How the Council of the European Union works
The Council of the European Union, commonly referred to as the Council of Ministers, represents the governments of member states, and assesses legislation with the European Parliament. On certain areas of policy, such as foreign affairs, the Council is the sole decision-maker of the EU. However, for the vast majority of other legislation (and also the EU budget), it agrees legislation through “co-decision” with the European Parliament.
The Council of the European Union is composed of twenty seven national ministers, one for each of the member states. The exact membership depends upon the topic; depending on the issue on the agenda, each country will be represented by the minister responsible for that subject (health, research, social affairs, etc.).
Below the Ministerial-level meetings, there are also regular meetings of officials and experts from the national permanent representations in Brussels and member states and also of the Permanent Representatives and their deputies.
Presidency of the Council of Ministers
The Presidency of the Council is held by a member state's government on a pre-agreed rotational basis.
From 2007, three member states have cooperated for their combined eighteen months on a common agenda, although only one formally holds the presidency for the normal six-month period.
The Presidency of the Council plays an essential role in organising the work of the institution, particularly in promoting legislative and political decisions. It is responsible for organising and chairing meetings, including the many working groups, and for brokering compromises.
Belgium holds the presidency for the second half of 2010. The Presidents of the EU for 2011 will be Hungary (the first half of 2011) and Poland (the second half of 2011).
Why does Cancer Research UK work with the Council of the European Union?
The Council agrees legislation alongside the European Parliament and represents the national Governments, such as the UK. In order to influence policy, we need to work with the Council, along with the Commission and the European Parliament.
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