Monday 7 December 2009

Rules of Procedure of European Council (Articles 9 to 14)

After the main treaty provision on the European Council (Article 15 TEU), we took a brief look at the contents of its new Rules of Procedure, first Articles 1 to 3, and then Articles 4 to 8.

Now is the time to present the main points of the rest of the Articles, from 9 to 14.

Main points

Article 9 Deliberations and decisions on the basis of documents and drafts drawn up in the languages provided for by the language rules in force: Documents and proposed amendments have to be available in the official languages, except by unanimous decision on grounds of urgency.

Article 10 Making public votes, explanations of votes and minutes and access to documents: The European Council may make the results of a vote public, with possible explanations of the vote.

Public access to European Council documents follows the same rules as for Council documents.

Article 11 Professional secrecy and production of documents in legal proceedings:

The deliberations of the European Council are subject to an obligation to professional secrecy, except when a contrary decision is made.

The European Council may authorise the release of non-public documents for use in legal proceedings.

Article 12 Decisions of the European Council: The form of acts is the same as for the Council.

Decisions are published in the Official Journal of the European Union or notified to their addressees.

Article 13 Secretariat, budget and security: The European Council and its president are assisted by the General Secretariat of the Council, lead by the Secretary-General.

Article 14 Correspondence addressed to the European Council: Send your correspondence to the European Council to its President at: European Council, rue de la Loi 175, B-1048 Brussels.


The meetings of the European Council are not public (Article 4). To this Article 11 adds an obligation to professional secrecy with regard to the deliberations.

These are more manifestations of diplomacy between states, than indications of the existence of an EU “founded on representative democracy”.

These provisions, together with non-disclosure of documents, mean that the most political and important organ of the European Union, the institution which sets the political directions and priorities, and which gives or fails to give the EU the necessary impetus, remains practically impenetrable for the citizens of the European Union.

Even highly political deals are made, not in party political terms understood by the public, but between the perceived interests of member states, beyond the sight of citizens.

Instead of a lively debate ahead of each European Council, with input from europarties, think tanks and citizens, we get the conclusions and the report to the European Parliament afterwards. This sounds more like late Stuart than early 21st century.


The new Rules of Procedure of the European Council:

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).

Ralf Grahn

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