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Council of the EU

The Council of the European Union is where the governments of the EU member states are represented by government ministers of the member states. The Council meets in ten different configurations, depending on the subject being discussed.

Council configurations

Rotating presidency

The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.

The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council's work on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, and cooperation among member states.

Member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’. The current trio is made up of the presidencies of Romania, Finland and Croatia.

The trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the major topics and issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18-month period. The focus areas of the 18-month programme, or trio programme, prepared by Romania, Finland and Croatia, include common EU values, sustainable growth and strengthening external capabilities, safety and security.

Based on the trio programme, each presidency will produce their own more detailed 6-month programmes. 

Council of the EU: What is the Council presidency and how does it work?

Trio programme

Formal and informal meetings

Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union begins on 1 July and ends on 31 December 2019.

Finland chairs the formal Council meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg and the informal meetings of ministers held in Finland. The purpose of the informal meetings is to discuss topical EU matters.

Finland will host six informal meetings of ministers in Helsinki, all of them in Finlandia Hall:

  • Informal Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Competitiveness (COMPET)
  • Informal Meeting of Environment/Climate Ministers (ENVI)
  • Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JHA)
  • Informal Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs (Gymnich), incorporating the Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers
  • Informal Meeting of Ministers for Economic and Financial Affairs (Ecofin) and Eurogroup
  • Informal Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture (AGRIFISH)

Finland will host around 130 meetings including a meeting of the Government with the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament and a meeting with the College of Commissioners of the European Commission as well as working group and expert meetings.

Frequently asked questions