Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU 2023

EU flags and banner with the logo of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU as decoration in the Europa building in Brussels, Belgium

For the fifth time, Spain holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one of the EU’s seven most important institutions.

What are Spain’s priorities and how will they be translated into concrete actions? What does it mean for Spain to fill this position in terms of influence, decision-making and advancing the European agenda? How might it be conditioned by the national and international context?

The Elcano Royal Institute contributes to the analysis of Spain’s priorities for the Presidency with this special dossier.

Ten principles for Spain’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2023

Prepared by the Elcano Royal Institute expert’s team, these Principles review the Spanish Presidency through the main topics of Elcano’s research agenda.

Documento sin título
1. Develop the strategic autonomy of the EU with an open approach that respects multilateral rules, integrating new voices from the Global South and embodying a commitment to orderly, balanced cooperation for development.

Globalización, desarrollo y gobernanza

2. To provide security both within Europe and beyond, it is necessary to complete the Strategic Compass, intensify alignment with allies of the EU and make progress towards constructing a secure future.

Seguridad internacional

3. Expand the scope of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, with a view to providing training at origin for the legal immigration that Europe needs for the future and advancing the agenda for Human Rights and gender equality both within the EU and externally.

Democracia y ciudadanía

4. The Presidency must finalise key dossiers of the European Green Deal, define reform of the electricity market, strengthen the development of interconnections, and reorient energy and climate diplomacy towards Latin America and Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood.

Clima y energía

5. Develop the EU’s economic security, promoting a technologically-based industrial policy which respects the internal market, and finalising strategic dossiers such as artificial intelligence. Reform fiscal rules, combining debt sustainability with a capacity for investment.

Tecnología y economía

6. Maintain the unity of Member States around Ukraine, address the debate on the future of Europe, with greater emphasis on differentiated integration than on the problematic process of treaty reform, and achieve consensus on key dossiers to prepare the EU to respond to strategic challenges.

Futuro de Europa

7. Latin America represents an excellent opportunity for the EU, and one that it would be unforgiveable to overlook at this time. It is essential to complete the agreement with Mercosur and create the conditions to put the bi-regional relationship on an institutional footing.

América Latina

8. Reduce friction at the heart of the EU in order to define and effectively manage a coherent European position in response to the rivalry between the US and China, particularly in the face of a possible deterioration of the geopolitical panorama.

China, EEUU y nuevo orden mundial

9. Recordar la importancia de la vecindad sur y los desafíos que presenta. A su vez, mantener el apoyo a Ucrania y reforzar la presencia en los Balcanes Occidentales y Europa del Este. En este sentido, es clave avanzar de modo sincero y realista en la política de ampliación.

Retos y oportunidades de la vecindad

10. Remember the importance of the Southern Neighbourhood and the challenges it presents. At the same time, maintain support for Ukraine and strengthen the EU’s presence in the western Balkans and in Eastern Europe. In this respect, it is essential to progress the EU’s expansion policy in an honest and realistic manner.

Influencia e imagen de España

The analyses

Spearhead?: Spain, Europe and the battle for the global South. Luis Simón. 28 December 2023.

Fabian Zuleeg: Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU and the future of the strategic autonomy. 22 December 2023.

The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU and enlargement. Alice Cunha. 13 December 2023.

EU enlargement and regional cooperation: a conversation with Majlinda Bregu. 1 December 2023.

The geopolitics of Generative AI: international implications and the role of the European Union. Raquel Jorge Ricart, Pau Álvarez-Aragonés. 27 November 2023.

Spain’s European policy: development and priorities. Raquel García, Ignacio Molina, (coords.). 30 October 2023.

European industrial policy: the lessons from NGEU in the new geopolitical framework, ‘more funds are not enough’. Juan Moscoso del Prado. 21 September 2023.

Investing and innovating? Spain and the European Defence Fund. Daniel Fiott. 28 August 2023.

Development aid and geopolitics: the EU’s Global Gateway initiative. Raquel Jorge Ricart, Mario Esteban, Ugo Armanini, Lara Lázaro Touza, Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa, Iliana Olivié, María Santillán O’Shea. 10 August 2023.

The European Green Deal as a driver of EU-Latin American cooperation. Alina Averchenkova, Lara Lázaro Touza, Gonzalo Escribano, Caroline Prolo, Luis E. Gonzáles-Carrasco, Sandra Guzmán Luna. 7 August 2023.

Reindustrialising Europe: synergies of the Single Market. Michele Chang. 17 July 2023.

An insufficient reform of the EU’s fiscal rules. Enrique Feás. 19 June 2023.

A stellar moment? Spain, strategy and European space. Daniel Fiott. 15 February 2023.

Past Presidencies

1 Jan 2010

Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2010

The economic and financial crisis and the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon set the agenda for the fourth Presidency, this time together with Belgium and Hungary in the new system of a trio of rotating presidencies for 18 months. First semester, 1 January to 30 June 2010.

ogo of the 2010 trio of rotating presidencies of the Council of the EU: Spanish Presidency, Belgian Presidency and Hungarian residency

1 Jan 2001

Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2002

The programme of the third Spanish Presidency was marked by the international scenario following the 9/11 attacks, the enlargement to the East and the introduction of the euro as a common currency. First semester, 1 January to 30 June 2002.

Logo of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU 2002

1 Jul 1995

Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 1995

The priorities of the Spanish Presidency focused on the economic relaunch of Europe, citizen participation, external relations and the planning for the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference. Second semester, 1 July to 31 December 1995.

1 Jan 1989

Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Economic Community (EEC) 1989

Spain takes over the Presidency of the EEC Council for the first time. At that moment, the European Economic Community comprised 12 Member States. The conclusions of the first Presidency were presented at the Madrid European Council. First semester, 1 January to 1 July 1989.


Spanish Pre-Presidency Conference in Madrid. Fountain in the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid. In the background, the building of the Spanish Post Office, currently the headquarters of Madrid City Hall

Spanish Pre-Presidency Conference

Madrid, Spain. 1 and 2 June 2023.

See also

Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

30 años de España en la Unión Europea 1985-2015 (in Spanish)

Image:  Decoration of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU in the Europa building in Brussels. Photo: Council of the European Council / ©European Union.

Text editing and layout of the web special: Ivanosca López-Valerio.