Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: How long is Finland’s EU Presidency?
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates every six months. Finland will hold the six-month Presidency between 1 July 2006 and the end of the year.
Q: Which countries will hold the EU Presidency after Finland?
Finland assumes the EU Presidency after Austria and passes it on to Germany at the beginning of 2007. After that, it will be Portugal’s turn, followed by Slovenia in the first half of 2008. The order in which the Member States will next hold the Presidency has been settled up to 2020. Finland will next hold the EU Presidency in spring 2020.
In the spring of this year, the Member States decided to switch to 18-month work programmes. Up to now, programmes have been annual. The first 18-month programme will be drawn up by the next Presidency troika, consisting of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia.
Q: What are the most important meetings during the Presidency?
The main events during Finland's Presidency will include the informal meeting of Heads of State and Government in October in Lahti; the European Council meeting in Brussels in December; the ASEM 6 Summit in Helsinki in September; and the Foreign Ministers’ follow-up meeting of the Barcelona Process (EUROMED) in Tampere in November.
In addition, there will be ten informal ministerial meetings in Finland. At these, ministers will discuss topical EU-related issues, without taking any formal decisions. For details of meetings during Finland’s EU Presidency, click on “Calendar” in the main menu. The calendar provides information on the meetings organised during the Presidency.
Q: How many meetings will be held during Finland’s EU Presidency?
Around 3 300 meetings will be held during Finland’s Presidency. Most official meetings will be held in Brussels and a few in Luxembourg. The great majority of meetings in Brussels relate to the work of the committees and working groups that carry out the preparatory work for Council decisions. Around 140 of the meetings are part of Finland’s Presidency Programme. This includes meetings between the EU and non-member countries and informal meetings for ministers and civil servants.
Finland will also chair hundreds of other meetings within international organisations such as the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At these, the EU countries discuss amongst themselves what position take on the matter in hand.
Q: What exactly are “informal ministerial meetings”?
It is customary for the country holding the EU Presidency to organise informal meetings at which ministers discuss topical EU-related issues without taking any formal decisions. The meetings enable those taking part to engage in a free exchange of ideas.
One purpose of the meetings is to create a better framework for EU decision-making on a broad range of difficult issues. Ten informal ministerial meetings will be held during Finland’s Presidency.
Most of the informal meetings will be held in Finland. The Ministers responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Health, the Finance Ministers (Ecofin), the Education Ministers and the Equal Opportunities Ministers will hold their informal meetings in Helsinki, the Competition Ministers will meet in Jyväskylä, the Environment Ministers in Turku, the Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) in Lappeenranta, the Justice and Home Aiffairs Minister in Tampere, the Agriculture Ministers in Oulu and the Defence Ministers in Levi, Kittilä. The informal meeting of ministers responsible for sports will take place in Brussels.
Q: What are “third-country meetings”?
Third-country meetings bring together EU representatives and representatives of countries outside the EU. For instance, during Finland’s Presidency, there will be an ASEM summit, at which the leaders of EU Member States will meet their counterparts from Asian countries, and the EU-Russia summit, where the Finnish Prime Minister, representing the Council of the European Union, will meet the Russian President. The EU-Russia summit will also be attended by the Finnish Foreign Minister, the EU’s Foreign-Policy Representative from the Council Secretariat-General, and the President of the European Commission and the Members responsible for external relations.
Together, the representatives of the country holding the Presidency, the Council and the European Commission form the “Troika”. Their task is to assist the Presidency country in foreign-policy matters, particularly those relating to the common foreign and security policy. The country next in turn for the Presidency also takes part in the troika, where appropriate.
In most of the third-country meetings to be held during Finland’s Presidency, the EU will be represented by the Troika, with the country due to take over the Presidency after Finland. At some meetings, the EU is represented by the troika alone, while at others all the Member States are represented.
During its Presidency, Finland will be responsible for organising over 150 third-country meetings, some of which will be for ministers and others for civil servants.
Q: Where can I find more information about the EU Presidency logo?
Information on the logo for the EU Presidency can be found by clicking on "The Presidency" on this website. The page contains files relating to the logo and guidelines and restrictions on its use.
Q: How can I reserve a hotel room using the press allocation?
To make a hotel reservation using the media quota, media representatives are requested to deal directly with hotels in the towns where meetings take place. More information is available under “Media Services” on this site.
Q: How can I subscribe to the e-mail news service?
To receive the latest news and a weekly newsletter by e-mail, you can subscribe to our e-mail news service. Details can be found on this site, under “Media Services”.
News items are e-mailed to subscribers as soon as they are posted on the website. The newsletter is sent out once a week, on Monday. The newsletter will contain a short summary of news from the past week and information on forthcoming Presidency events.
Q: How can I subscribe to the text-message (SMS) news service from the website?
The Presidency’s web team can text a summary of the main stories from the past month to your mobile phone. You can also receive text messages giving details of meetings connected to the European Council (e.g. dates of press conferences).
You can subscribe to this service using the online form under “Media Services” on this site. With the form are detailed instructions of how to subscribe and how to cancel or change your subscription.
Q: Why are you publishing a news summary in Latin?
The Latin news-in-brief has become something of a tradition during Finland’s Presidency. It aroused interest during our last Presidency in 1999 and we received a lot of good feedback. That encouragement led us to think we should produce a Latin news-in-brief in 2006 too. Using Latin is also a way of paying tribute to European civilisation and it serves to remind people of European society’s roots, stretching back to ancient times.
We will produce two editions of the Latin news-in-brief in July and one a week from September to December. There will be a short break for the month of August. The news-in-brief will be published on Wednesdays.
Q: What are “Presidency webcasts”?
The webcasts provide coverage of the main briefings during the Presidency. Briefings can be viewed as live webcasts or downloaded afterwards from the Presidency’s website.
Webcasts are produced by the Presidency’s webteam. After the briefings, the webcasts are stored as video files on the Presidency website. For more details on how to view webcasts, see under “Media Services” on this site.
Software, such as the RealPlayer Program, that is able to play RealMedia files (.rm), is required to view webcasts. A free application for the program can be downloaded at www.real.com.
Q: Where can I find information about EU terms and abbreviations used in EU documents?
The European Union website Europa has a comprensive glossary of EU terms.
Q: What is the EU troika?
The troika consists of representives of the country holding the EU Presidency, of the Secretariat-General of the Council of the European Union, and the of European Commission. The country next in turn for the Presidency also takes part in the troika, where appropriate.
The troika assists the Presidency country in foreign-policy matters, particularly those relating to the EU’s common foreign and security policy. Its composition means that it should be able to ensure the continuity of the Presidency’s work in this field.
Q: What does “Gymnich” mean and where does the word come from?
Gymnich is the nickname for the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers. The name comes from a German castle north of Bonn, where the first such meeting was held in 1974.