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The presidency of the Council of the EU

What is the Council presidency and how does it work?

A rotating presidency

The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU's work in the Council.

Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called 'trios'. This system was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18 month period. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries prepares its own more detailed 6-month programme.

The current trio is made up of the presidencies of the Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. 

Logo of the EU Council and Portugal's presidency

Portugal's presidency of the Council of the EU: 1 January - 30 June 2021

The priorities of Portugal's presidency are driven by its motto: "Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery". 

The presidency programme focuses on five main areas, which are in line with the goals of the EU’s strategic agenda: 

  • strengthen Europe’s resilience
  • promote confidence in the European social model
  • promote a sustainable recovery
  • speed up a fair and inclusive digital transition
  • reaffirm the EU’s role in the world, ensuring that this is based on openness and multilateralism

The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU will focus on bringing the EU through the COVID-19 pandemic. It will promote a vision of the EU that is innovative, looks to the future and is based on common values of solidarity, convergence and cohesion.

In order to achieve this, Portugal is committed to playing a positive and flexible role in order to act positively, promote cooperation, achieve tangible results in economic recovery and lead the European Union out of the crisis.

Follow the presidency on:

Council presidencies up to 2022

Slovenia: July-December 2021
France: January-June 2022
Czechia: July-December 2022

The tasks of the presidency

The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council's work on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and cooperation among member states. To do this, the presidency must act as an honest and neutral broker.

The presidency has two main tasks:

1. Planning and chairing meetings in the Council and its preparatory bodies

The presidency chairs meetings of the different Council configurations (with the exception of the Foreign Affairs Council) and the Council's preparatory bodies, which include permanent committees such as the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), and working parties and committees dealing with very specific subjects.

The presidency ensures that discussions are conducted properly and that the Council's rules of procedure and working methods are correctly applied.

It also organises various formal and informal meetings in Brussels and in the country of the rotating presidency.

2. Representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions

The presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, particularly with the Commission and the European Parliament. Its role is to try and reach agreement on legislative files through trilogues, informal negotiation meetings and Conciliation Committee meetings.

The presidency works in close coordination with:

  • the President of the European Council
  • the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

It supports their work and may sometimes be requested to perform certain duties for the high representative, such as representing the Foreign Affairs Council before the European Parliament or chairing the Foreign Affairs Council when it discusses common commercial policy issues.