What does the Presidency involve? What will Belgium be able to do?

The Presidency's tasks

The Presidency is assigned the following tasks:

  • Organizing and conducting meetings, of the EU Council and any bodies involved in preparatory activities.
  • Seeking solutions and compromises, between the Member States and with the other European Union institutes.
  • Representing the European Union in foreign policy and security policy matters

The Presidency invariably announces a programme of priorities for the next six months, even though European activities are generally not concluded within such a short space of time. The Member State holding the Presidency therefore has to continue to work on ongoing initiatives or the "rolling agenda".

A Member State taking over the Presidency is not granted any other special privileges, hence Belgium will be assigned the same number of votes as usual.

The European decision-making process

Apart from the EU Council, other institutions play a key role in the European decision-making process, starting with the European Parliament and the European Commission. These three institutions form a triangular relationship where each entity plays a distinctive role.

Click on the subject required for further details about the institutions or the decision-making procedures.

European Union Council

Belgium is set to take over the EU Council Presidency on 1 July 2010. The Council is the European Union's key decision-making body, where each European Member State is represented by one minister.

The Council meets in various formations depending on the subject being addressed. For Example, the Finance Ministers will be present in the ECOFIN Council in order to discuss economic and financial matters.

Belgium will proceed as follows:

  • The European Council will be chaired by the Belgian Prime Minister.
  • Each Council formation (Environment, Justice and Home Affairs, ...) will be chaired by the relevant Belgian federal, regional or Community minister. The "General Affairs" and "External Relations" Councils will be chaired by the Belgian Foreign Minister.
  • The various working groups involved in preparing the Council of Ministers will be chaired by Belgian experts.

Lisbon Treaty

If the Lisbon Treaty has come into force by the second half of 2010, the rules will be changed to some extent.

The Prime Minister will no longer preside over the European Council, because a permanent President will be appointed to serve for two and a half years.

The Member State holding the Presidency will no longer be responsible for the external representation of the foreign and security policy, which will be assigned to a "High Representative".

To find out more:

FPS for Foreign Affairs http://www.diplomatie.be
Belgian Government portal http://www.belgium.be
European Union http://www.europa.eu
European Union Council http://www.consilium.europa.eu
Authorities of Flanders http://www.vlaanderen.be
Walloon Region http://www.wallonie.be
French-speaking Community http://www.cfwb.be
Site concerning the international relations of the French-speaking Community in Wallonia and Brussels, the Walloon Region and the French-speaking Community Commission of the Brussels-Capital Region http://www.wbri.be
Brussels-Capital Region http://www.brussel.irisnet.be
German-speaking Community http://www.dglive.be
Flanders fits you http://www.flanders.be
Flanders – international department http://www.vlaanderen.be/internationaal