The European Council is the Summit of the Heads of State or Heads of Government of the Member States of the European Union, under the tutelage of a chairperson, to facilitate the emergence of a compromise. At least four European Councils held every year at the end of each rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
These peaks between the executives of the Member States aim to define the focus of EU policy, mainly in foreign policy. They also serve all five years of appointment, with a qualified majority, of the President of the European Commission, decision then validated by a vote of the European Parliament.
Since the entry into force in 2009 of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission is accountable to Parliament and not to the European Council (Art. 9D8 TEU).
The first summit was held in 1961. The Council became a formal body at a summit of the European Economic Community (EEC), which takes place in Paris on 9 and 10 December 1974, at the initiative of President Giscard d”Estaing. The Single European Act is silent on the powers of the European Council and it was not until the Maastricht Treaty to formally dedicate the political role of the European Council: “Article 15: The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus and sets guidelines policies.” Previously just a EU body, the European Council becomes an institution of the European Union after the Lisbon Treaty.
Since the early 2000s, the European Council increased in importance, mainly by participation in the Lisbon strategy developed by the European Commission. This strategy experiences a mode called open method of coordination (OMC) to harmonize national policies.