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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

Council publishes its first open data set

The Council of the EU has published its first linked open data set. It contains all Council votes on legislative acts from 1 December 2009 (the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty) to the present day. This dataset is updated daily and is freely available to download and reuse, provided the source is acknowledged.

The dataset contains the votes of the Council of the EU when adopting a legislative act. In addition, it also contains information related to the act adopted, such as the type of act (regulation, directive, decision or position), action by the Council (according to the steps of the legislative procedure), voting rule (qualified majority or unanimity) and the policy area.  

If you decide to use the data set, such as in an infographic or application, we would appreciate your feedback.

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.

In focus

Council publishes its first open data set

The Council of the EU has published its first linked open data set. It contains all Council votes on legislative acts from 1 December 2009 (the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty) to the present day. This dataset is updated daily and is freely available to download and reuse, provided the source is acknowledged.

The dataset contains the votes of the Council of the EU when adopting a legislative act. In addition, it also contains information related to the act adopted, such as the type of act (regulation, directive, decision or position), action by the Council (according to the steps of the legislative procedure), voting rule (qualified majority or unanimity) and the policy area.  

If you decide to use the data set, such as in an infographic or application, we would appreciate your feedback.

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.