Belgium took over the rotating EU Council presidency from Spain on 1 July – and has produced an ambitious programme for the second half of 2010.
The Belgian presidency's work programme for the next six months fits into the 18-month programme drawn up by the 'trio' of successive presidencies (Spain, Belgium and Hungary). Belgium's top priority is to implement the Lisbon Treaty, which simplifies EU decision-making procedures and which came into force last December.
During the Spanish presidency, Europe was preoccupied with the fall in the value of the euro and expanding budget deficits. The new presidency wants to restore growth and improve economic governance. The Belgian programme also includes plans to set up a new EU structure to supervise financial markets. See the Belgian presidency's work programme for details.
Belgium, a federal state with a population of over 10m, is currently in the process of forming a new government. This has given rise to some concerns about its EU Council presidency, but outgoing Prime Minister Yves Leterme has given assurances that Belgium is capable of taking on the task, and there is broad support for its programme – the result of two years of preparation.