On 1 July 2020, Germany will take on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
This means that
Germany will lead the Council,
and Germany will lead it for 6 months.

  • What does that mean?
  • What does the German Government need to do?

There are lots of questions about this.
Here are some important questions –
along with the answers.

What is the Presidency of the Council of the European Union?

Every 6 months, another country leads the Council of the European Union.
This is described as:
The country takes on the Presidency.
The Council of the European Union is also called the Council of Ministers.
This is because it brings together the Ministers of all the countries.
A government deals with many issues.
That is the job of the Ministers.
They deal with, for example, the environment.
Svenja Schulze is Germany’s Environment Minister.

The EU, too, deals with many issues,
including the environment.
So then the Ministers for the Environment get together in the Council – and Svenja Schulze is the leader.
The Ministers of Finance talk about money.
So this means that there are always other people.

The Council agrees on:

  • Directives: All countries should do the things mentioned in the Directives.
  • Regulations: All countries must do the things mentioned in the Regulations.

The Council does not do this on its own.
It gets help:

  • from ambassadors, and
  • from experts.

And what is the European Council?

There is the Council of the European Union.
And then there is the European Council.
The Heads of State and Government meet as the European Council.
They meet at least 4 times a year.
The European Council also has a leader:
This is the President.
The President stays the leader for two and a half years.
Right now, his name is Charles Michel.

The European Council does not make laws.
It says what the EU should do.

Right now, the European Council is meeting by video conference.
This is because of coronavirus,
because you should not have in-person meetings with lots of people.

You can find out more on the internet.
Click on “How does Europe work?”

By the way,
the Council of Europe is not part of the European Union.
It brings together all countries in the region of Europe.
That’s 47 in total.

What needs to be done during a country`s Council Presidency?

One country always holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
It is therefore the leader of the Council.
This means that this country has lots to do,
and lots of responsibility.

  • The Presidency organises all meetings of the Council. It also chairs these meetings: There may be more than 1500 of them.
  • The Presidency also cooperates with other organisations of the EU, especially with the European Commission and the European Parliament. They may deal with laws, for example.
  • The Presidency may talk to organisations from other countries, too.

How does the Presidency work?

The Presidency is neutral.
It acts as a go-between.
This means that
it must always look for solutions
whenever there are problems.
These solutions must work for all countries, not just for your own.
A Presidency is successful:

  • when all 27 countries work together well,
  • and when they make good decisions.

The Presidency can decide to work very hard on some special issues.

What will Germany work on?

There is one especially important topic:
The coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic is causing lots of problems.
The EU must solve these problems.
Germany is working hard on this.

But there are other important issues, too:

  • money,
  • climate protection,
  • working with computers and the internet,
  • cooperating with the rest of the world
  • and how the EU works together with the United Kingdom.

What are informal ministerial meetings?

Germany not only chairs the meetings of the Council,
it also leads the informal meetings of the Ministers.
The Ministers talk to each other in these meetings.

These meetings should actually take place in Germany,
in many different cities.
Because of coronavirus, however, they are for now meeting by video conference.

Because of coronavirus, lots of things are different.

What will the meetings look like?

The coronavirus pandemic is also difficult for the EU.
The EU still needs to be able to make decisions.
At the moment, it makes these decisions in video conferences.
People would prefer to meet in person.
But that’s not possible right now.
Despite this, everyone is working together well,
and making important decisions.

What is a Trio Presidency?

One country holds the Presidency for 6 months.
Then it’s another country’s turn.
Portugal will take over from Germany.
Then it will be Slovenia’s turn.

These three countries are a Trio Presidency.
Trio is Latin and means three.
So three countries are a Trio Presidency.

Together, the three countries are in charge for 18 months.
They get together and think about
all the things they want to do.
They talk about their ideas with the other countries.

What has changed since the last German Presidency in 2007?

In 2020, Germany will hold the Presidency for the 13th time.
Its last Presidency was in the first half of 2007.

Much has changed since then.
The Council has to work together a lot with the European Parliament.
They need to make laws.
They need to discuss a lot of things,
so that they can make good laws.