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.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 26 June - 2 July 2017
President Donald Tusk spoke about the outcome of the European Council meetings held on 22 and 23 June 2017.
The European Council on 22-23 June 2017 adopted conclusions on: security and defence, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the economy, migration and digital Europe.
The European Council on 22 June 2017 adopted conclusions on the Paris Agreement on climate change.
President Donald Tusk addressed the issues on the agenda of the European Council meetings held on 22 June 2017
The European Council on 22 June 2017 adopted conclusions on security and defence.
Before the start of the European Council meeting, President Donald Tusk highlighted the main issues to be discussed on 22 and 23 June 2017
President Donald Tusk thanked President Poroshenko and Ukrainian people for their pro-European stance and congratulated them for the progress accomplished in EU-Ukraine bilateral relations.
EU Presidents will participate in a European Ceremony of Honour for former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl
EU Presidents made a joint statement on the award of the Premio Princesa de Asturias de la Concordia to the European Union
President Donald Tusk sent an invitation letter to the European Council meetings on 22 and 23 June 2017
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 19 - 25 June 2017
President Donald Tusk congratulated the new Taoiseach of Ireland Leo Varadkar
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 12-16 June 2017
President Donald Tusk congratulated Theresa May, reappointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 5-11 June 2017
At the press conference of the 19th EU-China summit, President Donald Tusk underlined the strategic partnership between the EU and China.
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.
EU leaders looked at a number of the most pressing issues, including security and defence, economy, trade and migration.
The European Council (Article 50) reviewed the latest developments related to Brexit.
The 19th bilateral summit between the EU and China took place on 1-2 June in Brussels. The aim was to advance on the strategic partnership between the EU and China.
On 26 and 27 May 2017, Italy hosted the meeting of the G7 leaders. The summit focused on foreign policy, the global economy and the reduction of inequalities, and the migration crisis.
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.
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.