Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The presidency of the Council rotates among the European Union (EU) Member States every six months. During this six-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council.

Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2020

Germany holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic dominates the priorities for Germany’s Presidency in the health sector. Once Germany’s Presidency is over, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis will continue to be addressed under the incoming presidencies (Portugal and Slovenia). 

Lessons and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic visible in the health sector

Germany is planning broad-based conclusions on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic in the health and pharmaceutical sector. 

Germany’s own themes in the health sector are the supply of pharmaceutical products, the further development of the EU’s self-sufficiency in the pharmaceutical sector, the improvement of the EU’s pandemic preparedness and the strengthening of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).  During the German Presidency, other items on the agenda include digital heath and the use of health data in particular. 

Germany will continue the project launched by Finland to strengthen the EU’s role in global health cooperation. The project extends over several presidencies, and its subject is particularly topical, because the United States has announced its intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Commission is expected to present its Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe and Europe’s Cancer Plan at the end of the year.

The German Presidency will facilitate a discussion on the new EU4Health Programme. The aim is to finalise the negotiations later in the autumn. The Presidency will also continue the work on the legislative file on health technology assessment. 

Employment and social policy: towards a more social Europe with greater solidarity

In the field of employment and social policy, the items on Germany’s agenda are a social Europe, responsibility in global value chains, human-centred approach to work, gender equality and solidarity towards people in the most vulnerable position. Germany also works to focus attention on the topical issue of protecting seasonal workers and the prevention and combating of violence against women, including EU accession to the Istanbul Convention. 

During its Presidency, Germany particularly stresses the importance of preventing poverty and social exclusion across the EU. This set of themes includes, for example, the discussion opened by the German Presidency concerning minimum income. Germany will draft the Council conclusions on the topic. Germany will also prepare conclusions on the rights of seasonal workers, the gender pay gap and the digital rights and inclusion of older people.

The Commission will put forward proposals for strengthening the Youth Guarantee, an initiative on the gender pay gap and, in the field of labour protection, a fourth proposal for amending the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.  

The German Presidency will continue the legislative negotiations started during the previous presidencies concerning the proposal for a regulation amending the rules on social security coordination. 

The negotiations on the proposal for a Directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures will continue during the German Presidency if the positions of the Member States change. 

Meetings during the German Presidency

Germany is to hold two formal Council meetings in the configuration of the EU employment and social affairs ministers. The first meeting will be held in Luxembourg on 13 October, face-to-face if the COVID-19 situation so permits, and the second one in Brussels. The formal meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (Health) will be held in Brussels on 2 December. If the COVID-19 situation so permits, Germany will hold a high-level conference on digital health in Berlin on 11 November.

In addition, the aim is to hold an informal meeting of the EU employment and social affairs ministers in Berlin on 2–3 November and an informal meeting of the EU gender equality ministers in Potsdam on 19–20 November. 

The lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of pharmaceutical products and digital health were on the agenda when the EU health ministers convened for an informal video conference on 16 July. The topics of the video conference held on 4 September were the testing and quarantine practices used in the EU and the funding of COVID-19 vaccines.

Yhteystiedot - Yhteystietonosto

Sari Vuorinen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Kansainvälisten asioiden yksikkö / KVR 0295163049  

Noora Saarinen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Kansainvälisten asioiden yksikkö / KVR 0295163039  

Outi Kuivasniemi, kansainvälisten asiain johtaja 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Kansainvälisten asioiden yksikkö / KVR 0295163117