Spain will be chairing the Council of the EU meetings for the coming six months before handing over the baton to Belgium. The upcoming one-and-a-half year period is of great importance for Belgium which will be at the forefront of European policy-making. Discover why and how Brussels Environment will be involved in this unique project.
Cycle of European politics
European politics follow a cyclical pattern with elections and rotating presidencies. While the European Commission and Parliament are renewed every five years with EU-wide elections, the presidency of the Council of the EU (often referred to as ‘the Council’) changes twice a year. This means that systematically on 1st January and 1st July a new member state takes over. Every country - however big or small - gets its turn.
Belgium in all this
Belgium is part of the incoming trio together with Spain and Hungary which will be leading the Council’s work until 31 December 2024. Belgium’s turn starts on 1st January and ends on 30th June 2024.
Belgium speaks with one voice on the European stage. When it comes to environment policy, given the many competences that the regions have in this area, it is always a regional minister who represents Belgium according to a rotation system that is usually annual (12 months).
From a political point of view, this means that it will be the Brussels-Capital Region Environment Minister’s turn to hold Belgium's seat on the Environment Councils as of 1 July 2023 and to express the position agreed between the various Belgian entities.
What role has the presidency of the Council?
The member state chairing the Council is responsible for driving forward the Council’s work for a duration of six months. More concretely, it plans and chairs meetings of ministers and working groups discussing EU legislation in the Council. It also represents the Council’s voice in relation to the European Commission and Parliament and negotiates on behalf of the Council with the other EU institutions to reach agreement on legislative files. From the quality of the air you breathe to strategies on safeguarding biodiversity, the Council presidency plays a key role in determining what proposals ultimately become EU laws.
Member states preparing presidencies work together in groups of three, called ‘trios’. They set long-term goals and prepare an agenda of topics to be addressed by the Council over an 18-month period.
Brussels Environment as a key driver on environment files
Brussels Environment is closely involved in the Belgian presidency as it is coordinating via its International and Legal Department preparations at Belgian level for environment matters.
The environment programme is being developed in close cooperation with the Permanent Representation to the EU and the different Belgian entities.
The upcoming six months will be key to identifying the dossiers that will be on the table during the Belgian Presidency and that will need to be pushed forward or wrapped.
The Belgian presidency represents for Belgium, Brussels-Capital Region, Brussels Environment and ultimately for you as a citizen a unique opportunity to connect with and shape European affairs, discuss key environment issues that impact us all and make a true difference on the European stage.