In recent years, it has become clear that the most pressing issues in the European Union have been dealt with outside the legislative triangle of Commission, European Parliament and Council and have instead been discussed in another forum, the European Council. My research therefore aims to deal with this institution, which has come into focus especially since the 2000s.
The shift in the locus of integration has been criticised as a threat to the institutional equilibrium. Yet it is an expression of a different balance, namely between the Member States and the EU. The European Council is the strongest link between the Member States and the EU, the place where a balance is found between interests. That is why I speak of federal - but explicitly not of a federal state.
The federal perspective on the European Council allows to examine the European Council as the place where national and EU interests meet and are negotiated at the highest level. Exploring the European Council also makes it possible to examine general features of EU decision-making and its structure that are conditioned by its federal characteristics: informality, confidentiality, compromise and consensus. My analysis starts from the treaties, but also examines the reality of how a summit is prepared, run and followed up. It also studies the European Council's output in terms of accountability and responsibility and its relationship with the legislative institutions.