Entrepreneurs of Compromise? The Rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU after Lisbon

Författare: Vaznonytė Austė

The Treaty of Lisbon (2009) introduced a permanent President of the European Council – a clear institutional setback for the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. At the same time, the Presidency retains an important function in the EU political system, with opportunities to exert influence. Austė Vaznonytė, Researcher in Political Science, analyses this changing role. (2022:3epa)

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the institutional framework of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU has changed. The most decisive factor has been the institutionalisation of the European Council as a separate body, which gave the permanent President of the European Council the task of shaping the high politics agenda among heads of state and government. In turn, the rotating Presidency was given the task of managing the legislative agenda of the Council and to mediate and coordinate among member states.  

In this paper Austė Vaznonytė, Affiliate Researcher in Political Science at Ghent University, finds that that the rotating Presidency still holds central tasks for the legislative process of the EU, especially with the extended use of trilogues where the rotating Presidency negotiates with the European Commission and the European Parliament.  

Additionally, the writer finds that situations of asymmetric crises (such as the euro crisis) cause divergences in the Council, whereas shocks that affect member states equally (such as the COVID-19 crisis) gives the opportunity to exert policy leadership. Despite the changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty, the rotating Presidency remains an important actor to steer EU legislation and manage cohesion among member states – especially when dealing with a crisis that spreads across policy fields.