Thursday, 6 January 2011

Belgian EU Council presidency legacy

On 1 July 2010 Belgium took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Spain, as the second country in the presidency trio. The Belgian government showed team spirit by using the web address and the #EuTrioBe hashtag on Twitter.

The Belgian presidency was wrapped up three days before Christmas day by foreign minister Steven Vanackere, which left aficionados of EU politics and policies with two documents:

An assessment of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 July– 31 December 2010; 5 pages)

The presidency in figures (2 pages)


The government of Belgium offers an overview of the main dossiers moved forward during the six month stint chairing most of the Council configurations and working groups. The headlines give an impression of key areas of activity:

Implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon
Fighting the economic crisis – working on sustainable economic growth
Towards a more coherent European external policy - EU enlargement and common trade policy
Climate, environment and energy
A more social Europe
Justice, home affairs, asylum and migration

Little more than four pages of text, so the summary is far from an detailed report informative enough for EU policy experts. However, the self-assessment is refreshingly free from self-congratulatory overtones, and it is clearly and consicely written. Thus, it manages to pack fairly much information for a general reader or policy novice.

Presidency mechanics

Despite the rotating presidency (a general symptom of weak organisations) few of the 501 million EU inhabitants will gain first hand experience within a Council presidency, so the one page plus glimpse offered by the presidency in figures note provides some insight into the budget and meeting circus during six months of fame (or shame).

Full report?

Belgium loyally stepped aside to give room to Hungary, so there have been no fresh updates on the Belgian website. I failed to find any notice that the Belgian presidency is about to publish a full report on its activities, even if I find such reports useful for policy buffs.

I have written about the Europe 2020 – Implementation report earlier, and I still wonder why it is not accesible to the public (document 17574/10). Neither is the revision (17574/1/10). The EU2020 strategy needs all the attention it can get if Europe wants to get back on stage. .

By the way, when I looked at the latest document references on the Council website a short while ago, 16 of the latest 25 entries were not available to the public (versus 9 public ones, although few of substance).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. More than a hundered persons have joined Free Press For Hungary (International Version) on Facebook since yesterday. Every voice is needed in order to strengthen our fundamental rights in the European Union. Solidarity between EU citizens.