EU Bodies

European Union Major Bodies

European Union Major Bodies and Institutions: An Overview

The Member States of the European Union have delegated some of their powers to common European institutions. Many decisions affecting people’s daily lives are adopted accordingly by a democratic process that brings the different institutions and bodies of the Union together.

Institutional triangle

The Union’s three principal decision-making institutions are:

  • the European Parliament, which represents European citizens and whose members are elected by direct suffrage;
  • the Council, which represents the Member States;
  • the European Commission, tasked with defending the interests of the Union as a whole.

This ‘institutional triangle’ defines the policies and adopts the legislation (directives, regulations and decisions) which apply throughout the Union. In principle the Commission is responsible for proposing new European legislation, while the Parliament and the Council are responsible for adopting it.

Two other institutions play key roles: the Court of Justice ensures Community law is respected, while the Court of Auditors oversees the funding of EU activities.

In support of these institutions the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions act as advisory bodies that must be consulted before new rules are adopted in several areas of Community competence.

Financial bodies

Three EU bodies act in the financial sphere:

  • the European Central Bank, which is responsible for European monetary policy;
  • the European Investment Bank, which is responsible for managing EU investment projects;
  • the European Investment Fund, which provides guarantees and contributes to venture capital initiatives to assist small and medium-sized enterprises.

Other specialised bodies

Some independent Community bodies also carried out technical, scientific or management tasks relating to the three -former- Community pillars. Note: the structure of the EU pillars has changed. The information below relates to the past:

A total of 15 specialised agencies (called ‘Community agencies’) share the management of Community powers in relation to the first pillar.

The European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Union Satellite Centre perform specific tasks relating to common foreign and security policy (the second pillar).

Finally, Europol and Eurojust help coordinate police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (the third pillar).

The European Ombudsman protects EU citizens and enterprises against risks of maladministration.

The European Data Protection Supervisor ensures that Community institutions and bodies respect the individual’s right to privacy when they process personal data concerning them.

The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities publishes, prints and distributes information on the EU and its activities;

The European Personnel Selection Office recruits the staff of the EU institutions and other bodies.

Introduction to EU Major Bodies Structure

The European Community (EC) pillar contains all the governing institutions of the EU. The major ones are the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the Court of Auditors. In addition, there are many smaller bodies in the EC pillar, such as the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.” (1)


Notes and References

Guide to EU Major Bodies Structure

More Topics about the European Union

European Economic Area, European Union, European Union History (including European Union Early Cooperation, Benelux Customs Union, European Coal and Steel Community, European Economic Community, European Community, Expansion of the EC, Single European Act, Creation of the European Union, Treaty on European Union, Amsterdam Treaty, Treaty of Nice, Treaty of Lisbon, Monetary Union and EU Growing Accountability), EU Pillar System, EU Major Bodies Structure, European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Parliament, European Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, European Central Bank, Economic and Social Committee, Committee of the Regions, European Union Policies, Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, EU Economic Differences, European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Investment Bank, European Monetary System, Economic and Monetary Union, EU International Relations, EU Expansion, EU and Non-European Nations and European Union Future.

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