For the twelfth time since 1958, Luxembourg will hold the Presidency of the Council from 1 July to 31 December 2015. A small country with inevitably limited means of action, the Grand Duchy has nevertheless been able to mediate between the major powers. There are many examples.
In January 1966, under the Luxembourg Presidency, France resumed its place in the EEC Council after operating an "empty chair" policy for seven months. The six Community Member States, thanks in particular to the intervention of Luxembourg's Prime Minister Pierre Werner, managed to overcome this political and institutional crisis by adopting the 'Luxembourg compromise' whereby a Member State may request the postponement of a vote by qualified majority in the Council and that further discussions on a EU project are held where 'very important national interests' are at stake.
During its past five presidencies, significant progress was made in the European integration process as a result of Luxembourg's recognized role as an honest broker to reconcile sometimes divergent interests.
At the Luxembourg Summit in December 1985, the Heads of State and Government of the ten Member States reached, after heated discussions, a political agreement on the first major institutional reform after the reform introduced by the 1965 Treaty merging the executives. The range of measures included in particular a significant extension of recourse to qualified majority voting within the Council in the areas of the internal market and democratising decision-making with the introduction of a cooperation procedure between the Council and the Parliament. The agreement in principle reached in Luxembourg paved the way for the signature of the Single European Act the following year in Luxembourg and The Hague.
In June 1991, the Luxembourg Presidency presented a draft treaty which led, several months later in Maastricht, to the conclusion of the negotiations on the Treaty on European Union. Based on the majority trends that emerged during the work of the Intergovernmental Conferences on Political Union and the Economic and Monetary Union launched in December 1990 in Rome, the compromise put forward by Luxembourg provided for a pillar structure for the future European Union: a Community pillar and two intergovernmental pillars devoted to the common foreign and security policy and justice and home affairs. That approach largely foreshadowed the structure of the Treaty signed at Maastricht in February 1992.
After four years of preparation and waiting following the adoption in Copenhagen in 1993 of economic and political criteria for membership to the Union, the Luxembourg European Council launched in December 1997 the biggest enlargement process in the history of the Union. The first concrete step of this historic enlargement was the accession, in May 2004, of ten new Member States.
Following the inclusion of 'Employment' as a new title in the Treaty on European Union (EU) in 1997, the European Employment Strategy (EES) was launched at the Luxembourg Jobs Summit to coordinate national employment policies.
During the most recent Luxembourg Presidency in 2005, the Stability and Growth Pact was reformed to introduce a number of amendments strengthening the preventive arm of the Pact and its economic rationale. The Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs was also relaunched and more ambitious objectives on development aid were set. Luxembourg also worked to improve transatlantic relations and to develop a new framework for EU-Russia relations.