European Council


July 5, 2022

The European Council (ER, informally also EUCO, from the English European Council) is the body of the heads of state and government of the European Union (EU). The Council meets at least twice every six months, also known as the EU summit. The European Council plays a special role in the political system of the EU: It is not involved in the day-to-day legislation of the EU, but as a higher-level institution serves in particular to find compromises between member states on important political issues and to provide fundamental impetus for the further development of the EU to set Union. Its tasks and functioning are regulated in Art. 15 EU Treaty and Art. 235 f. FEU Treaty. The European Council represents the governments of the EU member states and is therefore the second important intergovernmental institution of the European Union alongside the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers), which can be understood as the chamber of states. This distinguishes it from supranational bodies such as the European Parliament (Citizens' Chamber), the European Commission (executive) and the European Court of Justice. A President of the European Council, who is otherwise not allowed to hold any national political office, is elected to chair the summit meetings for a period of two and a half years. He should ensure continuity in the work of the European Council, mediate in conflicts and work out compromise proposals, but has no voting rights. He also represents the Union externally together with the President of the Commission. Charles Michel has been the incumbent since December 1, 2019.


According to Article 15 of the EU Treaty, the European Council gives the EU "the impetus required for its development and defines the general political objectives and priorities for this". In addition, the European Council also deals with important issues for which no consensus could be found at ministerial level (i.e. in the Council of the European Union). The common foreign and security policy (CFSP) is also frequently discussed. The outcome of the Council meetings is recorded in the "Presidency Conclusions". These are initially not legally binding within the political system of the EU. However, since the heads of state and government usually have the authority to set guidelines within the government of their own country, the results of the negotiations at the European Council also serve as a guideline for the meetings of the Council of Ministers. The European Commission also usually acts in line with the compromises found at the summit meetings. Some institutional decisions in EU politics are also taken by the European Council. This includes, for example, the nomination of the President of the Commission and also the High Representative of the EU, through which the European Council has influence on the EU executive. In addition, it elects the members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank after non-binding votes in the Economic Committee and in the plenum of the European Parliament on the recommendation of the Council of the EU (Article 283 (2) subparagraph 2 TFEU). The election takes place with a qualified majority. The European Council has another function in connection with the passerelle regulation in Article 48 of the EU Treaty: through this it can use the qualified majority or the introduce ordinary legislative procedures. However, the national parliaments each have a right of veto for such passerelle decisions. The European Council plays a special role in reforms of the EU treaty (such as the Treaty of Nice or the Treaty of Lisbon). Under international law, these are international agreements between the individual member states and must therefore be issued by their governments