Written by Ralf Drachenberg with Mauro Borghetto (updated on 01.07.2022).
The European Council brings together the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States in regular ‘summit’ meetings which seek to define the overall political direction and priorities of the European Union. This Briefing offers a selection of key facts and figures about this institution, detailing its membership, role, work and development over time.
Membership of the European Council
The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States, who constitute the voting members of the institution, as well as the Presidents of the European Council (currently Charles Michel) and of the European Commission (currently Ursula von der Leyen), who have no vote. Although not a member, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP, currently Josep Borrell) also takes part in European Council meetings. The President of the European Parliament (currently Roberta Metsola) is ‘invited to be heard’ at European Council meetings, followed by an exchange of views. This practice, which originated in 1987 and was codified in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, normally features as the first point on the agenda of each European Council meeting.
The chart above shows the current members of the European Council and the year that they joined the institution. The great majority of leaders in the European Council (23) are Heads of Government, while a small number (four) hold the office of Head of State. The representation of a given Member State is entirely defined at national level, based on national constitutional provisions.
Read the complete briefing on ‘European Council: Facts and Figures‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.