This paper compares European Council and Council leadership in two core areas of EU activity - economic governance and CFSP. Both policy fields are among the most dynamic ones in contemporary EU policy-making. They are based on a pre-dominantly intergovernmental structure and rely on a decentralised system of policy implementation in which ultimate decision-making authority continues to rest with the member states. Instead of being governed through the classical community method both fields are subject to far-reaching coordination procedures. Continuity and policy coherence can only be assured through the constant leadership and involvement of the European Council and Council. This is reflected in the prominent role the two investigated policy fields have acquired in the European Council - making them the two most debated items. This leadership role has posed a number of challenges to both institutions. The Lisbon Treaty constitutes the latest and the most significant in a series of institutional adjustments. The Treaty consolidates a specific and new type of deliberative intergovernmentalism in EU policy-making which is based on a system of constant and consensus-oriented policy dialogue at the highest level of national and EU decision-making. Based on new empirical research, which has been carried out over the last two years in Brussels and member state capitals, the paper revisits the main innovations of the Lisbon Treaty in this regard. It looks in particular at how new presidency arrangements, the division of labour between Council formations and the strengthened integration of national administrative resources seek to enhance consensus oriented policy dialogue in a heterogeneous governance setting.
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