European Union

Institutions

The European Parliament is the only European Union’s institution elected by direct universal vote, once at five years.

Parliament has three main roles:

  1. It shares with the Council the power to legislate. The fact that is a directly-elected body helps guarantee the democratic legitimacy of European law.
  2. It exercises democratic supervision over all EU institutions, and in particular the Commission. It has the power to approve or reject the nomination of Commissioners, and it has the right to censure the Commission as a whole.
  3. It shares with the Council authority over the EU budget and can therefore influence EU spending. At the end of the procedure, it adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety.

  The official seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg where the deputies spend one week, each month, in plenary sessions.

The additional plenary sessions are held in Brussels where are seated the permanent offices of the Commissions and Deputies of the European Parliament.

The General Secretariat of the European Parliament is seated in Luxembourg.

The Members of the European Parliament belong to one or other of the political groups, not to national delegations. After 2004 elections, the European Parliament has 732 deputies. According with the Nice Treaty, Romania will be represented by 33 deputies.

The acting President of the European Parliament elected for two years and half (until 2007) is Josep Borell Fontalles (Spain).

   The Council of the European Union is the main decision-making body of the European Union and ensures the representation of the national interests of the Member States and their governments at European level. The Council is composed by the Ministers of the Member States responsible with different subjects. The Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) prepares and coordinates the activities of the Council and it is composed by permanent representatives for every Member State in the EU. The activity of this Committee is prepared by 150 working groups composed by delegates from Member States.

The regulations adopted are compulsory for the Member States and they are transposed in the national legislation.

The headquarters of the Council of the European Union is in Brussels.

 

   The European Commission is the most “revolutionary” institution from the European Community system, considered also as the integrating driving force of the Union.

The European Commission, appreciated as “the guardian of complying with the Treaties”, it is the executive body of the European Union. According with the Protocol on the European Union enlargement from the Treaty of Nice, each Member State proposes a Commissioner for five years (according with the Constitution of EU, this system will be reconsidered until 2014). At present, the Commission has 25 Commissioners. Each Commissioner is responsible for a certain portfolio or certain political field, in the same manner like a Minister of a Government.

The European Commission is leaded by a President; the acting President is Jose Manuel Baroso (Portugal).

The role of the European Commission is to ensure the compliance with the provisions of the fundamental Treaties of the European Union, to propose the European legislation and to ensure its approval. The European funds and programmes (including those dedicated to the third countries, outside the European Union) are administrated by the European Commission.

The headquarters of the European Commission is in Brussels.

  The Court of Justice is the Supreme Court of EU on the subject in which the European legislation is applied. The Court of Justice is composed by 1 judge per Member State and assisted by 8 Advocates-General. It is the responsibility of the Court of Justice to ensure that the EU law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties establishing the European Communities. To enable it to carry out that task, the Court has wide jurisdiction to hear various types of action. The Court has competence, inter alia, to rule on applications for annulment or actions for failure to act brought by a Member State or an institution, actions against Member States for failure to fulfil obligations, references for a preliminary ruling and appeals against decisions of the Court.

The seat of the Court of Justice is in Luxembourg.

 

 

  The Court of Auditors is the institution which audits the accounts. It examines the accounts of the Union’s income and expenditures and checks whether the financial management has been sound.

The members of The Court of Auditors are elected for 6 years, by the Council, after the consultation of the Parliament, based on the Member States proposals. The President is elected by the members of the Court for 3 years.

The seat of the Court of Auditors is in Luxembourg.

Photos: © Photo Parlement Europeen, © European Union 2010 PE-EP, "Curtea de Justitie a Uniunii Europene", © European Union

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