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INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

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  1. INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION • THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION • THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION • THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT • THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (ECJ) • EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (ECB)

  2. OTHER INSTITUTIONS • Economic and Social Committee - forum of interested groups to express opinions on proposed legislation • European Investment Bank - provides loans to finance capital projects • European Court of Auditors • Community for the Regions

  3. COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (COUNCIL OF MINISTERS) • composed of relevant government ministers • President of Council rotates every six months • task of Presidency to settle disagreements and further objectives agreed by Council • ministers become involved at end stage • standing committee of civil servants (composed of permanent representatives of national governments) called COREPOR to settle disagreements • in case of disagreements, proposals can be given to the Commission or Parliament for further consideration or left till compromise is reached • voting by unanimity (taxation, culture, defence) and by majority (agriculture, R&D and regional and social funds)

  4. EUROPEAN COUNCIL • regular meetings of the heads of government of member states • no treaty basis until recognised by SEA • regular meetings held since 1974 • summits chaired by member state that holds Presidency and includes heads of government, President of Commission and President of the European Parliament • meetings usually influenced by whoever holds the Presidency • Council is an inter-governmental institution • SEA and EMU initiated by European Council

  5. ROLE OF COUNCIL • forum where new initiatives areidentified (consistent with stated objectives of existing Rome Treaty) • as a result of Article 236, Treaty could be modified through an IGC (SEA and Maastricht Treaty products of this process) • resort to European Council can be adopted by Council of Ministers and Commission when decision-making locked • SEA explicitly and formally recognised the European Council

  6. VOTING PROCEDURES • Original Rome Treaty laid down important guidelines as regards voting • Generally in earlier stages of Community, decisions required unanimous vote. Subsequently it was decided that in certain areas such as agriculture, a qualified majority would be sufficient for measures to be adopted. • However in other areas such as entry of new members, unanimity required. • Since '95 with 15 members majority vote is 62 (out of total of 87). So 26 votes against any motion - based on qualified majority voting constitutes a blocking minority • The Nice Treaty proposed a change in this voting system with the larger countries being given proportionately more votes

  7. EUROPEAN COMMISSION Cross between a civil service and an executive body • 20 Commissioners, two from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK and one from each of the other countries • appointed by member states and accountable to EP, but not responsible to them • President of the Commission appointed by governments of member states and approved by EP has a seat on European Council and in other economic and political forums • In its role as administrative body it is split into a number of Directorates General (DGs) with specific areas of responsibility • Commissioners appointed for five-year renewable terms. Each Commissioner responsible for a portfolio which is concerned with a specific policy area

  8. EUROPEAN COMMISSION (Con) • One of the Commissioners is elected President with the power to appoint one or two Vice-Presidents • President and Commissioners as a body must be approved by Parliament • Beneath each Commissioner at least one Director General in charge of a Directorate-General i.e. a broad policy area • Article 157 of Rome Treaty requires that Commissioners "shall neither seek nor take instruction from any Government or any body • Commission guardian of Treaty and responsible for monitoring and policing EU law • Does not implement these laws but depends on governments of member states to carry out this function

  9. EUROPEAN COMMISSION (Con) • Has power to investigate breaches of EU law by governments, companies and individuals and can impose fines if law is broken • Has powers to compel change in policiesof national government if contrary to EU law • When decisions are appealed they are sent to the European Court of Justice • Day to day running of EU policies and programmes and administering of Structural Funds under control of Commission • All proposals for new Community legislation must be initiated by Commission on basis of the Treaties, or the decisions of the European Council

  10. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT • Problem of location - plenary sessions held in Strasbourg - seratariat located in Luxembourg - committee meetings and new building held in Brussels • Nominations - originally nominated through indirect election (whereby each state decided on its means of selection) - first direct elctions in 1979 and held subsequently every five years - members organised into political rather than national groups (Ireland has now 13 representatives) rereenting a reduction as result of Nice Treaty recommendations) - not responsible to nor appointed by governement of member states • powers limited but growing since SEA • Can dismiss the Commissioners and can refuse to approve the budget of the EU

  11. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (con) • At present 732 members in Parliament (with 13 seats in Ireland) • Parliament made up of Political Groupings e.g. European People’s Party, Socialist Group, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, Greens/European Free Alliance, Europe United Left, Independents and Unattached • Parliament has 3 main functions • Passing European laws • Democratic supervision over EU institutions – especially the Commission • Authority over Budget • Work divided into two main areas - preparing for plenary sessions (committees) - sitting in plenary sessiong

  12. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (con) • Has more influence in making EU law in many areas and TEU (Maastricht Treaty) extended this by introducing the concept of co-decision between Council and the EP • Investigates by means of a series of committees the workings of the various policies of the Community • Has influence on the appointment of the Commission and has the right to accept or reject incoming Commissioner team

  13. POWERS OF PARLIAMENT - plays a role in appointment of Commission and can dismiss a Commission (with a vote of censure of two-thirds majority) • to appoint and dismiss • important role in relation to budget • The legislative process co-operatoon procedure modifies Parliament’s role - first and second readings - blocking role under Negative Assent procedure Investigative role • Permitted to set up temporary committees to investigate alleged contraventions of Community law • Following Maastricht, power to appoint Community Ombudsman to investigate complaints regarding maladministration

  14. EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE • Is composed of as many judges as there are member states and based in Luxembourg • Responsible for making jugements and interpreting Community law and making judgements when there are disputes • Takes precedence over national law • Most supranational of institutions - not accountable to national governments • Cases can be referred to it by Commission, Governments, National courts and Parliament • Important in areas such as competition and employment law • Now connected to ECJ is the Court of First Instance

  15. EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (con) • Founded in 1952 under the ECSF Treaty • Though comprising 25 members from each of the meber states it rely sits in full session acting as Grand chamber of 13 judges or in chambers of 5 or 3 judges • Court is assisted by 8 advocate Generals wh present raesoned opinions on evidence presented before the courts. Before 2003 advised on verdict in cases, but now only in case of new legal positions • Gives rulings in following situations - Rulings in preliminary situations - Actions for failure to fulfil an obligation - Actions for annulment - Actions for failure to act • Decisions decided by majority and issued at public hearing

  16. EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK • Preceded by EMI • Replaced by ECB in 1998 • Role of ESCB and ECB • President of ECB appointed by Euroean Council for 8 years • Responsible for over control of monetary policy e.g. inetrest and exchange rates • Independent of national governments

  17. EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (con) • Main task of ECB is to control price level (to 2% increase pa) which is done through control of money supply, monitoring price increases and setting interest interest rates • Bank is managed by three boards • Executive Board made up of President, Vice President and four other agreed members who implement day to day policy • Governing Council made up of the six memebrs mentioned and also the Governors of the 12 Centarl Banks in Euro area. It formulates the policy of the ECB • This comprises the six mebers of the Executive Board and the Governors of all the 25 Centarl Banks in the Euro area – has an advisory role and prepares for enlargement of Euro area

  18. COURT OF AUDITORS • Established in 1975 and began operation in 1977 • Carries out value for money audits • Indicates whether previous expenditure was legally and properly incurred • Report is addressed to Council of Ministers and to European Parliament • Court of auditors has a staff of about 330

  19. OTHER INSTITUTIONS • Economic and Social Committee - forum of interested groups to express opinions on proposed legislation • European Investment Bank - provides lonas to finance capital projects – mosly in regions lacking infrastructure • Community for the Regions - established 1994 in accordance with Article 198a of Maastricht Treaty - appointed on recommendation of national governments and may be consulted by Council on matters affecting the regions

  20. THREE PILLARS • European Union confers Union citizen rights additional to those enjoyed at member state level - can take up residence in any member state and stand as a candidate in municipal and European elections - right to petition European Parliament and EC Ombudsman 1st pillar relates to three treaties (ECSC, EEC and EURATOM) Importance of EMU and ECSB Industrial and Social Policy (Social Charter) included Principle of subsidiarity 2nd pillar – Common Foreign and SecurityPolicy (CFSP) – to lead ultimastely to common defence policy 3rd pillar (Cooperation on Justice and Home Affairs (CJHA) Cohesion Fund and Committee of Regions

  21. POLITICAL UNION • The EU has had a long-standing commitment to European Political Cooperation (EPC) - restricted to meetings of foreign ministers to discuss and where possible reach agreement on foreign relations and security matters - also attempts to reach common measures on terrorism, Eastern Europe and security - in the main measures not successful as for example with failure to prganise any force in the war on Kosovo and also disagreement as to to handle the US led invasion of Iraq – this has led to calls for radiacl restructuring of the political integration programme of the EU • SEA contained rather vague statements on need for closer cooperation on foreign and security matters • Masstricht Treaty also envisaged closer moves to political union - agreement to inter-governmental procedures based on gneral guidelines from the European Council with Council of Ministers