What you should know now

As you have seen in the introductory module, the European Council and the Council of Ministers (or Council of the European Union) are often confused with  one another, but they are different institutions. Read the following for a recap:


The European Council

  • is the meeting of Heads of States and Governments
  • gives direction to European integration and discusses strategic issues
  • relies on consensus, informality and flexibility
  • is headed by its own president
  • meets four times a year as a rule


The Council of Ministers:

  • consists of ministers from member states
  • together with the European Parliament it votes on proposals for new laws and for approving the EU budget
  • mainly uses qualified majority voting
  • the presidency of the Council is held by a member state
  • meets monthly


What you should know by now

  • The origins of the Council as an institution.
  • The intergovernmental and supranational features of the Council.
  • What the Council configurations are.
  • The role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
  • Which Member State holds the presidency and what this function implies.
  • What the troika system is.
  • What the role of COREPER is and why it is called a ‘powerhouse’.
  • How the functions of the Council are defined by the Treaty.
  • What ordinary legislative procedure is.
  • How the decisions are made by the Council.

Further Reading

Elgstrom, O. (2003). European Union Presidencies: a comparative perspective. London: Routledge.

General Secretariat of the Council (2010). Guide to the ordinary legistlative procedure. Retrieved February 14, 2013 from

Hayes-Renshaw, F., and Wallace, H. (1995). Executive Power in the European Union: The Functions and Limits of the Council of Ministers. Journal of European Public Policy, 2(4), 559-582.

Hayes-Renshaw, F., and Wallace, H. (2006). The Council of Ministers (2nd ed). London: Palgrave.

Legislative procedures (n.d.) Retrieved January 26, from Europa Syntheses de la

Legislation website:

Westlake, M. (2002). The Council of the European Union (3rd ed). London: Harper.

<< Previous                                                       Next >>