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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.
Following the informal meeting of the European Council and the EU-India Leaders' meeting in Porto, President Charles Michel summarised the main points of discussion on EU-India relations, COVID-19 response and the EU's social commitment.
Upon his arrival for the second day of the informal meeting of the European Council members, President Charles Michel outlined the three topics linked to the COVID-19 pandemic discussed during their working dinner.
President Charles Michel gave a speech at the closing ceremony of the Porto Social Summit, after the European social partners put forward their joint proposal on a set of indicators to go ‘beyond GDP’.
Together with European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel debriefed the members of the European Parliament on the video conference of the members of the European Council on 25 March 2021 and the outcome of the latest EU and Turkey meeting in Ankara.
European Council President Charles Michel delivered via video conference his opening speech at the European University Association annual conference on the challenges COVID-19 has upended on higher education, and the future of universities.
In a statement following his video conference with President of Georgia Zourabichvili, President Michel thanked Georgia's political leaders on reaching the compromise-based solution as a way out of the current crisis.
Readout of the telephone conversation between President Charles Michel and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy
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.
At a leaders' meeting on 8 May, the EU and India agreed to relaunch trade negotiations and start negotiations on investment protection and geographical indications. They also adopted a new connectivity partnership and committed to their human rights dialogue and strengthening their security cooperation.
The Porto Social Summit brought together EU leaders, European institutions, social partners and civil society representatives to set the European social policy agenda for the next decade, by reaffirming the EU's commitment to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
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.
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.
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.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison via video conference.
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.