The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. It plays an important role in the European economic governance and in the preparation of the G20 Summits. The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The European Council meets at least twice every six months. Its President is elected for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. Current president is Herman Van Rompuy.
The European Council started in 1974 as an informal forum for discussion between Heads of State or Government. In 2009, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it became one of the seven permanent EU institutions.
The European Council explicitly supports decent work and the social dimension of globalization.