Chapter 1.4 - The Council of Ministers - The Council of the...

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The Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) The Council of the European Union (sometimes just called the Council and sometimes still referred to as the Council of Ministers ) is the institution in the essentially bicameral legislature of the European Union (EU) representing the executives of member states , the other legislative body being the European Parliament . History The Council first appeared in the European Coal and Steele Community (ECSC) as the "Special Council of Ministers", set up to counterbalance the High Authority (the supranational executive, now the Commission). The original Council had limited powers as issues relating only to coal and steel were in the Authority's domain, whereas the Council only had to give its consent to decisions outside coal and steel. As a whole, it only scrutinized the High Authority (the executive ). In 1957, the Treaties of Rome established two new communities, and with them two new Councils: the Council of the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the Council of the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1993, the Council adopted the name 'Council of the European Union', following the establishment of the European Union by the Maastricht Treaty. That treaty strengthened the Council with the addition of more intergovernmental elements in the three pillars system. However, at the same time the Parliament and Commission had been strengthened inside the Community pillar curbing the ability of the Council to act independently. Note: Between 1993 and 2009, the European Union (EU) legally comprised three pillars . This structure was introduced with the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993, and was eventually abandoned on 1 December 2009 upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon , when the EU obtained a consolidated legal personality . 1) The European Communities pillar handled economic, social and environmental policies. It was the only pillar with a legal personality, consisting of the European Community (EC), the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC, until its expiry in 2002), and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). 2) The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar took care of foreign policy and military matters. 3) Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC) brought together co-operation in the fight against crime. This pillar was originally named Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). The Treaty of Lisbon abolished the pillar system and gave further powers to Parliament. It also merged the Council's High Representative with the Commission's foreign policy head , with this new figure chairing the foreign affair's Council rather
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than the rotating presidency. The European Council was declared a separate institution from the Council, also chaired by a permanent president, and the different Council configurations were mentioned in the treaties for the first time. Finally, Lisbon gave the Commission its executive powers directly rather than have it delegated by the Council.
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