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Van Rompuy's 1st act: the European Council regulation (exclusive)

(BRUSSELS2) This is the first act of the first permanent President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy: to sign the European Council regulation, which must be published in the Official Journal, from 1 December (date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon). Here are some of the provisions.

Where do the meetings take place and how often? Compared to the existing system, there are no fundamental innovations. There will be 2 European Council meetings per semester (by rotating presidency) and, if necessary, extraordinary meetings. But these meetings will be convened - and the date chosen - by the President of the European Council (in liaison with the rotating presidency (1)). Meetings are still taking place in Brussels even for exceptional advice. And it will take unanimity of member states so that another meeting place can be decided (in Coreper or in the General Affairs Council).

How is a meeting prepared? Coordination meetings take place regularly with the President of the Council (Head of Government or State of the rotating presidency) and the President of the European Commission. A General Affairs Council is held within 5 days before a European summit to decide on the provisional (final) agenda. Interesting point: from this moment on, except for imperative and unforeseeable reasons linked, for example, to current international events, no other Council formation or preparatory body may debate a subject submitted to the European Council »

How does the Council work? Each delegation is authorized to bring into the buildings of the European Council 20 people. Pas more (apart from security services). The figure for the High Representative has yet to be specified. Around the European Council table normally sit only the Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Policy. But " when the agenda so requires, the members of the European Council may each decide to be assisted by a minister (a Commissioner for the President of the Commission). He is the head of state or government of the
rotating presidency which opens the work by coming reports to the European Council on the work of the Council ". But it is the President of the European Council who presides over the meeting: gives the floor, organizes the work, closes or opens an item on the agenda...

How are decisions made? Decisions are made "by consensus", without exception "in cases where the treaties provide otherwise". In this case, the vote takes place on the initiative of the Chairman (or if the latter is seized by the majority of the members of the Board). There is a minimum quorum for voting - "the presence of two thirds of the members of the European Council is required". The President of the European Council and the President of the Commission do not take part in the vote. To note that "procedural decisions are adopted by a majority
simple".
If necessary - "urgent matter" - there may be a written vote (if all Board members agree).

The working language? There is no working language. The ordinary language regime applies (all EU languages). “Unless otherwise decided unanimously by the European Council and motivated by urgency, the European Council shall deliberate and decide only on the basis of documents and drafts drawn up in the languages ​​provided for by the language regime in force. » A member of the European Council can oppose the deliberation" if the text of the amendments is not drawn up in these languages.

Public deliberations? Oh no...
« European Council meetings are not public. » Even for the results of a
vote, only the European Council
may decide (...) to make public the results of the votes, as well as the declarations entered in its
record
", as well as " explanations of vote ". Better. Le "professional secrecy" is the rule. " The deliberations of the European Council are subject to professional secrecy, unless the European Council decides otherwise. Only the usual rules of public access to documents apply. New: the decisions of the European Council will be published in the Official Journal.

What role does the European Parliament have? The President of the European Parliament does not attend the Council. He " peut simply be invited if Council members agree. On the other hand, the President of the European Council comes " after each Board report " Of the reunion. It is an obligation. As for the rotating presidency, it continues to come and present its "priorities" and "the results achieved during the semester" to the European Parliament.

Meetings with third countries: in dribs and drabs? Meetings on the sidelines of the European Council meeting with representatives of third countries or international organizations or other personalities " can only be held in exceptional circumstances and after prior agreement of the European Council acting unanimously, on the initiative of the President of the European Council ».

The administration of the European Council? The Secretary General of the Council is responsible for the administration (budget, secretariat, security, minutes of meetings, etc.) for the President of the European Council.

What if the president is sick? In case of impediment (illness, resignation...), it is the
head of government or state of the country holding the rotating presidency replacing the President of the European Council.

Where to write to the president? Last but not least, the President's address has been specified: European Council, Rue de la Loi 175, B-1048 Brussels (the same address as the Council).

For download the European Council regulation (new)

(1)Contrary to what some zealous commentators on the European Constitution had, somewhat hastily,
affirmed, the rotating presidency continues, in effect, to exist for all the other formations of the Council of Ministers of the EU - except for Foreign Affairs - read the institutional changes. Download the list of rotating presidencies and the way in which the presidency of the working groups is distributed (update).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

2 thoughts on “Van Rompuy's 1st act: the European Council regulation (exclusive)"

  • Thibault Lam001

    The obligation made to the President of the European Council to come and report on the two annual meetings (it is no longer two per semester, did I misread?) is included in the amending treaty.
    But, given the history of the European Parliament, can we not ask ourselves whether the practice of this new provision will not lead to a kind of parliamentary responsibility?
    In the event of facts going in this direction, the European Council, more politically responsible, therefore more legitimate (?), could dispute the role of institution of the institutional triangle to the Council of the European Union?

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