The council works through a series of mechanisms put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Here are the current systems in place and their functions.

The presidency

flags of eu and ieThe thing with the administration in the council is that it is not a single post and not one person holds the position. Instead, the seat belongs to a given member state which will hold on to the job for six months before another country takes over. The order in which countries hold the position depends on an agreement by members, and there are many reasons as to the use of a rotating presidency. For one, each state gets a chance to preside over the council. In this way, a state can showcase its ability to aid negotiations as this will make other countries view it in a positive light which will also add to the influence that the given country possesses. The state in charge also gets to interact with the other members from a different angle and in so doing, gets to know what they like and this aids in future interactions. With a rotating seat, each member state feels well represented, and it reduces the chances of a power struggle.

When it comes to the rotation, the three member states that will hold the seat for eighteen consecutive months come together and decide on an agenda for the period in which they are in power. Though only one state will occupy the position at a time, this system ensures that the subsequent holders can work as per the agenda set by the first state, thus ensuring continuity which enhances development in the union.

The council does not operate as one configuration but instead consists of other subdivisions which comprise people skilled in a given area. For example, if the matter in discussion pertains to agricultural policy, the members present will be those who have adequate knowledge in the field and the member state holding the presidency will have one of its members chairing the proceedings of the given configuration.

The subsequent presidency works together with the current state to ensure that things work according to their agenda. There are cases where the subsequent chair takes over the set responsibilities upon request of the presiding state. The president is in charge of both administrative and political tasks. Regarding administration, the president works to organize the members throughout the six-month term, ensuring that their activities are in line with the set goals. The political aspect comes in regarding solving issues that come up in the board, setting goals and representing the council in international meetings.

The exception to the rule to all the above is the foreign affairs council as this position lies in the hands of the High Representative.


councils iconThough the council is a single entity in itself, it comprises sub-councils which enable it to perform its tasks efficiently. However, these bodies work together in that one configuration can follow the decisions made by another. The General Affairs Council works to ensure that the operations of the various boards are in line with the set agenda. Each council comprises government ministers in charge of the area in question, and the heads come from the state holding the presidency at the time. Configurations can meet as often as they wish throughout the year and as such, their meetings are irregular. However, the General Affairs, the Foreign Affairs and the Economic & Financial Affairs councils meet once a month, owing to the sensitivity of the matters which they handle. At present, there are ten councils, and they comprise:

  • The three mentioned above,
  • Justice & home affairs,
  • Agriculture & fisheries,
  • Competitiveness,
  • Environment,
  • Transport, telecommunications & energy,
  • Education, youth, culture & sport, and
  • Employment, social policy, health, and consumer affairs.

These boards work with the Political and Security Committee which helps in the monitoring of international situations by bringing in ambassadors.


administration iconThere are many workings in the council, and the General Secretariat comes in to provide structure in the organization. It does so through activities such as preparing minutes, agendas and reports. It also steps in to aid the presidency in carrying out activities related to the set plan. There is also the Committee of Permanent Representatives which meets and comes up with tasks for the board. All these groups report to the council for ease in achieving the agenda.

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