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Council of the European Union

Council of the European Union, institution of the European Union (EU) that has the final vote on legislation proposed by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament; in some cases the council, unlike the parliament, may initiate new laws. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, the Council was established as the Council of Ministers of the European Communities in 1967, when the EU's predecessor, the European Community, was formally constituted. Its name was changed to the Council of the European Union in 1993.

The council is composed of one minister from the government of each EU nation. Membership is fluid, with each government sending the minister appropriate to the subject then under consideration by the council. The foreign minister is generally regarded as the coordinator and main representative of each government's delegation. The presidency of the council rotates among the member nations. Much of the council's work is prepared by a general secretariat and the Committee of Permanent Representatives, or COREPER, composed of officials from the national governments. Although unanimity of the council is still required in some cases, the Single European Act (1987) increased the council's ability to make decisions based on a majority vote, and that ability has since been expanded; voting is done using a system that requires both a majority of nations and population.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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