What is the Presidency?

26 Jun 2013, Last updated at 09:12 EET
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What is the Presidency of the Council of the European Union?

European Union (EU) membership conveys not only rights but also responsibilities. One of those is represented by the presidency of the Council of the EU. All 28 EU Member States in turn take up the presidency for a six month period, in order to chair the process of the creation of EU rules.  Lithuania for the first time will assume this task from the 1st of July to the 1st of January. 

The main responsibility of the Presidency is to preside over the creation of EU legislation, a task shared with the European Parliament, to ensure the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes, and to represent the interests of all the Member States.

The rotating Presidency heads the EU Council and its preparatory bodies (working parties and committees), and organises various formal and informal meetings in Brussels as well as in the country of the rotating Presidency. The rotating Presidency hosts discussions in the EU Council and seeks the broad consensus of its members during debates on important matters for the entire EU, while making decisions.

The rotating Presidency represents the EU Council in relations with other EU institutions, especially the European Commission and the EP, and it also shapes its relations with other EU institutions.

The rotating Presidency is an opportunity to prove that the country is an honest and reliable partner, in order to enhance its positive image. The rotating Presidency also provides an opportunity to promote the interests of society in EU membership, and to involve citizens in the decision making process.
Presidency Trio

In order to ensure the continuity of the Council agenda and the coherent transfer of the Presidency, the Member States holding the rotating Presidency closely cooperate in trios. This system was introduced in 2009 with the Lisbon Treaty. The trio sets the long-term goals and prepares a common agenda for an 18-month period. The programme of the current trio (Ireland, Lithuania, and Greece), which will preside over the EU legislative processes from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014, is provided here.

Presidency and Other Institutional Actors

The Lisbon Treaty established two new functions: that of the President of the European Council (this position is held by Belgian Herman van Rompuy), and that of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (this position is held by British Catherine Ashton). With these innovations the role of the rotating Presidency has changed, since it does not preside over meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council. The rotating Presidency, however, continues its close cooperation with the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty enhanced the EP’s legislative powers that it shares with the Council. Due to the enhanced EP influence, effective cooperation with this institution is a prerequisite for a successful Presidency.

Lithuanian Presidency organisation

The Government, the Parliament, the President Office, and other authorities take an active part in the Presidency activities; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, tends to its coordination matters. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Permanent Representation to the EU and other ministries, prepares a programme of the Presidency of the EU Council, and deals with issues concerning communication, logistics, and planning.

During the period of the Presidency of the EU Council, most of the decisions related to the EU legislation will be made in Brussels, in the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU. Other Lithuanian diplomatic representations, taking tasks to present Lithuania’s priorities and make introductions to Lithuanian culture, will contribute to the Presidency.

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