The European Council
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The European Council defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities. It is not one of the EU's legislating institutions, so does not negotiate or adopt EU laws. Instead it sets the EU's policy agenda, traditionally by adopting 'conclusions' during European Council meetings which identify issues of concern and actions to take.
More recently, the European Council adopted a 'strategic agenda' of priority areas for longer-term EU action and focus.
Members of the European Council
The members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states, the European Council President and the President of the European Commission.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in European Council meetings when foreign affairs issues are discussed.
The European Council mostly takes its decisions by consensus. However, in certain specific cases outlined in the EU treaties, it decides by unanimity or by qualified majority.
If a vote is taken, neither the European Council President nor the Commission President take part.
Declaration of the leaders of 27 member states and of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission adopted on 25 March 2017
President Donald Tusk delivered his speech at the ceremony in Rome attended by the 27 EU Heads of State and Government and the Presidents of the EU institutions
Information about accreditation requirements for the Special European Council (article 50) in April
Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker met the European Social Partners in Rome before the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties
President Donald Tusk, President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe held a joint meeting in Brussels to advance EU-Japan trade agenda and discuss next G7 summit.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 20-26 March 2017
President Donald Tusk delivered a speech at the extraordinary session of Conference of the Speakers of EU Parliaments in Rome, opening the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome
President Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat addressed a letter to the EU heads of state or government.
After the debate in Strasbourg, President Donald Tusk delivered his final remarks to the European Parliament plenary session.
President Donald Tusk presented to the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg the outcome of the European Council on 9 March and the informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government on 10 March 2017.
President Donald Tusk congratulated János Áder on his second mandate as President of Hungary
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 13-19 March 2017
President Donald Tusk spoke about the preparations for the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaties and the discussions held on Western Balkans the previous evening.
The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance.
President Donald Tusk addressed the issues on the agenda of the European Council meeting held on 9 March 2017.
Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat and President Donald Tusk commented the re-election of the President of the European Council
Donald Tusk has been re-elected as President of the European Council for a second term of two and a half years, from 1 June 2017 to 30 November 2019.
Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the tripartite social summit and ahead of the European Council meeting
European Council meetings
The European Council meets at least twice every 6 months. Its meetings, often referred to as 'EU summits' are held in Brussels, in the Justus Lipsius building.
Meetings are chaired by the European Council President. The President can also convene extraordinary European Council meetings when needed.
The President of the European Parliament attends the start of each meeting, to outline the European Parliament's views. Other people, such as the President of the European Central Bank, may be invited to attend meetings, depending on the issues being discussed.
The summit will be held in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017.
The G7 is a forum for dialogue at the highest level attended by the leaders of the world's most important industrially advanced democracies.
The European Council, in an EU27 format (without the UK), will adopt the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.
Brussels conference on the future of Syria and the region, April 2017
Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government took place in Rome on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
The EU leaders looked at a number of the most pressing issues, including economy, security and external relations.
The tripartite summit is a forum for dialogue between the EU institutions at president level and the European social partners at top management level.
The EU heads of state or government met to discuss migration and prepare for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
The European Council discussed the most pressing issues, including migration, security, economy and youth, and external relations.
The President of the European Council hosted the 18th EU-Ukraine summit. Leaders discussed EU-Ukraine relations.
EU and Canada signed a free trade agreement and strategic partnership agreement.
The October European Council focused on migration, trade and external relations.
The Tripartite Social Summit is a forum for dialogue between the EU institutions at president level and the European social partners at top management level.
On 5 October, the European Union and the government of Afghanistan co-hosted the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. This conference brought together 75 countries and 26 international organisations and agencies.
History of the European Council
The European Council was created in 1974 as an informal forum for discussion between heads of state or government of the EU member states. It soon developed a role as the body responsible for fixing EU goals and priorities.
Under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, the European Council acquired a formal status and role - to provide the impetus and general political guidelines for the EU.
In 2009, following the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council became one of the 7 EU institutions.