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Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The presidency of the Council of the European Union[1] 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 2019) held by Finland.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Council of the EU and European Council.svg
Emblem of the Council
Flag of Europe.svg
Coat of arms of Finland.svg
Currently held by
1 July 2019 - 31 December 2019
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
Romania RomaniaFinland FinlandCroatia Croatia

Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio (2019–20) is made up of Romania (Jan–Jun 2019), Finland (Jul–Dec 2019) and Croatia (Jan–Jun 2020).[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 Brexit vote 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 July 2019) held by Finland.


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 3rd 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 (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 rotationsEdit

Period Trio Holder Head of government [note 1] Website
1958 Jan–Jun     Belgium Achille Van Acker
Gaston Eyskens (from 26 June)
Jul–Dec   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   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   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   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   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   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   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   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   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] Jüri Ratas
2018 Jan-Jun   Bulgaria Boyko Borisov
Jul–Dec   Austria Sebastian Kurz
2019 Jan–Jun T9   Romania Viorica Dăncilă
Jul–Dec   Finland Antti Rinne
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
2023 Jan–Jun   Sweden TBD TBD
Jul-Dec T12   Spain 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 alsoEdit


  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 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 instead by Estonia.


  1. ^ "The presidency of the Council of the EU - Consilium".
  2. ^ "Council of the European Union". Consilium. 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.

External linksEdit