Summits play a key role in the institutional structure of cooperation and define the strategic direction of development of Russia-EU relations. They take place twice a year: traditionally in the first half of the year – in Russia, and in the second half – according to practice established after the Lisbon treaty came into force on 1 December 2009 – in Brussels (prior to the Lisbon treaty – in the EU member state holding the Presidency of the Council). At the summits Russia is represented by the President and Ministers responsible for specific areas of cooperation with the European Union. The EU is represented by the President of European Council, the President of European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Since the entry into force on 1 December 1997 of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement Russia and the EU have held a total of 32 summits. The latest took place in Brussels on 28 January 2014.