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Italy takes the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, where governments are represented in the EU decision-making, over from Greece on 1 July. The European Parliament always works closely together with the presiding member state to ensure that the EU's legislative programme functions smoothly. Read on to find out how it works.
The presidency of the Council of the EU, where ministers sit, rotates between the 28 member states every six months. The presiding country chairs Council meetings, brokers agreements between member states and negotiates with other EU institutions, including Parliament and the Commission, on behalf of all Council members. Find out the order of rotation here.
Discussions in Parliament
When a member state takes over the presidency, its representatives come to the Parliament plenary to announce their government’s priorities for the six-month period . On 2 July, it will be Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi who will discuss in the EP plenary what he sees as the most important issues the EU should deal with in the next six months. Italian ministers will later discuss these priorities in detail in EP committee meetings.
As part of another tradition, the outgoing Greek presidency will on the same day debate with MEPs the results of its work at the helm of the Council.
The presiding member state is present throughout the term at all plenary debates and committee meetings to represent the views of EU governments.
When the Lisbon Treaty made co-decision the standard way of law-making in the EU, negotiating with the Parliament became a much more important task for the presidency. In most areas the Parliament and the Council now have an equal say, so they try to stay informed of each other's views and find an acceptable compromise as quickly as possible. This is normally achieved at informal meetings of MEPs with the rotating presidency and Commission officials.
In the rare cases where such meetings fail to resolve disagreements, a formal procedure known as conciliation forces Parliament and Council representatives to sit together and either come up with a last-minute compromise or give up on the respective legislative act.