There are 4 main institutions that form part of the European Union:
- European Commission
- Council of the European Union
- European Court of Justice
- European Parliament
It is fundamentally the executive arm of the EU. It initiates policies in a whole range of areas including the environment, agriculture, education, human rights and trade and industry. It also implements policies once they have been approved by the European Parliament and the Council. For further information, please click here.
Council of the European Union
The Council is made up of the Heads of State and Governments of the EU Member States. The Council legislates the proposals made by the Commission and amended by the European Parliament and in effect, makes them law. For further information on the European Council, please click here.
European Court of Justice
This is the court of the EU and is responsible for dealing with matters concerning EU law. The ECJ ensures that laws which have been approved by the Parliament and Council are implemented across all EU Member States. For further information on the workings of the ECJ please click here.
MEPs debate policy proposals known as directives. The bulk of the analysis of policy is conducted in committees. There are 20 committees and in these committees MEPs draw up, amend and adapt legislative proposals and reports. MEPs scrutinise Commission and Council proposals and can submit written and oral questions that must be answered. For further information on the EP, please click here.
The European Parliament
The European Parliament is one of the institutions of the European Union. It is the only directly-elected body made up of 736 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who form themselves into groups according to their political affinities. MEPs are elected once every 5 years.
The EP plays an active role in drafting legislation which has an impact on the daily lives of its citizens. For example, it has already drafted legislation on consumer rights, equal opportunities, transport and the free movement of workers, capital, services and goods. The EP has joint power with the Council over the annual budget of the EU.
Members sit together according to their political beliefs rather than their nationality, so Conservatives sit together, Liberals sit together, Socialists sit together and Green sit together. A minimum of 25 Members are needed to form a political group and at least a quarter of the Member States must be represented within that group. There are some Members who do not belong to any political group and sit in a 'non- group' group called the 'non- attached'.
The European Parliament currently has 7 political groups and 1 non-group group. The political groups are:
- Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats);
- Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament;
- European Conservatives and Reformists Group;
- Group of the Alliance of liberals and Democrats for Europe;
- Group of the Greens/ European Free Alliance;
- Confederal Group of the European United Left;
- Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group.
Visiting the European Parliament
The EP is open to visits by the general public to give you the opportunity to come and see what it is, what it does and how it works. Visitors are able to visit the EP in an organised group or individually in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. For further information, please click on the following link: Visiting the European Parliament.
If you are interested in Dr Swinburne sponsoring a group of visitors, please contact her office directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitting a written question
To view the written questions that Kay has submitted to the European Commission, click on the following link: written questions.