EU Institutions

1. European Parliament

The European Parliament is the representative body of the EU, which together with the Council of the European Union, is one of the main legislative bodies in the EU. The members of the European Parliament are elected by direct universal suffrage, and the number of MPs from each country is equivalent to the total number of the citizens of that EU member state.

Each country must have at least 6 representatives, 96 at the most, whereas the total number of MPs must not exceed 751 (750 plus the president). The MPs are grouped according to political orientation, and not according to their national affiliation.

The European Parliament's three main roles:
  • Acting together with the Council of the EU as a legislature;
  • Supervision over the work of other EU institutions, especially the European Commission;
  • Adoption of the EU budget together with the Council of the EU.

Headquarters: Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg

Further information: http://www.europarl.europa.eu


2. European Council

The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union, provides guidelines for the Union's development and coordinates the interests and attitudes of member states (key questions of interest for foreign, security and internal policy of the EU). The European Council is a body of the EU, i.e. the meeting of Heads of State or Government of the Member States (the so-called EU Summit). The European Council meets twice a year, and if necessary twice every six months at the most.

Although it is very influential in defining the Union's political guidelines, the European Council It does not exercise legislative functions.

Headquarters: Brussels

Further information: http://europa.eu/european_council/index_en.htm


3. Council of the European Union or Council of Ministers

The Council of the European Union or Council of Ministers of EU is a body of the EU having legislative powers alongside with the European Parliament. It consists of one minister from each member state, depending on the issues being on the agenda of the Council of the EU (foreign affairs, internal affairs, finance, telecommunication, education etc.).

The main tasks of the Council of the European Union:
  • Negotiates and adopts legislative acts together with the European Parliament;
  • Coordinates member states’ policies;
  • Concludes international agreements with one or more states or international organisations on behalf of the EU;
  • Adopts and manages the EU budget;
  • Develops the EU's common foreign and security policy;
  • Coordinates the activities of member states and adopts the measures in police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) has a significant role and it is composed of the permanent representatives from each member state and their deputies. COREPER coordinates and prepares the work of the different Council configurations and works out agreements and compromises which are then submitted for adoption by the Council.

  • COREPER l: deals with technical and administrative issues. It is composed of each country's deputy permanent representative.  
  • COREPER ll: is composed of each member states' permanent representatives, i.e. ambassadors and deals with political issues, which makes it a highly influential body in the work of the Council.

Headquarters: Brussels

Further information: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/


4. European Commission

The European Commission is the most important executive institution of the EU. The European Commission has the right of initiative to propose laws for adoption by the European Parliament and Council of the EU, prepares the decisions of the Council of the European Union and implements them upon the adoption, monitors the application of EU legislation by the EU member states. Moreover, it ensures the application of EU Treaties and protection of EU interests.

The Commission is composed of the College of Commissioners of 28 members, one from each EU member state, who are independent in their work.

The Commission is divided into several departments and services encompassing areas, such as: transport; energy; competition; agriculture and rural development; informatics; internal market; taxation and customs union; research and innovation; economic and financial affairs; humanitarian aid; neighbourhood and enlargement negotiations; international cooperation and development; trade; health and food safety; regional policy; education and culture; budget; justice; home affairs; employment and social affairs.

Headquarters: Luxembourg (the Commission has representation offices in every EU member state and worldwide)

The Strategy Europe 2020 is a document of the European Commission, which is the EU’s growth strategy until the end of 2020

Further information: http://ec.europa.eu/


5. Court of Justice of the European Union

The Court of Justice of the European Union ensures respect of rights concerning the application and interpretation of the EU legislation, acts in the disputes between EU member states, EU institutions and individuals. The Court of Justice is composed of 28 Judges and nine Advocates General, who assist the Court. It is composed of one judge per member state.

The composition of the Court of Justice of the European Union:
  • General Court: deals with the disputes between individuals/companies and EU institutions/member states.
  • Civil Service Tribunal: deals with disputes between institutions/their civil servants.

Headquarters: Luxembourg

Further information: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/j_6/


6.  
European Central Bank

The European Central Bank is an independent body which defines and implements the monetary policy of the euro area, deals with the maintenance of the euro's purchasing power and thus price stability in the euro area, conducts foreign exchange operations and promotes the smooth operation of payment systems.

Headquarters: Frankfurt

Further information: http://www.ecb.europa.eu/


7. European Court of Auditors

The European Court of Auditors ensures that the EU budget management is legal and consistent. The ECA operates as a collegiate body of 28 Members, one from each Member State. The Members are appointed by the Council of the EU after consultation with the European Parliament.

Headquarters: Luxembourg

Further information: http://www.eca.europa.eu/Pages/Splash.aspx


8. European Economic and Social Committee

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe's socio-occupational interest groups and others, a formal platform to express their points of views on EU issues. Its opinions are forwarded to the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Headquarters: Brussels

Further information: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.home


9. Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions deals with the issues of regional and local identity within EU. It consists of representatives of local and regional authorities. It is consulted by the Council of the EU, the European Commission or the European Parliament in areas affecting local and regional interests (employment, environment, education, health, etc.).

Headquarters: Brussels

Further information: http://cor.europa.eu/en/Pages/home.aspx


10. European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the financial institution of the European Union owned by the 28 member states. The EIB gives loans at advantageous rates and finances investment projects which contribute to the balanced development of the EU, businesses of SMEs, technological development in research, innovation, environmental protection and energy in the EU and neighbouring countries.

Headquarters: Luxembourg

Further information: http://www.eib.europa.eu/index.htm?lang=en&


11. European Investment Fund

The European Investment Fund (EIF) supports Europe's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. The EIF does not invest in SMEs directly, but acts through banks and financial intermediaries. The EIF is active in all EU member states, candidate countries, potential candidates and signatories of EFTA Agreement (Island, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Headquarters: Luxembourg

Further information: http://www.eif.org/  


12. European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman is appointed by the European Parliament for a period of five years. The European Ombudsman investigates the complaints of EU citizens, enterprises and organisations. Any resident of the EU or entity with a registered office in the EU can lodge a complaint if they think their rights have been violated by an EU institution or an EU body.

Headquarters: Strasbourg

Further information: http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/home/en/default.htm


13. European Data Protection Supervisor

The institution was established in 2001. The European Data Protection Supervisor is devoted to the protection of personal data and privacy when the EU or its institutions process the personal data of EU citizens.

Headquarters: Brussels

Further information: https://secure.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/edps/lang/en/EDPS