The COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (often still referred to as the
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, or sometimes just called the COUNCIL (Latin :
Consilium)) is the third of the seven institutions of the European
Union (EU) as listed in the
Treaty on European Union . It is part of
the essentially bicameral EU legislature (the other legislative body
* 1 Composition * 2 History
* 3 Powers and functions
* 3.1 Legislative procedure * 3.2 Foreign affairs * 3.3 Budgetary authority
* 4 Organisation
* 4.1 Presidency
* 4.2 Configurations
* 4.3 Administration
* 5 Location * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links
The Council meets in 10 different configurations of 28 national ministers (one per state ). The precise membership of these configurations varies according to the topic under consideration; for example, when discussing agricultural policy the Council is formed by the 28 national ministers whose portfolio includes this policy area (with the related European Commissioners contributing but not voting).
The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months among the
governments of EU member states, with the relevant ministers of the
respective country holding the Presidency at any given time ensuring
the smooth running of the meetings and setting the daily agenda. The
continuity between presidencies is provided by an arrangement under
which three successive presidencies, known as Presidency trios, share
common political programmes. The
Foreign Affairs Council
Its decisions are made by qualified majority voting in most areas, unanimity in others, or just simple majority for procedural issues. Usually where it operates unanimously, it only needs to consult the Parliament. However, in most areas the ordinary legislative procedure applies meaning both Council and Parliament share legislative and budgetary powers equally, meaning both have to agree for a proposal to pass. In a few limited areas the Council may initiate new EU law itself.
General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
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Council of the EU
* General * Foreign * Justice and Home
* Legislative procedure * Voting
* Directorates-general * COREPER
* Court of Justice
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* Budget * OLAF
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Policies and issues Foreign relations
* Ext. Action Service * Foreign Policy * Defence Policy * Customs Union * Enlargement
* Four Freedoms
* Economic Area * Area of FS"> Schengen Area
* Agricultural * Energy * Fisheries * Regional
* 1979 , 1984 , 1989 1994 , 1999 , 2004 , 2009 * 2014 (last election) * Political parties * Constituencies
* Primacy * Subsidiarity
* Rome * Single European Act * Maastricht * Amsterdam * Nice
* Article 50
* Fundamental Rights * Membership
* Treaties of Accession
* 1972 , 1979 , 1985 , 1994 , 2003 , 2005 , 2011
President Tusk (EPP)
* Parties * List of meetings
* v * t * e
Further information: History of the
The Council first appeared in the European Coal and Steel Community
(ECSC) as the "
In 1965 the Council was hit by the "empty chair crisis". Due to
Charles de Gaulle
Merger Treaty of 1967, the ECSC's
Treaty of Lisbon abolished the pillar system and gave further
powers to Parliament. It also merged the Council's High Representative
with the Commission\'s foreign policy head , with this new figure
chairing the foreign affairs Council rather than the rotating
The development of the Council has been characterised by the rise in power of the Parliament, with which the Council has had to share its legislative powers. The Parliament has often provided opposition to the Council's wishes. This has in some cases led to clashes between both bodies with the Council's system of intergovernmentalism contradicting the developing parliamentary system and supranational principles.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS
The primary purpose of the Council is to act as one of the two
chambers of the EU\'s legislative branch , the other chamber being the
The EU's legislative authority is divided between the Council and the Parliament. As the relationships and powers of these institutions have developed, various legislative procedures have been created for adopting laws. In early times, the avis facultatif maxim was: "The Commission proposes, and the Council disposes"; but now the vast majority of laws are now subject to the ordinary legislative procedure , which works on the principle that consent from both the Council and Parliament are required before a law may be adopted.
Under this procedure, the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council. Following its first reading the Parliament may propose amendments. If the Council accepts these amendments then the legislation is approved. If it does not then it adopts a "common position" and submits that new version to the Parliament. At its second reading, if the Parliament approves the text or does not act, the text is adopted, otherwise the Parliament may propose further amendments to the Council's proposal. It may be rejected out right by an absolute majority of MEPs. If the Council still does not approve the Parliament's position, then the text is taken to a "Conciliation Committee" composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs. If a Committee manages to adopt a joint text, it then has to be approved in a third reading by both the Council and Parliament or the proposal is abandoned.
The few other areas that operate the special legislative procedures are justice unanimity , simple majority , or qualified majority . In most cases, the Council votes on issues by qualified majority voting , meaning that there must be a minimum of 55% of member states agreeing (at least 15) who together represent at least 65% of the EU population. A 'blocking minority' can only be formed by at least 4 member states representing at least 35% of the EU population.
This section RELIES LARGELY OR ENTIRELY ON A SINGLE SOURCE . Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page . Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. (December 2015)
The legal instruments used by the Council for the Common Foreign and
Security Policy are different from the legislative acts. Under the
CFSP they consist of "common positions", "joint actions", and "common
strategies". Common positions relate to defining a European foreign
policy towards a particular third-country such as the promotion of
human rights and democracy in
Furthermore, the legislative branch officially holds the Union's budgetary authority. The EU\'s budget (which is around 155 billion euro ) is subject to a form of the ordinary legislative procedure with a single reading giving Parliament power over the entire budget (prior to 2009, its influence was limited to certain areas) on an equal footing to the Council. If there is a disagreement between them, it is taken to a conciliation committee as it is for legislative proposals. But if the joint conciliation text is not approved, the Parliament may adopt the budget definitively. In addition to the budget, the Council coordinates the economic policy of members.
The Council's rules of procedure contain the provisions necessary for its organisation and functioning.
The Presidency of the Council is not a single post, but is held by a
member state's government. Every six months the presidency rotates
between the states, in an order predefined by the Council's members,
allowing each state to preside over the body. From 2007, every three
member states co-operate for their combined eighteen months on a
common agenda, although only one formally holds the presidency for the
normal six-month period. For example, the President for the second
half of 2007, Portugal, was the second in a trio of states alongside
The role of the Presidency is administrative and political. On the administrative side it is responsible for procedures and organising the work of the Council during its term. This includes summoning the Council for meetings along with directing the work of COREPER and other committees and working groups. The political element is the role of successfully dealing with issues and mediating in the Council. In particular this includes setting the agenda of the council, hence giving the Presidency substantial influence in the work of the Council during its term. The Presidency also plays a major role in representing the Council within the EU and representing the EU internationally, for example at the United Nations.
Legally speaking, the Council is a single entity (this means that technically any Council configuration can adopt decisions that fall within the remit of any other Council configuration) but it is in practice divided into several different council configurations (or ‘(con)formations’). Article 16(6) of the Treaty on European Union provides:
The Council shall meet in different configurations, the list of which shall be adopted in accordance with Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
General Affairs Council
Foreign Affairs Council
Each council configuration deals with a different functional area, for example agriculture and fisheries. In this formation, the council is composed of ministers from each state government who are responsible for this area: the agriculture and fisheries ministers. The chair of this council is held by the member from the state holding the presidency (see section above). Similarly, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council is composed of national finance ministers, and they are still one per state and the chair is held by the member coming from the presiding country. The Councils meet irregularly throughout the year except for the three major configurations (top three below) which meet once a month. There are currently ten formations:
* GENERAL AFFAIRS (GAC): General affairs co-ordinates the work of
the Council, prepares for
Until 2017, the main meeting room of the Council was in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, seen here.
* ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS (ECOFIN): Composed of economics and finance ministers of the member states. It includes budgetary and eurozone matters via an informal group composed only of eurozone member ministers. * AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (AGRIFISH): Composed of the agriculture and fisheries ministers of the member states. It considers matters concerning the Common Agricultural Policy , the Common Fisheries Policy , forestry, organic farming, food and feed safety, seeds, pesticides, and fisheries. * JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS (JHA): This configuration brings together Justice ministers and Interior Ministers of the Member States. Includes civil protection. * EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL POLICY, HEALTH AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS (EPSCO): Composed of employment, social protection, consumer protection, health and equal opportunities ministers. * COMPETITIVENESS (COMPET): Created in June 2002 through the merging of three previous configurations (Internal Market, Industry and Research). Depending on the items on the agenda, this formation is composed of ministers responsible for areas such as European affairs, industry, tourism and scientific research. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU acquired competence in space matters, and space policy has been attributed to the Competitiveness Council * TRANSPORT, TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND ENERGY (TTE): Created in June 2002, through the merging of three policies under one configuration, and with a composition varying according to the specific items on its agenda. This formation meets approximately once every two months. * ENVIRONMENT (ENV): Composed of environment ministers, who meet about four times a year. * EDUCATION, YOUTH, CULTURE AND SPORT (EYC): Composed of education, culture, youth, communications and sport ministers, who meet around three or four times a year. Includes audiovisual issues.
Complementing these, the Political and Security Committee (PSC)
brings together ambassadors to monitor international situations and
define policies within the CSDP, particularly in crises. The European
Council is similar to a configuration of the Council, it operates in a
similar way and but is composed of the national leaders (heads of
government or state ) and has its own President, currently Donald
Tusk . The body's purpose is to define the general "impetus" of the
Following the entry into force of a framework agreement between the EU and ESA there is a SPACE COUNCIL configuration—a joint and concomitant meeting of the EU Council and of the ESA Council at ministerial level dealing with the implementation of the ESP adopted by both organisations.
Pre-2014 emblem of the Council of the
The General Secretariat of the Council provides the continuous infrastructure of the Council, carrying out preparation for meetings, draft reports, translation, records, documents, agendas and assisting the presidency. The Secretary General of the Council is head of the Secretariat. The Secretariat is divided into seven directorates-general, each administered by a director-general.
Committee of Permanent Representatives
Further information: Voting in the Council of the
The Treaty of Lisbon mandates a change in voting system from 1 November 2014 for most cases to double majority Qualified Majority Voting , replacing the voting weights system. Decisions made by the council have to be taken by 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the EU's population.
STATE GOVERNING PARTIES EU PARTY POPULATION CABINET
Almost all members of the Council are members of a political party at
national level, and most of these are members of a European-level
political party . However the Council is composed to represent the
EU's states rather than political parties and the nature of coalition
governments in a number of states means that individual configurations
would vary on which domestic party was assigned the portfolio. However
the broad ideological alignment of each state does have a bearing on
the nature of the law the Council produces and the extent to which the
link between domestic parties puts pressure on the members in the
MEMBER STATE DOMINANT EUROPARTY ADDITIONAL EUROPARTIES
Ireland EPP NI
EPP European People\'s Party
The dominant Europarty is the one holding the member state’s seat
Additional Europarties are the ones which also sit in (some configurations of) the Council of the European Union.
By a decision of the
The 1965 agreement (finalised by the Edinburgh agreement and annexed
to the treaties) on the location of the newly merged institutions, the
Council was to be in
In 1995 the Council moved into the
Justus Lipsius building , across
the road from Charlemagne. However, its staff was still increasing, so
it continued to rent the Frère Orban building to house the Finnish
When the Council is meeting in Luxembourg, it meets in the Kirchberg
Conference Centre and its offices are based at the European Centre on
the plateau du Kirchberg. The Council has also met occasionally in
Strasbourg, in various other cities, and also outside the Union: for
example in 1974 when it met in Tokyo and Washington while trade and
energy talks were taking place. Under the Council's present rules of
procedures the Council can, in extraordinary circumstances, hold one
of its meetings outside
From 2017, both the Council of the
* Comparisons with other institutions
* ^ "EUR-Lex - C:2016:202:TOC - EN - EUR-Lex". eur-lex.europa.eu.
* ^ A B C "Legislative power".
* ^ "The decision-making process in the Council - Consilium".
www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
* ^ "Council configurations". Council of the
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