European Council: What It Is, Its Role and How It Works

The European Council is one of the seven main institutions of the European Union (EU), composed of the Heads of State or Government of the member states, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The European Council was established in 1975 and has since then played a crucial role in shaping the EU’s political agenda.

What is the European Council?

The European Council is an institution of the European Union that brings together the Heads of State or Government of the member states, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission. The European Council sets the EU’s political agenda and provides impetus for its development. It meets at least twice a year and on other occasions as necessary.

What is the role of the European Council?

The European Council is responsible for setting the EU’s overall political direction and priorities. It provides guidance and impetus for the development of EU policies, particularly on economic and foreign affairs issues. It defines the EU’s strategic interests and objectives, and ensures the coherence and consistency of the EU’s external action. The European Council also appoints the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

How does the European Council work?

The European Council works by bringing together the Heads of State or Government of the member states, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission. The meetings are chaired by the President of the European Council, and decisions are taken by consensus. The European Council can also issue guidelines and directives, which are binding on the member states and EU institutions. The European Council also has a role in the EU’s legislative process, as it sets the political direction for the work of the EU institutions.

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The Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process in the European Council is based on consensus, which means that all members have to agree on a decision. If consensus cannot be reached, the President of the European Council can propose a compromise solution. If this fails, a decision can be taken by qualified majority voting (QMV), which requires the support of at least 55% of the member states representing at least 65% of the EU’s population.

The Importance of the European Council

The European Council is a key institution of the EU, responsible for setting its political direction and priorities. Its decisions have far-reaching implications for the EU and its member states. The European Council has played a crucial role in shaping the EU’s response to major crises, such as the eurozone crisis and the refugee crisis. It has also been instrumental in shaping the EU’s foreign policy and global role.

FAQs

Q1: Is the European Council the same as the Council of the European Union?
A: No, the European Council and the Council of the European Union are separate institutions. The Council of the European Union is composed of ministers from the member states and is responsible for adopting EU laws and coordinating EU policies.

Q2: Who can attend European Council meetings?
A: Only the Heads of State or Government of the member states, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission can attend European Council meetings.

Q3: How are the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission appointed?
A: The President of the European Council is appointed by the member states for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. The President of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council and approved by the European Parliament.

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Q4: Can the European Council veto EU legislation?
A: No, the European Council cannot veto EU legislation. Its role is to set the political direction for the work of the

EU institutions, but the actual legislative process is carried out by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Q5: What is the relationship between the European Council and the European Parliament?
A: The European Council and the European Parliament are two separate institutions with different roles. The European Council sets the political direction and priorities for the EU, while the European Parliament is responsible for representing the interests of EU citizens and scrutinizing EU legislation. However, the European Parliament does have a role in the appointment of the President of the European Commission, as it has to approve the nominee put forward by the European Council.

In conclusion, the European Council is a crucial institution of the European Union, responsible for setting its overall political direction and priorities. Its decisions have far-reaching implications for the EU and its member states, and it has played a key role in shaping the EU’s response to major crises and in defining its foreign policy and global role. Through its meetings and decisions, the European Council seeks to ensure the coherence and consistency of the EU’s external action, and to provide guidance and impetus for the development of EU policies.

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