History

Film: 'From fireside chats to key decision-maker'

This documentary traces the history of the European Council from its foundation down to the present day. It shows important milestones from the last decades that have shaped the way EU leaders make decisions.
The story is told through the eyes of those who witnessed the European Council's transformation to the decision-making centre that it is today. 

Find out more about the events and treaties which have shaped the roles of the European Council, the Council of the EU, the Eurogroup and the Euro Summit.

1997

13 December

Creation of the Eurogroup

The European Council endorses the creation of the Eurogroup, an informal body that brings together the finance ministers of countries whose currency is the euro. The first Eurogroup meeting is held on 4 June 1998 at the Chateau de Senningen in Luxembourg.

1999

1 January

The euro is born as a virtual currency

It is introduced in 11 member states: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

2001

1 January

Greece joins the euro area

Greece becomes the 12th EU member state to join the euro area.

2002

1 January

The euro enters circulation

On 1 January 2002 the euro starts circulation as banknotes and coins, replacing national currencies.

2003

1 February

Treaty of Nice

The Treaty of Nice introduces the reform of EU institutions, in preparation for a future enlarged EU of 27 member states. The Council is reformed to extend the use of qualified majority voting, and to introduce the principle of enhanced cooperation between member states.

2004

10 September

First permanent President of the Eurogroup

The Eurogroup decides to have a permanent president, appointed for a period of two years.

At an informal Ecofin meeting in Scheveningen, Jean-Claude Juncker is elected as the first permanent President of the Eurogroup. His term runs from 1 January 2005 until 31 December 2006.

2006

September

Jean-Claude Juncker is reappointed as President of the Eurogroup

He is elected as President of the Eurogroup for a second term.

2007

1 January

Slovenia joins the euro area

Slovenia becomes the 13th EU member state to adopt the euro as its currency.

2008

1 January

Cyprus and Malta join the euro area

There are now 15 members of the euro area.

12 October

The Euro Summit is born 

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, proposes a regular meeting of the euro area heads of state or government. The first meeting takes place on 12 October 2008. Subsequent summits take place in May 2010, March 2011, July 2011, and October 2011 in Brussels.

Euro Summit meetings help to coordinate euro area economic policy and are also attended by the Euro Summit President and the President of the European Commission. 

2009

1 January

Slovakia joins the euro area

Slovakia becomes the 16th member of the euro area.

1 December

Protocol 14 to the Lisbon Treaty

Protocol 14 to the Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 1 December 2009, setting out the role of the Eurogroup. Ministers of the member states with the euro will meet informally to discuss matters related to the single currency and they will elect a president for two and a half years.

The Lisbon Treaty also amends the Council of the EU's rules so that when the full Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) votes on matters only affecting the euro area, only Eurogroup members are allowed to vote.

2011

1 January

Estonia joins the euro area

Estonia becomes the 17th country to join the euro area.

2012

January

Election of the President of the Eurogroup Working Group

Since January 2012, the post of  President of the Eurogroup Working Group has been held by Thomas Wieser, who is also President of the Economic and Financial Committee.

The Eurogroup Working Group is a preparatory body that brings together Economic and Financial Committee representatives of the euro area member states, the European  Commission and the European Central Bank.   

2013

21 January

Election of the Eurogroup President

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Finance Minister, is elected President of the Eurogroup. He becomes the second permanent Eurogroup President in the history of the Eurogroup.

2014

1 January

Latvia joins the euro area

Latvia becomes the 18th member of the euro area.

2015

1 January

Lithuania joins the euro area

The euro area now has 19 members: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

13 July

Jeroen Dijsselbloem elected Eurogroup president for a second term

Jeroen Dijsselbloem is re-appointed as Eurogroup President for a second term of 2.5 years.