European Council | EUNewsletter

EU institutions and bodies

While forming the European Union, its member-states partially gave away their national powers in order to establish a political community with a unified structure. There are currently seven official European institutions, which play different roles for the functioning and activities of the EU.

European Council

EU Council
The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. It does not exercise legislative functions. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, it became one of the seven institutions of the Union. The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy takes part in its work. Decisions of the European Council are taken by consensus. In some cases, it adopts decisions by unanimity or by qualified majority, depending on what the Treaty provides for. The European Council elects its President by qualified majority. The President's term of office is 2.5 years, renewable once. From 1 December 2009 the President of the European Council is Herman Van Rompuy. His duties include to ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission, and on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council; to present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council. The president also represents the European Council in foreign policy, within its jurisdiction and common foreign and security policy issues. The presence of top-level politicians in this institution gives importance and legitimacy to their decisions. Official website: