The Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2005URL (Internet address) : http://www.eu2005.lu/en/presidence/la_presidence/rotation_presidence/
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Rotation of the Presidency
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is organised on the basis of a half-yearly rotation system, whereby each Member State holds the Presidency for a period of six months. Exercising the Presidency involves both a duty and a specific contribution of each Member State to ensure the smooth functioning of the Community institutions. In the Union of the 15, a Member State exercised the Presidency every seven-and-a-half years.
Within the framework of the institutional part of adhesion negotiations, it was decided that the rotation order between the current 15 Member States would be maintained until 2006, thus giving the 10 new members a minimum time of adaptation and preparation before holding the Presidency of the Council themselves.
Luxembourg is holding the Presidency during the first six months of 2005. It will be followed by the United Kingdom during the second half of 2005. Austria and Finland will complete the cycle in 2006. After the ratification of Constitution for Europe, this Presidency system will be changed.
The Constitution for Europe, which still has to be ratified, allows for the Council to sit in several formations. The European Council, however, will be presided over by a president elected by the European Council for two-and-a-half years and will represent the European Union abroad in matters relating to common foreign and security policy. The Council of Foreign Affairs will be presided over by a minister for foreign affairs appointed by the European Council. The Presidency of the other formations will be provided by the representatives of the Member States according to a system of equal rotation.