Wednesday 2 December 2009

EU Council configurations (Lisbon Treaty implementation)

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council formally became an institution of the European Union (Article 13(1) TEU; Article 15 TEU), and the treaty enshrines two new Council configurations: the General Affairs Council (GAC) and the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), which replace the former General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC).

According to Article 16(6) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Council shall meet in different configurations, the list of which shall be adopted in accordance with Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), namely by the European Council.

A temporary list of these other Council configurations has now been adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU 2.12.2009 L 315/46):

DECISION OF THE COUNCIL (GENERAL AFFAIRS) of 1 December 2009 establishing the list of Council configurations in addition to those referred to in the second and third subparagraphs of Article 16(6) of the Treaty on European Union (2009/878/EU)

List of Council configurations

The list is published in the Annex to the decision, together with explanatory notes, which I have joined:

1. General affairs
This configuration is established by Article 16(6), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union.

2. Foreign affairs
This configuration is established by Article 16(6), third subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union.

3. Economic and financial affairs
Including budget.

4. Justice and home affairs
Including civil protection.

5. Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs

6. Competitiveness (internal market, industry and research)
Including tourism.

7. Transport, telecommunications and energy

8. Agriculture and fisheries

9. Environment

10. Education, youth and culture
Including audiovisual affairs.


Extraordinary rush

The Swedish presidency of the EU Council has had and still has a heavy load of Council meetings leading up to the European Council on 10 to 11 December 2009. In addition to the ordinary rush, many of the substantive decisions are coloured by the Lisbon Treaty (and the new Commission in waiting), and a number of implementing decisions are needed to get the Lisbon Treaty up and running (such as the one above).

Despite the challenges, the Swedish presidency has generally managed to inform the public more fully and by more versatile means than any preceding Council presidency. As far as I can assess, the Swedish presidency has handled the substantial dossiers with a high degree of professionalism, including the uncertainties surrounding the Irish 2009 Lisbon referendum and the Czech constitutional crisis delaying the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Chapeau !

Ralf Grahn

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