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Future of Europe
Which of the 5 scenarios proposed would you choose?
  • Carrying On
  • Nothing but the Single Market
  • Those Who Want More Do More
  • Doing Less More Efficiently
  • Doing Much More Together
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  • Creative Europe Project
    The Department of Haute-Loire is looking for three European partners to parti...
    25 August 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • White paper on the futur
    White paper on the future of Europe...
    27 July 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The EU's response to the
    One of our student interns produced this well-written article about the ongoi...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The importance of labour
    This article, written by a student at the University of Malta, passionately c...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Strengthened EU-Swiss Re
    The EU enjoys very close relations with Switzerland in every sense: culturall...
    29 December 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • A boost for the European
    The European Commission is stepping up its efforts to develop a strong space ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU increasing support fo
    The EU has announced that it shall implement new aid programmes in the Latin ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes EU c
    Delivering on the Security Union: Commission proposes EU certification system...
    07 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • VAT Gap: Nearly €160 bil
    A staggering €159.5 billion in Value Added Tax revenues were lost across the ...
    06 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Variable attitudes towar
    Performance-related pay and employee reward systems in Europe are often uneve...
    01 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU's 2017 budget: Parlia
    The EU's budget for next year will be decided over the coming months. Startin...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes 2018
    The Commission is also seeking to highlight the role of Europe's cultural her...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
How does the EU work?  

The structure of the EU


The structure of the European Union does not fall into any traditional legal category. It is historically unique, and its decision-making system has been constantly evolving for the past 60 years.


The Treaties are the basis for the regulations, directives and recommendations which have direct impact on the daily lives of EU citizens. These laws are the result of decisions taken by the Council (representing national Governments), the European Parliament (representing the people) and the European Commission (a body independent of EU Governments that upholds the collective European interest).


The European Council


It is the EU’s top political intuition. It consists of the Heads of State or Government of all the EU member countries, plus the President of the European Commission. It normally meets four times a year, in Brussels. It has a permanent President who is elected for a period of two and a half years and can be re-elected once.


The European Council fixes the EU’s goals and sets the course for achieving them. It provides the impetus for the EU’s main policy initiatives. Besides, it tackles current international problems via the “common foreign and security policy”.


The Council


It is also known as the Council of Ministers and is made up of ministers from the EU’s national governments. The member states take it in turns to hold the Council Presidency for a six-month period. Every Council meeting is attended by one minister, depending on the topic on the agenda, from each EU country.


The Council’s main job is to pass EU laws, a responsibility shared with the Parliament, as is the adoption of the EU budget. The Council has to agree unanimously on important questions such as taxation, amending the Treaties or allowing a new country to join the Union. In most other cases, qualified majority voting is used (if a specified number of votes are cast in favour).


The European Parliament (EP)


It is the elected body that represents the EU’s citizens and for which members are elected every five years. The major debates are held in the monthly Plenary Sessions in Strasbourg and sometimes even in Brussels. Its main Secretariat is however based in Luxembourg and Brussels.


The EP takes part in the legislative work of the EU in two ways:

  • Via co-decision, which is the ordinary legislative procedure. The EP shares equal responsibility with the Council for legislating in all policy areas that require a “qualified majority” vote in the Council.

  • Via the “assent” procedure, the EP must ratify the EU’s international agreements.

The EP shares with the Council equal responsibility for adopting the EU Budget (proposed by the Commission). It can reject the proposed Budget as it has done on several occasions. The EP can also reject or approve the European Council’s nominee for the post of Commission President. The EP also interviews each proposed member of the Commission before voting on whether to approve the new Commission as a whole. The EP also supervises the day-to-day management of EU policies by putting oral and written questions to the Commission and the Council.


The European Commission


The EC alone has the right to draw up proposals for new EU legislation, which it sends to the Council and Parliament for discussion and adoption.


The Commission consists of a Commissioner per member state (27), chosen from among the leading personalities of the member state. The members are appointed for a five-year term.


The EC enjoys a substantial degree of independence in exercising its power. It represents and defends the interests of the EU as a whole. As “Guardian of the Treaties”, it has to ensure that the regulations and directives adopted by the Council and Parliament are being implemented in the member states.


The Court of Justice


It is located in Luxembourg, is made up of one judge from each EU country, assisted by eight advocates-general. The Court's role is to ensure that Eu law is complied with and that the Treaties are correctly interpreted and applied.


The European Central Bank


It is located in Frankfurt and is responsible for managing the euro and the EU’s monetary policy. Its main task is to maintain price stability in the euro area.


The Court of Auditors


It is located in Luxembourg, was established in 1975. It has one member from each EU country. It checks that all the European Union’s revenue has been received and all is expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and that the EU budget has been managed soundly.


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)


The Council and Commission consult the EESC. Its members represent the various economic and social interest groups that collectively make up ‘organised civil society’, and are appointed by the Council for a five-year term.


The Committee of the Regions (COR)


The COR consists of representatives of regional and local government proposed by the member states and appointed by the Council for a five-year term. The Council and Commission must consult the CoR on matters of relevance to the regions, and it may also issue opinions on its own initiative.


The European Investment Bank (EIB)


The EIB, based in Luxembourg, provides loans and guarantees to help the EU’s less developed regions and to help make businesses more competitive.


  • Creative Europe Project ...
    The Department of Haute-Loire is looking for three European partners to parti...
    25 August 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • White paper on the futur...
    White paper on the future of Europe...
    27 July 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The EU's response to the...
    One of our student interns produced this well-written article about the ongoi...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The importance of labour...
    This article, written by a student at the University of Malta, passionately c...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Strengthened EU-Swiss Re...
    The EU enjoys very close relations with Switzerland in every sense: culturall...
    29 December 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • A boost for the European...
    The European Commission is stepping up its efforts to develop a strong space ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU increasing support fo...
    The EU has announced that it shall implement new aid programmes in the Latin ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes EU c...
    Delivering on the Security Union: Commission proposes EU certification system...
    07 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • VAT Gap: Nearly €160 bil...
    A staggering €159.5 billion in Value Added Tax revenues were lost across the ...
    06 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Variable attitudes towar...
    Performance-related pay and employee reward systems in Europe are often uneve...
    01 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU's 2017 budget: Parlia...
    The EU's budget for next year will be decided over the coming months. Startin...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes 2018...
    The Commission is also seeking to highlight the role of Europe's cultural her...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
Valletta
The EUROPE DIRECT network is one of the Commission’s main tools to offer information to citizens at local level and to gather citizens` feedback for the European Institutions. EDICs are a direct entry point to the Union for the citizens, offering general EU information, referring to specialised information sources, raising awareness and promoting debate.
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