Herman Van Rompuy, its then President, said in 2011 that a European Council meeting ‘is both the end of a process and the start of new beginnings’. The European Council’s involvement in the EU policy cycle is very broad and continuous, covering tasks from agenda-setting to exercising scrutiny. In successive stages, the European Council (i) sets long-term objectives (agenda-setting); (ii) calls for action by other EU institutions (policy formulation); (iii) endorses actions by other EU institutions (affirming ownership); and (iv) assesses policy implementation at European and national levels (scrutiny). In practice, the European Council’s activities often go beyond the role envisaged in the Treaties. The level of involvement has a significant impact both on the role of the other EU institutions within the policy cycle and the functioning of the ordinary legislative procedure.
The European Council in the EU policy cycle
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