EU-Actors: European Council

The European Council is composed of the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, the latter having no voting rights. In the case of foreign policy issues, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy participates in the meetings of the European Council. As the European Council is not one of the legislative bodies of the EU, it does not discuss legislation, but negotiates the fundamental issues of the further development of the EU and determines general policy principles and guidelines of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. The results of the Council are summarised in "conclusions", which form the political guideline for the work of the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union.

President

On the 2 July 2019, Charles Michel was elected by the EU heads of State and Governments as President of the European Council. As President he chairs the European Council meetings and drives its work forward.

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© Europäischer Rat, 2019

Distribution of Votes 

According to the political orientation of the strongest governing party.

European Peoples Party (EPP)

Bulgaria

Greece

Croatia

Latvia

Austria

Slovakia

Slovenia

Romania

Cyprus

Party of European Socialists (PES)

Denmark

Germany

Finland

Malta

Portugal

Sweden

Spain

Renew Europe

Belgium

Estonia

France

Ireland

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Czech Republic

The Greens / European Free Alliance (The Greens/EFA)

Currently none

Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE)

Poland

Independent

Italy

Lithuania

Hungary

447

Million people

4.225.127

Area (km²)

27

Member States

Member States of the European Council

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Coalition government of Austrian People's Party and The Greens

Head of Government: Karl Nehammer, Austrian People's Party (ÖVP/EPP) (2021)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2024

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: The conclusion of treaties amending the treaty foundations of the European Union shall require the approval of the National Council (Art. 50 (1)).

State treaties according to par. 1 fig. 2 may only be concluded with the approval of the National Council and with the consent of the Federal Council, notwithstanding art. 44 par. 3. These resolutions require in each case the presence of at least half of the members and a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast (Art. 50 (4)).

Constitutional laws or constitutional provisions contained in simple laws may only be adopted by the National Council in the presence of at least half of the members and with a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast; they must be expressly designated as such ("constitutional law", "constitutional provision") (Art. 44. (1)) .

Constitutional laws or constitutional provisions contained in simple laws, which restrict the competence of the Länder in legislation or execution, also require the consent of the Bundesrat, which must be given in the presence of at least half of the members and by a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast (Art. 44 (2)).

Any overall amendment to the Federal Constitution, but a partial amendment only if requested by one third of the members of the National Council or the Federal Council, shall be submitted to a vote of the entire Federal People after completion of the procedure pursuant to Art. 42, but before being certified by the Federal President (Art. 44 (3)). In the referendum, the unconditional majority of the validly cast votes shall decide (Art. 45 (1)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Seven Party Coalition that consists of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD / ALDE), Socialist Party (SP/PES), French-speaking Reformist Movement (MR/ALDE), French-speaking Green Party Ecolo (EGP), Flemish Green Party Groen (EGP), Flemish Christian Democrats CD&V (EPP) and the Flemish Socialist Party Differently (sp.a / PES) 

Head of Government: Alexander De Croo, Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD / ALDE) (Since 2020)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2024

Treaty revision in the law of the member state: ratification of international treaties by an absolute majority in both chambers (Art. 34; Art. 77 (6); Art. 53; Art. 167 (2)). If this affects the competences of the five regional governments, their consent is required (Art. 167 (3)). If a constitutional amendment is required, a 2/3 majority in both chambers is necessary after dissolution and re-election (Art. 195).

Unicameral parliamentary system

Current Government: Government coalition between four parties (134 out of 240 seats) - We Continue the Change (WCC), Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), There Is Such a People (ITN), Democratic Bulgaria- are holding coalition talks.

Prime Minister: Kiril Petkov (co-leader of WCC) (Since 2021)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2025

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: ratification of international treaties by a 2/3 majority of members of parliament (Art. 85 (1),(2)). If a constitutional amendment is necessary, a 3/4 majority of the members of parliament is required for its adoption (Art. 85 (4); 155 (1)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Majority coalition consisting of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ / EPP) and the Bridge of Independent Lists (MOST)

Head of Government: Andrej Plenković (HDZ/EPP) (Since 2016)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn of 2024

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: International treaties are adopted by a 2/3 majority of the members of parliament (Art. 139; Art. 140; Art. 141). This also applies to constitutional amendments (Art. 149). Parliament or the government has the right to call a binding referendum on constitutional and other important issues (Art. 86). A referendum on joining or leaving an international alliance/community is mandatory and binding. In such a referendum, the majority decision of the electorate shall prevail (Art. 142).

Presidential system

Current Government: Majority Coalition consisting of Dimokratikos Synagermos (DISY / EPP), Solidarity Movement (AECR / ECR)

Head of State/Government: Nicos Anastasiades,  Nicos Anastasiades (DISY / EPP)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2026

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: Every international treaty with trade or economic cooperation references is decided by the Council of Ministers (Art. 169 (1)). Any other treaty is ratified by the House of Representatives with a simple majority (Art. 169 (2)). In the case of a constitutional amendment, 2/3 of the representatives of the Greek ethnic group and 1/3 of the Turkish ethnic group must agree (Art. 182 (2),(3)). In the case of international treaties, with the exception of treaties concerning Cyprus' membership in international organisations and alliances in which Greece and the Turkish Republic participate, the President and his Deputy have a right of veto over decisions of the House of Representatives and the Council of Ministers (Art. 50 (1a); Art. 57 (1),(3)).

Parliamentary system

Current Governemtn: SPOLU (centre-right political alliance composed of the Civic Democratic Party, KDU-ČSL, and TOP 09) and Pirates and May

President: Milos Zeman

Head of Government: Petr Fiala, liberal-conservative (ODS / EKR) (2021)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2025

Vertragsrevisionen im Recht des Mitgliedstaates: Die Ratifizierung internationaler Verträge erfordert die Zustimmung beider Kammern (Art. 49). Durch einen Verfassungsakt kann für die Ratifizierung eines Abkommens, welches Hoheitsrechte überträgt, ein Referendum notwendig werden (Art. 10a (2)). Bei Verfassungsänderungen ist eine Zustimmung von 3/5 aller Mitglieder beider Kammern notwendig (Art. 10a (1),(2); Art. 39 (4)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Minority Government consisting of Socialdemokratiet (S / PES) tolerated by the Socialist People’s Party (SF / EGP), the Red-Green Alliance (EL / PEL) and the Social-Liberal Party (RV / ALDE)

Head of Government: Mette Frederiksen (S / PES) (Since 2019)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: International treaties are adopted with a simple parliamentary majority (Art. 19 (1)). For the transfer of sovereign rights, a majority of 5/6 of all parliamentarians is required, a referendum is optional. (Art. 20 (1), (2); Art. 42 (1)-(8)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Majority Coaltion consisting of the Estonian Reform Party (ALDE) and the Estonian Centre Party (ALDE)

Head of Government: Kaja Kallas, Estonian Reform Party (ALDE) (Since 2021)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: Ratification of international treaties requires a majority in parliament (Art. 65 (4); Art. 73; Art. 121), these cannot be submitted to a referendum (Art. 106). In the case of a necessary constitutional amendment, Parliament must give its consent twice. Firstly, by a majority of the members and then, following the dissolution and election of Parliament, by a 3/5 majority of the newly elected MPs (Art. 163; Art. 165). Once the urgency is established, a 2/3 majority is required (Art. 166).

Semi-presidential system

Current Government: Majority Coalition consisting of the Social Democratic Party (SDP / PES), the Centre Party (ALDE), Green League (EGP), the Swedish People's Party of Finland (RE) and Left Alliance (GUE-NGL/ VAS)

Head of Government: Sanna Marin (SDP/PES) (Since 2019)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: According to Art. 93, a majority in Parliament is required to ratify international treaties. For constitutional amendments, a 2/3 majority of all members of parliament is required (Art. 93; Art. 94; Art. 95). A referendum is possible in principle (Art. 53).

Parliamentary system

Head of Government: Élisabeth Borne, En Marche (Since 2022)

Head of State: Emmanuel Macron, En Marche (Renew Europe) (Since 2017)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2027

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: A majority in both Houses is required for ratification of international treaties (Art. 53, Art. 46). A majority in both chambers and a referendum are required for a constitutional amendment (Art. 89 (2)). The mandatory referendum can be bypassed if both houses approve the amendment or addition with a 3/5 majority of their members (Art. 89 (3)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Majority coalition: Social Democratic Party (SPD / SPE), Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne / EFA), Liberal Democratic Party (FDP / ALDE)

Head of Government: Olaf Scholz (SPD/ SPE) (Since 2021)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn of 2025

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: "With a view to establishing a united Europe, the Federal Republic of Germany shall participate in the development of the European Union that is committed to democratic, social and federal principles, to the rule of law and to the principle of subsidiarity and that guarantees a level of protection of basic rights essentially comparable to that afforded by this Basic Law. To this end the Federation may transfer sovereign powers by a law with the consent of the Bundesrat. The establishment of the European Union, as well as changes in its treaty foundations and comparable regulations that amend or supplement this Basic Law or make such amendments or supplements possible, shall be subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 79."

Parliamentary system:

Current Government: Single Party Government of the Nea Dimokratia (ND / EPP)
 
Head of Government: Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Nea Dimokratia (ND/EPP) (Since 2019)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: A majority is required to ratify international treaties (Art. 28 (2), (3)). In the case of a constitutional amendment, a 3/5 majority of the members of parliament in two votes is required (Art. 44 (2)). The amendment must be adopted in the next legislative period by an absolute majority (Art. 44 (3)). A referendum may be held on issues of outstanding "national importance" (Art. 44 (2)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Majority government by Fidesz

Head of Government: Viktor Orbán, Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Federation - independent) (Since 2010)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2026

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: A 2/3 majority among the parliamentarians present is required for ratification of international treaties (Art. E (2), (4)). For constitutional issues, a 2/3 majority of the statutory members of parliament is required (Art. S (2). In both cases, no referendum is possible (Art. 8 (3)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Majority coalition consisting of Fine Gael - Family of the Irish (EPP), Finna Fail - Soldiers of Destiny (ALDE) and the Green Party (Greens/EFA)

Head of Government: Michael Martin (Finna Fail) und from 2023 Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael/EPP) (2020)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2025

Treaty revisions in the law of the member state: Both chambers decide on an international treaty by a majority vote (Art. 29 (5), (6)). In the case of constitutional amendments, an additional binding referendum is obligatory (Art. 46; Art. 47).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Government of Technocrats with changing parliamentary majorities

Head of Government: Mario Draghi (independent) (Since 2021)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring of 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: International treaties must be ratified by a majority in both Houses (Art. 80; Art. 64). In the case of constitutional amendments, a simple majority must first be obtained in the first ballot and an absolute majority in the second ballot in any case (Art. 138 (1)). If an absolute majority is not obtained in the second ballot, a referendum may be forced at the request of 1/5 of the members of both Houses or of 500 000 voters (Art. 138 (2), (3)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Coalition government of Unity, Reform Party, National Alliance "All For Latvia!" - "For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK", Union of Greens and Farmers

Head of Governement: Krišjānis Kariņš, Unity (V/EPP) (2019)

Legislative period: 4 Years

Expected next election date: 1 of October 2022

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Parliament adopts international treaties with a 2/3 majority (Art. 68 (1), (2)). A 2/3 majority is required to amend the Constitution after at least three readings. A referendum on membership of the European Union can be initiated by half of the members of Parliament (Art. 68 (4)).

Parliamentay system

Current Government: Coalition government of the centre-right parties Fatherland Union Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD / EPP), Liberal Movement (LRLS / ALDE) and the Freedom Party (LP / ALDE)

Head of Government: Ingrida Šimonytė, TS-LKD (EPP) (2020)

President: Gitanas Nausėda (non-party) (2019)

Legislative period: 4 Years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2024

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Ratification of international treaties requires a majority in Parliament (Art. 67 (16); Art. 69; Art. 138 (5),(6)). Laws amending the Constitution require a majority of 3/5 of all members of Parliament, whereas a law amending the Constitution only requires a majority (Art. 69 (2)). A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3 majority of the members of parliament in two separate votes (Art. 147; Art. 148). A referendum may be called on important and urgent matters concerning the nation and the state under Article 9.

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Coalition government of Democratic Party, Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party, The Greens

Head of Government: Xavier Bettel, Democratic Party (DP/ALDE) (2013)

Legislative period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Parliament adopts international treaties by an absolute majority (Art. 37; Art. 62). A 2/3 majority in two separate votes is required for constitutional amendments or additions (Art. 49bis; Art. 114 (1),(2)). At the request of 1/4 of the deputies or 25 000 voters, the second vote of Parliament may be replaced by a referendum (Art. 114 (3),(4)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: One-Party majority in the House of Representatives: Malta Labour Party

Head of Government: Robert Abela, SMalta Labour Party (PL(PES) (2020)

Legislative Period: 5 years

Expected next election date: Spring 2027

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: The House of Representatives adopts international treaties by majority vote (Art. 71 (1)). For constitutional amendments or additions to fundamental rights, a 2/3 majority of the deputies is required (Art. 66 (1),(2)). In principle, with the exception of amendments to the legislature or the provisions amending the Constitution (Art. 66 (3)), a majority of the members of the House of Representatives is sufficient (Art. 66 (5)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Coalition government of People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Partij van de Arbeid 

Head of Government: Mark Rutte, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD/ALDE) (2010)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring 2025

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: International treaties are adopted by a majority in both Houses (Art. 92; Art. 91 (1),(2); Art. 67 (1),(2)). If an international treaty conflicts with the Constitution, a 2/3 majority in both Houses is required (Art. 91 (3)). In the case of constitutional amendments, the lower house is first dissolved. Subsequently, an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the members of both Houses is required (Art. 137 (1), (3), (4)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Single Party Government: Law and Justice Party 

Head of Government: Mateusz Morawiecki, Law and Justice Party (PiS/AECR/ECR) (2018)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: For ratification of international treaties, a 2/3 majority with half of the members present is required in both chambers (Art. 53, Art. 46). (Art. 90 (1), (2), Art. 89). An absolute majority of MPs in the First Chamber may force a referendum on the ratification of such a treaty (Art. 90 (3), (4); Art. 125). A 2/3 majority with half of the members present in both Houses is required for a constitutional amendment (Art. 235 (4)).

Parliamentary System

Current Government: Minority Government of Socialist Party, the communist-green Unitary Democratic Coalition and the Left Bloc

Head of Government: António Costa, Socialist Party (PS/S&D) (2015)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Parliament adopts international treaties by majority vote (Art. 161 (i), (n); Art. 116 (3); 166 (5); Art. 168). A 2/3 majority is required to amend the Constitution (Art. 286 (1)). A referendum on membership of the European Union may be called under Art. 115 (1); Art. 295.

Semi-presidential system

Current Government: Coalition government of National Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania

Head of Government: Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, Nationale Liberal Party (PNL/EPP) (2021)

President: Klaus Werner Johannis (PNL/EPP) (2014)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2024

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: International treaties are adopted in a joint session of both Houses by a 2/3 majority (Art. 148 (1)). Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority in both Houses (Art. 11 (3); Art. 151 (1)). A referendum on important and urgent matters concerning the nation and the state can be called according to Art. 90.

Parliamentary system

Current Governemtn: Coalition Government of Swedisch Social Democrats and the Greens 

Head of Government: Magdalena Andersson, Swedisch Social Democrats (SAP/PES) (2021)

Legislative Period: 4 years

Expected next election date: 11th of September 2022

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Parliament adopts international treaties by majority vote (Instrument of Government: Ch. 10 Art. 1; Art. 2; Art. 3). A transfer of sovereign rights to the EU requires a 2/3 majority of those voting, at least a majority of the statutory members of Parliament (Instrument of Government: Ch. 10 Art. 6). If constitutional law is affected, this requires the approval of parliament in two votes. After the first successful vote, the second vote is held at the earliest after nine months and after the dissolution and re-election of Parliament (Acts of law and other provisions: Ch. 8 Art. 14; Art. 15). A referendum can also be called at the same time as the election of a new parliament. If the referendum is rejected by a majority of the registered voters, the proposal to amend the Constitution is rejected. If not, it is submitted to Parliament for a second vote (Acts of law and other provisions: Ch. 8 Art. 16). In certain circumstances, there is the possibility of amending the Constitution by a 5/6 majority (Acts of law and other provisions: Ch. 8 Art. 15).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Mehrparteienregierung aus der Partei Gewöhnliche Leute und unabhängige Personen, OĽaNO (EVP); Wir sind eine Familie, SR (ID); Freiheit und Solidarität, SaS (EKR) und Für die Menschen

Head of Government: Eduard Heger, Gewöhnliche Leute und unabhängige Personen, OĽaNO (EVP) (2021)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring 2024

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: A 3/5 majority of the members of parliament is required to ratify the EU treaties (Art. 7 (2); Art. 84 (4)). Joining or leaving an alliance is subject to a binding referendum (Art. 7 (1)). A referendum on issues of national interest can also be forced by Parliament or 350 000 voters (Art. 93 (1); Art. 95 (1)).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Three-party coalition government of the Freedom Movement, the Social Democrats and The Left

Head of Governance: Robert Golob, Freedom Movement (Since 2022)

Legislative Period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Spring 2026

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Ratification of international treaties by a 2/3 majority in Parliament (Art. 3a (1)). Before ratification, the National Assembly may call a referendum (Art. 3a (2)). Amendments to the Constitution require a 2/3 majority of the members of Parliament (Art. 168; Art. 169).

Parliamentary system

Current Government: Minority Government: Spanish Socialist Worker's Party 

Regierungschef: Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Spanische Socialist Workers' Party Arbeiterpartei (PSOE/PES) (2018)

Legislative period: 4 years

Expected next election date: Autumn 2023

Treaty revisions in the law of the Member State: Ratification of international treaties by an absolute majority in both Houses (Art. 74 (2); Art. 94 (1)). Amendments to the Constitution require the consent of 3/5 of all members in each chamber (Art. 95 (1), (2); Art. 167 (1)). Subsequently, at the request of 1/10 of all members from each chamber, the decision may be submitted to a referendum (Art. 167 (3)). An optional referendum is possible on issues of "special importance" (Art. 92 (1)).

Role and Responsibilities 

Art.15 (1) TEU: ,,The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities thereof. It shall not exercise legislative functions."

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the European Council became an official EU institution.

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