Formally, the Council of the European Union is convened by its President in accordance with Article 204 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). Cf. the latest consolidated version of the treaties, published OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/136.
Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the corresponding provision would be Article 237 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), published in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/153.
Just as the member states have fixed the seat of the European Parliament and twelve monthly sessions, including the budget session, in Strasbourg, they have ordained the seat of the Council and the venues of its meetings at treaty level.
In the Lisbon Treaty it is Protocol (No 6) on the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies, offices, agencies and departments of the European Union. Point (b) of the Sole Article says:
“The Council shall have its seat in Brussels. During the months of April, June and October, the Council shall hold its meetings in Luxembourg.”
Council’s Rules of Procedure
Originally published OJEU 16.10.2006 L 285/47, the latest consolidated version of Council Decision 2006/683/EC, Euratom of 15 September 2006 adopting the Council's Rules of Procedure is of 1 January 2009.
Article 1 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure reiterates the treaty level provisions, but it also gives an indication of the advance programming of Council meetings and offers the possibility to hold meetings outside Brussels or Luxembourg:
Notice and venue of meetings
1. The Council shall meet when convened by its President on his own initiative or at the request of one of its members or of the Commission.
2. Seven months before the beginning of its term of office, after consulting the Presidencies preceding and following its term of office where appropriate, the Presidency shall make known the dates which it envisages for meetings that the Council will have to hold in order to complete its legislative work or take operational decisions.
3. The Council shall have its seat in Brussels. During the months of April, June and October the Council shall hold its meetings in Luxembourg.
In exceptional circumstances and for duly substantiated reasons, the Council or the Committee of Permanent Representatives (hereinafter referred to as Coreper), acting unanimously, may decide that a Council meeting will be held elsewhere.
The upcoming Swedish EU Council Presidency has published a meeting calendar for the second half of 2009 (latest update 3 April 2009).
Informal Council meetings
The Council makes legislative and other decisions at its formal meetings, but in addition the Ministers regularly take part in informal meetings. These are often arranged in the country holding the rotating Council Presidency.
The upcoming Swedish EU Council Presidency has published a separate list of the informal Council meetings planned for the second half of 2009.
In addition, various international meetings, other meetings and conferences are arranged during a Council Presidency.