Spain Takes Over the Presidency of the EU Council – And Yes, This Is Also Important for Switzerland

Spain Takes Over the Presidency of the EU Council – And Yes, This Is Also Important for Switzerland

Spain will hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union until the end of 2023. Read why this is also important for non-EU member Switzerland and whether the differences between the two countries are really so big.

On July 1, 2023, Spain took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the fifth time. In this role, Spain will chair numerous ministerial meetings and sessions in Brussels and at home, setting its own priorities and trying to mediate in controversies. Spain has taken over the presidency of the Council of the EU from Sweden. The 27 EU members rotate the Council presidency every six months. The Spanish EU presidency will end on December 31, 2023. 

What is the Presidency of the Council of the EU?

The presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) is a six-month period during which a member state of the EU assumes responsibility for leading and coordinating the work of the Council of the EU.

The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, is made up of the respective ministers of the member states. The composition of the Council also varies according to the decisions to be taken or the EU legislation to be negotiated and adopted. For example, foreign ministers form the Foreign Affairs Council, while economic and finance ministers form the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (also known as the ECOFIN Council).

During the six months of the presidency, the country plays a vital role in organizing and leading meetings, summits, and negotiations between member states. The Council presidency is responsible for finding compromises, preparing political decisions, and promoting cooperation between member states.

The EU Council presidency also acts as a mediator and coordinator between the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament. The country holding the presidency plays a key role in promoting EU policies and implementing the Union’s strategic objectives. It works closely with other member states to develop common positions and advance policy initiatives.

The Council of the EU is not to be confused with the European Council or the Council of Europe. They are different bodies, even though their names sound similar. The European Council is made up of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, the President of the European Council and the President of the EU Commission, who set out the EU’s political objectives and priorities in the form of conclusions. The Council of Europe, which promotes human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, is not an institution of the European Union. It is an independent association of European states with 47 member countries, including Spain and Switzerland.

Switzerland and the EU Presidency

With its EU presidency, Spain will be an important interlocutor for Switzerland on the next steps in its relations with the EU. This applies both to the “big” issues, such as the future of the so-called “bilateral treaties,” and to technical dossiers, such as market access issues. Like any other country holding the presidency, Spain will host numerous ministerial meetings and it is up to each presidency to decide whether to invite third countries, such as Switzerland, as guests.

The Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU is therefore a good opportunity to look at the differences and similarities between Spain and Switzerland.

What Do Spain and Switzerland Have in Common – and What Makes Them Unique?

Spain is large and known for its royalty. Switzerland is small and creates a stir with direct democracy. At first glance, the two countries could not be more different. Yet there is so much that binds them together: democracy, the economy, culture, and European values. 




Inhabitants (2022)

47.62 million



138,200 Spaniards live in Switzerland

25,888 Swiss live in Spain

Highest Mountain

Pico del Teide (3718m)

Dufourspitze (4634m)

Longest River

Ebro (930km)

Rhine (375km)


Castilian, Galician, Catalan, Basque

German, French, Italian, Romansh

Trade in Goods (2022)

CHF 8,9 billion (from Spain to Switzerland)

CHF 10,1 billion (from Switzerland to Spain)

Companies (2023) 4,424,839 (9.68% of Europe) 540,633 (1.18% of Europe)

Land Area

505,970 km2

41,290 km2

Spain and Switzerland have been connected by trade since the 15th century. Today, Spain is Switzerland’s seventh most important trading partner, and Switzerland is Spain’s twelfth most important. People feel drawn to both countries – by work, lifestyle, nature, and culture. The diverse opportunities offered by Switzerland and Spain are captivating. Perhaps because there are also similarities in mindset? Spain may not have cantons, but it does have autonomous communities. In addition, both Switzerland and Spain have four official languages, although in the case of Spain, Castilian is the official language of the State and is spoken by everybody.

Since the acquisition of BME, SIX has had an established relationship with Spain. SIX connects participants in financial markets in Switzerland, Spain, and around the world. With our two home markets, Spain and Switzerland, SIX is an important link between the EU and non-EU countries like Switzerland. In this role, SIX helps to keep financial markets open and functioning.

SIX and the Presidency of the Council of the EU

The Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU is also important for SIX. Large parts of its activities are comprehensively regulated, and the EU plays a key role in this. On the one hand, the business of SIX in Spain and other EU countries is directly affected. On the other hand, Swiss business in the EU is affected by third country regulations.

Thanks to its presence in Spain, and because it is doubly affected, SIX now has the opportunity to position itself vis-à-vis the Spanish EU Council presidency as the natural point of contact for all issues relating to financial market infrastructures. This is a unique opportunity to help shape the near future of European capital markets. Not only because of the role of the Spanish EU presidency in prioritizing and shaping the upcoming regulatory projects, but also because it will be more than 10 years after that until the next Spanish EU presidency.