Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Not to be confused with President of the European Council.
Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Term length Six months
Presidency Trio
Netherlands, Slovakia, Malta

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 2016) held by Slovakia.

Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios.[1] The current trio (2016–17) is made up of the Netherlands (Jan–Jun 2016), Slovakia (Jul–Dec 2016) and Malta (Jan–Jun 2017).


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 Brexit vote in 2016 and its subsequent relinquishment of its scheduled presidency in the Council of the European Union, the rotation of presidencies was brought six months forward. Estonia is scheduled take over the UK's six-month slot for July–December 2017.[2]


European Union

This article is part of a series on the
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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.[3]

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:

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 (e.g.: 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 (e.g., 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.

The rotating presidency is probably not needed any more, with the 2009 reforms by the Treaty of Lisbon, 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 Head of government [note 1] Website
1958 Jan–Jun    Belgium Achille Van Acker
Gaston Eyskens (from 26 June)
Jul–Dec  West Germany Konrad Adenauer
1959 Jan–Jun  France Charles de Gaulle*
Jul–Dec  Italy Antonio Segni
1960 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Jan de Quay
1961 Jan–Jun  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
Théo Lefèvre (from 25 April)
Jul–Dec  West Germany Konrad Adenauer
1962 Jan–Jun  France Charles de Gaulle*
Jul–Dec  Italy Amintore Fanfani
1963 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Jan de Quay
Victor Marijnen (from 24 July)
1964 Jan–Jun  Belgium Théo Lefèvre
Jul–Dec  West Germany Ludwig Erhard
1965 Jan–Jun  France Charles de Gaulle*
Jul–Dec  Italy Aldo Moro
1966 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Jo Cals
Jelle Zijlstra (from 22 November)
1967 Jan–Jun  Belgium Paul Vanden Boeynants
Jul–Dec  West Germany Kurt Georg Kiesinger
1968 Jan–Jun  France Charles de Gaulle*
Jul–Dec  Italy Giovanni Leone
Mariano Rumor (from 12 December)
1969 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Piet de Jong
1970 Jan–Jun  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
Jul–Dec  West Germany Willy Brandt
1971 Jan–Jun  France Georges Pompidou*
Jul–Dec  Italy Emilio Colombo
1972 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Barend Biesheuvel
1973 Jan–Jun  Belgium Gaston Eyskens
Edmond Leburton (from 26 January)
Jul–Dec  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
Poul Hartling (from 19 December)
1974 Jan–Jun  West Germany Willy Brandt
Walter Scheel (7–16 May)
Helmut Schmidt (from 16 May)
Jul–Dec  France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing*
1975 Jan–Jun  Ireland Liam Cosgrave
Jul–Dec  Italy Aldo Moro
1976 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Gaston Thorn
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Joop den Uyl
1977 Jan–Jun  United Kingdom James Callaghan
Jul–Dec  Belgium Leo Tindemans
1978 Jan–Jun  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
Jul–Dec  West Germany Helmut Schmidt
1979 Jan–Jun  France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing*
Jul–Dec  Ireland Jack Lynch
Charles Haughey
(from 11 December)
1980 Jan–Jun  Italy Francesco Cossiga
Jul–Dec  Luxembourg Pierre Werner
1981 Jan–Jun  Netherlands Dries van Agt
Jul–Dec  United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher
1982 Jan–Jun  Belgium Wilfried Martens
Jul–Dec  Denmark Anker Jørgensen
Poul Schlüter (from 10 September)
1983 Jan–Jun  West Germany Helmut Kohl
Jul–Dec  Greece Andreas Papandreou
1984 Jan–Jun  France François Mitterrand*
Jul–Dec  Ireland Garret FitzGerald
1985 Jan–Jun  Italy Bettino Craxi
Jul–Dec  Luxembourg Jacques Santer
1986 Jan–Jun  Netherlands Ruud Lubbers
Jul–Dec  United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher
1987 Jan–Jun  Belgium Wilfried Martens
Jul–Dec  Denmark Poul Schlüter
1988 Jan–Jun  West Germany Helmut Kohl
Jul–Dec  Greece Andreas Papandreou
1989 Jan–Jun  Spain Felipe González
Jul–Dec  France François Mitterrand*
1990 Jan–Jun  Ireland Charles Haughey
Jul–Dec  Italy Giulio Andreotti
1991 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Jacques Santer
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Ruud Lubbers
1992 Jan–Jun  Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Jul–Dec  United Kingdom John Major
1993 Jan–Jun  Denmark Poul Schlüter
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (from 25 January)
Jul–Dec  Belgium Jean-Luc Dehaene
1994 Jan–Jun  Greece Andreas Papandreou
Jul–Dec  Germany Helmut Kohl
1995 Jan–Jun  France François Mitterrand*
Jacques Chirac* (from 17 May)
Jul–Dec  Spain Felipe González
1996 Jan–Jun  Italy Lamberto Dini
Romano Prodi (from 17 May)
Jul–Dec  Ireland John Bruton
1997 Jan–Jun  Netherlands Wim Kok
Jul–Dec  Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker
1998 Jan–Jun  United Kingdom Tony Blair
Jul–Dec  Austria Viktor Klima
1999 Jan–Jun  Germany Gerhard Schröder
Jul–Dec  Finland Paavo Lipponen
2000 Jan–Jun  Portugal António Guterres
Jul–Dec  France Jacques Chirac*
2001 Jan–Jun  Sweden Göran Persson
Jul–Dec  Belgium Guy Verhofstadt
2002 Jan–Jun  Spain José María Aznar
Jul–Dec  Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen
2003 Jan–Jun  Greece Costas Simitis
Jul–Dec  Italy Silvio Berlusconi
2004 Jan–Jun  Ireland Bertie Ahern
Jul–Dec  Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende
2005 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker
Jul–Dec  United Kingdom Tony Blair
2006 Jan–Jun  Austria Wolfgang Schüssel
Jul–Dec  Finland[note 2] Matti Vanhanen
2007 Jan–Jun T1  Germany Angela Merkel
Jul–Dec  Portugal José Sócrates
2008 Jan–Jun  Slovenia Janez Janša
Jul–Dec T2  France Nicolas Sarkozy*
2009 Jan–Jun  Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek
Jan Fischer (from 8 May)
Jul–Dec  Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt
2010 Jan–Jun T3  Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Jul–Dec  Belgium Yves Leterme
2011 Jan–Jun  Hungary Viktor Orbán
Jul–Dec T4  Poland Donald Tusk
2012 Jan–Jun  Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Jul–Dec  Cyprus Demetris Christofias*
2013 Jan–Jun T5  Ireland Enda Kenny
Jul–Dec  Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius
2014 Jan–Jun  Greece Antonis Samaras
Jul–Dec T6  Italy Matteo Renzi
2015 Jan–Jun  Latvia Laimdota Straujuma
Jul–Dec  Luxembourg Xavier Bettel
2016 Jan–Jun T7  Netherlands Mark Rutte
Jul–Dec  Slovakia Robert Fico
2017 Jan–Jun  Malta Joseph Muscat
Jul–Dec T8  Estonia[note 3] TBD
2018 Jan–Jun  Bulgaria TBD
Jul–Dec  Austria TBD
2019 Jan–Jun T9  Romania TBD
Jul–Dec  Finland TBD
2020 Jan–Jun  Croatia TBD TBD
Jul-Dec T10  Germany TBD TBD
2021 Jan–Jun  Portugal TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Slovenia TBD TBD
2022 Jan–Jun T11  France TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Czech Republic TBD TBD
2023 Jan–Jun  Sweden TBD TBD
Jul-Dec T12  Spain TBD TBD
2024 Jan–Jun  Belgium TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Hungary TBD TBD
2025 Jan–Jun T13  Poland TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Denmark TBD TBD
2026 Jan–Jun  Cyprus TBD TBD
Jul-Dec T14  Ireland TBD TBD
2027 Jan–Jun  Lithuania TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Greece TBD TBD
2028 Jan–Jun T15  Italy TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Latvia TBD TBD
2029 Jan–Jun  Luxembourg TBD TBD
Jul-Dec T16  Netherlands TBD TBD
2030 Jan–Jun  Slovakia TBD TBD
Jul-Dec  Malta TBD TBD

See also


  1. Asterisk: Head of government is also head of state. This is the case for France and Cyprus.
  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 July 1 to December 31 2017 however following the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 the UK government informed the European Union that it would abandon its presidency for late 2017 and was replaced instead by Estonia.


External links

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