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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

27 August 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 30 August - 3 September 2021.

24 August 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel following the G7 leaders’ meeting on Afghanistan via videoconference

At the joint press conference with President von der Leyen, President Charles Michel outlined the main outcomes of the special meeting of G7 leaders on Afghanistan.

23 August 2021

Speech by President Charles Michel at the inaugural session of the International Crimea Platform Summit

European Council President Charles Michel delivered a speech during the inaugural session of the International Crimean Platform Summit, on 23 August 2021, in Kyiv.

23 August 2021

(Updated) Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 21 - 27 August 2021.

21 August 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel following his visit to the Madrid’s reception centre for EU’s Afghan staff evacuated from Kabul

European Council President Charles Michel visited the reception centre for Afghan employees of EU institutions evacuated from Kabul.

4 August 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the International conference in support of the Lebanese people

European Council President Charles Michel participated in the third video conference in support of the Lebanese people chaired by French President Macron.

29 July 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 26 July – 1 August 2021

29 July 2021

Statement by president Charles Michel on the political situation in Georgia

Statement by president Charles Michel on the political situation in Georgia.

19 July 2021

Speech by President Charles Michel at the Batumi International Conference

European Council President Charles Michel delivered a speech during the session on 'Three Nations – One Choice: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on the Move' of the Batumi International Conference, on 19 July 2021, in Batumi.

19 July 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 19 – 25 July 2021

19 July 2021

Statement by President Charles Michel on developments in Georgia

Statement by President Charles Michel on developments in Georgia.

18 July 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting in Baku with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

Remarks by President Charles Michel after his meeting in Baku with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

17 July 2021

Speech by President Charles Michel after his meeting with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan

Remarks by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, after his meeting in Armenia with Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

16 July 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 12 – 19 July 2021

11 July 2021

Video message by President Charles Michel on the occasion of Srebrenica Memorial Day

Video message by President Charles Michel on the occasion of Srebrenica Memorial Day

8 July 2021

Presentation of letters of credentials to the President of the European Council Charles Michel

President Michel received the letters of credentials from six new ambassadors to the European Union.

7 July 2021

Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session

Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session on the European Council of 24-25 June 2021.

5 July 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel on his arrival in Vilnius

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, held a joint press conference with the Lithuanian President, Gitanas Nausėda, on his arrival in Vilnius for the Statehood Day celebrations and a series of meetings on the situation in the region.

5 July 2021

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel

Weekly schedule of President Charles Michel 5 – 11 July 2021

30 June 2021

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the Generation Equality Forum

President Charles Michel spoke at the opening of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on Wednesday 30 June 2021

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
6 October 2021
24-25 June 2021

European Council

EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss COVID-19, economic recovery, migration, LGBTQI equality and external relations, including relations with Turkey and Russia.

15 June 2021

EU-US summit, Brussels

An EU-US summit took place in Brussels on 15 June 2021. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, represented the EU. President Joe Biden represented the United States.

14 June 2021

EU-Canada summit, Brussels, 14 June 2021

The 18th EU-Canada summit took place in Brussels on 14 June 2021. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, represented the EU. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau represented Canada.

11-13 June 2021

G7 summit, Cornwall, UK

This year's G7 summit took place in Cornwall, United Kingdom, from 11 to 13 June 2021. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, represented the EU.

27 May 2021

EU-Japan summit via video conference

The leaders of the EU and Japan held their 27th summit, via video conference, at which they launched a "green alliance" to accelerate climate and environmental action. They also discussed global issues, bilateral relations and foreign and security policy, including COVID-19 recovery, the digital transformation, and the implementation of the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement.

24-25 May 2021

Special meeting of the European Council

EU leaders met physically in Brussels to discuss COVID-19, climate change and external relations, including Russia, Belarus and the UK.

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.

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.