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European Council

The European Council, sometimes informally called the European Summit, is a meeting of the heads of state or government of the European Union, and the President of the European Commission (not to be confused with the Council of the European Union, or the Council of Europe). On average four European Councils are held every year.

European Councils have traditionally been held in the country currently holding the Presidency of the European Union. However, in late 2000 it was agreed at the Nice European Council[?] that in the future half the European Councils would be held in Brussels and eventually all would be held there.

Two things prompted this decision. Firstly, with the impending enlargement of the European Union to 27 or more members, rotating the site of the Council meeting between member states was going to become more difficult. Secondly, Belgium was threatening to hold up the Treaty of Nice, unhappy with the way smaller states were going to hold more power in European institutions. Holding the summits in Brussels was meant to encourage Belgium to accept the deal.

The decision was further justified by the increasing violence at European Council meetings, which culminated in the shooting of a protester at the Gothenburg European Council in Sweden. It was felt that the Belgian government had more experience at dealing with anti-EU protests, and that putting them in one location would enable increased security.

Individual European Councils

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