Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers is officially called the ‘Council of the European Union’ or Consilium in Latin. It is the main decision-making body of the European Union, working in partnership with the European Parliament to pass new laws for the European Union member states. Ministers for particular areas such as foreign policy, transport, finance, agriculture or trade, will represent their member state depending on the issue discussed.

Draft law proposals are written by the European Commission and used as input into meetings where these draft laws are voted on and passed into legislation. As at 2009, 345 votes are divided amongst 27 member countries. These are distributed according to agreements in the European treaties. Depending on the clauses set out by the treaties a law may need a simple majority, qualified majority or a unanimous vote.

After new laws are passed, the Council of Ministers takes upon itself to co-ordinate any laws which involve security and foreign policy, and police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters.

Location in Brussels
The Justus Lipsius building (215,000 sq.m), completed in 1995 is located opposite the Berlaymont at Rond-Point Robert Schuman. It received its designation from the street of the same name demolished to make way for this modern facility. Currently, the European Council holds all of its summits at this building 4 times a year. The Entropa installation, constructed by Czech artist David Cerny, is on display in the foyer.

The General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
Justus Lipsius building
175, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat
B-1048 Brussels.
Tel.: +32 (0)2 281 6622
Metro stop: Schuman

Due to the high level of security, tours of the building are not allowed but information talks lasting about 2 hours can be organised for groups of 15 and over. These must be reserved 2 months in advance. Talks are carried out by officials of the Council and include question and answer time.

To find more information, go to the Council of Ministers website and look under “Contacts”, “Information visits”.