The new Rules of Procedure of the European Council are fairly short, 14 Articles on four pages. They build on the treaty provisions, while adding some detail outlining the work of the European Council, which has formally become an EU institution under the Lisbon Treaty.
The European Council sets the course for the European Union politically, and it makes certain decisions mentioned in the treaties, although it does not exercise legislative functions.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION of 1 December 2009 adopting its Rules of Procedure (2009/882/EU) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU 2.12.2009 L 315/51).
Here is an overview of the contents of the Rules of Procedure of the European Council, the first three Articles.
Article 1 Notice and venue of meetings: Ordinarily, the European Council is convened by its President to two meetings in Brussels during six months. Extraordinarily, the European Council can hold special meetings and meetings outside Brussels.
Article 2 Preparation for and follow-up to the proceedings of the European Council: The General Affairs Council is the coordinating Council configuration for the President and the European Council, and the GAC (still chaired by the rotating Presidency) is the main responsible for the follow-up to meetings.
Regular meetings and coordination are foreseen between the President, the rotating Presidency of the Council and the President of the Commission.
In case of vacancy or impediment, the President of the European Council is replaced by the member representing the rotating Presidency.
Article 3 Agenda and preparation: The President submits an annotated draft agenda to the General Affairs Council at least four weeks before each meeting of the European Council.
The other Council configurations shall forward their contributions to the GAC at least two weeks ahead of the European Council meeting.
The President prepares draft guidelines, conclusions and decisions of the European Council, for discussion in the GAC.
After a final GAC meeting, the President draws up the provisional agenda for the European Council.
Only exceptionally are other Council configurations allowed to discuss issues on the European Council’s agenda between the final GAC meeting and the European Council.
The final agenda is adopted by the European Council at the beginning of its meeting, and “surprise items” are generally not allowed.
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