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Article - European Economic Policy

The German Presidency of the EU Council in 2020


On 1 July 2020, Germany took over the six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier presides over a number of Council formations and uses the Presidency to closely coordinate economic policy initiatives with Germany’s European partners.

The Council of the European Union is one of the key bodies of the European Union. The main task of the Presidency consists in chairing the meetings of the Council and its preparatory committees and working parties. Within the framework of its Presidency, Germany represents the Council in its dealings with other EU bodies, for example during negotiations on legislative acts with the European Parliament and the European Commission, but also vis-à-vis third countries and international organisations.

The Council convenes in different configurations depending on the issues under discussion. Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier presides over five such Council configurations: the Competitiveness, Energy, Telecommunications, Trade, and Cohesion councils.

Taking over from Germany, Portugal and Slovenia will hold the Presidency in the first and second halves of 2021 respectively. Germany has formed a new Trio Presidency together with these two countries. Close cooperation between the trio partners is intended to foster continuity in EU policy. The eighteen-month Trio Presidency will focus on the areas set out in the Trio Programme.


Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy

We want to work together with our European partners in pursuit of a strong, modern Europe which is close to its citizens, one that knows how to protect its values.

Engaged in dialogue

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier in dialogue with European partners

A Council Presidency can only be successful if it is based on close cooperation with all European partners. Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier will therefore remain in dialogue with many of his colleagues from EU member states and with representatives of the European institutions throughout Germany’s Presidency, as he did in the run-up to it.

Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier said: “The next few months will be particularly important for tackling the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. Working together with the EU member states, we will do everything we can to ensure an economic recovery, to bolster competitiveness and innovative strength and to generate employment and prosperity”.

Germany is working together closely and continuously with its trio partners Portugal and Slovenia. Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier set the stage for this partnership when he received his colleagues from the trio countries in Berlin in September 2019. Further talks took place via video conference in May.

In addition, Minister Altmaier remains in regular dialogue with members of the European Parliament and European Commission as well as stakeholders and civil society representatives. This will ensure that all the key players are involved in the work of the German Presidency.

Press release

Importance of the Presidency for Germany

What the Council Presidency means for Germany

The task of the Council Presidency is to act as a neutral broker to represent the interests of the member states and to advance the European Union. This responsibility offers opportunities for shaping policy priorities and objectives. Germany can help steer the course of current European policy. In order to do so, it needs to closely coordinate its activities with the other member states.

During its Council Presidency, Germany planned to host a variety of informal ministerial meetings, conferences, and expert events to portray itself as a modern, dynamic, and outward-looking country with a strong and innovative economy. The Federal Government deliberately planned the events in a decentralised manner, to give expression to the country’s federal structure and to allow guests to experience Germany’s cultural variety in as many places as possible. Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier wanted to meet his European colleagues in North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Württemberg, and Berlin, to name but a few examples.

Sadly, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has proved necessary to hold most of these events online.


Federal Government programme for the 2020 Council Presidency entitled “Together for Europe’s recovery”

The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge to face the European Union since it was founded. Mastering these challenges requires a joint European response. During its six-month Presidency, Germany will dedicate its utmost strength to pursuing the goal of bringing about Europe’s recovery and setting it on course for the future.

Under the slogan “Together for Europe’s recovery”, Germany has defined a list of priorities for the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The programme focuses on Europe’s immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus must now be contained, the path set for an economic recovery and social cohesion in Europe strengthened. To achieve these goals, Germany will be relying on joint, coordinated action, European solidarity and common values.

There are high expectations for Germany to make progress on other important issues for the future as well. During its Council Presidency, Germany will focus for example on the major transformation processes of our time, such as climate change and digitalisation. It is also important to strengthen Europe’s ability to act externally. This is the only way in which Europe will be able to defend its interests and take up its responsibility in the world.

The guiding principles of Germany’s Council Presidency are as follows:

  • overcoming the COVID-19-pandemic permanently, as well as the economic recovery
  • a stronger and more innovative Europe
  • a fair Europe
  • a sustainable Europe
  • a Europe of security and common values
  • a strong Europe in the world

Especially in times like these, Europe must stand together closely. The overriding goal is to work together for Europe’s recovery and to set the course for a successful European future across the continent.

Objectives of the BMWi

The objectives of the Economic Affairs Ministry during Germany’s 2020 Council Presidency

In the context of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) wants to actively contribute to shaping a way out of the crisis in a spirit of solidarity. We need to draw the right conclusions from the crisis and press ahead with the recovery in an ambitious and resolute manner. The aim is to improve the competitiveness, innovative capabilities and resilience of the European economy on a sustainable basis.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is working to ensure that the core element of the EU, the European Single Market, will be restored immediately and fully and that the competitiveness of the European economy will be maintained and further improved. In addition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy aims to strengthen Europe’s sovereignty in important areas through the establishment and expansion of pan-European value chains. Digital and ecological change, strengthening the industrial base and SMEs, a balanced development of the regions and open markets based on strong international trade rules are essential elements of a modern, global European economic area and thus also important fields of action on the way out of the crisis. As the EU Structural Funds play a key role when it comes to tackling the crisis and rebuilding the economy, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy aims to conclude the ongoing negotiations, especially on the legislative package on the EU Structural Funds, as soon as possible.

During the German Council Presidency, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also wants to contribute to specifying and implementing the European Commission’s recovery plan quickly, but also diligently and giving appropriate consideration to the interests of all the EU member states. The next Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027 is a key element to strengthen Europe where we need joint responses. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy therefore advocates a quick conclusion of the negotiations on the basis of a fair, balanced and forward-looking deal.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has set itself the following four priorities for the German Council Presidency:

  1. lead European business back to strength
  2. keep markets open and create a level playing field
  3. strengthen the digital sovereignty of the EU
  4. shape the structural change and seize the opportunities of the European Green Deal

Details of these and further issues which the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants to press ahead with during the German Council Presidency are set out in a working paper. This programme complements the Federal Government’s programme for the German Presidency.

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Events during the Council Presidency

The calendar for the German Council Presidency in the second half of 2020 is available on the Presidency website. The website provides information on all Council meetings, Informal Meetings of Ministers, high-level conferences, and other events taking place in the context of the Presidency.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy hosts the following Informal Meetings or video conferences of Ministers:

  • Informal Meeting of Trade Ministers in Berlin on 20-21 September
  • Informal video conference of EU Ministers responsible for tourism on 28 September
  • Informal video conference of Energy Ministers in Berlin on 6 October
  • Informal video conference of the Ministers responsible for telecommunications/digital policy on 15 October
  • Informal video conference of the Ministers in charge of competitiveness (internal market, industry) on 23 October

Additionally, a number of high-level conferences are taking place:

  • European Competition Day in Berlin on 7-8 September in Berlin/online
  • Cohesion Conference on 29 September (online)
  • Conference on Energy Policy (hydrogen) on 5 October (online)
  • Conference on Public Procurement on 21 October (online)
  • 19th European Tourism Forum on 23 October (online)
  • „Framing Creative Futures“ on 28 October (online)
  • Conference on Better Regulation on 3 November (online)
  • European Cluster Conference on 10-11 November (online)
  • European SME Conference (SME Assembly) on 16-17 November (online)
  • Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan Conferenceon 23-24 November (online)
  • European Conference on Battery Cell Production on 24-27. November (online)


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