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.
Information about media programme and accreditation requirements for EU-US Leaders' meeting, 25 May 2017
Information about media programme and accreditation requirements for the EU-China Summit in June
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 22-28 May 2017
President Tusk and the High Representative Mogherini both expressed their readiness to work closely with President Moon and the new Korean government.
European Council President Donald Tusk met in Paris the new French President Emmanuel Macron to share views on the future of Europe.
President Donald Tusk presented to the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg the outcome of the Special European Council (Art. 50) of 29 April 2017.
Updated weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 15-21 May 2017
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker will meet the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Information about accreditation requirements for the European Council meeting in June
President Donald Tusk congratulated the President-elect of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
President Donald Tusk congratulated Boyko Borissov on his reappointment as Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
President Tusk and Prime Minister Solberg discussed energy topics, the Paris agreement, and EU-Norway relations especially in the context of Brexit negotiations.
At the press conference after the meeting President Donald Tusk presented the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.
European Council (Art. 50) guidelines following the United Kingdom's notification under Article 50 TEU.
Ahead of the meeting to adopt the guidelines for Brexit negotiations President Donald Tusk highlighted the main issues to be addressed.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 29 April- 7 May 2017
On 28 April 2017 President Donald Tusk sent an invitation letter to the Special European Council (Art. 50) meeting.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 24-30 April 2017
President Tusk received the letters of credentials from five new ambassadors to the European Union.
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.
Eastern Partnership Summit, 24 November 2017 in Brussels.
Tripartite Social Summit, 18 October 2017 in Brussels.
The summit will be held in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017.
The 19th bilateral summit between the EU and China will take place on 1-2 June in Brussels. The aim will be to advance on the strategic partnership between the EU and China.
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, adopted the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.
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.
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.