Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union
From January 1st until June 30th 2013 Ireland will host the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
For those six months Dublin Castle will be at the centre of decision making in Europe, helping to shape policies and drive forward legislation that will impact on the futures of over 500 million EU citizens. The work of the Irish presidency will necessitate the closure of the State Apartments and Upper Courtyard of Dublin Castle for the period of the presidency. The Chester Beatty Library remains open.
Hosting the Presidency is an important role for any Member State. It comes with a lot of responsibility, as the host nation must undertake a number of functions that are essential for the smooth operation of the European Union as a whole.
It’s both a privilege and an obligation to assume the role but Ireland has done it before with great honour and distinction, presiding over some of the most momentous moments in Europe’s history during the six previous Irish Presidencies.
What is the EU Presidency
The Presidency of the Council of the EU rotates between each of the 27 Member States every six months. The first Presidency dates back to 1958 when Belgium assumed the role and since then the hosting nation has handed over to the next Member State on January 1st and July 1st every year.
During its six month term the hosting Member State is Chair of the Council of the European Union meetings. The Council is made up of government ministers from Member States and who attends which meetings depends on what the topic is. For example, agriculture ministers will sit if farming is being discussed and environment ministers will attend if the topic is global warming.
The Presidency organises these meetings and has the responsibility of moving Council work forward as much as possible by helping Member States reach agreement and by formulating compromise proposals that support the interests of the EU as a whole when differences in opinion emerge. The Member State hosting the Presidency has a duty to act as an ‘honest broker’ as well as a responsibility to be impartial on all matters.
During its six month term the Presidency also represents the Council on the world stage at international conferences and in its dealings with other EU institutions, including the European Commission and the European Parliament.