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European Council

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

European Council
Location
Official language
24 languages
2 main official languages
  • English
  • French
Charles Michel
Websiteconsilium.europa.eu

The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political direction and priorities of the European Union. It is composed of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in its meetings.[1]

Established as an informal summit in 1975, the European Council was formalised as an institution in 2009 upon the

commencement of the Treaty of Lisbon. Its current president is Charles Michel, former Prime Minister of Belgium
.

Scope

While the European Council has no

legislative power, it is a strategic (and crisis-solving) body that provides the union with general political directions and priorities, and acts as a collective presidency. The European Commission remains the sole initiator of legislation, but the European Council is able to provide an impetus to guide legislative policy.[2][3]

The meetings of the European Council, still commonly referred to as

EU summits, are chaired by its president and take place at least twice every six months;[1] usually in the Europa building in Brussels.[4][5] Decisions of the European Council are taken by consensus, except where the Treaties provide otherwise.[6]

History

The European Council officially gained the status of an EU institution after the

European Political Cooperation) taking integration beyond economics.

The summits were only formalised in the period between 1974 and 1988. At the December summit in Paris in 1974, following a proposal from then-French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, it was agreed that more high level, political input was needed following the "empty chair crisis" and economic problems.[8] The inaugural European Council, as it became known, was held in Dublin on 10 and 11 March 1975 during Ireland's first Presidency of the Council of Ministers. In 1987, it was included in the treaties for the first time (the Single European Act) and had a defined role for the first time in the Maastricht Treaty. At first only a minimum of two meetings per year were required, which resulted in an average of three meetings per year being held for the 1975–1995 period. Since 1996, the number of meetings were required to be minimum four per year. For the latest 2008–2014 period, this minimum was well exceeded, by an average of seven meetings being held per year. The seat of the Council was formalised in 2002, basing it in Brussels. Three types of European Councils exist: Informal, Scheduled and Extraordinary. While the informal meetings are also scheduled 1½ years in advance, they differ from the scheduled ordinary meetings by not ending with official Council conclusions, as they instead end by more broad political Statements on some cherry picked policy matters. The extraordinary meetings always end with official Council conclusions—but differs from the scheduled meetings by not being scheduled more than a year in advance, as for example in 2001 when the European Council gathered to lead the European Union's response to the 11 September attacks.[1][7]

Some meetings of the European Council—and, before the European Council was formalised, meetings of the heads of government—are seen by some as turning points in the history of the European Union. For example:[1]

Press conference with European Commissioner Jacques Delors and Dutch ministers Wim Kok, Hans van den Broek and Ruud Lubbers, after the European Council of 9–10 December 1991 in Maastricht, which led to the Maastricht Treaty
(1992)

As such, the European Council had already existed before it gained the status as an

Treaty establishing the European Community provided (before it was amended by the Treaty of Lisbon) that ‘the Council, meeting in the composition of Heads of State or Government and acting by a qualified majority, shall nominate the person it intends to appoint as President of the Commission’ (emphasis added); the same rule applied in some monetary policy provisions introduced by the Maastricht Treaty (e.g. Article 109j TEC). In that case, what was politically part of a European Council meeting was legally a meeting of the Council of Ministers. When the European Council, already introduced into the treaties by the Single European Act, became an institution by virtue of the Treaty of Lisbon, this was no longer necessary, and the "Council [of the European Union] meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government", was replaced in these instances by the European Council now taking formal legally binding decisions in these cases (Article 15 of the Treaty on European Union).[10]

The Treaty of Lisbon made the European Council a formal institution distinct from the (ordinary) Council of the EU, and created the present longer term and full-time presidency. As an outgrowth of the Council of the EU, the European Council had previously followed the same Presidency, rotating between each member state. While the Council of the EU retains that system, the European Council established, with no change in powers, a system of appointing an individual (without them being a national leader) for a two-and-a-half-year term—which can be renewed for the same person only once.[11] Following the ratification of the treaty in December 2009, the European Council elected the then-Prime Minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy as its first permanent president (resigning from Belgian Prime Minister).[12]

Powers and functions

The European Council is an official

Head of State", "formal ratification of important documents" and "involvement in the negotiation of the treaty changes".[4][7]

Since the institution is composed of national leaders, it gathers the executive power of the member states and has thus a great influence in high-profile policy areas as for example

Council of Ministers may refer contentious legislation to the European Council. However, the state may still be outvoted in the European Council.[11][13][14] Hence with powers over the supranational executive of the EU, in addition to its other powers, the European Council has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority".[4][7][11][15]

Composition

The European Council consists of the heads of state or government of the member states, alongside its own President and the Commission President (both non-voting). The meetings used to be regularly attended by the national foreign minister as well, and the Commission President likewise accompanied by another member of the commission. However, since the Treaty of Lisbon, this has been discontinued, as the size of the body had become somewhat large following successive accessions of new Member States to the Union.[1][4] Meetings can also include other invitees, such as the President of the European Central Bank, as required. The Secretary-General of the Council attends, and is responsible for organisational matters, including minutes. The President of the European Parliament also attends to give an opening speech outlining the European Parliament's position before talks begin.[1][4]

Additionally, the negotiations involve a large number of other people working behind the scenes. Most of those people, however, are not allowed to the conference room, except for two delegates per state to relay messages. At the push of a button members can also call for advice from a Permanent Representative via the "

Antici Group" in an adjacent room. The group is composed of diplomats and assistants who convey information and requests. Interpreters are also required for meetings as members are permitted to speak in their own languages.[1]

As the composition is not precisely defined, some states which have a considerable division of executive power can find it difficult to decide who should attend the meetings. While an MEP,

Georgian crisis because the President wanted to attend the high-profile summit as well as the Prime Minister (only two people from each country could attend the meetings).[citation needed] This was despite Stubb being Chair-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe at the time which was heavily involved in the crisis. Problems also occurred in Poland where the President of Poland and the Prime Minister of Poland were of different parties and had a different foreign policy response to the crisis.[17] A similar situation arose in Romania between President Traian Băsescu and Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu in 2007–2008 and again in 2012 with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who both opposed the president.[citation needed
]

Eurozone summits

A number of ad hoc meetings of Heads of State or Government of the Euro area countries were held in 2010 and 2011 to discuss the Sovereign Debt crisis. It was agreed in October 2011 that they should meet regularly twice a year (with extra meetings if needed). This will normally be at the end of a European Council meeting and according to the same format (chaired by the President of the European Council and including the President of the commission), but usually restricted to the (currently 19) Heads of State or Government of countries whose currency is the euro.[citation needed]

President

The President of the European Council is elected by the European Council by a

qualified majority for a once-renewable term of two and a half years.[18] The President must report to the European Parliament after each European Council meeting.[4][15] The post was created by the Treaty of Lisbon and was subject to a debate over its exact role. Prior to Lisbon, the Presidency rotated in accordance with the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.[4][15] The role of that President-in-Office was in no sense (other than protocol) equivalent to an office of a head of state, merely a primus inter pares (first among equals) role among other European heads of government. The President-in-Office was primarily responsible for preparing and chairing the Council meetings, and had no executive powers other than the task of representing the Union externally. Now the leader of the Council Presidency country can still act as president when the permanent president is absent.[citation needed
]

Members

State Member State Member State Member
European Union

European Union
(non-voting)

Member since
1 December 2019
) European Union

European Union
(non-voting)

Member since
1 December 2019
) Austria

Republic of Austria
Österreich[a 1]

Member since
6 December 2021
)
Belgium

Kingdom of Belgium
België / Belgique / Belgien

Member since
1 October 2020
) Bulgaria

Republic of Bulgaria
България / Bulgaria

Member since
2 August 2022

(Ind. – Ind.)
Croatia

Republic of Croatia
Hrvatska

Member since
19 October 2016
)
Cyprus

Republic of Cyprus
Κύπρος / Kýpros

Member since
28 February 2013
) Czech Republic

Czech Republic
Česko

Member since
17 December 2021
) Denmark

Denmark
Danmark

Member since
27 June 2019
)
Estonia

Republic of Estonia
Eesti

Member since
26 January 2021
) Finland

Republic of Finland
Suomi / Finland

Member since
10 December 2019
) France

French Republic
France

Member since
14 May 2017
)
Germany

Federal Republic of Germany
Deutschland

Member since
8 December 2021
) Greece

Hellenic Republic
Ελλάδα / Elláda

Member since
8 July 2019
) Hungary

Hungary
Magyarország

Member since
29 May 2010
)
Republic of Ireland

Ireland
Éire / Ireland

Member since
27 June 2020
) Italy

Italian Republic
Italia

Member since
22 October 2022
) Latvia

Republic of Latvia
Latvija

Member since
23 January 2019
)
Lithuania

Republic of Lithuania
Lietuva

Member since
12 July 2019

(Ind. – Ind.)
Luxembourg

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg

Member since
4 December 2013
Prime Minister
Xavier Bettel
(RenewDP
)
Malta

Republic of Malta
Malta

Member since
13 January 2020
)
Netherlands

Netherlands
Nederland

Member since
14 October 2010
) Poland

Republic of Poland
Polska

Member since
11 December 2017
) Portugal

Portuguese Republic
Portugal

Member since
26 November 2015
)
Romania

Romania
România

Member since
21 December 2014
) Slovakia

Slovak Republic
Slovensko

Member since
1 April 2021
) Slovenia

Republic of Slovenia
Slovenija

Member since
1 June 2022
)
Spain

Kingdom of Spain
España

Member since
2 June 2018
) Sweden

Kingdom of Sweden
Sverige

Member since
18 October 2022
)
Notes
  1. ^ Short names used within EU institutions.
  2. ^ Membership in PNL suspended while holding the office of the president.


Political alliances

Almost all members of the European Council are members of a political party at national level, and most of these are also members of a political party at European level or other alliances such as Renew Europe. These frequently hold pre-meetings of their European Council members, prior to its meetings. However, the European Council is composed to represent the EU's states rather than political alliances and decisions are generally made on these lines, though ideological alignment can colour their political agreements and their choice of appointments (such as their president).

The charts below outline the number of leaders affiliated to each alliance and their total voting weight. The map indicates the alignment of each individual country.

Number of members[19]
EPP
8 (29.6%)
Renew
7 (25.9%)
S&D
6 (22.2%)
ECR
3 (11.1%)
Ind.
3 (11.1%)
Share of population
S&D
      34.1%
ECR
24.2%
Renew
23.6%
EPP
13.7%
Ind.
4.3%

Members timeline

Boris JohnsonTheresa MayDavid CameronGordon BrownTony BlairJohn MajorMargaret ThatcherJames CallaghanHarold WilsonUlf KristerssonMagdalena AnderssonStefan LöfvenFredrik ReinfeldtGöran PerssonIngvar CarlssonPedro SánchezMariano RajoyJosé Luis Rodríguez ZapateroJosé María AznarFelipe GonzálezRobert GolobJanez JanšaMarjan ŠarecMiro CerarAlenka BratušekJanez JanšaBorut PahorJanez JanšaAnton RopEduard HegerIgor MatovičPeter PellegriniRobert FicoIveta RadičováRobert FicoMikuláš DzurindaKlaus IohannisTraian BăsescuAntónio CostaPedro Passos CoelhoJosé SócratesPedro Santana LopesJosé Manuel BarrosoAntónio GuterresAníbal Cavaco SilvaMateusz MorawieckiBeata SzydłoEwa KopaczDonald TuskJarosław KaczyńskiKazimierz MarcinkiewiczMarek BelkaLeszek MillerMark RutteJan Peter BalkenendeWim KokRuud LubbersDries van AgtJoop den UylRobert AbelaJoseph MuscatLawrence GonziXavier BettelJean-Claude JunckerJacques Louis SanterPierre WernerGaston Egmond ThornGitanas NausėdaDalia GrybauskaitėValdas AdamkusArtūras PaulauskasKrišjānis KariņšMāris KučinskisLaimdota StraujumaValdis DombrovskisIvars GodmanisAigars KalvītisIndulis EmsisGiorgia MeloniMario DraghiGiuseppe ContePaolo GentiloniMatteo RenziEnrico LettaMario MontiSilvio BerlusconiRomano ProdiSilvio BerlusconiGiuliano AmatoMassimo D'AlemaRomano ProdiLamberto DiniSilvio BerlusconiCarlo Azeglio CiampiGiuliano AmatoGiulio AndreottiCiriaco De MitaGiovanni GoriaAmintore FanfaniBettino CraxiAmintore FanfaniGiovanni SpadoliniArnaldo ForlaniFrancesco CossigaGiulio AndreottiAldo MoroMicheál MartinLeo VaradkarEnda KennyBrian CowenBertie AhernJohn BrutonAlbert ReynoldsCharles HaugheyGarret FitzGeraldCharles HaugheyGarret FitzGeraldCharles HaugheyJack LynchLiam CosgraveViktor OrbánGordon BajnaiFerenc GyurcsányPéter MedgyessyKyriakos MitsotakisAlexis TsiprasVassiliki Thanou-ChristophilouAlexis TsiprasAntonis SamarasPanagiotis PikrammenosLucas PapademosGeorge PapandreouKostas KaramanlisKonstantinos SimitisAndreas PapandreouKonstantinos MitsotakisXenophon ZolotasIoannis GrivasTzannis TzannetakisAndreas PapandreouGeorgios RallisOlaf ScholzAngela MerkelGerhard SchröderHelmut KohlHelmut SchmidtEmmanuel MacronFrançois HollandeNicolas SarkozyJacques ChiracFrançois MitterrandValéry Giscard d'EstaingSanna MarinAntti RinneJuha SipiläAlexander StubbJyrki KatainenMari KiviniemiMatti VanhaneniAnneli JäätteenmäkiPaavo LipponenEsko AhoKaja KallasJüri RatasTaavi RõivasAndrus AnsipJuhan PartsMette FrederiksenLars Løkke RasmussenHelle Thorning-SchmidtLars Løkke RasmussenAnders Fogh RasmussenPoul Nyrup RasmussenPoul SchlüterAnker JørgensenPetr FialaAndrej BabišBohuslav SobotkaJiří RusnokPetr NečasJan Fischer (politician)Mirek TopolánekJiří ParoubekStanislav GrossVladimír ŠpidlaNicos AnastasiadesDemetris ChristofiasTassos PapadopoulosAndrej PlenkovićTihomir OreškovićZoran MilanovićRumen RadevKiril PetkovRumen RadevBoyko BorisovOgnyan GerdzhikovBoyko BorisovGeorgi BliznashkiPlamen OresharskiMarin RaykovBoyko BorisovSergei StanishevAlexander De CrooSophie WilmèsCharles MichelElio Di RupoYves LetermeHerman Van RompuyYves LetermeGuy VerhofstadtJean-Luc DehaeneWilfried MartensMark EyskensWilfried MartensPaul Vanden BoeynantsLeo TindemansKarl NehammerAlexander SchallenbergSebastian KurzBrigitte BierleinSebastian KurzChristian KernWerner FaymannAlfred GusenbauerWolfgang SchüsselViktor KlimaFranz VranitzkyRoberta MetsolaDavid SassoliAntonio TajaniMartin SchulzJerzy BuzekHans-Gert PötteringJosep BorrellPat CoxNicole FontaineJosé María Gil-RoblesKlaus HänschEgon KlepschEnrique Barón CrespoHenry PlumbPierre PflimlinPiet DankertSimone VeilEmilio ColomboGeorges SpénaleJosep BorrellFederica MogheriniCatherine AshtonJavier SolanaJürgen TrumpfUrsula von der LeyenJean-Claude JunckerJosé Manuel BarrosoRomano ProdiManuel MarínJacques SanterJacques DelorsGaston ThornRoy JenkinsFrançois-Xavier OrtoliCharles MichelDonald TuskHerman Van RompuyUnited KingdomSwedenSpainSloveniaSlovakiaRomaniaPortugalPolandNetherlandsMaltaLuxembourgLithuaniaLatviaItalyIrelandHungaryGreeceGermanyFranceFinlandEstoniaDenmarkCzech RepublicCyprusCroatiaBulgariaBelgiumAustriaPresident of the European ParliamentHigh Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security PolicyPresident of the European CommissionPresident of the European Council

Seat and meetings

The European Council is required by Article 15.3 TEU to meet at least twice every six months, but convenes more frequently in practice.[20][21] Despite efforts to contain business, meetings typically last for at least two days, and run long into the night.[21]

Until 2002, the venue for European Council summits was the member state that held the rotating

Lisbon Treaty, represents an institutionalisation of an ad hoc EU organ that had its origins in Luxembourg compromise, with national leaders reasserting their dominance as the EU's "supreme political authority".[7]

Originally, both the European Council and the Council of the European Union utilised the Justus Lipsius building as their Brussels venue. In order to make room for additional meeting space a number of renovations were made, including the conversion of an underground carpark into additional press briefing rooms.[25] However, in 2004 leaders decided the logistical problems created by the outdated facilities warranted the construction of a new purpose built seat able to cope with the nearly 6,000 meetings, working groups, and summits per year.[5] This resulted in the Europa building, which opened its doors in 2017. The focal point of the new building, the distinctive multi-storey "lantern-shaped" structure in which the main meeting room is located, is utilised in both the European Council's and Council of the European Union's official logos.[26]

Role in security and defence

The EU command and control (C2) structure is directed by political bodies composed of member states' representatives, and generally requires unanimous decisions. As of April 2019:[27]

Liaison:       Advice and recommendations       Support and monitoring       Preparatory work     
Political strategic level:[5]
ISSEUCO Pres. (EUCO)Chain of command
Coordination/support
SatCenCIVCOMHR/VP (FAC)
)
)
Military/civilian strategic level:
JSCCCiv OpCdr CPCC[1]
Operational level:
MFCdr[4] (MFHQ)HoM[1]
Tactical level:
CC[2] LandCC[2] AirCC[2] MarOther CCs[2]
ForcesForcesForcesForces


1 In the event of a CSDP Civilian Mission also being in the field, the relations with the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) and its Civilian Operation Commander (Civ OpCdr), as well as the subordinate Head of Mission (HoM), are coordinated as shown.
2 Other Component Commanders (CCs) and
service branches
which may be established.
3 The MPCC is part of the EUMS and Dir MPCC is double-hatted as DGEUMS. Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), either a national OHQ offered by member states or the NATO Command Structure (NCS) would serve this purpose. In the latter instance, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), rather than Dir MPCC, would serve as Operation Commander (OpCdr).
4 Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), the MFCdr would be known as a Force Commander (FCdr), and direct a Force Headquarters (FHQ) rather than a MFHQ. Whereas the MFHQ would act both on the operational and tactical level, the FHQ would act purely on the operational level.
5 The political strategic level is not part of the C2 structure per se, but represents the political bodies, with associated support facilities, that determine the missions' general direction. The Council determines the role of the High Representative (HR/VP), who serves as Vice-President of the European Commission, attends European Council meetings, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and may chair the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in times of crisis. The HR/VP proposes and implements CSDP decisions.
6 Same composition as Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) II, which also prepares for the CSDP-related work of the FAC.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  2. ^ Art. 13 et seq of the Treaty on European Union
  3. .
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "EUROPA – The European Council: Presidency Conclusions". European Commission. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b "EUROPA : Home of the European Council and the Council of the EU - Consilium". www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  6. ^ Art. 15(4) of the Treaty on European Union
  7. ^ a b c d e f Stark, Christine. "Evolution of the European Council: The implications of a permanent seat" (PDF). Dragoman.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  8. S2CID 156950352
    – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM.
  9. ^ "EU Security Policy & the role of the European Commission". European Commission. Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
  10. ^ Wikisource: Article 2(3)(e), Treaty of Lisbon
  11. ^ a b c "The Union's institutions: The European Council". Europa (web portal). 21 February 2001. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  12. ^ "BBC News — Belgian PM Van Rompuy is named as new EU president". 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  13. ^ Peers, Steve (2 August 2007). "EU Reform Treaty Analysis no. 2.2: Foreign policy provisions of the revised text of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU)" (PDF). Statewatch. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  14. ^ Peers, Steve (2 August 2007). "EU Reform Treaty analysis 1: JHA provisions" (PDF). Statewatch. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  15. ^ . Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  16. ^ "Finnish Conservatives name Stubb foreign minister". new Room Finland. 1 April 2008. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  17. ^ Phillips, Leigh (29 August 2008). "Spats over who gets to go to EU summit break out in Poland, Finland". EU Observer. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  18. ^ "European Council: The President's role". Retrieved 21 March 2015. The President the European Council is elected by the European Council by a qualified majority. He is elected for a 2.5-year term, which is renewable once.
  19. ^ "Current membership of the European Council" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union" – via Wikisource.
  21. ^ a b "The European Council – the who, what, where, how and why – UK in a changing Europe". ukandeu.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Treaty of Nice" – via Wikisource.
  23. ^ "Permanent seat for the European Council could change the EU's nature". EURACTIV.com. 18 September 2002. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  24. ^ "Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government, Malta, 03/02/2017 - Consilium". www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  25. ^ "Why PMs won't miss going to EU Council summits". Sky News. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  26. ^ "New HQ, new logo". POLITICO. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  27. ^ EU Command and Control, p. 13, Military Staff

Further reading

External links