Newspapers and television stations report twice a year on a big meeting of all state leaders and heads of government of the European Union
. This "summit”, which is also attended by the president of the EU Commission
, is a meeting of the European Council. The summit takes place in the country that holds the EU presidency, which rotates every six months.
The European Council takes the most important political decisions in the EU. It also determines what course the EU will take in the near future.
There are also regular meetings of ministers from the different member states. (This is called the Council of the European Union
). However, when the ministers cannot reach agreement, the heads of government in the European Council decide what is to be done.
The names "European Council” and "Council of the European Union” sound very similar and can easily be confused. So here is a way to remember them: "European Council” has fewer letters than "Council of the European Union”. And the European Council also has fewer members – the heads of state and government. The "Council of the European Union” has many more people in it - all ministers from all member states – and is also the name with many letters!
Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid