Council of the European Union

Other names used: [Consilium, Council, Council of Ministers (formerly)]

European Council: seems to me to be similar to a board of directors of a corporation.
European Commission: similar to CEO or President (Executive branch, civil service)
Council of the European Union: similar to the upper house of the legislature
European Parliament: similar to the lower house of the legislature

Council of the European Union=Consilium

The Council of the EU - where national ministers discuss EU legislation - doesn't have a permanent, single-person president. Its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months. For example, representatives from the presidency country chair its meetings.

The Council as law-maker:

The EU's laws are made by the Council, together with the European Parliament.

In most cases, the Council can only legislate on the basis of proposals submitted to it by the European Commission.

Council Presidency

The EU's 28 Member States take it in turn to chair the Council for a period of six months each.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature.

It rotates among the member states of the EU every six months.

The presidency is not an individual, but rather the position is held by a national government. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the President of the European Union.

The current presidency (as of July 2013) is held by Lithuania.

Each three successive presidencies cooperate on a "triple-shared presidency" work together over an 18-month period to accomplish a common agenda by the current president simply continuing the work of the previous "lead-president" after the end of his/her term.

The 2013–2014 trio consists of Ireland (1 January - 30 June 2013), Lithuania (1 July - 31 December 2013), Greece (1 January - 30 June 2014) and Italy (1 July - 31 December 2014).


Council Configurations

The Council is made up of the ministers of the Member States.

The Council is a single body, but for reasons relating to the organisation of its work, it meets – according to the subject being discussed – in different "configurations", which are attended by the Ministers from the Member States and the European Commissioners responsible for the areas concerned. For example, the Agriculture Council is composed of the national ministers responsible for Agriculture.

In the 1990s there were 22 configurations; this was reduced to 16 in June 2000 and then to 9 in June 2002. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, there are ten configurations.

The Council's seat is in Brussels, where it meets several times a month (meetings are held in Luxembourg in April, June and October).

It meets in ten different configurations depending on the subjects under discussion.

1. General Affairs
2. Foreign Affairs
3. Economic and Financial Affairs
4. Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
5. Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
6. Competitiveness (internal market, industry, research and space)
7. Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
8. Agriculture and Fisheries
9. Environment
10. Education, youth, culture and sport

The General Affairs Council, which is usually attended by foreign ministers or European affairs ministers, makes sure that the various Council configurations are working consistently with one another and makes the preparations for European Council meetings.

Foreign ministers, for example, meet roughly once a month in the Foreign Affairs Council. Similarly, economics and finance ministers meet once a month in the Council which handles economic and financial affairs, called the Ecofin Council.