Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) informs us that the European Council decides, by qualified majority, a decision on the Council figurations and a decision on the presidency of these configurations (except the Foreign Affairs Council).
We mentioned the decision on the Council configurations in an earlier post. Now we look how the presidency is supposed to function under the Lisbon Treaty.
Conveniently, the EU member states had agreed on a joint declaration (9) annexed to the treaty, with a draft decision waiting for the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/341). This decision was then adopted by the European Council on the first day the reform treaty was in force:
EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION of 1 December 2009 on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council (2009/881/EU), published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU 2.12.2009 L 315/50).
Article 1 of enshrines the so called trio presidencies, 18 months with a common programme, divided into three six month presidencies. The rotating presidency country chairs all the Council configurations (except the FAC), if the team members have not decided on alternative arrangements:
1. The Presidency of the Council, with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration, shall be held by pre-established groups of three Member States for a period of 18 months. The groups shall be made up on a basis of equal rotation among the Member States, taking into account their diversity and geographical balance within the Union.
2. Each member of the group shall in turn chair for a six-month period all configurations of the Council, with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration. The other members of the group shall assist the Chair in all its responsibilities on the basis of a common programme. Members of the team may decide alternative arrangements among themselves.
Coreper & preparatory bodies
Article 2 tells us that the country chairing the coordinating GAC also chairs Coreper. Preparatory bodies follow the chair of the Council configuration (except FAC).
The HR’s representative chairs the important PSC:
The Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States shall be chaired by a representative of the Member State chairing the General Affairs Council. The Chair of the Political and Security Committee shall be held by a representative of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The chair of the preparatory bodies of the various Council configurations, with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration, shall fall to the member of the group chairing the relevant configuration, unless decided otherwise in accordance with Article 4.
General Affairs Council (GAC)
Article 3 underlines the need for consistency and continuity through the GAC:
The General Affairs Council shall ensure consistency and continuity in the work of the different Council configurations in the framework of multiannual programmes in cooperation with the Commission. The Member States holding the Presidency shall take all necessary measures for the organisation and smooth operation of the Council's work, with the assistance of the General Secretariat of the Council.
According to Article 4, the Council adopts an implementing decision:
The Council shall adopt a decision establishing the measures for the implementation of this decision.
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