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Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

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Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union is the institution where the European Union Member States meet. Each EU country is represented by one representative at ministerial level. The Council regularly adopts legislative acts, usually with the European Parliament following the ordinary legislative procedure, and the Council performs policymaking and coordinating functions.

ACT

Council Decision 2009/937/EU of 1 December 2009 adopting the Council’s Rules of Procedure.

SUMMARY

The Council of the European Union is the institution where the European Union Member States meet. Each EU country is represented by one representative at ministerial level. The Council regularly adopts legislative acts, usually with the European Parliament following the ordinary legislative procedure, and the Council performs policymaking and coordinating functions.

WHAT DO THE RULES OF PROCEDURE DO?

The rules of procedure establish the functioning and organisation of the Council of the European Union (the Council). The power to adopt its own internal regulations is conferred by Article 240, paragraph 3, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

KEY POINTS

The Council configurations

The Council meets in 10 different configurations according to the subject matter dealt with. It is composed of one representative at ministerial level from each EU country, who is empowered to commit his/her government and to vote in its name.

The General Affairs Council ensures consistency in the work of the different Council configurations.

The Foreign Affairs Council is responsible for the EU's external action, which includes foreign policy, defence and security, trade, development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

The presidency of the Council of the European Union

The presidency of the Council is held by groups of three EU countries for a period of 18 months. Each member of the group holds the presidency of all Council configurations for 6 months. The Foreign Affairs Council has a permanent chairperson: the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The presidency is the driving force in carrying out the Council’s work and must present a draft programme of Council activities. This programme must then be approved by the General Affairs Council.

Coreper, committees and working parties

The Council is supported by the committee of the permanent representatives of each Member State of the European Union (Coreper) and by over 150 specialised groups and committees who form the preparatory bodies of the Council.

Coreper prepares the work of the Council of the European Union and carries out the tasks assigned to it by the Council. Coreper 2 is made up of representatives of the EU countries (or their deputies in the case of Coreper 1) with an ambassadorial rank in the EU and is chaired by the EU country that holds the rotating presidency of the Council.

Coreper:

must examine in advance all the items on the agenda for a Council meeting; it must endeavour to reach an agreement at its level, which is then submitted to the Council for adoption;

may set up committees or working groups to carry out preparatory tasks or studies.

Functioning of the Council

The Council has its seat in Brussels, but holds its meetings in Luxembourg in April, June and October. Sessions of the Council are convened by the presidency, which sets the agenda.

The quorum must be checked before a vote is taken. This is reached if the majority of members of the Council are present. The Council votes on the initiative of its president. The president, furthermore, opens a voting procedure on the initiative of a member or of the Commission, provided that a majority of the Council’s members so decides.

Where an act is to be adopted by the Council by qualified majority, it is verified that the Member States constituting the qualified majority represent at least 65 % of the total population of the European Union.

Transparency and publication of Council acts

The deliberations and votes are always public when the Council makes a decision on a draft legislative act.

Legislative acts adopted by the Council must be published in the Official Journal (OJ), as must international agreements concluded by the Union.

WHEN DO THE RULES OF PROCEDURE APPLY?

Since 1 December 2009. They are amended each year in order to reflect the changes in the population of EU countries.

For additional information on the functioning of the EU, see the website of the European Council or the official website of the EU.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal of the European Union

Decision 2009/937/EU

1.12.2009

-

OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, pp. 35-61

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal of the European Union

Decision 2010/594/EU

16.9.2010

-

OJ L 263, 6.10.2010, p. 12

Decision 2010/795/EU

23.12.2010

-

OJ L 338, 22.12.2010, pp. 47-48

Decision 2011/900/EU

31.12.2011

-

OJ L 346, 30.12.2011, pp. 17-18

Decision 2013/746/EU

12.12.2013

-

OJ L 333, 12.12.2013, pp. 77-78

Decision 2014/692/EU, Euratom

3.10.2014

-

OJ L 289, 3.10.2014, pp. 18-20

Decision 2014/900/EU

13.12.2014

-

OJ L 358, 13.12.2014, pp. 25-27

Last updated: 15.04.2015

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