European Parliament

The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically.

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European Commission 

The European Commission is the EU’s executive body. It represents the interests of the European Union as a whole (not the interests of individual countries).

The term ‘Commission’ refers to both the College of Commissioners and to the institution itself.

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The European Council

The European Council is the EU institution that defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. It consists of the heads of state or government of the member states, together with its President and the President of the Commission.

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The Council of the EU

The Council of the EU is the institution representing the member states’ governments. Also known informally as the EU Council, it is where national ministers from each EU country meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.

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 The Court of Justice of the European Union

Since the establishment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 1952, its mission has been to ensure that “the law is observed” “in the interpretation and application” of the Treaties.

As part of that mission, the Court of Justice of the European Union: reviews the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union, ensures that the Member States comply with obligations under the Treaties, and interprets European Union law at the request of the national courts and tribunals.

The Court thus constitutes the judicial authority of the European Union and, in cooperation with the courts and tribunals of the Member States, it ensures the uniform application and interpretation of European Union law.
The Court of Justice of the European Union, which has its seat in Luxembourg, consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court (created in 1988) and the Civil Service Tribunal (created in 2004). Since their establishment, approximately 28 000 judgments have been delivered by the three courts.

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The European Court of Auditors

The ECA was established to audit the EU’s finances.  The starting point for its audit work is the EU’s budget and policies, primarily in areas relating to growth and jobs, added value, public finances, the environment and climate action. The ECA audits the budget in terms of both revenue and spending.

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The European Central Bank

The tasks of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the Eurosystem are laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. They are specified in theStatute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank. The Statute is a protocol attached to the Treaty.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union generally refers to the ESCB rather than to the Eurosystem, since it was drawn up on the premise that all EU Member States would eventually adopt the euro. The Eurosystem is made up of the ECB and the national central banks (NCBs) of the EU Member States whose currency is the euro, whereas the ESCB comprises the ECB and the NCBs of all EU Member States (Article 282(1) of the Treaty). As long as there are EU Member States whose currency is not the euro, it will be necessary to make a distinction between the Eurosystem and the ESCB.

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The Economic and Social Committee

The EESC is the only consultative body at European Union level that gives the Commission, the Council and the Parliament the points of view of the people “on the ground” – those most directly affected by EU legislation. Its membership is made up of representatives of Europe’s employers’ organizations, trade unions, farmers, consumer groups, professional associations, and so on. What is particularly distinctive about the EESC is that it is a non-political organization, and exists to give advice on a wide range of practical matters.the EESC is the only way for Europe’s interest groups – trade unionists, employers, farmers, etc. – to have a formal and institutionalized say on draft EU legislation. The EESC exists to channel the views of these vital interest groups to the larger EU institutions. The involvement of European society in its very broadest sense is thus at the heart of the European decision-making process. It is interesting to contrast this role with that of the European Parliament, which represents individual citizens rather than interest groups. The ESC is therefore highly complementary. It does a job done nowhere else at EU level.350, divided between the twenty eight Member States according to a given quota. All are appointed by the Council of Ministers following proposals made by the government of the respective Member State. They receive allowances to cover their travel expenses and accommodation when attending meetings, but are not otherwise paid.

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Committee of Regions

Created in 1994, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union’s assembly of regional and local representatives.It is composed of 350 members – regional presidents, mayors or elected representatives of regions and cities – from the 28 EU countries. Members must be democratically elected and/or hold a political mandate in their home country. Through the CoR, EU local and regional authorities can have a say on the development of EU laws that impact regions and cities.

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European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union.Citizens of a Member State of the Union or residers in a Member State, can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman. Businesses, associations or other bodies with a registered office in the Union may also complain to the Ombudsman.

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The European Investment Bank

The EIB is the European Union’s bank, owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. The bank works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.As the largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the bank  provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90% of its activities are focused on Europe but it  also supports the EU’s external and development policies.Thenk’s activities can be summarized under three headings:

Lending: The vast majority of the financing is through loans, but the bank also offer guarantees, microfinance, equity investment, etc.

  • Blending: The bank helps unlock financing from other sources, particularly from the EU budget. This is blended together to form the full financing package.
  • Advising: Lack of finance is often only one barrier to investment. The Bank can help with administrative and project management capacity which facilitates investment implementation.

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