By Kristianto Budinugroho

What is the European Union Council Presidency?
• The Council of the EU is an intergovernmental institution of the European Union advocating the interests of individual Member States. • In general, the term ‘EU Presidency’ means that one Member State presides over the council of the European Union. • Presidency of the Council of the European Union is the responsibility for the functioning of the Council of the European Union which is rotated between European Union member states every six months.

• The Presidency organise and chairs all meetings of the Council of the EU and its working committees • negotiates compromises across Member States • acts on behalf of the European Union in negotiations with non-EU countries and international organizations • The Presidency represents the Council of the EU in interactions with other EU institutions, especially the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Trio Presidencies
• The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates every six months. To uphold its continuity, the Presidencies work in trio. • These three Presidencies work together to create a join eighteen-month programme. • The first Trio Presidency consisted of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. • The Czech Republic is part of a second Trio with France and Sweden for the period between 1 July 2008 and 31 December 2009.

• These "triple-shared presidency" work together to accomplish a common agenda by the current president simply continuing the work of the previous "leadpresident" after the end of his/her term. • It is not a summary of the priorities of the three countries, but rather a catalogue of work to be done by the Council.

Presidency Motto
• The motto of the Czech Presidency is “Europe without Barriers”. • Its reflect four basic freedoms: the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital, including the complicated EU and national legislation. • By this motto, the Czech Republic expresses its will to remove barriers that still exist among EU Member State. • At the same time, the motto expresses Europe’s openness to the outside, toward the entire world.

Priorities of the Czech EU Presidency
• The key priorities are the three ‘E’s’: > Economy > Energy > Europe in the world / external relations

• to increase Europe’s competitiveness • to enhance consumer confidence, but also the confidence of small and medium-sized enterprises in the market economy • to deal with the financial crisis in an effective and reasonable way • to carry on liberal reforms of the budget and EU policies, particularly the Common Agriculture Policy • to promote employment

• The Czech Republic regards the energy policy as a search for balance between the demands of the environment and the preservation of competitiveness and energy security in Europe. • It is crucial for the future and security of the European Union to have a common energy policy and to act as one when negotiating energy supplies. • the Czech Republic is fully conscious of the importance of competition in public service sectors (electricity, gas, telecommunications, transport, postal services) for consumers and for the companies who use these sectors.

External Relations
• “External Relations” means the emphasis on Transatlantic relations, which the Czech Republic, together with other EU Member States, considers to be fundamental for EU security and economic cooperation. • Openness and further enlargement of the EU. • Czech Presidency want to further the integration of the Western Balkans. • The Eastern Europe Partnership is another important priority.

Presidency Budget
• To allow for quality and reliable provision during the Czech Presidency, the government has allocated CZK 1.9 billion from the central budget for the years 2007-2009. • CZK 200 million were approved for 2007, CZK 700 million for 2008 and CZK 1 billion has been set aside to cater for the Presidency as such in 2009 • This budget is allocated from the General Treasury Administration.

• The funds of the General Treasury Administration will cover, for example, rent payments for permanent conference premises, where most of the meetings on various levels will be held, as well as rents for conference premises in the regions, for informal ministerial EU Council meetings. • Furthermore, these funds are designated for accreditation payments, operational costs of the website, promotion of the Presidency at home and abroad, interpreting, conference equipment, refreshments at informal ministerial meetings and other meetings on the highest-level, etc.