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.
Framework for a European energy union
The energy union was one of the five priorities in the European Council's strategic agenda, adopted on 26-27 June 2014. In particular, EU leaders underlined the importance of the energy union to avoid the EU relying on energy imports. The European Council asked the Commission to present a comprehensive energy union proposal in the first quarter of 2015.
The energy union package was published on 25 February 2015. It aims to ensure affordable, secure and sustainable energy for Europe and its citizens. Specific measures cover five key areas, including energy security, energy efficiency and decarbonisation. The package builds on the 2030 climate and energy framework and the 2014 energy security strategy and integrates several policy areas into a single cohesive strategy.
EU leaders discussed the energy union proposals in depth at the European Council meeting on 19-20 March 2015.
European fund for strategic investments: Council agrees its negotiating stance
On 10 March 2015 the Council agreed its negotiating stance on a draft regulation that sets out rules for establishing the European fund for strategic investments (EFSI). The agreement allows the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the final version of the regulation. Their agreement is expected by June so that the fund can start operating in mid-2015.
The fund would be established within the European Investment Bank (EIB). It would support projects in areas such as transport, energy and digital infrastructure, education, health, and research and development, as well as risk finance for small and medium-sized businesses.
The fund is a core element of the 'Investment plan for Europe' designed to increase investments, address market gaps and boost long-term economic growth.