The different Councils and its members
There are 7 different councils corresponding with the Ministries of the Member States.
- General Affairs Council, consists of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from each Member State and meet every month.
- Economical and Financial Affairs, consists of the Ministers of Finance from each Member State and meet every month.
- Agricultural Affairs, consists of the Ministers of Agriculture from each Member State and meet every month.
- Transport, idem but meet two or four times a year.
- Environment,idem but meet two or four times a year.
- Industry, idem but meet two or four times a year.
- European Council. Consists of the Prime Ministers/President of each of the 15 Member States and meet twice a year (June and December). The meetings take place in the country of the nationality of the chair person (holding this Presidency of the Council is on rotational basis amongst the Member States and lasts half a year). Normally they debate and vote on major issues, resulting in things like the Schengen Agreement or the Amsterdam Treaty.
It also involves demonstrations with citizens of the European Union. Unless they are put into "preventive custody" of course; that is, that they're taken off the streets to prevent possible riots the police, EU representatives (and public?) are afraid of that might occur.

For the readers who don't live in Europe: the Ministers are appointed and not elected and often the government consists of a coalition of at least two political parties as no "ideology" seems to be able to please a majority of the voting population. Therefore most Ministers in the Council are always speaking on behalf of a minority.

The Councils do have legislative power in co-decision with the European Parliament (although the voice of the EP is weaker than the power of the Council, see European Union). They coordinate general policies and concludes, on behalf of the Community (I still don't know how exactly we give them a mandate. I guess you could say by voting on the political party of your preference in your country and hoping (read praying if you wish...) that the people with power make good decisions while appointing somebody), international agreements ( This also includes taking decisions about common foreign and security policy (on the basis of Guidelines and Agreements defined by the Eurpean council). These activities are always after the first initiative of the European Commission.

Voting is normally with majority, but if the Treaty or Agreement decided else, it has to be with socalled qualified majority or unanimity. Before the latest expansion of the EU, the situation was as follows: Germany, France, Italy and the UK 10 votes each, Spain 8, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal 5, Denmark and Ireland 3 and Luxembourg 2. Aka, the total is 76, and a qualified majority means at least 54 votes. All this is topic of debate regularly and changes over time. My apologies for not including Austria, Finland and Sweden. They do have votes, but I couldn't find it on the EU website; if you know, please msg me and I'll change it.
These differences in the voting system may sound trivial, but it definitely is not. Say there's a proposal about distribution of EU funds, which is roughly the northern countries against the south + Ireland. This means 41 south, enough for majority that these countries will be netto receivers. But if during a Treaty is agreed that the Council has to agree with qualified majority, they have to convince representatives from other countries. These situations occur regularly, because of the reason already mentioned above: coalition governments (e.g. a Prime Minister of the labour/socialistic party and a Minister in the Council from the liberals, or vice versa).

See also the European Union.

References: and about the voting quota: EU-landbouwpolitiek van binnen en van buiten, De Hoog and Silvis, 1994.

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