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The European Council

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The European Council defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities. It is not one of the EU's legislating institutions, so does not negotiate or adopt EU laws. Instead it sets the EU's policy agenda, traditionally by adopting 'conclusions' during European Council meetings which identify issues of concern and actions to take.

More recently, the European Council adopted a 'strategic agenda' of priority areas for longer-term EU action and focus.

Members of the European Council

The members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states, the European Council President and the President of the European Commission.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in European Council meetings when foreign affairs issues are discussed.

Decision-making process

The European Council mostly takes its decisions by consensus. However, in certain specific cases outlined in the EU treaties, it decides by unanimity or by qualified majority.

If a vote is taken, neither the European Council President nor the Commission President take part.

Latest documents

1 March 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting in Georgia with Prime Minister Garibashvili and representatives of opposition political parties

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting in Georgia with Prime Minister Garibashvili and leaders of the opposition political parties.

1 March 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at a press conference with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Tbilisi

European Council President Charles Michel addressed the presse together with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on the main topics of his visit to Georgia: the strength of the EU partnership, EU support in fighting the COVID pandemic and the current political crisis.

1 March 2021

Press statement from President Charles Michel following his meeting with the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili

As part of his visit to the region, President Charles Michel is today in Georgia, where he met with President Salome Zourabichvili. In his statement to the press following their meeting, the President called on all parties to step up their efforts to resolve the political crisis.

28 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the press conference with President Maia Sandu in Chisinau

Following their meeting in Chisinau, European Council President Charles Michel and President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu addressed the press and outlined the main topics of their discussion.

28 February 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 28 February–7 March 2021

26 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel following the second session of the video conference of the members of the European Council

During the press conference concluding the EU leader's video conference, President Charles Michel focused on security and defence and on relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.

26 February 2021

Statement of the members of the European Council, 25-26 February 2021

Following the informal video conferences on 25 and 26 February 2021, the members of the European Council adopted a statement on COVID-19, health, security and defence, and the Southern Neighbourhood.

26 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel before the second day of the video conference of the members of the European Council

European Council President Charles Michel gave a joint doorstep with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg before the start of the EU leaders' video conference on security, defence and relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.

25 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel following the first session of the video conference of the members of the European Council

European Council President Charles Michel and EU leaders discussed via video conference five key topics in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and how to strengthen EU health systems, coordination and preparedness for the future.

25 February 2021

Statement of the members of the European Council on COVID-19 and health, 25 February 2021

Following the informal video conference on 25 February 2021, the members of the European Council adopted a statement on COVID-19 and health.

25 February 2021

President Charles Michel to visit Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine

President Charles Michel to visit Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine

25 February 2021

Press conferences of the video conference of the members of the European Council, 25-26 February 2021

Media advisory: Press conferences of the video conference of the members of the European Council, 25-26 February 2021

23 February 2021

Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their video conference of 25 and 26 February 2021

The members of the European Council will meet via video conference to discuss the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparedness for health threats, security and defence, and relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.

22 February 2021

‘Parliaments, the lynchpins of the recovery and transformation strategy’ — Speech by President Charles Michel at the Interparliamentary conference

The President of the European Council Charles Michel participated by videoconference in the Inter-parliamentary conference on stability, economic coordination and governance in the EU.

22 February 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 22-28 February 2021

19 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the Munich Security Conference video conference

European Council President Charles Michel delivered his speech at the special edition of the Munich Security Conference held via videoconference.

19 February 2021

G7 Leaders’ statement, 19 February 2021

During a first leaders’ meeting under the UK’s G7 Presidency, the Group of Seven resolved to work together to beat COVID-19 and build back better.

18 February 2021

Readout of the telephone conversation between President Charles Michel and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani

President Charles Michel spoke today with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. They discussed the socio-economic and health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and had an exchange of views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA).

17 February 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Visegrad cooperation

European Council President Charles Michel participated in a joint press conference together with Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki, Andrej Babiš, Viktor Orbán and Igor Matovič at the end of the ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of Visegrad cooperation

16 February 2021

Intervention du président Charles Michel au sommet G5 Sahel par vidéo conférence

Lors d'une session élargie "Coalition pour le Sahel" du sommet G5 Sahel, le président du Conseil européen Charles Michel a confirmé l’engagement de l’UE dans la région.

European Council meeting room in the Europa building
The European Council defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities

European Council meetings 

The European Council meets at least twice every 6 months. Its meetings, often referred to as 'EU summits' are held in Brussels, in the Europa building.

Meetings are chaired by the European Council President. The President can also convene extraordinary European Council meetings when needed.

The President of the European Parliament attends the start of each meeting, to outline the European Parliament's views. Other people, such as the President of the European Central Bank, may be invited to attend meetings, depending on the issues being discussed.

Meeting calendar

16-17 December 2021
21-22 October 2021
24-25 June 2021
8 May 2021
7 May 2021
25-26 March 2021
25-26 February 2021

Video conference of the members of the European Council

On 25 and 26 February, EU leaders met via video conference to discuss the current situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, preparedness for health threats, security and defence, and relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.

21 January 2021

Video conference of the members of the European Council

On 21 January 2021, the members of the European Council held a video conference to discuss coordination on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including measures related to testing, vaccinations, detecting virus mutations, and international solidarity.

30 December 2020

EU-China leaders' meeting via video conference

EU and China leaders met on 30 December 2020 via video conference

10-11 December 2020

European Council

EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss the long-term EU budget 2021-2027 and the recovery package, further coordination on COVID-19, climate change, security and external relations, and to hold a Euro Summit.

26 November 2020

EU-Australia leaders' meeting via video conference, 26 November 2020

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison via video conference.

21-22 November 2020

G20 summit, 21-22 November 2020

G20 leaders met via video conference to discuss international cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences.

19 November 2020

Video conference of the members of the European Council

Meeting via video conference, EU leaders agreed to further strengthen coordination against the COVID-19 pandemic. They focused in particular on mutual recognition of tests, vaccine deployment and a common approach to lifting restrictive measures.

29 October 2020

Video conference of the members of the European Council

EU heads of state or government discussed how to increase cooperation on testing, tracing and vaccines.

29 October 2020

EU-Canada leaders' meeting via video conference, 29 October 2020

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, met with Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, via video conference. They discussed COVID-19 and economic recovery, EU-Canada relations, and international issues.

Photo in black an white of the first meeting of the European Council in Dublin.
First meeting of the European Council in Dublin on 11 March 1975

History of the European Council

The European Council was created in 1974 as an informal forum for discussion between heads of state or government of the EU member states.  It soon developed a role as the body responsible for fixing EU goals and priorities.

Under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, the European Council acquired a formal status and role - to provide the impetus and general political guidelines for the EU.

In 2009, following the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council became one of the 7 EU institutions.