A Council Presidency in Crisis: Evaluating Accomplishments and Shortcomings

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Abels (University of Tübingen) and Prof. Joyce Mushaben (University of Missouri – St. Louis) discuss the issues and objectives that Germany had placed on its official Presidency agenda from July to December 2020 and the ways in which it adapted in response to the pandemic. They evaluate what was accomplished and what items remain on the agenda to determine whether its “leadership” expectations were fulfilled and conclude with reflections on the Council Presidency’s significance for Merkel’s EU legacy.

From July to December 2020 Germany held the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. Like its earlier Council experience in 2007, this was a presidency dominated by crisis. That crisis required Germany to find a solution after the member states failed to adopt the EU Constitutional Treaty, eventually resulting in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The 2020 crisis is of a different nature. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated the German and the EU agendas as well as their working procedures. In this situation, the expectations of the member states were (perhaps) set too high regarding what the German Presidency could and should have achieved. Many called for stronger “leadership” – especially on the part of Chancellor Merkel – to secure the future of European integration in unprecedented times.

March 18, 2021


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