Functions of the EU – European council


The European Council, also known as the EUCO, is the body that is responsible for deciding the overall political direction and priorities of the European Union. This is where the EU leaders meet to set the general direction of EU policy making. As it is not one of the EU’s legislating institutions it does not participate in the planning and adoption of EU laws. The European Council sets the EU policy agenda, normally by taking the ”verdicts” from the European Council meetings and then chooses what is important and what sort of actions are necessary. The EUCO is not the same as the Council of the EU which together with the European Parliament, is one of the main decision-making bodies.

The European Council was created on December 7th 1974 ,  during the Paris summit, with the intention of inaugurating an informal conference for discussions between heads of State and/or the government. The first meeting of the European council was held on the 11th of March 1975 in Dublin. Since the beginning of 1996, the council has met at least four times a year, which was earlier deemed unnecessary. All official meetings of the European Council have been held in Brussels since October 1st 2003, as a result of the 22nd declaration of the Treaty of Nice. This Treaty states that all the meetings shall take place in Brussels once the EU has 18 states. On the 1st of December in 2009, the same year that Herman Van Rompuy was elected president of the council, the Lisbon treaty came into force. This is of relevance to the European Council as it then became a fully-fledged institution with a President and an official name. Charles Michel succeeded Donald Tusk as President of the European Council in 2019 and his term ends in December 2022. Even though the European council does not have a lot of direct power, it is a very strategic institution that decides on the direction of future political directions and pathways.

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