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, 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 programme and facilitate dialogue both at Council meetings and with other EU institutions. The presidency is currently, as of July 2021, held by Slovenia.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Council of the EU and European Council.svg
Emblem of the Council
Flag of Europe.svg
Flag of Slovenia.svg
Currently held by
1 July 2021 – 31 December 2021
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
Germany GermanyPortugal PortugalSlovenia Slovenia

Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio (2020-2021) is made up of Germany (July–December 2020), Portugal (January–June 2021) and Slovenia (July–December 2021). The 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 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 2021) held by Slovenia.


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 rotationsEdit

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*
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 Charles de Gaulle*
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 Charles de Gaulle*
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 Charles de Gaulle*
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 Georges Pompidou*
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 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing*
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 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing*
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 François Mitterrand*
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 François Mitterrand*
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 François Mitterrand*
Jacques Chirac* (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 (Archived)
July–December   Austria Viktor Klima (Archived)
1999 January–June   Germany Gerhard Schröder
July–December   Finland Paavo Lipponen (Archived)
2000 January–June   Portugal António Guterres[dead link] (Archived)
July–December   France Jacques Chirac*
2001 January–June   Sweden Göran Persson (Archived)
July–December   Belgium Guy Verhofstadt[dead link] (Archived)
2002 January–June   Spain José María Aznar[dead link] (Archived)
July–December   Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen[dead link] (Archived)
2003 January–June   Greece Costas Simitis
July–December   Italy Silvio Berlusconi[dead link] (Archived)
2004 January–June   Ireland Bertie Ahern (Archived)
July–December   Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende[dead link] (Archived)
2005 January–June   Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker
July–December   United Kingdom Tony Blair (Archived)
2006 January–June   Austria Wolfgang Schüssel
July–December   Finland[note 2] Matti Vanhanen (Archived)
2007 January–June T1   Germany Angela Merkel
July–December   Portugal José Sócrates[dead link] (Archived)
2008 January–June   Slovenia Janez Janša
July–December T2   France Nicolas Sarkozy*[dead link] (Archived)
2009 January–June   Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek
Jan Fischer (from 8 May)
July–December   Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt (Archived)
2010 January–June T3   Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero[dead link] (Archived)[dead link] (Archived)
July–December   Belgium Yves Leterme
2011 January–June   Hungary Viktor Orbán (Archived)
July–December T4   Poland Donald Tusk[dead link] (Archived)
2012 January–June   Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
July–December   Cyprus Demetris Christofias*
2013 January–June T5   Ireland Enda Kenny
July–December   Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius
2014 January–June   Greece Antonis Samaras[dead link] (Archived)
July–December T6   Italy Matteo Renzi
2015 January–June   Latvia Laimdota Straujuma
July–December   Luxembourg Xavier Bettel
2016 January–June T7   Netherlands Mark Rutte (Archived)
July–December   Slovakia Robert Fico
2017 January–June   Malta Joseph Muscat
July–December T8   Estonia[note 3] Jüri Ratas
2018 January–June   Bulgaria Boyko Borisov
July–December   Austria Sebastian Kurz
2019 January–June T9   Romania Viorica Dăncilă
July–December   Finland Antti Rinne
Sanna Marin (from 10 December)
2020 January–June   Croatia Andrej Plenković
July–December T10   Germany Angela Merkel
2021 January–June   Portugal António Costa
July–December   Slovenia Janez Janša
2022 January–June T11   France TBD TBD
July–December   Czech Republic TBD
2023 January–June   Sweden TBD TBD
July–December T12   Spain TBD
2024 January–June   Belgium TBD TBD
July–December   Hungary TBD TBD
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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ Asterisk: Head of government is also head of state. This is the case for 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 by Estonia.
    "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.


  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.

External linksEdit