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The Institutions of the European Union

The Institutions of the European Union (5th edn)

Dermot Hodson, Uwe Puetter, Sabine Saurugger, and John Peterson
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 784. The Council of the European Union

co-legislator, coordinator, and executive powerlocked

p. 784. The Council of the European Union

co-legislator, coordinator, and executive powerlocked

  • Uwe PuetterUwe PuetterProfessor in Public Policy, Europa-Universität Flensburg


The Council is an institution of day-to-day policymaking in which the interests of member state governments are represented by cabinet ministers who meet, according to their policy portfolio, in different Council configurations and within the Eurogroup. According to the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council has a dual mandate. It acts as a legislative organ as well as an executive and policy-coordinating institution. This dual role is reflected in the organization and meeting practices of the different Council configurations. Those groupings of ministers dealing primarily with executive decisions and policy coordination tend to meet more often and are regarded as being more senior than those formations of the Council which engage predominantly in legislative decision-making. As a legislative institution, the Council has increasingly acquired features of an upper chamber in a bicameral separation of powers system, working in tandem with the European Parliament. In contrast, Council decision-making relating to executive issues and policy coordination in important policy domains, such as economic governance and foreign policy, is closely aligned with the European Council. In these areas, the Council can be considered to constitute, together with the Commission, a collective EU executive.

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