FIRST "NORMAL" PRESIDENCY UNDER LISBON TREATY?

Last of the first trio of rotating Presidencies of the Council of the European Union under the Lisbon Treaty, first-timer Hungary could be the first "normal" one, according to Janis Emmanouilidis from the European Policy Centre (EPC).

One year after the entry into force of the new treaty, Piotr Kaczynski, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), argues that "we still haven't found a sustainable mode of running the rotating Presidency". Formally, the Lisbon Treaty has curtailed the range of power of rotating Presidencies and limited their visibility by removing the chairmanship of the European Council and foreign ministers' meetings. They have been made to become "administrative, legislative presidencies," says Kaczynski. Nevertheless, "in practice we don't know really how the rotating Presidency will function effectively in the future," he points out.

The Spanish Presidency found itself in an awkward situation, trying to grapple for lost influence, due to the uncertainty surrounding the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The Belgian Presidency was exceptional because of two factors. Firstly, having been Belgian prime minister prior to becoming the European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy was able to have an extremely close and efficient working relationship with the rotating Presidency. Secondly, with only a caretaker government in place, the Belgian Presidency focused on dealing with the dossiers already on the table without resorting to additional political initiatives.

Emmanouilidis expects the Hungarian Presidency will not be as "low...

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