Finland preparing for Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Finland’s third EU Presidency period begins on 1 July 2019. The presidency of the Council rotates in an established order among the EU Member States every six months.
The Council of the European Union, i.e. the Council of Ministers, is where the governments of the EU Member States are represented by government ministers of the Member States. The Council of Ministers meets in different 'configurations', depending on the subject being discussed, such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Council or the Justice and Home Affairs Council. The Member State holding the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council except in the Foreign Affairs Council, which is chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. A representative of the presidency also chairs Council meetings of working groups and experts. The European Council is chaired by a permanent chairperson.
The presidency is responsible for taking forward the Council's work on EU legislation and policy initiatives in the Council and for ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda. In addition, the presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, particularly with the Commission and the European Parliament.
Member States holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called trios. The trio sets a ‘trio programme’ for a period of 18 months. Finland is in a trio with Romania and Croatia. A common agenda is already under way. The General Affairs Council will adopt it in December 2018.
Each Member State holding the presidency also prepares its own national programme. Finland started drafting its programme in spring 2018, headed by Prime Minister Sipilä. A parliamentary group composed of all the parliamentary parties is involved in the preparatory work. The programme will be published in June 2019.
Informal meetings in Helsinki
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 be hosting six informal meetings of ministers in Helsinki, all of them in Finlandia Hall:
- Informal meeting of Competitiveness Ministers
- Informal meeting of Environment Ministers
- Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers
- Informal meeting of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich), which will incorporate an informal meeting of Defence Ministers
- Informal meeting of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) and eurogroup
- Informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers.
In addition, Finland will host meetings of working groups and experts.
The meetings of the European Council, informal meetings of Heads of State or Government and any meetings of Heads of State or Government with third countries will be held in Brussels.
Prime Minister’s Office in charge of coordination, planning and implementation
The Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs makes decisions on Finland's EU policy approaches during the Presidency period. The ministries are responsible for drawing up substantive issues within their mandate and for lending support to the work of their ministers.
The Prime Minister's Office is responsible for the overall planning and implementation of Finland’s EU Presidency.
- The Government Secretariat for EU Affairs coordinates and manages the files on the table.
- The Secretariat for Finland’s EU Presidency working under the Prime Minister’s Office is responsible for the practical arrangements of the meetings being held in Finland.
- The Government Communications Department handles EU Presidency communications.
Finland’s Permanent Representation in Brussels is also instrumental in preparing and carrying out the Presidency.The budget for Finland’s Presidency, which covers expenses for meetings and human resources as well as presidency organisation costs, is EUR 70 million. In addition, the budget of the Ministry of the Interior includes appropriations for presidency period security expenditure.