European Council

Meetings at the highest political level

The European Council functions as the strategic body responsible for fundamental policy-making and for the resolution of serious political problems. The summits of the Council provide the impetus to the further development of the integration process. The European Council also initiates any potential changes into the founding Treaties and declarations related to external relations and the common foreign and security policies of the European Union (EU).  It serves as a forum for political debate at the highest level in times of crisis and, when necessary, it strives to assist in the resolution of potential disputes and disagreements between the Member States.

The European Council came into being on the basis of the joint declaration of the representatives of the Member States at their meeting in Paris in 1974. It was integrated into the primary legislation of the EU (which consists of all international Treaties entered into by and between the Member States) along with the adoption of the Single European Act in 1986; the Treaty on the European Union (1992) defines the objectives of the European Council which is to determine the political course of the European Union.

The European Council does not participate in the legally established decision-making mechanisms; its directives are, from the perspective of European law, put into force only by confirmation of the Council of the European Union. It issues declarations and resolutions expressing the positions of the heads of state and governments on a specific issue. After each summit of the Council a report in the form of Presidency Conclusions is produced and submitted to the European Parliament; the Council also produces an annual report on the progress the Union has achieved during the year.

Summits at least four times a year

The European Council meets at least four times each year, and more frequently in extraordinary situations. At least twice a year the Council meets in Brussels, and other meetings take place in the country presiding over the Council at that particular time. Since 2000, in accordance with the Lisbon strategy, the March Council addresses economic, social and environmental issues.

Councils are attended by the highest level political representation of the EU

The meetings of the European Council are always attended by the highest representatives of the Member States, the President and members of the European Commission, as well as by Foreign Ministers. The proceedings are presided over by the highest representative of the country presiding over the Council at that particular time. EU Member States present their national interests at such meetings. The main objective of each summit is to find agreement and a common position of all participants. Proceedings are governed on the basis of inter-governmental principles guaranteeing the equality and sovereignty of all Member States. The conclusions of the summit form an important guideline for the activities of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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1.6. - List of Events 2.6. - List of Events 3.6. - List of Events 4.6. - List of Events 5.6. - List of Events 6.6. - List of Events 7.6. - List of Events
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