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Institutions of the European Union

To understand how European states and citizens are represented in the different institutions. To know the extent and level of decentralisation of the European administration. To know the sectors of activity of the different European agencies. According to the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has 7 different institutions: The European Council establishes the overall direction of EU policy, but it does not have the power to pass laws.

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It meets for two or three days at least once every six months under the leadership of its President, who is currently Herman Van Rompuy. The Council of the European Union is also known as the Council of Ministers and represents the governments of the member states and forms part of the legislative power.

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The formations of the Council of the EU vary according to the subject to be treated natural environment, economy, employment, etc. It has a rotating presidency, with a duration of six months, which is held — following a previously established calendar - by the corresponding minister from the member state currently charged with this duty.

The European Commission is the body that exercises executive power; its members are chosen every five years by the European Parliament. It also has the capacity to sanction any member states that fail to comply with community law. Second, the European Parliament is composed of representatives—known as members of the European Parliament, or MEPs—who are directly elected by the citizens of each EU member state.


The European Council and Parliament together determine the composition of the European Commission—the council nominates its members and Parliament must approve them. The commission has the sole authority to propose EU laws and spending, but all EU legislation requires the approval of both Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Parliament negotiates all laws, including the budget, with the commission and the Council of Ministers in an arrangement known as co-decision.

The president of Parliament, who is elected by the body, must also sign off on laws for their passage.

How Does the European Union Work?

Parliament has a number of other powers. It approves members of the European Commission, meaning that parliamentary elections go far in determining the direction of EU policy.

That has never happened, but on one occasion, in , the commission resigned en masse over a corruption scandal before Parliament could act. As the executive body, the commission is most responsible for the day-to-day operations of the EU. The commission is tasked with drafting legislation and drawing up the EU budget. It sends these proposals to Parliament and the Council of Ministers and negotiates with them until it wins approval from both institutions.

The commission also helps enforce EU treaties by raising legal disputes with the Court of Justice. Member states gave the EU different levels of authority over different areas, known as competencies :. But CFSP decisions must be unanimous, and member states remain free to make their own foreign policies.

Online Course: European Union. EU Institutions

Implementation of the CFSP, the responsibility of the European Commission, is carried out by the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, a position informally known as the EU foreign minister. This position was created by the Lisbon Treaty to strengthen and centralize EU diplomacy. It is managed by the commission, draws staff from across the EU institutions, and operates in more than countries. The bloc played a leading role in negotiating international agreements including the Paris climate accord and the Iranian nuclear deal , both finalized in In major conflict zones, such as Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, the bloc has struggled to define a common policy.

The European Union - How It Works - How It Affects You

It has maintained sanctions on Russia since the annexation of Crimea, but EU members are divided over how closely to work with Moscow on energy and other areas. National governments have agreed to transfer all their decision-making power in this area, unlike other foreign policy matters, to the EU.

The EU needs a unified trade policy because of its customs union, which sets a single external tariff for the entire bloc, and its single market, which treats all goods and services that enter the EU the same. Finally, if a trade deal is particularly broad, it may also require the individual approval of each EU member state. Signed in , CETA has yet to take full effect because the Italian government has so far refused to sign off on it. Ask an expert! What's everyone dancing to on Strictly? World Peace Day: Is this what peace looks like? Home Menu. How does the EU work?