This article deals with a significant institutional step in the history of European integration, namely the legally non-binding decision to hold EEC heads of state and government meetings on a regular basis. It concentrates on the negotiations leading to this decision from mid-1974 until the formal creation of the European Council at the Paris Summit on 9 and 10 December 1974.Drawing upon extensive research in multiple national and EEC archives, this article will embed the analysis of the French initiative in a multilateral context of policy-making and bargaining. It will first try to see to what extent the nine EEC member states shared a common diagnosis about heads of state and government meetings. Then it will delve into the negotiations about the institutionalisation of EEC summits, and finally it will try to explain why, in spite of a number of disagreements, the European Council was eventually created at the Paris Summit. This article shows that the creation of the European Council was more complex than is usually perceived, and highlight wider perennial themes of European integration history.
Reviewed for H-Diplo by Prof. Federico Romero.
Article shortlisted in the top-5 humanities articles considered by the Committee of the 2012 Council for European Studies (CES) First Article Prize, Columbia University