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.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on behalf of the European Union, President Tusk defended a rules-based global order.
In the margins of the 72th UN General Assembly in New York, President Donald Tusk addressed climate change at a high-level event on the Global Pact for the Environment organised by President Emmanuel Macron.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 17-24 September 2017
Information about accreditation requirements for the European Council meeting in October
President Tusk received the letters of credentials from three new ambassadors to the European Union.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 24 - 30 July 2017
Statement by President Donald Tusk on the situation in Poland
President Tusk received the letters of credentials from seven new ambassadors to the European Union.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 17 - 23 July 2017
During their meeting, President Tusk and President Vučić discussed EU perspective for Serbia, the situation in Western Balkans and Serbia dialogue with Kosovo.
Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker issued a joint statement on the passing away of Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
At the press conference of the 19th EU-Ukraine summit held in Kyiv, President Donald Tusk welcomed the final ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
Intervention by President Donald Tusk at the beginning of the plenary session of the 19th EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv.
G20 leaders met in Hamburg, Germany, on 7 and 8 July 2017. The theme of the German presidency of the G20 was "Shaping an interconnected world".
Leaders of the G20 strongly condemn recent terrorist attacks and are resolved to strengthen their cooperation to fight terrorism, enhance internal security and protect citizens.
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 7-16 July 2017
President Donald Tusk and President Jean-Claude Juncker held a press conference ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. They highlighted EU's positions at the summit.
European Council President Donald Tusk highlighted the main results of the 24th EU-Japan summit held in Brussels on 6 July 2017.
Statement by Prime Minister Abe, President Tusk and President Juncker on North Korea at the 24th Summit between the European Union (EU) and Japan, 6 July 2017.
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 5th EU-Africa summit will bring together more than 60 EU and African leaders, and a total of 90 delegations, to discuss the future of EU-Africa relations and reinforce links between the two continents.
Eastern Partnership Summit, 24 November 2017 in Brussels.
Tripartite Social Summit, 18 October 2017 in Brussels.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, spoke on behalf of the EU at the 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 18-20 September.
The summit focused on three issues: Ukraine-EU association agreement, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the reform process.
G20 leaders met in Hamburg, Germany, on 7-8 July. European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker represented the EU at the summit. The theme of this year's summit was 'shaping an interconnected world'.
At the summit, leaders are expected to announce a political agreement on the EU-Japan free trade agreement and the EU-Japan strategic partnership agreement.
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.
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.