The European Council and crisis management

In-Depth Analysis 11-02-2016

Since it became an institution in December 2009, the European Council has not only had to fulfil its core mandate as defined by the EU Treaties, but in addition has had to engage in crisis management on numerous occasions. Europe was (and is still) facing crises of a very different nature; ranging from the sovereign debt crisis to foreign policy crises – such as in Ukraine and Libya – and the on-going migration crisis. This in-depth analysis by the European Council Oversight Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) examines the role played by the European Council and its President in managing crises. It also looks at the similarities and differences in the measures agreed upon by EU Heads of State or Government. Three policy areas which have faced major crises, within the past five years, are analysed in detail. This paper concludes that no uniform approach has developed at European Council level for managing crises. Each of them has different causes, is based on distinct problems and arose in specific circumstances. At the same time the findings indicate that the European Council has faced comparable challenges during the various crises and goes through similar phases when responding to them.