July–December  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
1981 January–June  Netherlands Dries van Agt
July–December  United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher
1982 January–June  Belgium Wilfried Martens
July–December  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
Poul Schlüter (from 10 September)
1983 January–June  West Germany Helmut Kohl
July–December  Greece Andreas Papandreou
1984 January–June  France Pierre Mauroy
July–December  Ireland Garret FitzGerald
1985 January–June  Italy Bettino Craxi
July–December  Luxembourg Jacques Santer
1986 January–June  Netherlands Ruud Lubbers
July–December  United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher
1987 January–June  Belgium Wilfried Martens
July–December  Denmark Poul Schlüter
1988 January–June  West Germany Helmut Kohl
July–December  Greece Andreas Papandreou
1989 January–June  Spain Felipe González
July–December  France Michel Rocard
1990 January–June  Ireland Charles Haughey
July–December  Italy Giulio Andreotti
1991 January–June  Luxembourg Jacques Santer
July–December  Netherlands Ruud Lubbers
1992 January–June  Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva
July–December  United Kingdom John Major
1993 January–June  Denmark Poul Schlüter
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (from 25 January)
July–December  Belgium Jean-Luc Dehaene
1994 January–June  Greece Andreas Papandreou
July–December  Germany Helmut Kohl
1995 January–June  France Édouard Balladur (until 17 May)
Alain Juppé (from 17 May)
July–December  Spain Felipe González
1996 January–June  Italy Lamberto Dini
Romano Prodi (from 17 May)
July–December  Ireland John Bruton
1997 January–June  Netherlands Wim Kok
July–December  Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker
1998 January–June  United Kingdom Tony Blair presid.fco.gov.uk (archived)
July–December  Austria Viktor Klima presidency.gv.at (archived)
1999 January–June  Germany Gerhard Schröder
July–December  Finland Paavo Lipponen presidency.finland.fi (archived)
2000 January–June  Portugal António Guterres portugal.ue-2000.pt (archived)
July–December  France Lionel Jospin
2001 January–June  Sweden Göran Persson eu2001.se (archived)
July–December  Belgium Guy Verhofstadt eu2001.be[dead link] (archived)
2002 January–June  Spain José María Aznar ue2002.es[dead link] (archived)
July–December  Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen eu2002.dk[dead link] (archived)
2003 January–June  Greece Costas Simitis eu2003.gr
July–December  Italy Silvio Berlusconi ueitalia2003.it[dead link] (archived)
2004 January–June  Ireland Bertie Ahern eu2004.ie (archived)
July–December  Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende eu2004.nl[dead link] (archived)
2005 January–June  Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker eu2005.lu
July–December  United Kingdom Tony Blair eu2005.gov.uk (archived)
2006 January–June  Austria Wolfgang Schüssel eu2006.at
July–December  Finland[note 2] Matti Vanhanen eu2006.fi (archived)
2007 January–June T1  Germany Angela Merkel eu2007.de
July–December  Portugal José Sócrates eu2007.pt (archived)
2008 January–June  Slovenia Janez Janša eu2008.si
July–December T2  France François Fillon ue2008.fr[dead link] (archived)
2009 January–June  Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek
Jan Fischer (from 8 May)
July–December  Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt se2009.eu (archived)
2010 January–June T3  Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero eu2010.es[dead link] (archived)
eutrio.es[dead link] (archived)
July–December  Belgium Yves Leterme eutrio.be
2011 January–June  Hungary Viktor Orbán eu2011.hu (archived)
July–December T4  Poland Donald Tusk pl2011.eu[dead link] (archived)
2012 January–June  Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt eu2012.dk
July–December  Cyprus Demetris Christofias* cy2012.eu
2013 January–June T5  Ireland Enda Kenny eu2013.ie
July–December  Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius eu2013.lt
2014 January–June  Greece Antonis Samaras gr2014.eu[dead link] (archived)
July–December T6  Italy Matteo Renzi italia2014.eu
2015 January–June  Latvia Laimdota Straujuma eu2015.lv
July–December  Luxembourg Xavier Bettel eu2015lu.eu
2016 January–June T7  Netherlands Mark Rutte eu2016.nl (archived)
July–December  Slovakia Robert Fico eu2016.sk
2017 January–June  Malta Joseph Muscat eu2017.mt
July–December T8  Estonia[note 3] Jüri Ratas eu2017.ee
2018 January–June  Bulgaria Boyko Borisov eu2018bg.bg
July–December  Austria Sebastian Kurz eu2018.at
2019 January–June T9  Romania Viorica Dăncilă romania2019.eu
July–December  Finland Antti Rinne
Sanna Marin (from 10 December)
2020 January–June  Croatia Andrej Plenković eu2020.hr
July–December T10  Germany Angela Merkel eu2020.de
2021 January–June  Portugal António Costa 2021portugal.eu
July–December  Slovenia Janez Janša si2021.eu
2022 January–June T11  France Jean Castex
Élisabeth Borne (from 16 May)
July–December  Czech Republic Petr Fiala eu2022.cz
2023 January–June  Sweden Ulf Kristersson https://swedish-presidency.consilium.europa.eu/ https://sweden2023.eu
July–December T12  Spain Pedro Sánchez https://spanish-presidency.consilium.europa.eu/en/
2024 January–June  Belgium Alexander De Croo https://belgian-presidency.consilium.europa.eu
July–December  Hungary Viktor Orbán https://hungarian-presidency.consilium.europa.eu
2025 January–June T13  Poland TBD TBD
July–December  Denmark TBD TBD
2026 January–June  Cyprus TBD TBD
July–December T14  Ireland TBD TBD
2027 January–June  Lithuania TBD TBD
July–December  Greece TBD TBD
2028 January–June T15  Italy TBD TBD
July–December  Latvia TBD TBD
2029 January–June  Luxembourg TBD TBD
July–December T16  Netherlands TBD TBD
2030 January–June  Slovakia TBD TBD
July–December  Malta TBD TBD

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asterisk: Head of government is also head of state. This is the case for Cyprus and was the case for France until October 1958.
  2. ^ Germany was due to succeed Austria in 2006 but stepped aside as general elections were scheduled for that period. Finland, as next in line, took Germany's place. Eventually the German elections took place in 2005 due to a loss of confidence vote, but the re-arrangement remained.
  3. ^ It was originally intended for the United Kingdom to hold the presidency from 1 July to 31 December 2017, but after a referendum in June 2016 to leave the EU, the UK government informed the European Union that it would abandon its presidency for late 2017 and was replaced by Estonia.[5]


  1. ^ "The presidency of the Council of the EU". Council of the EU.
  2. ^ "Council of the European Union". Council of the EU. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Council rotating presidencies: decision on revised order" (Press release). Council of the European Union. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Council of the European Union configurations". Council of the EU. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  5. ^ "UK will no longer get EU council presidency next year because of Brexit, Theresa May says". The Independent. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2020.

External links[edit]