RULES FOR ORGANISING THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE
In order fully to exercise its role of providing
impetus and of defining the general political guidelines of the
Union in accordance with Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union,
the European Council has agreed on the following rules for the
preparation, conduct and conclusions of its proceedings:
1. The European Council shall meet in principle
four times a year (twice every six months). In exceptional circumstances,
the European Council may convene an extraordinary meeting.
2. European Council meetings shall be prepared
by the General Affairs and External Relations Council, which shall
co-ordinate all the preparatory work and draw up the agenda. Contributions
by other configurations of the Council to the proceedings of the
European council shall be forwarded to the General Affairs and
External Relations Council not later than two weeks before the
European Council meeting.
3. At a meeting held at least four weeks
before the European Council, the General Affairs and External
Relations Council, acting on a Presidency proposal, shall draw
up an annotated draft agenda distinguishing between:
items to be approved or endorsed
items for discussion with a view
to defining general political guidelines;
items for discussion with a view
to adopting a decision as described in paragraph 9 below;
items for discussion but not intended
to be the subject of conclusions.
4. For each of the items referred to in
the second and third indents of paragraph 3 above, the Presidency
shall prepare a brief outline paper setting out the issues, the
questions to be debated and the main options available.
5. On the eve of the European Council meeting,
the General Affairs and External Relations Council shall hold
a final preparatory session and adopt the definitive agenda, to
which no item may subsequently be added without the agreement
of all delegations.
Except for urgent and unforeseeable reasons
linked, for example, to current international events, no Council
or committee may meet between the final preparatory session of
the General Affairs and External Relations Council and the European
6. In principle, the proceedings of the
European Council shall last for one full day, preceded the day
before by a meeting restricted to Heads of State or Government
and the President of the Commission, in line with current practice.
The European Council meeting the next day shall continue until
the end of the afternoon and shall be preceded by an exchange
of views with the President of the European Parliament. Specific
arrangements may be made if justified by the agenda.
7. Meetings in the margins of the European
Council with representatives of third States or organisations
may be held in exceptional circumstances only. They must not disrupt
the normal conduct of proceedings of the European Council meeting
and they must be approved at the same time as the draft agenda
drawn up by the General Affairs and External Relations Council.
8. The Presidency shall ensure that business
is conducted smoothly. To this end, it may take any measure conducive
to promoting the best possible use of the time available, such
as organising the order in which items are discussed, limiting
speaking time and determining the order in which contributors
9. In the context of enlargement and in
exceptional cases, where an item is placed on the agenda of the
European Council for a decision, the European Council shall discuss
the item concerned. The political conclusions drawn from the positions
emerging during the discussion shall be brought to the attention
of the Council so that it may consider the implications for subsequent
proceedings, in accordance with the applicable Treaty provisions.
10. Delegations shall receive summary briefings
on the outcome and substance of the discussions on each item as
proceedings continue. Such briefings shall be organised in such
a way as to safeguard the confidentiality of discussions.
11. Each delegation shall have two seats
in the meeting room. The total size of delegations shall be limited
to 20 people per Member State and for the Commission. This number
shall not include technical personnel assigned to specific security
or logistic support tasks.
12. The conclusions, which shall be as concise
as possible, shall set out policy guidelines and decisions reached
by the European Council, placing them briefly in their context
and indicating the stages of the procedure to follow on from them.
13. An outline of the conclusions shall
be distributed on the day of the European Council meeting in good
time for the start of proceedings. The outline shall distinguish
clearly between those parts of the text which have previously
been approved and which are not in principle subject to discussion
and those parts of the text which the European council is to discuss
with a view to reaching final conclusions at the meeting.