In a roundtable discussion on 25th January 2017, Brigid Laffan, Deidre Cartin and Wolfgang Wessels shed light on the European Council in the EU’s institutional architecture for an audience of 22 people. Wolfgang Wessels presented his findings on a power shift in institutional balance.

He analysed:

  • concepts of inter-institutional balance
  • relations of the European Council with each other institutions (except for the Court of auditors)
  • and overall shifts towards supra-national institutions - as documented in Treaty revisions.

The discussion was opened by Deidre Cartin and focused on the following issues:

  • the limited role of the Court vis à vis the European Council
  • limited changes made via the Lisbon Treaty
  • the accountability (and legitimacy) of the European Council
  • relations of the European Council to the EP
  • the black box of internal life of the European Council
  • the internal power distribution between small and large Member States within the European Council
  • the role of sherpas and antici.

Speakers and the audience agreed that there was a need to know more about the consensus formation before and in the European Council sessions. There also was consensus on the overall importance of the European Council.