Council of the European Union


Council of the European Union
the body that represents the interests of member states in the European Union (EU). While instructed by and representing the home states, the members of Council act as a Community institution and not as delegates to intergovernmental conferences, although this theoretical position is not always easily observed in practice. Sometimes more than one representative actually attends and different representatives attend at different meetings. Practically, two types of meeting take place: general council meetings, which are attended by foreign ministers, and special councils, which are attended by ministers from the member state with responsibility for the area of activity. Because the same person need not be in attendance, it is possible that a number of 'councils' meet at the same time.
It is the Union's legislative body; for a wide range of EU issues, it exercises that legislative power with the European Parliament. It coordinates the broad economic policies of the member states. It concludes international agreements with one or more states or international organisations. It shares budgetary authority with the Parliament. It takes the decisions necessary for framing and implementing the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of general guidelines established by the European Council, and coordinates the activities of member states and adopts measures in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Depending on what powers it exercises, it requires to vote unanimously or sometimes by qualified majority. The system at the time of writing is that Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom have ten votes, Spain has eight votes, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands and Portugal five votes, Austria and Sweden four votes, Denmark, Finland and the Republic of Ireland have three votes, and Luxembourg has two votes. In qualified majority voting, Commission proposals must receive 62 votes out of a total of 87 in order to be approved. To amend a Commission proposal without the Commission's consent, unanimity among Council members is required. The Presidency is held on a rota for six months in alphabetic rotation – each member state assuming its position in the alphabet by virtue of its own language name. Thus Greece appears under H (Hellenic Republic) and Spain under E (España).

Collins dictionary of law. . 2001.


Council of the European Union
Council of the European Union, Also known as the Council or the Council of Ministers. The European Union's main decision-making body. The executive organ of the European Community which represents the member states, with one representative per country. It has responsibility for a wide range of policy sectors and has no fixed membership. The composition of each Council meeting is determined by a particular policy agenda. At its core are the gatherings of the Foreign Ministers, meeting collectively as the General Affairs Council. The Presidency of the Council rotates across the member states at six-monthly intervals.
For further information, see the Europa website: .
Related links

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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