You probably heard in the media about the ‘Presidency of the EU’. In fact, the presidency means the chairing of the Council of Ministers by one of the Member States. In practice, this means that, during the Council (configuration) meeting, the minister from the country holding the presidency chairs the session. An exception is the Foreign Affairs Council that is permanently chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy.
The presidency’s role is to ensure smoothness of discussions and consensus building. Some of the advantages of holding the presidency are setting the Council’s agenda and grabbing the media’s attention. Nevertheless, the presidency is an administrative challenge and the agenda is often inherited or dictated by current affairs (Corbett, Peterson & Bomberg, 2012, p.56).
The presidency of the Council rotates every six months among the Member States according to a pre-established order (Hayes–Renshaw, 2012, p.72). At the moment, the presidency is held by Malta and a video below explains what the presidency is:
To ensure consistency and to co-ordinate the work of the EU, the troika system is used (not to be confused with the so-called Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) that has been bailing out and imposing austerity policies on various member states since the start of the eurozone crisis). The troika is a partnership of three members. The classic troika comprises the Member State holding the Presidency, the Member State that held the Presidency in the previous six months, and the one who will hold the Presidency in the next six months. The concept of troika system is also used in other cases (sometimes outside the EU context), but we will not need them here.
To find out more about the troika system go to the Maltese presidency website:
- What are the trio partners of Malta?
- What have their joint priorities been and what problems have they been dealing with?
- What makes a good presidency?