The Council is an essential EU decision-maker.
It negotiates and adopts legislative acts in most cases together with the European Parliament through the ordinary legislative procedure, also known as 'codecision'. Codecision is used for policy areas where the EU has exclusive or shared competence with the member states. In these cases, the Council legislates on the basis of proposals submitted by the European Commission.
The Council is responsible for coordinating member states' policies in specific fields, such as:
The Council defines and implements EU foreign and security policy on the basis of guidelines set by the European Council. This also includes the EU's development and humanitarian aid, defence and trade. Together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council ensures the unity, consistency and effectiveness of the EU's external action.
The Council provides the mandate to the Commission to negotiate on behalf of the EU agreements between the EU and non-EU countries and international organisations. At the end of negotiations, the Council decides on the signature and conclusion of the agreement, based on a proposal from the Commission. The Council also adopts the final decision to conclude the agreement, once the Parliament has given its consent (required in areas subject to co-decision) and it has been ratified by all EU member states.
These agreements may cover broad areas, such as trade, cooperation and development, or they may deal with specific subjects such as textiles, fisheries, customs, transport, science and technology, etc.
The Council adopts the EU budget together with the Parliament.
The budget period covers a calendar year. It is usually adopted in December and starts running on 1 January the following year.