Council of the European Union
A European Union institution, the Council brings together government representatives of the individual member countries.
The national ministers attending Council meetings, and the frequency of these meetings vary depending on the issues at hand. For example, economics and finance ministers meet once a month in the Council which handles economic and financial affairs, called the Economic and Financial Affairs Council or 'Ecofin'.
The presidency of the Council is shared by the member states on a rotating basis. Only one Council configuration is not chaired by this six-monthly presidency: the Foreign Affairs Council, which is chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Roles and responsibilities
- adopts legislative acts (regulations, directives etc.), in many cases in 'co-decision' with the European Parliament
- coordinates member states' policies, for example in the economic field
- develops the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of strategic guidelines set by the European Council
- concludes international agreements on behalf of the Union
- adopts the Union's budget, together with the European Parliament.
Council and the euro area
The EU Treaties make the Council responsible for coordinating EU member states' economic and fiscal policies through specific rules for budgetary discipline and more general coordination of other economic policies through "broad guidelines". This takes place primarily in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council.
The Council, usually jointly with the European Parliament, also adopts other EU-wide measures to boost economic stability, growth and jobs, in particular through deepening of the single market.