Two days ahead of the customary spring European Council (in exceptional times) we begin our presentation of the provisions regulating these summits.
The European Council ─ the meetings of heads of state or government of the EEC (later EC and then EU) member states ─ began as an unofficial gathering, adopted the name and regularity in 1974, and was later enshrined in the treaties (1986) and evolved into the ‘de facto’ arbiter of European Union affairs.
The Treaty of Lisbon would take this development one step further. The European Council is listed among the official EU institutions, right after the directly elected European Parliament (Article 13 of the amended Treaty on European Union, OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/22).
Institutional framework and institutions
Under Title III Provisions on the institutions, the consolidated Treaty of Lisbon lays down the institutional framework and lists the institutions like this:
PROVISIONS ON THE INSTITUTIONS
Article 13 TEU
1. The Union shall have an institutional framework which shall aim to promote its values, advance its objectives, serve its interests, those of its citizens and those of the Member States, and ensure the consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions.
The Union's institutions shall be:
— the European Parliament,
— the European Council,
— the Council,
— the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Commission’),
— the Court of Justice of the European Union,
— the European Central Bank,
— the Court of Auditors.
2. Each institution shall act within the limits of the powers conferred on it in the Treaties, and in conformity with the procedures, conditions and objectives set out in them. The institutions shall practice mutual sincere cooperation.
3. The provisions relating to the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors and detailed provisions on the other institutions are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
4. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall be assisted by an Economic and Social Committee and a Committee of the Regions acting in an advisory capacity.
In other words, we have to look for the powers of the European Council in the treaties.