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See also the European Commission's Glossary:
The Council of the European Union ("Council of Ministers" or "Council") is the Union's main decision-making body. Its meetings are attended by Member State ministers, and it is thus the institution which represents the Member States. The Council's headquarters are in Brussels, but some of its meetings are held in Luxembourg. Sessions of the Council are convened by the Presidency, which sets the agenda.

The Council meets in different configurations (nine in all), bringing together the competent Member State ministers: General Affairs and External Relations; Economic and Financial Affairs; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs; Competitiveness; Cooperation in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA); Transport, Telecommunications and Energy; Agriculture and Fisheries; Environment; Education, Youth and Culture.

Each country of the European Union presides over the Council for six months, by rotation. Since January 2007 a new system for holding the Council Presidency has been in force. For each 18-month period, the three Presidencies which will be in office during that time prepare a draft common programme.

The Permanent Representatives Committee or "Coreper" (Article 207 of the Treaty establishing the European Community) is responsible for preparing the work of the Council of the European Union. It consists of the Member States' ambassadors to the European Union ("Permanent Representatives") and is chaired by the Member State which holds the Council Presidency.

Coreper occupies a pivotal position in the Community decision-making system, in which it is both a forum for dialogue (among the Permanent Representatives and between them and their respective national capitals) and a means of political control (guidance and supervision of the work of the expert groups).

It thus carries out preliminary scrutiny of the dossiers on the Council agenda (proposals and drafts for acts tabled by the Commission). It seeks to reach agreement at its own level on each dossier, failing which it may suggest guidelines, options or suggested solutions to the Council.

The European Council is the term used to describe the regular meetings of the Heads of State or Government of the European Union Member States. Its role is to provide the European Union with the necessary impetus for its development and to define the general political guidelines (Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union). It does not enact legislation and is not an institution.

It meets at least twice per year (in practice, twice per presidency) and the President of the European Commission attends as a full member. An extraordinary meeting can be held whenever necessary. It is chaired by the Member State holding the six-month presidency of the Union. Decisions are taken by consensus following negotiation between the Member States, which begins before the summit. The outcome of the European Council deliberations is recorded in the conclusions published at the end of the meeting.

The European Council was set up by the communiqué issued at the close of the December 1974 Paris Summit and first met in 1975. Before that time, from 1961 to 1974, the practice had been to hold European summit conferences. The Single European Act (1986) gave a legal basis to its existence and the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht, 1992) specified its functions.

(my emphasis)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:50:35 PM EST
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