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European Council: Rules of Procedure

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European Council: Rules of Procedure


European Council Decision 2009/882/EU adopting its Rules of Procedure



  • It lays down the rules and procedures for organising the work of the European Council.
  • These cover:
    • the roles of the President and general secretariat,
    • preparation of meetings,
    • voting, and
    • publication of decisions.


  • The European Council meets in Brussels twice every 6 months for a maximum of 2 days each time. Extra meetings may be convened, if these are considered necessary.
  • The European Council consists of:
  • The EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy also takes part in its work.
  • The maximum size of national and European Commission delegations to a European Council meeting is 20 people.
  • Decisions are in principle taken by consensus, although a vote may be taken in cases provided for in the treaties.
  • The European Council may make public the results of votes and any national statements accompanying them.
  • European Council meetings are not held in public.
  • Minutes of each meeting list the documents submitted, the conclusions approved, the decisions taken and any statement an EU leader requests be included.
  • European Council decisions are published in the Official Journal of the European Union, unless they specify a particular addressee.
  • The President of the European Council has overall responsibility for the preparation and continuity of its work.
  • The General Affairs Council, basically foreign ministers, prepares the items on the agenda for the meeting and ensures the necessary follow-up afterwards.
  • The General Affairs Council considers the annotated draft agenda at least 4 weeks before the European Council meets. It finalises the preparations of any meeting at the latest 5 days before EU leaders gather.
  • The President of the European Parliament may be invited to address the European Council.
  • The President of the European Council presents a report to the European Parliament after each meeting.


It entered into force on 1 December 2009.


The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, established the European Council as a fully fledged EU institution with its own president. The European Council's role is to drive EU policy and define its priorities.


European Council Decision 2009/882/EU of 1 December 2009 adopting its Rules of Procedure (OJ L 315, 2.12.2009, p. 51)

last update 15.02.2016