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The European Council

The European Council defines the EU's general political direction and priorities. It consists of the heads of state or government of the EU's member states, together with its President and the European Commission President.

The Council of the EU

The Council of the EU is the institution representing the member states' governments. Also known informally as the EU Council, it is where national ministers from each EU country meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.

The Council is an essential EU decision-maker. It negotiates and adopts new EU legislation, adapts it when necessary, and coordinates policies. In most cases, the Council decides together with the European Parliament through the ordinary legislative procedure, also known as 'codecision'. 

In a number of very specific areas, the Council takes decisions using special legislative procedures - the consent procedure and the consultation procedure - where the role of the Parliament is limited. 

Topics

The European Council and the Council of the EU are active in a wide range of areas, including:

In focus

Fight against terrorism

Terrorism poses a serious and complex threat in Europe, which must be confronted both at national and international level. The European Union works to support member states in their response within and outside the EU borders.

Following the recent attacks in Paris, the European Council will discuss further counter-terrorism measures at its informal meeting on the 12 February. The debate will be based on the results of discussions at the coming Foreign Affairs and informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings.

Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU

Latvia took over the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January 2015. Their 6-month presidency focuses on three priorities:

  • competitive Europe - working on the investment plan for Europe, further strengthening the single market and enhancing industrial competitiveness
  • digital Europe - progressing on the data protection draft legislation, the telecommunications market package and the digital single market strategy
  • engaged Europe - reviewing the European Neighbourhood Policy and making progress with the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Latvia will hold the Council presidency until 30 June 2015.

In focus

Fight against terrorism

Terrorism poses a serious and complex threat in Europe, which must be confronted both at national and international level. The European Union works to support member states in their response within and outside the EU borders.

Following the recent attacks in Paris, the European Council will discuss further counter-terrorism measures at its informal meeting on the 12 February. The debate will be based on the results of discussions at the coming Foreign Affairs and informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings.

Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU

Latvia took over the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January 2015. Their 6-month presidency focuses on three priorities:

  • competitive Europe - working on the investment plan for Europe, further strengthening the single market and enhancing industrial competitiveness
  • digital Europe - progressing on the data protection draft legislation, the telecommunications market package and the digital single market strategy
  • engaged Europe - reviewing the European Neighbourhood Policy and making progress with the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Latvia will hold the Council presidency until 30 June 2015.