The Council of the European Union and the European Council
Council? Europe? What’s in a name?
Actually, quite a lot. While they may sound very similar, the Council of the European Union and the European Council are two separate entities and the distinction is important.
As discussed in this module, the Council of the European Union is (as the name suggests) an official decision making institution of the EU.
The often more high profile European Council, however, is rather a regular meeting between the heads of state and government of the twenty eight member states designed to give policy direction and input to the EU.
Of course, the same heads of state and Government that meet at the European Council are represented in the Council of the European Union by their relevant ministers and it would be counter-intuitive to suggest that they do not play a huge part in advising ministers on their positions in the Council.
….what about the Council of Europe?
The similarly named Council of Europe is entirely distinct from the EU. It is an international organisation made up of forty-seven states founded to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe. You can find out more information about the Council of Europe from their website.