In 2024 not only Belgium but also Flanders will hold the EU Presidency
In the first half of 2024, Belgium will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the thirteenth time. This offers not only our country a unique opportunity to exert even more influence on the European agenda. The Government of Flanders, too, is making the necessary preparations to give its best.
Although the EU Presidency is a matter for the member states, the Government of Flanders will also make an important contribution from 1 January to June 2024. Belgium is a federal country, where both the federal government and the regions and communities set the laws and the agenda.
"In Belgium, there is no hierarchy between the governments, which will also be the case during the EU Presidency," Julie Bynens says. As the Secretary General of Flanders Chancellery and Foreign Office she is closely involved in the preparations for the Belgian Presidency in 2024.
Equality between the different governments, also at the international playground, has been enshrined in the constitution since 1993.
"Subsequently, cooperation agreements have been concluded within Belgium, agreements that also keep foreign policy strong in close dialogue," Bynens knows. "In this way, there is also a separate cooperation agreement concerning the European Union."
As a member state, Belgium is part of the European Union. But not all powers that apply at the European level fall under the federal level. The regions and communities also represent powers with which they can make their mark on European policy, based on the constitutional principle that they are also responsible for the international aspects of their material competencies, such as environment, research and tourism.
" Since 1994, there has been a major exercise to distribute and rotate the Councils of the European Union, of which there are ten configurations, among the various authorities. It was determined which powers lie closest to the federal government and which to the regional governments. This will enable us to put forward the right ministers as spokespersons for Belgium in 2024 in the various Council configurations," Bynens clarifies.
“The agreements for the EU presidency have been made recently. Ministers of Flanders will have the chairmanship in the Council of the EU for fisheries, industry, youth, culture and audiovisual policy, and take the Belgian seat for agriculture, internal market, health, transport, education and sport policy."
Meanwhile, preparations go beyond determining who will sit in which chair. For this reason, Bynens and her colleagues will also be busy in the coming period brushing up on the necessary competencies and providing additional staff.
"Together with other departments of the Government of Flanders, we are working on a to-do list in the areas of personnel, communication, training, logistics, protocol and events. We will try to complete the picture as fully as possible in the coming period and we can also count on extra financial support from the Government of Flanders," Bynens emphasises. “Evidently, our Diplomatic Representation of Flanders to the EU will play a quintessential role in the EU presidency as well.”
On the occasion of the Government of Flanders' annual diplomatic days, which this year take place from 20 to 24 June, Belga puts Flemish diplomacy in the spotlight. It does so by publishing various articles under the heading 'Flemish diplomacy'.
© BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ