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Meetings Calendar 2006
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What is the Presidency?

 

The Presidency, i.e. the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is held by the Member States in turn for a period of six months. The Council unanimously determines the order of rotation.

In the first half of 2006, Austria will hold the Presidency for the second time since accession to the EU in 1995. It first held the Presidency in 1998.

Austria will be followed by Finland on 1 July 2006, then Germany and Portugal. Slovenia will take over the Presidency in the first half of 2008 as the first of the new Member States which joined the EU on 1 May 2004.

 

Tasks of the Presidency

  • Organise and chair all meetings of the European Council, the Council and of the preparatory committees and working groups
  • Represent the Council in its dealings with the other EU institutions and bodies, such as the European Commission and the European Parliament
  • Represent the European Union in international organisations and in relations with countries that are not members of the EU

Presidency of the Council

Austria will chair all meetings of the Heads of State or Government and all Council meetings during the six months of its Presidency. The latter take place in Brussels or Luxembourg; it is also customary for the ministers to meet informally in the country holding the Presidency. A total of 12 informal ministerial meetings will therefore take place in Austria during its Presidency. The exact dates of these meetings can be found via the calendar on the Presidency website.

Austria will also chair the preparatory work for these meetings. This includes the weekly meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee, which consists of the ambassadors of the EU Member States (Coreper II) or their deputies (Coreper I), and the regular meetings of some 200 committees and working groups.

It is the Presidency’s responsibility to prepare the Council’s work as efficiently as possible and to deliver progress by drawing up compromise proposals and brokering agreement between the Member States. The Council’s annual operational programme was prepared by Austria together with Finland, the next country to hold the Presidency (PDF).

 

Relations with other institutions and bodies

The Presidency represents the Council in dealings with the other institutions and bodies of the European Union, in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The Presidency acts in the European Parliament on behalf of the Council. The work programme is presented to Parliament at the beginning of the Presidency and a final report at the end. The Presidency reports regularly to Parliament on work in the Council, takes part in question time on topical issues and in debates on important integration projects. It also represents the Council in negotiations with Parliament in the legislative process. The dates on which the Austrian Presidency is in Parliament can be found via the calendar on the Presidency website.

The Presidency also represents the Council in the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.

 

International representation of the EU

The Presidency represents the European Union internationally in close cooperation with the European Commission. It is supported in this by the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

In the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), it is often the Troika that represents the EU in dealings with third countries (countries that are not members of the EU). Since the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, the Troika comprises the Presidency in office, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and a representative of the European Commission. The Presidency may be assisted in these tasks by the Member State that will next hold the Presidency.

The Presidency issues declarations and statements, coordinated in advance with the other Member States, in international organisations such as the United Nations or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Presidency also speaks on behalf of the European Union at major international conferences.

 

Logistics

Holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union also presents Austria with a considerable organisational challenge. A large number of conferences throughout the world have to be coordinated, and more than 150 meetings, many of them at minister level, have to be organised within Austria itself. It is the Presidency’s responsibility to ensure that conference participants and media representatives have optimum conditions in which to work.

This involves booking conference facilities, reserving hotel accommodation, providing food and refreshments and organising transport for the participants. Conference and office materials have to be printed with the official logo and dispatched. Interpreters and translators need to be briefed for their tasks. Equipping the meeting facilities and press centres is one of the biggest organisational tasks. Security considerations are also a major factor. Ensuring proper interaction of all the actors involved in organisation in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly at a conference for several hundred and, in some cases, several thousand participants, is a challenge for every Presidency that should not be underestimated.

Many companies and organisations are supporting the Austrian Presidency. Some of them are providing logistical services free of charge and thus making a substantial contribution to the success of this enterprise:

 

More information on the partners of the Presidency

 

Date: 12.01.2006