THE COUNCIL OF THE EU is the EU institution where ministers from the 28 EU countries sit. There are 10 different Council configurations, covering the whole range of EU policies. The composition and frequency of Council meeting varies depending on the policy area. For example, economic and finance ministers meet once a month in the Ecofin Council. The environment ministers participate in the Environment Council meetings, which take place about four times per year. The Council adopts legislative acts (regulations, directives, etc.), in many cases in co-decision with the European Parliament, coordinates member states' policies, concludes international agreements on behalf of the EU and adopts the EU's budget together with the European Parliament. The EU's 28 countries take it in turn to chair the Council for a period of six months each. During this period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level (except the foreign affairs policy area), proposes guidelines and draws up the compromises needed for the Council to take decisions. THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL brings together heads of state or government of every EU country, the president of the European Commission and the president of the European Council, who chairs the meetings. The meetings or summits take place at least four times per year. The European Council provides the EU with the necessary impetus for its development. It identifies major issues to be dealt with by the Council in each of the policy areas under its responsibility. Decisions of the European Council are taken by consensus. It has no power to pass laws.

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