The changing role of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union: Setting the context for the study of the Iberian cases | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 28, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1364-971X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9150



This introductory article sets out the European Union context of the special issue. Its main purpose is to present an overview of the changing role of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. After a brief introduction, the first section discusses the theoretical approach applied in the study of rotating EU Council Presidencies – primarily, historical, rational and sociological institutionalism. All these aspects are inherent in the relatively informal structure within the Council of Ministers. Subsequently, an abbreviated account of the evolution of the rotating presidency is provided. This is followed by a section analysing the main functions of the presidency and how the Iberian presidencies have used these functions. The template employed is relatively simple; later articles in the special issue may use it to the degree it is relevant to their focus. It has been argued that until the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, the rotating presidency could be used to enhance a country’s global image, mainly through the external representation role assigned to the institution. The Portuguese presidency of 2007 was probably the last such presidency. As a consequence of the reforms undertaken throughout the new millennium intended to help the EU adjust to enlargement, the presidency has lost visibility. The Spanish presidency of 2010 can been identified as the first in which perceptions of the old and new rotating presidency roles conflicted with each other, leading to failure in many areas. The article finishes by describing the principal aims of the special issue and summarizing the individual contributions.


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