European Council: Rules of Procedure

European Council Decision 2009/882/EU adopting its Rules of Procedure

It lays down the rules and procedures for organising the work of the European Council.
These cover:
the roles of the President and general secretariat,
preparation of meetings,
voting, and
publication of decisions.

It entered into force on 1 December 2009.


The European Council meets in Brussels twice every 6 months for a maximum of 2 days each time. Extra meetings may be convened, if these are considered necessary.
The European Council consists of:
EU countries’ Heads of State or Government,
the European Council President,
the European Commission President.

The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy also takes part in its work.
The maximum size of national and European Commission delegations to a European Council meeting is 20 people.
Decisions are in principle taken by consensus, although a vote may be taken in cases provided for in the treaties.
The European Council may make public the results of votes and any national statements accompanying them.
European Council meetings are not held in public.

Minutes of each meeting list the documents submitted, the conclusions approved, the decisions taken and any statement an EU leader requests be included.
European Council decisions are published in the Official Journal of the European Union, unless they specify a particular addressee.
The President of the European Council has overall responsibility for the preparation and continuity of its work.
The General Affairs Council, basically foreign ministers, prepares the items on the agenda for the meeting and ensures the necessary follow-up afterwards.
The General Affairs Council considers the annotated draft agenda at least 4 weeks before the European Council meets. It finalises the preparations of any meeting at the latest 5 days before EU leaders gather.

The President of the European Parliament may be invited to address the European Council.
The President of the European Council presents a report to the European Parliament after each meeting.


The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, established the European Council as a fully fledged EU institution with its own president. The European Council’s role is to drive EU policy and define its priorities.


European Council Decision 2009/882/EU of 1 December 2009 adopting its Rules of Procedure (OJ L 315, 2.12.2009, p. 51)

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