One of the responsibilities of the President of the European Council is to represent the EU externally at international summits, usually alongside the President of the European Commission.
There are 3 main types of international summit:
- Bilateral summits are organised between the EU and its strategic partners. Such summits are held on a regular basis, usually once a year, with countries such as Japan, the US, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and China. The location for the summits alternates between Brussels and the country concerned.
- Multilateral summits at international level where the EU is either a member or invited to take part as a key international player, such as the G8, G20 and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
- Multilateral summits at EU level. These summits include the Eastern Partnership, EU-Africa, EU-ASEM and EU-CELAC. Traditionally, when it is the EU's turn to host such summits, they have been hosted by the member state holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. From 2014, they will also be hosted by the Council of the EU in Brussels. Participants at these summits are the heads of state or government from all EU member states, plus the European Council President, the European Commission President and the relevant heads of state or government from the participating countries.