Sunday 4 October 2009

The Lisbon Treaty and the rotating Council Presidency

Because I have heard the contrary several times now: No, the rotating Council Presidency will not disappear with the Lisbon Treaty!

Although there will be a permanent President of the European Council under the Lisbon Treaty, and although the new "Foreign Minister" (called differently in the Treaty but will have this function) will chair the EU Council on Foreign Affairs, article 16, paragraph 9 (TEU) clearly states that the EU Council (the Council of Ministers) will still be chaired by the rotating presidency:
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.
And Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union says only:
The European Council shall adopt by a qualified majority:

(a) a decision establishing the list of Council configurations, other than those of the General Affairs Council and of the Foreign Affairs Council, in accordance with Article 16(6) of the Treaty on European Union;

(b) a decision on the Presidency of Council configurations, other than that of Foreign Affairs, in accordance with Article 16(9) of the Treaty on European Union.
So under the Lisbon Treaty we will still have a rotating presidency chairing most of the Council compositions, and the European Council President will not replace this.


nj said...

The situation with the number of councils is of course confusing. You have the European Council (government leaders, previously halfway informal, a formal EU institution under Lisbon), the Council of the European Union (government ministers, 9 configurations), and the Council of Europe (human right body) which is not an EU institution, although there are any number of links.

And then (because we're not finished) there's the Eurogroup, which practically is another configration of the Council of the European Union, but not formally.

It's understandable that people get confused.

On the other hand, all of these have one thing in common, and that is being fundamentally intergovernmental. In that sense, the task of the presidency should be to facilitate the intergovernmental process.

Practically, though, I foresee a struggle over agenda-setting between the European Council president and the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Ralf Grahn said...

The ones who lose something of their place in the sun are the prime ministers of the rotating presidencies.

They participate with 1 + 26 others in the European Council, but they do not chair it.

They lead the government in charge of the other Council configurations, except foreign affairs, but they are chaired by other ministers.

One possibility could be for the prime minister to start chairing the general affairs council, but its coordination is perhaps seen as too humdrum homework ahead of the media intensive European Council meetings.

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