THE BELGIAN PRESIDENCY OF THE EU A POST LISBON TREATY PRESIDENCY
Marianne DONY President Institute for European Studies ULB
THE BELGIAN PRESIDENCY AND THE LISBON TREATY
The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009 implies many changes as concerns the presidency of the EU A kind of transitional period has been respected for the Spain’s Presidency beginning inJanuary since Spain had had to prepare itself for a conventional Presidency in the event that the Treaty would not be ratified The ambit of the Belgian presidency is to implement completely the rules of the Lisbon treaty
THE SITUATION UNTIL THE LISBON TREATY
A ROTATING SYSTEM
In the Rome Treaty, the Member States have made the choice of a rotating presidency : each of them inturn was chairing the Council of Ministers This system enabled all the Member States, small of big, to be at the helm The relatively short term in office (6 months) guaranteed that none of the Member States could dominate.
The country holding the presidency chaired the sessions at all the different Council levels, from working groups to the ministerial meetings When the European Council wascreated, this system was extended to it. The president or prime minister of the country holding the presidency of the Council of Ministers was also chairing the European Council meetings
THE TASKS OF THE PRESIDENCY
Organisational role Broker role Political leader Relations with other institutions and bodies of the European Union International representation of the European Union
The country at the helm is responsible for
planning meetings, arranging rooms, drafting agendas, preparing and circulating the documents
This tack is not very intellectually demanding but very time consuming
That role is particularly important as sensitive and controversial problems are being touched on. It implies
creating a good atmosphere, makingissues transparent formulating compromises capable of reconciling the diverging points of view of Member States delegation forging agreements and common position
The presidency need for that to have the trust of the other delegations
The presidency is also a political function In the limits of what is possible in the light of circumstances at the time and its partners’good will, the presidency sets the Union’s political agenda.
RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER
The presidency represents the Council in dealings with other institutions and bodies of the European Union, in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament. The presidency is charge of the negotiations with Parliament in the legislative process
INTERNATIONALREPRESENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
The international representation of the EU has evolved into a key task of the Presidency It is up to Presidency to speak on behalf of the European Union at major international conferences It issues declarations and statements in international organisations
THE IMPACT OF THE LISBON TREATY
WHY A REFORM?
The six-month system has showedits limitations. sixThe main weakness is the shortness of the mandate and the resulting lack of continuity in both representation and action But on the other hand one of the bigger advantages of the rotating chair is that each country has the opportunity to be at the helm and to play an active role in the European Integration process
THE LISBON TREATY PROPOSES A
It introduces aninstitutionalised and therefore longlongterm Presidency where the requirement for continuity is regarded as greatest (European Council and External Relations Council) But it preserves the rotating system where continuity is considered less important, and combines this presidency into a group of three States So it introduces multiple “presidents” at the same time were, before Lisbon, the Union...