1. Historical genesis ofthe European CouncilThe European Council was originally not foreseenas a part of the institutional set up of the European Community. Instead, itemerged from a series of informal summits of the heads of state and governmentin the 1960s, and was officially established by an intergovernmental agreement asa regular meeting in 1974. Since its establishment, the European Council has become an increasingly vitalcomponent and pivotal institution of the EUs institutional framework (cf.
Holeschovsky, 2012: 331). 2.1 Origin: The ideal of the “fireside chat”In the 1960s thereis, among the European Community, uncertainty about the “finality” to the processof European integration and, going further about the potential shape of unityamong the European states, which culminated in a constitutional crisis togetherwith a fundamental difference of views between supranational and intergovernmentalvisions of the future of Europe (cf. Teasdale,2016: 1). The struggle between elites supporting a supranational design ofthe European governance with a partial surrender of political sovereignty inorder to establish a European federal state and those arguing for keeping amember-state dominated framework ergo a confederation of states with sovereignnational states (cf. Mantonyte & Morkeci?us, 2012: 107). Nowhere was this dispute morevivid than in the debate over the Fouchet Plan in 1962.
The vision of theFouchet Plan – by the then French President Charles de Gaulle’s vision – was ofan intergovernmental Europe. DeGaulle was seeking to create a “Europe des États”, away from the supranationalmodel, towards a looser, cooperation among independent states, which retain their national sovereigntyand a veto right in all institutions with the aim to strengthen Europe (cf. Gaulle, 1960: 297). Thus, in de Gaulle’s view, finalpolicy was to be made in regular consultations by the Heads of State and Governmentas the prime source of legitimacy(cf. Willis, 1968: 322).
Although thismajor, if unsuccessful, diplomatic initiative should serve as model for thedevelopment of new approaches to integovernmental cooperation in the 1970s: Inparticuar, the European Council founded in 1974, based on de Gaulle’s idea of acentral body of power. This development was also a consequence driven by theLuxembourg Compromise, which claims to be the solution of a six months Frenchboycott of the Community institutions known as the “empty chair crisis”1but in practice aggravated the dreadful state. The crisis had evidently provedthat the “… Community institutions were felt not to be working as well asthey should …” (Schoutheete, 2012: 57) whichhas caused a leadership gap within the European Community. In addition, thefirst enlargement of the Community was likely to make decision-making moreponderous in the established decision-making formats1