3 January 2024

The presidency of the Council of the European Union is a crucial role that rotates among member states every six months. This rotation ensures a diverse and collaborative approach to handling the EU affairs, maintaining continuity, and addressing key issues. The current trio, comprising Spain, Belgium, and Hungary, works closely to set long-term goals and prepare a common agenda for an 18-month period. 

How does it work? 

During its six-month term, the presidency oversees meetings at all Council levels, playing a pivotal role in shaping the EU’s agenda. The trio system, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, allows member states to collaborate closely, setting overarching goals and then developing more detailed programs individually. Belgium has assumed the presidency on January 1, 2024, under the overarching theme ‘Protect. Strengthen. Prepare.’ 

Belgium’s thematic focus 

The Belgian presidency will concentrate on six thematic areas

  1. Defending rule of law, democracy, and unity. 
  2. Strengthening competitiveness. 
  3. Pursuing a green and just transition. 
  4. Reinforcing the social and health agenda. 
  5. Protecting people and borders. 
  6. Promoting a global Europe. 

Importance of Belgium’s Presidency 

As Belgium follows the Spanish presidency and precedes Hungary, it holds the 13th presidency of the Council
The rotating presidency not only allows member states to influence the EU’s agenda but also provides opportunities for collaboration and funding. Belgium’s focus on competitiveness, green transition, and social agendas aligns with potential funding avenues within the EU framework. Initiatives addressing these priorities may attract support and resources during the presidency, fostering economic growth and sustainability. 
In the context of Belgium’s upcoming presidency, the importance of the NextGenerationEU initiative cannot be overstated. This recovery plan, initiated by the European Commission, aims to address the economic and social challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Belgium assumes the rotating presidency, it becomes a pivotal player in steering the implementation of NextGenerationEU policies. The funds allocated under this program are crucial for supporting member states in their recovery efforts, emphasizing digitalization, green transition, and resilience. Belgium, along with its trio partners Spain and Hungary, will play a key role in ensuring effective utilization of these funds during its term, aligning them with the presidency’s thematic focus areas. The European Commission’s collaborative role in overseeing and coordinating the NextGenerationEU funds further underscores the interdependence of member states and the importance of a unified approach to address shared challenges, reinforcing the EU’s commitment to solidarity and sustainable development. 
Belgium’s rotating presidency of the Council of the EU brings a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. As the country takes the helm for the 13th time, it navigates a complex landscape, addressing pressing issues and contributing to the EU’s evolution. The thematic focus areas outlined by Belgium not only reflect the current priorities of the EU but also indicate potential funding opportunities that can propel the region toward a more resilient and sustainable future. 

With FI Group as your reliable partner, you can navigate the evolving landscape of R&D funding and fully leverage the available incentive measures. 

Yvette Poumpalova 

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