Start of the Belgian Council Presidency

3 January 2024 - 3 min Reading time

Starting 2024, Belgium will for the 13th time assume the rotating presidency of the council of the EU. Belgium was notably the first country to ever hold the presidency, and it has experience in handling an end-of-cycle presidency as Belgians have done this three times already. Admittedly, all those times were in the 60’s and 70’s but nevertheless, now for the fourth time, Belgium will support a seamless transition into the next institutional cycle. 


The presidency program uses the slogan 'protect—strengthen—prepare,' signifying the safeguarding of citizens, enhancing European cooperation, and preparing for our future. Belgium highlights six thematic areas focusing on democratic principles, competitiveness, a socially responsible green transition, the social and health agenda, safeguarding citizens and borders, and fostering a global Europe. This closely aligns with the trio presidency program published in collaboration with the Spanish and Hungarian governments.  

Looking at the priorities on the topic of financial services, it is stated that there will be a focus to finalise the legislative agenda. In the first months of the presidency, Belgium will direct all efforts towards finding compromises with the European Parliament. The deadline is short, as all compromises need to be translated in the 24 offical EU languages and the Parliament will need to adopt the texts in plenary. The last plenary is sheduled on the 25th of April. 

It promises to be an active beginning, but the workload doesn't end in April. In the second stage of their Presidency, Belgian negotiators can forge agreements among member states on remaining open files and play a crucial role in shaping the strategic agenda for the upcoming legislative cycle. 

Regarding specific files, the program mentions the EU Retail Investment Strategy, Listing Act, EMIR, CMDI, ESG Ratings Regulation and the AML-Package. Also tax files will get the attention of Belgian negotiators, like BEFIT, VAT in the Digital Age and FASTER. The work on relevant horizontal files including the AI Act, the Cyber Resilience Act and the Late Payments Directive will also continue with the aim of finalising it. Notably missing from the agenda; the Single Currency Package, the Financial data access and payments package, surprisingly because we expect that also work will be done on these files.  

From a strategic perspective, the program mentions that it aims to strenghten investments, transparency, the EU’s open strategic autonomy, financial literacy- and inclusion, and work towards a consolidation of Capital Markets, the streamlining of reporting requirements, and stronger cyber-resilience in the EU.  

As a new legislative term approaches, Febelfin asks policymakers to adopt a comprehensive, long-term vision for the financial industry. European states should look into how a sovereign financial sector integrates into the Union's Open Strategic Autonomy and promote regulations aimed at leveraging the industry's strengths for the benefit of our economy and citizens. More of our recommendations can be found here

If you want to stay up to date with the latest news on the Belgian Presidency, you can visit the official website.