EU INSTITUTIONS
     
Institutions European Union, the European Commission is to serve European interests, the Council of the European Union defends the interests of Member States and the European Parliament that of its citizens.
As an international organisation, the EU operates through a hybrid system of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. In certain areas, decisions are made through negotiation between member states, while in others, independent supranational institutions are responsible without a requirement for unanimity between member states. How to address the EU as a polity in international law is not yet clearly formulated, while also European politics (EU's multi-level system of governance, views on legal aspects and policy implications, non-state actors and the EU (lobbying) as the changing role of the EU in a world of challenges and opportunities) is debated. .

George Steiner says during the speech delivered at the opening of the Salzburg Festival in 1994: 'in the foundation concepts and documents that should bring Europe after 1945 a European Union, were subtle but nevertheless very influential elements in the sphere of mythology.

It is no coincidence that Schuman, Adenauer and De Gasperi, the founders, were Catholics. Nor that certain places like Aachen and Strasbourg played a legendary role in their plans'. In the design of a European confederation, which abolishes the boundaries of hate and Europe, as an important source of moral and intellectual life in the western world confirms again, is the Holy Roman Empire the example.

 

With the
Lisbon Treaty, the co-decision or ordinary legislative procedure which brings together the Council (nation states interest) , Parliament (elected every five years by member states' citizens and twice a year observed by 'Vote watch EU' on the voting behaviour of MEP's) and Commission (to serve the EU) has become the standard way of decision-making. Through this partnership between the institutions, the common interests of the European Union, of its Member States and its citizens are expressed in a unique and tangible way, creating the necessary legislation to meet the challenges of the future.

Other important institutions within Europe include Council of Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union, European Economic and Social Committee and the European Central Bank. Some monitoring and advisoring organisations are EU-28 WATCH and EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (ECFR) and from the outside Andrew Moravcsik from Princeton University.

The EU traces its origins (see The Ventotene Manifesto from Pontine Islands), Hague Congress (1948) and declaration of 9 May 1950 from the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome formed in 1957 by the same states. Since then, the EU has grown in size through enlargement and in power through the addition of policy areas to its remit.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, ensuring the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital. It maintains common policies on security, digital affairs, innovation, energy, climate change, asylum and immigration, trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

Nineteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro, constituting the Eurozone. The EU has developed a limited role in foreign policy so far, having representation at the World Trade Organization, G8, G-20 major economies and at the United Nations.

It enacts also legislation in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport controls by the Schengen Agreement between 22 EU and 3 non-EU states.

The Lisbon Treaty presents the possibility to harness foreign policy, including establishing of an External European Action Service (EEAS) and paves the way for new opportunities for an effective comprehensive security approach.


EU Presidencies:

2016: Slovakia. 2017: Malta, Estonia. 2018: Bulgaria, Austria. 2019: Romania, Finland, 2020: Croatia, Germany 2021: Portugal, Slovenia



Eurosearch debated also EU's future and delivered during a symposium the presentation
'The future of the EU
'. Discussed was the power and responsibility of the Commission. Not all decisions that the EU has taken have been necessary and appropriate. But it is the Council (and the European Parliament) that co-decide in Europe and should take the blame or the credit for the EU decisions. The Commission only proposes, and in the vast majority of cases it is the member states governments which decide! So it seems rather preposterous to suggest that ‘Brussels’ has made a decision while it is the signatures of the national governments that appear on the final document.
             
             

(1) EU institution, where EU leaders meet around 4 times a year to discuss the EU’s political priorities. It passes EU laws, coordinates the broad economic policies of EU member countries, signs agreements between the EU and other countries, approves the annual EU budget, develops the EU's foreign and defence policies and coordinates cooperation between courts and police forces of member countries. The Council is an essential EU decision-maker. Acts which are directly relevant to the lives of EU citizens and have a considerable international impact are adopted by the Council, usually in conjunction with the European Parliament.

The Council is the EU institution where the Member States' government representatives sit, i.e. the ministers of each Member State with responsibility for a given area. The composition and frequency of Council meetings vary depending on the issues dealt with. Foreign ministers, for example, meet roughly once a month in the Foreign Affairs Council. Similarly, economics and finance ministers meet once a month in the Council which handles economic and financial affairs, called the Ecofin Council. There are ten Council configuration, covering the whole range of EU policies. The General Affairs Council, which is usually attended by foreign ministers or European affairs ministers, makes sure that the various Council configurations are working consistently with one another and makes the preparations for European Council meetings.

The Council's remit:
- It adopts legislative acts (Regulations, Directives, etc.), in many cases in "co-decision" with the European Parliament;
- It helps coordinate Member States' policies, for example, in the economic field;
- It develops the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of strategic guidelines set by the European Council;
- It concludes international agreements on behalf of the Union;
- It adopts the Union's budget, together with the European Parliament.

The Council as law-maker:
The EU's laws are made by the Council, together with the European Parliament. In most cases, the Council can only legislate on the basis of proposals submitted to it by the European Commission. It can ask the Commission to submit any proposals it may deem appropriate. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, a million citizens may also sign a petition inviting the Commission to submit a proposal. This is the citizens' right of initiative. The Council sits in public when it is discussing and voting on a proposal for a legislative act or when there is a general debate. You can follow these discussions in real time on the Council's Internet site (
video.consilium.europa.eu) and see, for example, how your minister is putting your country's point of view. The written documentation available to the ministers is also accessible to everyone. Conversely, discussions on matters which do not involve legislation, for example foreign affairs, are not public. However, Council meetings are always followed by a press conference and a press release explaining what decisions have been taken. 

A qualified majority will be reached if the following two conditions are met:
- if a majority of Member States approve (in some cases a two-thirds majority);
- a minimum of 260 votes is cast in favour of the proposal, out of a total of 352 votes.

In addition, a Member State may ask for confirmation that the votes in favour represent at least 62 % of the total population of the Union. If this is found not to be the case, the decision will not be adopted.

Distribution of votes for each Member State 

Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom

29

Spain, Poland

27

Romania

14

Netherlands

13

Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal

12

Austria, Bulgaria, Sweden

10

Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia

7

Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia

4

Malta

3

TOTAL

352

The Presidency of the Council:
The EU's 28 Member States take it in turn to chair the Council for a period of six months each. During this six-month period, the Presidency chairs meetings at every level, proposes guidelines and draws up the compromises needed for the Council to take decisions. In the interests of continuity of Council business, the six-monthly presidencies work together closely in groups of three. These three-Presidency teams draw up a joint programme of Council work over an 18-month period. Only one Council configuration is not chaired by the six-monthly presidency: the Foreign Affairs Council, which, since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, has been chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Since 1 December 2009 this post has been held by Ms Catherine Ashton. Roughly twenty working parties in the foreign affairs field also have a permanent chairman appointed by the High Representative