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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

12 May 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 10-16 May 2021

8 May 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel after the informal meeting of the members of the European Council and the EU-India Leaders' meeting in Porto

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.

8 May 2021

EU-India Connectivity Partnership, 8 May 2021

EU-India Connectivity Partnership, 8 May 2021

8 May 2021

Joint Statement - EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, 8 May 2021

Joint Statement - EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, 8 May 2021

8 May 2021

The Porto declaration

On 8 May 2021, the members of the European Council adopted the Porto declaration on social affairs.

8 May 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel before the working session of the informal meeting of the members of the European Council in Porto

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.

7 May 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the closing session of the Porto Social Summit

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’.

5 May 2021

Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their informal meeting in Porto on 7-8 May 2021

Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their informal meeting in Porto on 7-8 May 2021

3 May 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 3-9 May 2021

30 April 2021

Russia: Joint Statement by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament on the imposition of restrictive measures against eight EU nationals

In a joint statement, the presidents of the EU institutions condemn the decision of the Russian authorities to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the Russian territory.

28 April 2021

1-year badge 2021 - accreditation is open

Information about accreditation requirements for the 1-year badge (2021)

27 April 2021

Updated weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 26 April - 2 May 2021

26 April 2021

Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session

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.

22 April 2021

"Green finance" - Speech by President Charles Michel at the Leaders’ Climate Summit

"Green finance" - Speech by President Charles Michel at the Leaders’ Climate Summit

22 April 2021

Speech by President Charles Michel at the European University Association annual conference

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.

20 April 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili in Tbilisi

President Charles Michel paid a visit to Georgia to meet political leaders, following the signature of the Agreement on the way forward of the stalemate of the past months.

20 April 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting with President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili in Tbilisi

President Charles Michel paid a visit to Georgia to meet political leaders, following the signature of the Agreement on the way forward of the stalemate of the past months.

19 April 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the signing ceremony of the Georgia agreement with President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili

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.

19 April 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 19-25 April 2021

15 April 2021

Readout of the telephone conversation between President Charles Michel and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Readout of the telephone conversation between President Charles Michel and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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
24-25 May 2021

Special meeting of the European Council

EU leaders will meet physically in Brussels to discuss COVID-19, climate change and external relations.

8 May 2021

EU-India leaders' meeting via video conference, Porto

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.

7-8 May 2021

Informal meeting of heads of state or government, Porto

EU leaders met in Porto on 7 and 8 May to discuss social issues, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

7 May 2021

Porto Social Summit

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.

25 March 2021

Video conference of the members of the European Council

EU leaders met via video conference to take stock of the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. They also discussed transatlantic relations together with US President Joe Biden.

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.

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.