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European Union Institutions and decisionmaking


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Title: European Union Institutions and decisionmaking

European Union Institutions and decision-making
Further links
  • The official website of the European Parliament
  • http//
  • The official website of the European Commission
  • http//
  • The official website of the Council of the
    European Union
  • http//
  • The official website of the European Court of
  • http//
  • The official website of the Finnish Presidency


References, sources of information
  • Relevant parts of theTreaty (TEC)
  • Article 7 - 10
  • Article 105 115
  • Article 189 -267
  • Rules of Procedure of the respective
  • Institutions and bodies
  • European Parliament OJ L 28/08/2002
  • Council OJ L 176 04/07/1991
  • Commission OJ L 308 08/012/2000
  • European Court of Justice OJ L 176 04/07/1991
  • Link to all Rules of Procedure
  • http//

Institutions and other bodies
  • Article 7
  • The tasks entrusted to the Community shall be
    carried out by the following institutions
  • The Council and the Commission shall be assisted
  • Economic and Social Committee
  • Committee of the Regions acting in an advisory

European Parliament TEC Article189-201
  • Composition
  • 732 Members, for a term of five years elected by
    direct universal suffrage
  • MEPs sit in political groups
  • President Joseph Borrel Fontelles (PES)
  • Works in
  • Strasbourg - seat / plenary
  • Brussels - Committees, group, additional plenary
  • Luxembourg - administrative offices
  • Directly elected since 1979

Political Groups in the EP
  • Formation of political groups
  • MEPs elected in at least one-fifth of the MSs.
  • minimum number of MEPs required 19
  • PPE-DE Group of the European Peoples Party and
    European Democrats (266) Pöttering
  • PSE Socialist group (201) Schulz
  • ALDE Group of the Alliance of Liberals and
    Democrats for Europe (88) Watson
  • Verts / ALE Group of the Greens /European Free
    Alliance (42) Co-presidency (!) DanielCohn-Bendit
    Monica Frassoni
  • GUE/NGL Confederal Group of the European United
    Left (41) Wurtz
  • IND / DEM Independence / Democracy (36)
  • UEN Union for Europe of the Nations group (27)
  • NI Non-attached (30)
  • Note numbers state of play 13 June 2005 there
    are always outgoing and incoming MEPs 

Functions of the EP
  • Legislative power
  • Democratic control
  • Budgetary powers

Decision making / main procedures
  • Codecision (Article 251)
  • Rights of the Institutions in first and second
  • Deadlines
  • Composition of Conciliation Committee (50)
  • Consultation
  • Assent
  • Information
  • Budgetary
  • Cooperation (Article 252)

Areas covered by codecision
  • customs co-operation, the internal market
  • non-discrimination on the basis of nationality
  • the right to move and reside the free movement of
    workers , social security for migrant workers,
    the right of establishment, EU citizenship
  • employment, the fight against social exclusion,
    equal opportunities and equal treatment
  • transport, trans-European networks
  • implementing decisions regarding the European
    Social Fund and the European Regional Development
  • the environment
  • culture, education and vocational training
  • health, consumer protection
  • research
  • transparency, preventing and combating fraud
  • statistics, setting up a data protection advisory

Areas covered by consultation
  • Police and judicial cooperation in criminal
  • Revision of the Treaties
  • Discrimination on grounds of sex, race or ethnic
    origin, religion or political conviction,
    disability, age or sexual orientation 
  • Agriculture
  • Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies
    associated with the free movement of persons
  • Transport - to have a significant impact on
    certain regions
  • Competition rules
  • Tax arrangements
  • Economic policy
  • Enhanced co-operation 

Areas covered by assent
  • serious breaches of Human Rights
  • the uniform electoral procedure for the European
  • certain international agreements having serious
    budgetary implications
  • the accession of new Member States
  • specific tasks of the European Central Bank
  • amending the statutes of the European System of
    Central Banks/ European Central Bank

Democratic control
  • Parliamentary approval of the nomination of the
    President of Commission and the Members of the
    Commission as a body - COM is politically
    answerable to the EP
  • Exercising control over COM written and oral
    questions, reports
  • Motion of censure (Article 201 TEC, Article 100
    of Rules of Procedure)
  • Setting up temporary committees of inquiry

The Council Article 202-210
  • One single Institution
  • 9 different configurations (reform of 2002 RoP
    Annex I)
  • General Affairs and External Relations (including
    European Security and Defence Policy and
    Developmnet Co-operation
  • Economic and Financial Affairs (including budget)
  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer
  • Competitiveness (!) comprising
  • Internal Market
  • Industry
  • Research
  • Tourism
  • Justice and Home affairs (including civil
  • Environment
  • Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
  • Education, Youth and Culture (including
    audiovisual matters)

How does the Council work?
  • Working groups
  • Coreper (Committee of the Permanent
    representatives off the MSs) responsible for
    preparing the work of the Council
  • Coreper II (assisted by Antici group)
  • Coreper I (assisted by Mertens group)
  • Council of Ministers (9 configuration)
  • Seat in Brussels but holds meetings in
    Luxembourg as well (during April, June and
    October Rules of Procedure Article 1)

Responsibilities of the Council
  • Legislation
  • Co-ordination of the broad economic policies
  • Conclusion of international agreements
  • Approval of the EUs budget (together with EP)
  • Development of the EUs Common Foreign and
    Security Policy
  • Co-ordination between the national courts and
    police forces in criminal matters

Voting procedure
  • Simple majority
  • only in procedural cases
  • Qualified majority voting (QMV)
  • QMV goes in most cases hand in hand with the
    co-decision (Exeptionseg Article 42 TEC
    coordination of social security)
  • minimum votes required (232/321 72.3)
  • majority of Member States
  • a MS may ask for confirmation that the votes in
    favour represent at least 62 of the total
    population of the Union
  • Unanimity
  • ie. CFSP, taxation, asylum, immigration policy
  • Special procedure excessive deficit procedure
    (Art 104)
  • a majority of two thirds of the votes cast
  • excluding the votes of the representative of the
    Member State concerned.

Number of votes per MS
  • Votes of MSs
  • according to population
  • but not strictly proporotional, adjusted to the
    less populous coountries
  • Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom 29
  • Spain and Poland 27
  • Netherlands 13
  • Belgium, Czech Rep., Greece, Hungary and Portugal
  • Austria and Sweden1 0
  • Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland
  • Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovenia
  • Malta 3
  • TOTAL 321

Roles of the Council Presidency
  • Chairs all meetings at all levels
  • Sets the Council agenda in technical and policy
    terms ie. Presidency priorities
  • Current presidency (2nd half of 2006) Finland
  • Incoming presidencies
  • Germany 2007 I.
  • Portugal 2007 II.
  • Slovenia 2008 I.
  • Previous presidencies
  • Austria 2006 I.
  • UK 2005 II.
  • Luxembourg 2005 I.
  • Netherlands 2004 II.
  • Ireland 2004 I.
  • Italy 2003 II.
  • Greece 2003 I.

European Council (The Summit)Article 4 TEU
  • neither an EU institution nor a legislator but
    the main EU decision making body (Constitution!)
  • introduced by the Single European Act (SEA)
  • has an official status since the Maastrichti
    Treaty (TEU)
  • provides the Union with the necessary impetus for
    its development and defines the general political
  • other duties
  • Employment conclusions (Art 128.)
  • Broad economic policy conclusions (Art.99)
  • Composition Heads of State or Government of the
    Member States and the President of the
  • meet at least twice a year
  • submit to the European Parliament a report after
    each of its meetings and a yearly written report
    on the progress achieved by the Union.
  • Meet in Brussels (! as from Nice onwards)

European CommissionArticle 211-219
  • Representing the interests of the Community
  • The term COM is used in two senses
  • the Commissioners - the College(25)
  • special composition between May-October 2004
  • profound knowledge of their portfolio
  • principle of collective responsibility - acting
    by simple majority
  • the Institution itself and staff
  • 37 Directorates General and Services
  • Led by the Director General
  • Code of good administrative behaviour (Rules of
    Procedure) - dealing with inquiries - reply must
    be sent within 15 working days
  • Seat Brussels
  • but has offices in Luxembourg
  • and representations in MSs / delegations in 3rd

Roles of the Commission
  • Exclusive right of initiative - power to propose
  • White Paper, Green Paper
  • Obligation to consult the two advisory bodies
    (EESC, CoR)
  • (!) Article 192 the EP can request the COM to
  • To manage and implement EU policies and budget
  • To enforce Community Law
  • infringement procedure
  • Representing the EU on the international stage

European Courts Article 220-246
  • Court of Justice of the European Communities
  • was set up under the Treaty of Paris 1952 (ECSC)
  • Composition - 1 judge per each Member State
  • can sit in Grand Chamber (11 judges)
  • Appointed for a term of 6 years by joint
    agreement of the MSs
  • President for 3 years
  • 8 advocates general
  • role presenting reasoned opinions to Court
  • seat - Luxembourg
  • President Vassilios Skouris

European Courts
  • Court of First Instance
  • 1 judge per each Member State
  • was created in 1989
  • powers are extended by the Nice Treaty
  • no advocates general
  • areas of responsibility
  • President Bo Vesterdorf

European Economic and Social Committee Article
  • EU body with an advisory status
  • founded under the Treaty of Rome in 1957
  • function as channel in the interests of the
    organised civil society
  • Employers, trade unions etc.
  • Lobbying?
  • currently 317 Members
  • In EU15 222 Members
  • Romanian / Bulgarian accession 27 is added
    total 344)
  • Members are delegated by the MSs
  • term of 4 years
  • seat - Brussels
  • meets in plenary 10 times annually 6
  • President in office Anne-Marie Sigmund

Committee of the RegionsArticle 263-265
  • EU body with an advisory status
  • set up under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1994
  • Function ensures that the interests of local
    and regional governments are taken into account
  • currently 317 Members
  • In EU15 222 Members
  • Romanian / Bulgarian accession 27 is added
    total 344)
  • Members are delegated by the MSs
  • term of 4 years
  • seat - Brussels
  • meets in plenary 5 times a year 6 Commissions
  • President in office Michelle Delebarre

European Court of AuditorsArticle 247-248
  • established in 1977
  • one Member per each MS for 6 years
  • president for 3 years - Hubert WEBER
  • seat Luxembourg
  • functions
  • examines all revenue and expenditure of the
  • Carries out on-the-spot checks
  • help the budgetary authorities in sendign a
    statement of assurance
  • Gives an opinion before adoption of EUs
    financial regulations
  • Annual Report

European Investment Bank (EIB)Article 266-267
  • set up by the Treaty of Rome in 1958
  • has a legal personality, members / shareholders
    are the MSs
  • MSs subscribe its capital jointly reflecting
    their economic weights
  • seat Luxembourg
  • function invest in projects that promote the
    objectives of the EU (ie. TEN, SMEs,
  • Chairman Philippe Maystadt

European Central BankArticle 105-112 cikk
  • set up in 1998
  • seat Frankfurt
  • role
  • maintain price stability
  • controlling the money supply
  • Monitoring price trends
  • Institutional framework
  • Executive Board comprising the President of ECB
    (J.C.Trichet), the Vice-President and 4 other
    members appointed by the prime ministers of the
    eurozone MSs
  • Governing Council governors of the 12 central
    banks of the eurozone
  • General Council ECB president, vice-president
    and the governors of all 25 EU MSs
  • ESCB European system of Central Banks

European OmbudsmanArticle 195
  • Created by the Maastricht Treaty
  • Elected by the EP (Nikiforos Diamandouros) for 5
  • Duties
  • Investigate maladminsitration by the European
    Institutions (except the European Courts)
  • following by a complaint or on own initiative
  • Powers of the Ombudsman
  • Information (the Institiution concerned has 3
    months to give a detailed opinion on the matter)
  • conciliation
  • recommendation
  • report to the EP

European Data Protection Supervisorbased on
Article 286 - Regulation EC 45/2001
  • Independent authority
  • Duties ensuring that a persons right to privacy
    is respected while processing personal data on an
    identifiable individual
  • created in 2001 - operational as from 2004
  • Term of office five years
  • Mr Peter Hustinx

European Community Agencies
  • a body set up by the EU to carry out a very
    specific technical, scientific or management task
    within first pillar
  • set up by a secondary legislation specifiying its
  • currently 16 bodies that match the definition of
    a Community Agency under the name
  • centre
  • institute
  • foundation
  • office
  • authority etc. 
  • seats can be a question

European Community agencies
  • Cedefop European Centre for the Development of
    Vocational Training (Thessaloniki)
  • EUROFOUND European Foundation for the Improvement
    of Living and Working Conditions (Dublin)
  • EEA European Environment Agency (Copenhagan)
  • ETF European Training Foundation (Torino)
  • EMCDDA European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and
    Drug Addiction (Lisbon)
  • EMEA European Medicines Agency (London)
  • OHIM Office for Harmonisation in the Internal
    Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (Alicante)
  • EU-OSHA European Agency for Safety and Health at
    Work (Bilbao)
  • CPVO Community Plant Variety Office (Angers)
  • CdT Translation Centre for the Bodies of the
    European Union (Luxembourg)
  • EUMC European Monitoring Centre on Racism and
    Xenophobia (Wien)
  • EAR European Agency for Reconstruction
  • EFSA European Food Safety Authority (Parma)
  • EMSA European Maritime Safety Agency (temporary
    Brussels final Lisbon)
  • EASA European Aviation Safety Agency (Köln)
  • ENISA European Network and Information Security
    Agency (temporary Brussels final Heraklion)

One example
  • Which of the following is not an institution
    under the EC Treaty?
  • a) European Parliament
  • b) Court of Auditors
  • c) Committee of Regions
  • d) Court of Justice