The EU: Roles and Functions

The EU: Roles and Functions

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EU Institutions Composition

  • European Commission: An institution whose primary role is to represent the interests of the EU as a whole. It has the sole right to propose new EU legislation.
  • Council of the EU: Composed of ministers from each EU country. Its role is to coordinate ministers’ actions, negotiate and adopt legislative acts, coordinate foreign policy, and more.
  • European Parliament: Elected directly by EU citizens to represent their interests. It examines and amends proposed legislation.

EU Decision-Making Process

  • Ordinary legislative procedure: Most EU laws are adopted through this process. It consists of three readings, with the possibility of a conciliation committee if the Council and the Parliament can’t agree after two readings.
  • Consultation procedure: Certain areas require consultation with the Parliament and/or other committees, but the Council has the final say.
  • Assent procedure: The Parliament’s approval is required for certain decisions.

Expansion of the EU

  • Treaty of Rome (1957): Established the European Economic Community (EEC) with six members: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • Series of Enlargements: Beginning from the 1970s, the EU experienced a series of enlargements that increased its membership to 28 countries by 2013.

EU Impact in the UK

  • European Communities Act 1972: Made EU law supreme over UK law.
  • Human Rights Act 1998: Incorporated parts of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
  • EU law has significantly influenced UK law in areas such as consumer protection, employment rights and environmental protection.

Brexit Implications

  • EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 repealed the European Communities Act 1972 and ended the supremacy of EU law in the UK.
  • The UK negotiated a Withdrawal Agreement, which preserves some EU rules and procedures for a transition period.
  • The future relationship between the EU and the UK is largely subject to negotiation.