Council of the European Union
The Council is the EU institution where the Member States' government representatives sit, i.e. the ministers of each Member State with responsibility for a given area. The composition and frequency of Council meetings vary depending on the issues dealt with. Foreign ministers, for example, meet roughly once a month in the Foreign Affairs Council. Similarly, economics and finance ministers meet once a month in the Council which handles economic and financial affairs, called the Ecofin Council.
There are ten Council configurations, covering the whole range of EU policies. The General Affairs Council, which is usually attended by foreign ministers or European affairs ministers, makes sure that the various Council configurations are working consistently with one another and makes the preparations for European Council meetings.
It adopts legislative acts (Regulations, Directives, etc.), in many cases in "co-decision" with the European Parliament;
It helps coordinate Member States' policies, for example, in the economic field;
It develops the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of strategic guidelines set by the European Council;
It concludes international agreements on behalf of the Union;
It adopts the Union's budget, together with the European Parliament.