Council of the european union

The council of the european union is an essential european union decision-maker.

What is the difference between the European Council, the Council (of the European Union) and the Council of Europe?

Council of the European Union homepage  

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The Council of the European Union is one of the official institutions of the EU having formal powers to act on behalf of the EU in so far as it has delegated powers. It consists of national ministers from each of the member states. The Council and the European Parliament share the role of making EU laws, they are usually only able to legislate based on the proposals which the European Commission has submitted.

The Council can request appropriate proposals to be submitted by the Commission, similarly the Treaty of Lisbon has allowed what is known as the 'citizens' right of initiative' meaning that the public can request the Commission to submit a proposal if a million citizens sign a petition.

When the Council is discussing legislative proposals and when voting is taking place the Council has a provision for the public to view these and any general debates on their site (video.consilium.europa.eu).

The Council's remit is as follows:

  • It adopts legislative acts (Regulations, Directives, etc.), in many cases in "co-decision" with the European Parliament;

  • It helps coordinate Member States' policies, for example, in the economic field;

  • It develops the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of strategic guidelines set by the European Council;

  • It concludes international agreements on behalf of the Union;

  • It adopts the Union's budget, together with the European Parliament.

Each of the member states take it in turn to chair the Council for a period of 6 months.

The Council of the European Union is not the same as the European Council which is the drive behind the development of the EU and determines such things as the general political directions and priorities and does not have legislative functions. Another body with a similar name is the Council of Europe but this is not part of the European Union. The Council of Europe is an international organisation based in Strasbourg whose role is to 'strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout its member states.'

 





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