The Council of the European Union (EU) is the institution representing the member states’ governments. Also informally known as the EU Council, it is where national ministers from each EU country meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.

The Council is an essential EU decision-maker. It negotiates and adopts new EU legislation, adapts it when necessary, and coordinates policies.

The Council is supported by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) and more than 150 highly specialised working parties and committees, known as the ‘Council preparatory bodies’. These bodies examine legislative proposals, and carry out studies and other preparatory work which prepares the ground for Council decisions.

The Council of the EU should not be confused with:

The presidency of the Council of the EU

The presidency of the Council of the EU rotates among member states every six months. The presidency chairs meetings at all levels: Council, Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) and working parties. It puts forward guidelines and draws up the compromises needed for the Council to take decisions. The presidency of the Council is currently held by Greece and will be followed by Italy in July 2014.

The presidency of the Council should not be confused with the President of the European Council, which is currently Mr Donald Tusk.

This post is part of the EHC Quarterly Health Policy Update.