Germany assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2020. This meant that, from July to December 2020, Germany chaired the meetings of the EU Council and was responsible for progressing EU legislation.
The German EU Council Presidency at the Ministry was marked by three priorities:
- a coordinated approach to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- championing climate-friendly and modern mobility; and
- progressing the digital revolution.
What is the EU Council Presidency?
The presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among the 27 EU Member States every six months. During any given six month period, the EU country holding the Presidency chairs the meetings of the Council of the European Union. In July 2020, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU and was responsible for progressing EU legislation and ensuring that all requirements for legislative procedures were complied with. The country holding the presidency also has the opportunity to put political emphasis on certain aspects for the future work of the EU, particularly during informal debates and events.
What is the “Trio” EU Council Presidency?
Following Germany, Portugal has assumed the Presidency in the first half of 2021, followed by Slovenia in the second half of 2021. Together with these two countries, Germany at the same time formed a Trio Presidency. The three Trio partners cooperate closely. The objective is to enable more continuity in European policy-making. The Ministry continues to be in close contact with its counterparts in Portugal and Slovenia. The programme for the corresponding 18 months will be formally adopted by the Council (Trio Presidency Programme).
What are the Ministry's tasks during the German EU Council Presidency?
The Ministry chaired the meetings of the Council of EU Transport Ministers. The objective was to ensure that EU legislative proposals could gain a majority and be concluded, both in the Council as well as with the European Parliament, the co-legislator. In addition, informal conferences and meetings at EU Transport Minister level took place, hosted by the Federal Minister, as well as conferences at the level of experts.
What are the Council of the European Union and the Council of EU Transport Ministers?
In the Council of the European Union, the ministers of the individual Member States engage in an exchange of views with their counterparts responsible for the same policy area and take decisions on, among other things, European legislation. Hence, in the Council of EU Transport Ministers, it is the Transport Ministers of the EU Member States that meet. The Council usually meets in Brussels or Luxembourg once or twice per half year, mostly at around the same time as the Council configurations on telecommunications and energy. The official name of the Council configuration is “Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council”; ministers come together in line with their responsibilities.
Together with the European Parliament, the Council of Transport Ministers has a legislative function in the transport sector. In addition to aviation, shipping, road and rail transport, it is also responsible for intermodal aspects such as logistics, climate change mitigation, environmental protection and digital transformation in the transport sector as well as infrastructure for alternative fuels. It is also responsible for the European Galileo satellite navigation system and the discussion on abolishing the seasonal changing of the time (summer time).
In addition, there is the European Council, in which the heads of state and government determine guidelines for European policy-making.
What is the “COREPER”?
The abbreviation “COREPER” refers to the Committee of Permanent Representatives of EU Member States. It prepares the meetings of the Council of the European Union and - in the case of contentious agenda items - tries to prepare solutions before these are submitted at the ministerial level for a decision that will hopefully gain a majority. “COREPER 1” is responsible for the transport and digital infrastructure sectors. Here, the Federal Government is represented by the deputy permanent representative (ambassador).
The permanent representatives act on behalf of their respective Member States on the basis of instructions from their capitals that have been coordinated interdepartmentally. As such, COREPER plays a key role in the decision-making process.
Who decides on the agenda in the Council?
The incumbent EU Council Presidency decides on the agenda of the Council. In doing so, it also has to take requests from Member States and the European Commission into account.
What priorities did the Ministry establish during the German EU Council Presidency and on what legislative proposals and other projects was the focus?
The Ministry’s priorities with regard to specific legislative proposals can be found here.
What events does the Ministry plan for the German EU Council Presidency?
The Ministry has planned a large number of different events that will take place between July and December 2020 and cover a great range of political issues.
Alongside the informal video conferences of EU ministers of transport in place of the planned formal Transport Councils, there were both informal ministerial meetings hosted by the German Council Presidency and technical conferences. Due to the corona pandemic, many meetings were held virtually as video conferences or in a hybrid event format including face-to-face participation of a limited number of participants and virtual streaming.
The following events are planned from July to December 2020:
|23 June 2020||Ministerial meeting of the Trio Presidency||To launch the 18-month Trio Presidency, which will take place from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2021, the Transport Ministers of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia will exchange information and views during a joint video conference. The aim is to agree on shared priorities and to adopt a joint Trio Declaration.|
|9 July 2020||European Bridge Forum||Bridges create links between people, markets and cultures. They are the most important pillars for safe and efficient infrastructure. The Bridge Forum is to enable a Europe-wide exchange of best practices. The digital cutting-edge fields, i.e. monitoring, big and smart data, virtual and augmented reality with links to BIM data models (BIM = Building Information Modeling) are coming into focus. The aim is to optimise the operation and maintenance of bridges.|
|13 July 2020||Presentation of the presidency programme for the transport sector in the EP TRAN Committee||Kicking off the Council Presidency, the Ministry will present the programme to the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN). The exchange will be held as a video conference, with the committee meeting being public and accessible via the European Parliament’s website via livestream / as a recording.|
|23 July 2020||Aviation Summit||The international aviation sector is facing major upheavals. At the Aviation Summit, the EU transport ministers and leading representatives from industry, airlines, airports and air navigation services will debate on the opportunities for a “new” climate-friendly and crisis-proof aviation sector in Europe, on how existing restrictions due to the pandemic can be efficiently integrated into logistics operations and how the passengers' trust in aviation can be regained.|
|1 September 2020||Telecom Directors Meeting||Within the framework of the 2020 German EU Council Presidency, the Ministry is planning a meeting of the competent Directors of the Member States responsible for telecommunications. |
The focus will be, in particular, on the possibilities of accelerating the gigabit and 5G rollout and the provision of landline as well as mobile communications services in areas where it is highly unprofitable.
|3 September 2020||Conference on refuelling and charging infrastructure for electric road transport|
”Turning the Page: the next chapter for electric road transport in Europe”
|The deployment of alternative drivetrains and fuels is a major building block for achieving climate-sensitive and sustainable mobility. The refuelling and charging infrastructure needed for this purpose has to be interoperable, user-friendly and state-of-the-art in terms of technology. In the context of this conference, experts from European institutions, Member States, Europe-wide stakeholder associations and industry will exchange views and to discuss future-oriented recommendations for a revision of Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFID). The focus will be on electric road transport and its requirements as regards an efficient and user-friendly charging and refuelling infrastructure. Here, in addition to battery electric and fuel cell powered passenger cars, the special challenges posed by zero-emission road haulage will be considered.|
|8 September 2020||Greening Shipping|
”Triggering greening and international competitiveness of shipping and ports”
The ministerial conference will address sustainability and international competitiveness in the European shipping sector.
|21 September 2020||Ministerial conference on rail transport |
“Innovative Rail Transport - connecting, sustainable, and digital”
Within the framework of a virtual ministerial conference, we intend to progress innovative and climate-friendly rail transport that exploits the potential inherent in connectivity and the digital transformation throughout Europe.
The aim is to jointly adopt a Declaration on the evolution of European rail freight.
Another topic is the “Trans Europe Express 2.0” blueprint study for international high-speed and overnight rail services. It is also planned to discuss a joint booking platform for international passenger transport.
|8 October 2020||Virtual EU-Transport Ministers' Conference hosted by the German EU Council Presidency||The Ministry will engage in discussions with its European counterparts and the European Commission, among other things, on the benchmarks for a pandemic contingency plan for European freight transport submitted by the German EU Council Presidency. The meeting will be held under the auspices of the German EU Council Presidency.|
|29 October 2020||Virtual Informal Meeting of EU Transport Ministers|
"Harnessing the digital revolution to make the mobility of the future sustainable, safe, secure and efficient" (aka as Informal Council)
Harnessing the digital revolution to make the mobility of the future sustainable, safe, secure and efficient (aka as Informal Council)
Due to the recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided not to hold the Informal Meeting of EU Transport Ministers under the auspices of the German EU Council Presidency in Passau and Bad Griesbach at the end of October, as originally planned. Instead, a virtual conference on “Harnessing the digital revolution to make the mobility of the future sustainable, safe, secure and efficient” will be organised from Berlin on 29 October 2020. With the “Passau Declaration”, the EU Transport Ministers intend to shape the future of Europe’s mobility in order to unlock the potential inherent in the digital transformation as well as Artificial Intelligence for all EU citizens and to establish Europe as a leader in the field of digital mobility. The University of Passau and other university partners will be virtually involved as well, and in a Showcase of the Regions, a visit to the exhibition entitled “Opportunities presented by the Digital Revolution” will be made possible.
|17 November 2020||“Open Data for Smart Mobility in Europe”||The availability of open data is a key driver of innovation for the digital transformation of the transport sector and provides the basis for reliable, sustainable and efficient mobility 4.0.|
With this conference, the Ministry would like to launch an EU-wide dialogue with stakeholders from government, public authorities, industry and research institutes on data-based mobility innovations. The main focus will be on identifying what kind of innovations can already be implemented in the Member States using open mobility data and how the availability and provision of multimodal traffic data in Europe can be further enhanced.
|20 November 2020||Ministeral Conference: Inland Water Transport - Key to the Green Deal||Strengthening inland waterway transport in Europe in a targeted manner is a key element of a forward-looking transport policy. On the one hand, we want to focus on the contribution which inland waterway transport can make, already today, towards a climate- and environment-friendly freight and passenger transport. On the other hand, we want to discuss which steps are necessary to ensure that this mode of transport is well equipped to become even more sustainable and innovative in the future. Against the background of the European Green Deal, the German Council Presidency therefore invites Member States, representatives of the sector and European institutions in cooperation with the European Barge Union (EBU) to engage in a joint discussion.|
|25 November 2020|
|As we move towards a climate-neutral Europe, the decarbonization of transport and the associated use of alternative fuels assumes a key role. This is one of the issues on which the Ministry is focusing during the German EU Council Presidency. Hydrogen mobility is a major building block for sustainable, climate-friendly mobility. Supported by the European Commission, the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) has, for the first time, now launched the Hydrogen Week. Within this context and under the auspices of the German EU Council Presidency, the "PrioritHy" conference on hydrogen will take place on 25 November 2020.|
|8 December 2020||Council of Transport Ministers||Alongside the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers is a legislative body of the EU. At the Council, the transport ministers will take decisions on EU legislative proposals or exchange information and views on important projects. In addition, the incoming Portuguese Council Presidency will present its programme for the first half of 2021.|