Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union: an update

Stay up to date with the latest measures from the financial sector

5 September 2023 - 4 min Reading time


Entering September signifies that a third of the time Spain holds the Council presidency has passed. The Spanish presidency holds significant importance for Belgium as it marks the beginning of the new Trio-presidency, consisting of Spain, Belgium, and Hungary.

The Trio-Presidency SP-BE-HU


A new trio-presidency brings forth a new program, jointly adopted by Spain, Belgium, and Hungary, which outlines their shared priorities for the next 18 months. These objectives primarily revolve around bolstering our economic foundation, safeguarding citizens' rights, facilitating a just transition towards sustainability, and advancing Europe's interests globally. The detailed program also includes specific targets for the financial industry, such as completing the Banking Union, making progress towards a "true Capital Markets Union," exploring the Digital euro, and enhancing access to financial data.

Early Elections


Spain held an early national election on July 23, following poor results in local and regional elections in late May, which prompted Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to expedite the process. The elections ended the political situation in Spain in a deadlock where neither of the two biggest parties have a clear majority and any possible coalition will entail far reaching concessions. Holding elections during a presidency is not ideal and the turmoil that now leaves Spain without decisive leadership is a bad sign for the months to come. However, it should be noted that many of the priorities have already been established at a technical level, and meetings are planned accordingly. Even if the leftist coalition is replaced by a right-wing bloc, its impact on relevant financial industry legislation may be limited.



While most presidencies inherit ongoing files from their predecessors, there is still room for prioritization. The Spanish presidency aims to advance the "reindustrialization" of Europe, foster the ecological transition, promote social and economic justice, and strengthen European unity. Regarding our specific priorities, Spain's Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero Cuadrado, seeks progress on the CMDI, instant payments, digital euro, AML Package, and sustainable finance. Additionally, the Spanish presidency emphasizes the importance of digital initiatives like the AI Act, eIDAS, Data Act, and Cyber Resilience Act. The Spanish delegation is particularly vocal about the AI Act and expresses their commitment to concluding trilogues. Moreover, they will initiate work on the Digital euro, recognizing that the subsequent three presiding member states after Belgium are non-Eurozone countries.

Sanchez's ambitions


Prime Minister Sánchez set high aspirations back in May, stating that “it must do so under our presidency, which will be the last fully operational one of the legislative cycle because the elections to the European Parliament will take place in June next year". While it may have been a tad presumptuous to label it a "the last fully operational presidency”, we hope this ambition is still very much alive.

For those who want to stay up to date, useful overviews of the meetings are published on the official presidency X-account.