The European Council and the Council of Ministers
The Council — a term used in this chapter to cover the entire Council hierarchy from the European Council to the Council Secretariat — is arguably the most important and probably the most misunderstood of the EU’s institutions (Hayes-Renshaw and Wallace, 1997, p. 1). Three major events have shaped its composition, role and functioning since the early 1990s. The first was implementation of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), or Maastricht Treaty, in November 1993, which resulted most obviously in the Council officially changing its name to the Council of the European Union (Official Journal, L281(8)). The second was enlargement of the EU in 1995 (when Austria, Finland and Sweden joined), necessitating some adjustments to the composition of the various levels of the Council and the necessary threshold for achieving a qualified majority in the Council proper.
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