Last in this role in 2007, Germany is now assuming the Presidency of the Council for the 13th time. During the Presidency, representatives of the Federal Government chair meetings at all levels of the Council (with the exception of the Foreign Affairs Council) and ensure continuity in EU work in the Council. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany will focus on economic and social recovery and at the same time improve the EU’s position in the strategic questions that will define our future including climate change, displacement and migration, the rule of law and the digital transformation.
For Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, there can be no doubt:
While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit some countries in the European Union harder than others, its economic and social repercussions are affecting the whole of Europe. We will therefore only succeed in making our way out of the crisis by pulling together. Germany wants to be a driving force and facilitator during its Presidency of the Council of the EU. Our task will be to build bridges and find solutions that ultimately benefit everyone in Europe. The unity and solidarity we in Europe show internally need to be matched by our ability to act and our sovereignty abroad. We do not want to be dictated to, but we want to pursue our own path and shape our geopolitical course.
The Programme is rooted in the following priorities:
- overcoming the corona crisis for good
- a stronger and more innovative Europe
- a just Europe
- a sustainable Europe
- a Europe of security and common values
- a strong Europe in the world
Trio Presidency with Portugal and Slovenia
The member states who have the Presidency work closely as a three-Presidency team, also known as the trio Presidency. This system was introduced in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The trio Presidency formulates long-term goals and draws up a joint Programme outlining the priorities and key questions to be dealt with by the Council in the given 18-month period. Based on this Programme, each of the three member states presents its own detailed six-month Programme. Germany is the first country in a new trio Presidency and will be followed by Portugal and then Slovenia in 2021.
Tasks of the Presidency
The Presidency is responsible for pushing ahead with Council deliberations on EU legislation and ensuring continuity in the EU’s agenda, proper conduct of the legislative process and cooperation between member states. The Presidency has to serve as an honest and neutral broker.
Essentially, the Presidency has two tasks:
1. Planning and chairing meetings of the Council and its preparatory bodies
The Presidency chairs the meetings of the various Council formations (with the exception of the Foreign Affairs Council) and the Council preparatory bodies which include the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), as well as working groups and other committees.
The Presidency ensures that consultations are conducted properly and that the Council Rules of Procedure and working methods are applied correctly.
Furthermore, it organises the various formal and informal meetings in Brussels and in its own country.
2. Representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions
The Presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, especially the European Commission and the European Parliament. Its task is to work in trialogue, in informal negotiations and meetings of the Conciliation Committee, towards agreement on legislative proposals.
The Presidency performs its tasks in close coordination with
- the President of the European Council,
- the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The Presidency supports their work and can on occasion be entrusted to perform certain tasks on behalf of the High Representative, for example to represent the Foreign Affairs Council in the European Parliament or to chair meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council at which issues regarding common trade policy are being discussed.