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The European Court of Justice. EU Institutions. The European Commission The European Parliament The Council of the European Union The European Court of Auditors The European Court of Justice. The European Commission. Represents the Union on the international stage

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eu institutions
EU Institutions
  • The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
  • The Council of the European Union
  • The European Court of Auditors
  • The European Court of Justice
the european commission
The European Commission
  • Represents the Union on the international stage
  • Implements European legislation, budget and programmes adopted by the Parliament and the Council
  • Guardian of the Treaties
  • Presents legislative proposals
the european parliament
The European Parliament
  • The European Parliament (EP) is elected by the citizens of the European Union to represent their interests. Its origins go back to the 1950s and the founding treaties, and since 1979 its members have been directly elected by the people they represent.

Elections are held every five years, and every EU citizen is entitled to vote, and to stand as a candidate, wherever they live in the EU. The latest elections were in June 2009. Parliament thus expresses the democratic will of the Union's citizens (more than 490 million people). The present parliament has 736 members from all 27 EU countries.

the council
The Council
  • The Council is the EU's main decision-making body.
  • Like the European Parliament, the Council was set up by the founding treaties in the 1950s.
  • It represents the member states, and its meetings are attended by one minister from each of the EU’s national governments.
  • In Brussels, each EU member state has a permanent team (‘representation’) that represents it and defends its national interest at EU level. The head of each representation is, in effect, his or her country’s ambassador to the EU.

These ‘permanent representatives’ meet weekly within the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER). The role of this committee is to prepare the work of the Council. COREPER is assisted by a number of working groups, made up of officials from the national administrations.

the court of auditors
The Court of Auditors
  • The Court of Auditors was set up in 1975.
  • It is based in Luxembourg.
  • The Court’s job is to check that EU funds, which come from the taxpayers, are properly collected and that they are spent legally, economically and for the intended purpose.
the european court of justice1
The European Court of Justice
  • The legislative branch of the EU
  • The supreme court
  • Established in 1959
  • Located in Luxembourg
main purpose of the court
Main purpose of the Court
  • Enhancement of the effectiveness of Community law and its integration into the legal systems of the Member States
  • The Court ensures that the obligations undertaken by Member States are fulfilled and that the rights of individuals are respected
  • It ensures that the treaties and laws are applied uniformly
the composition

The composition


Advocates General


  • As of January 2007,The Court of Justice is composed of 27 Judges and8 Advocates General.
  • The Judges and Advocates General are appointed by common accord by the governments of the Member States for a renewable term of six years. They are chosen from among lawyers whose independence is beyond doubt and who possess the qualifications required for appointment, in their respective countries, to the highest judicial offices, or who are of recognised competence.
advocates general
Advocates General
  • The Advocates General assist the Court. They are responsible for presenting, with complete impartiality and independence, an ‘opinion’ in the cases assigned to them.
  • Their opinion is not binding, but it usually forms the basis of the Court’s final decision
  • The Judges select one of their number to be President of the Court for a renewable term of three years.
  • He or she may be re-elected.
  • The President directs the judicial business and the administration of the Court; he presides at hearings and deliberations in chambers.
the jurisdiction
The jurisdiction
  • It is the responsibility of the Court of Justice to ensure that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties of the European Union and of the provisions laid down by the competent Community institutions.
  • To enable it to carry out that task, the Court has wide jurisdiction to hear various types of action.
the various types of proceedings

The various types of proceedings:

References for preliminary rulings

Actions for failure to fulfil obligations

Actions for annulment

Actions for failure to act



  • The judges deliberate on the basis of a draft judgment drawn up by the Judge-Rapporteur. Each judge of the formation concerned may propose changes.
  • Decisions of the Court of Justice are taken by majority and no record is made public of any dissenting opinions.
  • Judgments are signed by all the judges who took part in the deliberation and their operative part is pronounced in open court.
  • Judgments and the opinions of the Advocates General are available on the Court’s Internet site on the day they are pronounced or delivered. They are, in most cases, subsequently published in the European Court Reports.
  • The Court may be called to adjudicate matters of constitutional significance, such as the proper division of powers between the States and the Community and matters of substantive law
  • The Court decides cases between Community institutions and Mamber States, between individuals and their employers and legal issues referred from a national court
the costs of proceedings
The costs of proceedings
  • There are no court fees for proceedings before the Court of Justice.
  • On the other hand, the Court does not meet the fees and expenses of the lawyer entitled to practice before a court of a Member State by whom the parties must be represented.
  • However, a party unable to meet all or part of the costs of the proceedings may, without having to instruct a lawyer, apply for legal aid. The application must be accompanied by all necessary evidence establishing the need.
the linguistic regime
The linguistic regime
  • In all direct actions, the language used in the application (which may be one of the 23 official languages of the European Union) will be the ‘language of the case’, that is to say the language in which the proceedings will be conducted.
  • With references for preliminary rulings, the language of the case is that of the national court which made the reference to the Court of Justice.
  • Oral proceedings at hearings are interpreted simultaneously, as required, into various official languages of the European Union.
  • The judges deliberate, without interpreters, in a common language which, traditionally, is French.