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Who is on the European Council?

27 heads of state and government are members of the European Council - one from each EU member state. In addition to the German Chancellor, there are, for example, the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

Then there is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission. The "High Representative for the EU's Foreign and Security Policy", Josep Borrell, also takes part in the meetings. Both took office on December 1, 2019.

The members of the European Council

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Who chairs the meetings of the European Council?

The meetings are chaired and organized by the President of the European Council. Since December 1, 2019, this has been the former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. He took over the post from his predecessor Donald Tusk. His term of office of two and a half years can be extended once.

The heads of state and government of the member states belonging to the euro area have appointed Michel President of the Euro Summit for the same term of office.

More information on EU Council President Charles Michel

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What is the role of the European Council?

This is exactly what the Treaty on European Union says:

"The European Council gives the Union the impetus it needs for its development and sets the general political objectives and priorities for this. It does not legislate." (Article 15 of the Treaty on European Union).

As a rule, the European Council is not concerned with the day-to-day business of the EU, but with the major questions that determine the future. It defines the political goals of the European Union. However, he sometimes has to decide on contentious issues that could not be resolved at ministerial level.

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How often and where does the European Council meet?

It meets at least twice every six months - generally in Brussels. Because the issues are becoming more and more complex, the European Council increasingly needs more consultation time. Therefore, in addition to the regular meetings, the President repeatedly calls informal special meetings. During the corona pandemic, for example, the heads of state and government regularly exchange information on the situation in informal video conferences and advise on measures to contain the virus.

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What are the "conclusions" of the European Councils?

The results of the European Councils are summarized in "Conclusions" and published. These conclusions form the political guidelines for the work of the EU Commission and the "Council of the European Union".

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European Council, Council of the EU, Council of Europe - what is what?

The terms are similar and therefore confusing. In addition to the European Council, there is the "Council of the European Union", also known as the "Council of Ministers". It does not include the heads of state or government, but the respective specialist ministers of the member states. Depending on the area from which decisions are pending, the composition of the council is also different. The foreign ministers, for example, form the "Foreign Affairs Council", while the economics and finance ministers form the "Economic and Financial Affairs Council" (also known as the ECOFIN Council).

The Council of Europe is not an organ of the European Union. It is an independent association of European states with 47 member countries.