The Council of the European Union is the EU's main decision-making body. Jointly with the Parliament, it has the power to adopt, amend or reject laws (legislative power), which are initiated by the European Commission.
The Council is composed of one representative of each national government, at ministerial level. It is thus the EU institution representing the Member States.
The decisions of the Council are generally made by qualified majority voting. Unanimity remains however applicable in a limited number of areas.
With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, co-decision has become the “ordinary legislative procedure” in decision-making for most policy areas. It means that neither the European Parliament nor the Council may adopt legislation without the other’s assent.
In the Council each Minister is empowered to commit its government and is politically accountable to its own national parliament. This ensures the democratic legitimacy of the Council's decisions.
So-called EU decisions are actually taken by the representatives of the national governments. AGE helps its member organisations lobby at national level as this is crucial to influence EU policy-making.