Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2019

Finland held the presidency of the Council of the European Union from the beginning of July until the end of December 2019. During its six-month term, the Finnish Presidency chaired Council meetings attended by ministers and public servants, took forward EU legislative work in the Council, ensured continuity in the management of EU affairs and kept up cooperation between member states.

The Finnish ministers of the interior and justice co-chaired the justice and home affairs council (the JHA Council), one of the configurations in which the EU Council meets. The JHA Council develops cooperation and common policies in cross-border issues, with the aim of building an EU-wide area of freedom, security and justice.

The JHA Council is made up of justice and home affairs ministers from all the EU member states. Home ministers deal with issues such as migration, border management and police cooperation. While the formal meetings of the JHA Council are held in Brussels and in Luxembourg, an informal meeting will take place in Helsinki during 18–19 July.

The priorities for Finland’s Presidency were to strengthen common values and the rule of law, make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive, strengthen the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action and ensure the comprehensive security of its citizens.

To protect the security of citizens comprehensively, it is essential to strengthen the EU’s internal and external security and its defence cooperation, including measures to counter hybrid threats.

Besides the fight against hybrid threats, the Finnish Presidency kept the following issues on the agenda: better crisis resilience of society, comprehensive management of migration and better border management, and safeguarding the financing of home affairs in the EU’s long-term budget.

A rotating presidency

The presidency of the Council of the EU rotates among the member states every six months. The member states responsible for the presidency work closely together in teams of three, called ‘trios’. The current presidency trio is made up of Romania, Finland and Croatia.

The trio has set long-term goals and prepared a joint programme that lists the main issues and topics to be addressed by the Council over an 18-month period. The focus areas of the Trio Programme, drawn up by Romania, Finland and Croatia, include common EU values, sustainable growth and strengthening the Union’s external capabilities and its safety and security. Based on this joint programme, each presidency will produce their own, more detailed six-month programmes.