The Council of the EU is a place where the voice of the Member States is being heard. It is an EU institution where the Member States advance their national interests and express attitudes on significant political decisions and legislative proposals. The Council meets in 10 configurations, depending on the agenda being discussed (e.g. education, financial affairs, justice, transport, etc.). The Member States are represented at the meetings by ministers or state secretaries with the right to commit their government on the issues concerned (i.e. Minister of Transport attends the Transport Council, the Minister of Education attends the Education Council, etc.). The Council’s consent is required for the adoption of legislation, the conclusion of international commitments or the adoption of the budget, simply for all important decisions in the Union. Besides the European Commission and the European Parliament, the Council is the main player in the EU decision-making.
The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU Member States every 6 months according to an order established in advance. The country holding the presidency sets the agenda and priorities of the Council. Therefore the presidency is considered to be one of the most important instruments to enhance the prestige and also the ability to advance the interests of individual Member States. The Member State holding the presidency becomes the center of EU policy-making for half a year. The presidency chairs the Council meetings (in nine configurations out of the ten) and represents the Council in the negotiations with the other EU institutions (European Parliament, European Commission). At the same time, as a rule, the Prime Minister of the Member State holding the presidency represents the Union externally and participates, for example, at the EU summits with Third States. The presidency follows priorities that are presented to the Council and the European Parliament at the beginning of its term. Three consecutive Member States work together on their priorities. They develop a common framework program, the content of which determines the meetings of the Council of the EU and thus the entire EU over an 18 month period.
The Kingdom of Spain will take over its already fifth presidency on 1 July 2023. The preparation and exercise of the presidency of the Kingdom of Spain in the Council of the EU is managed and coordinated by the President of the Government. The Spain Presidency 2023 is organized in close co-operation with all ministries, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, and other institutions at both national and European level. We will hold the presidency for the fifth time. The last time we ran the Council of the EU was in the first half of 2010. The Kingdom of Spain then and also in 2023 will form a trio together with Belgium and Hungary.