Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union (EU) functions on an intra-governmental principle – this means that it represents the interests of all Member States. Each Member State is represented in the Council at ministerial level. The Council meets in several different configurations depending on the issues it discusses. Regular meeting are held, for instance, by the Agriculture Ministers in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Finance Ministers in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and so on.  There are nine configurations within the Council:

Function and powers

The Council of the European Union represents the interests of the Member States and passes laws, usually co-deciding with the European Parliament. It coordinates the general economic policies of the Member States. It determines and carries out the common foreign and security policy which is based on the general guidelines as formulated by the European Council and concludes, in the name of the Union, international treaties between the Union and other countries or international organisations. It coordinates the activities of the Member States and adopts measures in the sphere of police and judiciary cooperation in criminal matters. The Council and the European Parliament together create a budgetary body which adopts the EU budget.

The Council and the Presidency

The meetings of the Council are presided over by the member from the Member State currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The order of the Presidency succession is determined beforehand. The presiding country has a chance to determine the agenda and the priorities of the Council and thus influence the course the entire Union will take.
The main seat of the Council is Brussels for the formal summits. In April, June and October the Member State representatives meet in Luxembourg. The informal meetings of the Council traditionally take place in the presiding country.
The technical and administrative aspects of the summits or meetings of the Council are managed by the General Secretariat.

For more information about the Presidency please see the section What is the Presidency of the Council of the European Union?”.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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