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What is the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union?


France will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, 2022. A mandate that will last until June 2022. But what does this rotating presidency consist of?

Established in 1958 with the European Economic Community (EEC), the rotating presidency aims to let each member state successively lead the policy of the European Union (EU). The term of office has been set at six months.

As the presidency of the Council of the EU is entrusted to a state, it is not in the sole hands of the Head of State but in those of his entire government. We are then talking about a presidential country. Its role is to plan and chair the meetings of the Council of the EU and to represent it in international and internal relations.

The presiding country will also have to organize Council of Ministers specific to each jurisdiction, which will be chaired by the national minister. Thus, if during its presidency France organizes a Council of Ministers on Agriculture, the latter will be chaired by the French Minister of Agriculture.

The only exception to this principle is the Council of Foreign Ministers, whose presidency is entrusted to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security. The latter is appointed for a five-year term. Currently, the post has been held since December 2019 by Spaniard Josep Borrell.

A rotating presidency in the form of a trio

By taking the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months, France will therefore have to lead the Council, which plays a predominant role in the functioning of the Union. Its mission is to coordinate the policies of the Member States (economic, budgetary, education, culture, youth, sport, employment), to define the common foreign and security policy of the EU, and to conclude international agreements. In co-decision with the European Parliament, the Council must also negotiate and adopt legislative texts as well as the EU budget.

In 2009, the European Union changed its principle of rotating presidency with the Lisbon Treaty, by establishing a tripartite presidency. Until now, the presiding country governed the policy it wished to lead to the EU for a period of six months, which did not allow the establishment of long-term policy.

The tripartite presidency now brings together three countries working together to develop a common policy over a six-month period. For example, France forms a trio with the Czech Republic and Sweden. They are therefore going to jointly set objectives for the coming year and a half, and take turns in the presidency of the Council.

The last French presidency dates back 14 years. France, then ruled by Nicolas Sarkozy, presided during the second part of the year, between July and December 2008. The coming French presidency will have a peculiarity, the possible change of head of state. If Emmanuel Macron is not re-elected in April 2022 or does not stand for election, another French president could be responsible for taking stock of these six months.