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The President of the European Council

The President of the European Council

Mr Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council since 1 December 2014. He is responsible for preparing and chairing the meetings of the European Council.


The President's homepage

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The European Council - an official institution of the EU


The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, it became an institution. Its President is Donald Tusk.

Here are some questions about what the European Council is, and what it does, and some answers as provided by Article 15 of the Treaty on European Union (the first part of the Treaty of Lisbon).

Blue Arrows What does the European Council do?


The European Council provides the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and defines the general political directions and priorities thereof. It does not exercise legislative functions.


Blue Arrows Who are its members?


The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy takes part in its work.
When the agenda so requires, the members of the European Council may decide each to be assisted by a minister and, in the case of the President of the Commission, by a member of the Commission.


Blue Arrows How often does it meet?


The European Council meets twice every six months, convened by its President.
When the situation so requires, the President will convene a special meeting of the European Council.


Blue Arrows How does it take its decisions?


Except where the Treaties provide otherwise, decisions of the European Council are taken by consensus. In some cases, it adopts decisions by unanimity or by qualified majority, depending on what the Treaty provides for.


Blue Arrows How does it choose its President? How long is the President's term of office?


The European Council elects its President by qualified majority. The President's term of office is two and a half years, renewable once.


The European Council usually meets in Brussels, in the Justus Lipsius building. It is assisted by the General Secretariat of the Council.


A glance at the history of the European Council

The European Council was created in 1974 with the intention of establishing an informal forum for discussion between Heads of State or Government. It rapidly developed into the body which fixed goals for the Union and set the course for achieving them, in all fields of EU activity. It acquired a formal status in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, which defined its function as providing the impetus and general political guidelines for the Union's development. On 1 December 2009, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it became one of the seven institutions of the Union.

Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (Treaty of Lisbon)





European Council photographic archive
These 3 photographic albums retrace the history of the European Council. They comprise a selection of photographs from each European Council meeting since 1961.

  • 1961-1993: from Summit Conferences to the Treaty on European Union (TEU)
    PDF, 69 pages
    (en) (fr)
  • 1994-2009: the European Council becomes an institution
    PDF, 101 pages
    (en) (fr)
  • 2010-2014: a new cycle
    PDF, 74 pages
    (en) (fr)

Rules of procedures of the European Council (en)


Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (en)


Implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon (en) (fr)


BACKGROUND, The Lisbon Treaty's impact on the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council: more co-decision and new working structure (en) / Other linguistic versions


BACKGROUND, the Treaty of Lisbon (en) (fr)


Public register of protocol gifts worth more than 150 € received by President Herman Van Rompuy (en)