Council of the European Union

Council of EU logoThe Council of the EU is the institution representing the member states of the EU. Also known informally as the EU Council, 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. 

Most decisions of the Council are made by qualified majority voting- a weighted voting system based on the populations of Member States. Unanimity remains however applicable in a limited number.

Policies on antidiscrimination are still considered to be a ‘sensitive area’ and thus unanimity is required. This makes national lobbying all the more important as one reluctant government can block all new antidiscrimination legislation at EU level.

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.

The EPSCO Council: 

The EPSCO Council brings together ministers responsible for employment, social affairs, health and consumer policy from all EU member states. Relevant European Commissioners also participate in meetings. There are usually four EPSCO meetings a year. Two of the meetings are generally devoted exclusively to employment and social policy topics.


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.


Website of the Council of the European Union:

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The contents of the articles are the sole responsibility of AGE Platform Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.