The EU: Political Systems

The EU: Political Systems

Composition of the EU

  • Comprised of three main political institutions - the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament.

  • The European Commission is the EU’s executive body. It proposes legislation, enforces European law, and represents the EU internationally.

  • The Council of the European Union consists of government ministers from each EU country. The council meets to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and also to coordinate policies.

  • The European Parliament is directly elected by EU voters every 5 years. It shares power to legislate with the Council of the EU.

Decision-making Processes in the EU

  • Most decisions are made using a system known as Ordinary Legislative Procedure. This involves the Commission proposing legislation, and both the Council and Parliament approving it.

  • Some matters can be decided using Special Legislative Procedures, which only require approval by either the Council or the Parliament.

  • The Treaty of Lisbon introduced more majority voting in the Council, rather than the previously more common unanimous decisions.

EU Law and its Enactment

  • EU law has supremacy over national laws - it must be applied in its entirety across all member states.

  • Enactment of EU law is overseen by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Its functions include interpreting EU law and ensuring it is applied equally in all member states.

  • National courts are responsible for applying EU law in cases before them and can ask the Court of Justice for clarification if necessary.