Councils and themes
The Council of the EU comprises 10 specialised Council configurations. Each Council deals with a distinct policy area. It comprises ministers from the EU member states who are responsible for this policy area in their own country. The Presidency-holder draws up agenda points for each Council.
The Councils convene regularly, between three and twelve times a year. Members of the European Commission can also attend.
Which ministers are involved in discussions depends on the issue in question and the agenda. The topic being discussed determines which minister will chair the meeting. In the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, for instance, social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher will chair discussions relating to social affairs, but health minister Edith Schippers will chair discussions on public health.
The Foreign Affairs Council has its own permanent chair, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The same is true for the European Council, the forum in which the EU heads of state and government meet. Since 2014, the President of the European Council has been Donald Tusk.