- The European Council in Luxembourg (Photo: European Commission)
The regular meeting of the heads of state and government of the EU member states. These Presidents and Prime Ministers, together with the President of the EU Commission, meet at least four times, a year to fix the general political guidelines for the EU. Foreign Affairs and other ministers may attend by invitation.
The meetings are now led by a permanent president. Herman Van Rompuy presided the European Council from 2009-14. The Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was often mentioned as a candidate to succeed Van Rompuy. A special EU summit 30 August 2014 appointed the Polish prime minister Donald Tusk for the job.
The Lisbon Treaty has also established the European Council as an official EU institution through the new Article 15 TEU.
As an official EU institution its acts or its “failing to act” is now subject to review by the Court of Justice.
Lisbon provided the European Council with a permanent President for two and a half years, renewable once, see Article 15.5 TEU.
- The European Council was first recognised in a treaty by the Single European Act (1986).
- The Nice summit of December 2000 determined that all EU summits will take place in Brussels.
- The European Council decides by consensus unless there is a specific rule in the treaties. The President, the foreign minister and the Commission are appointed by super qualified majority.
Council of the European Union http://ue.eu.int/