The Council of the European Union, often referred to as the (EU) Council and informally known as the Council of Ministers, is the institution representing the member states' governments. It meets in 10 different configurations of 27 national ministers (one per member state). One of these configurations, the Environment Council (ENVI), is generally the most relevant Council to follow for energy and climate issues. The Council negotiates and adopts legislative acts in most cases together with the European Parliament through the ordinary legislative procedure, and coordinates member states' policies, among other things.
Every six months a different member state holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Each Presidency works closely with two other member states: the one that preceded it and the one that will follow it. This partnership is known as the ‘trio Presidency’. The trio determines long-term objectives and draws up a programme containing the major issues the Council will tackle over the next 18 months. The main purpose of the trios lies in ensuring that there is a smoother transition between Presidencies and that the continuity and effectiveness of the Council's work is enhanced over the long term.
The Council of the European Union has to be distinguished from the 'European Council', the group of heads of state or government of the EU member states. The European Council and the Council of the European Union are the only EU institutions that are explicitly intergovernmental, i.e. forums whose attendees express and represent the positions of their respective member states’ executives, be they ambassadors, ministers or heads of state/government.