European Union Introduction In the center of the EU there are Member States – 28 countries belonging to the Union – and its citizens. The peculiarity of the EU is that all of these countries are sovereign, independent countries and have combined some of their 'sovereignty' for power and benefits from size. The unification of sovereignty in practice means that Member States delegate some of their decision-making powers to partner institutions they create, so that decisions on specific issues related to common interests can be made democratically at the European level.
The EU is thus positioned somewhere between the fully federal system in the United States and the free, intergovernmental cooperation system in the United Nations. The EU has established a commodity and services joint market covering 28 countries with more than 500 million citizens who have the freedom to move and settle wherever they want. It has created the common currency – euro, which is now an important currency in the world and makes the common market more efficient.
It also provides the largest development and humanitarian aid programs in the world. Decisions and Laws The European Union is based on the rule of law. This means that all EU activities are based on founding treaties, which have been voluntarily and democratically approved by all EU channels. Founding treaties have been negotiated and agreed upon by all EU Member States, and subsequently ratified by member state parliaments or referendums.
Decisions are taken by the European Parliament, representing EU citizens and directly elected by citizens; European Union Council, composed of Heads of State or Government of EU Member States; The Council, which represents the governments of the EU Member States; European Commission, which represents the entire interests of the EU.
All European legal regulations are based on a specific founding agreement clause known as the 'legal basis' of legislation. This also determines which legal procedure to follow. The Founding Agreement sets out the decision-making process, including the Commission's recommendations, followed by the readings of the Council and Parliament, and the views of the advisory institutions.
It also specifies the qualified majority required for unanimity and sufficient for the Council to approve a law. Economic Coordination All EU countries are members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EPB), which means that they are in coordination in determining economic policies and consider economic decisions as a common concern. No institution within the EPB is alone responsible for general economic policy. These responsibilities are divided between Member States and EU institutions.
Monetary policy – on price stability and interest rates – is managed independently by the European Central Bank (ECB) in the euro area, ie the 17 countries that use the euro as the currency. Fiscal policy – regarding taxation, spending and borrowing decisions – is the responsibility of the governments of 28 Member States. Work and social welfare policies are the same.
However, since financial decisions made by one euro area Member State can have an impact across the euro area, these decisions must comply with the EU level. The Council monitors Member States' public finances and economic policies and can make individual proposals to EU countries with the Commission's recommendations.
It may recommend taking corrective measures to reduce excessive deficits and debt levels and impose sanctions on eurozone countries that do not. Bodies of the Structure The European Parliament, the EU's directly elected legislature, is directly elected by EU citizens to represent the interests of citizens. Elections are held every five years and all EU citizens over the age of 18 (16 in Austria) have the right to vote – up to 380 million people. There are 751 EPMs from all 28 Member States in the Parliament.
The Council of the European Union brings together the EU's top political leaders, the Prime Ministers and Presidents, with its own President and Commission President. It meets at least four times a year, giving the overall EU a general political direction and determining its priorities. The High Representative of the Union's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in the meetings. The council determines the direction and priorities of politics.
At the European Council, ministers of the EU Member States come together to discuss EU issues, make decisions and approve laws. Ministers attending these meetings are empowered to commit themselves in Council meetings on behalf of their own government. European Commission is a politically independent institution that represents and defends the interests of the EU as a whole.
It is the locomotive of the EU's institutional system in many areas: It proposes legislation, policies and action programs and is responsible for implementing the decisions of the European Parliament and the EU Council. It also represents the Union in the outside world, on issues other than common foreign and security policy. The Court of Justice of the European Union ensures that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in each EU Member State. In other words, it ensures that the legislation is the same for all parties and in all circumstances.
To this end, the Court checks the legality of the actions of the EU institutions, ensures that Member States fulfill their obligations and interprets EU laws at the request of the national courts. The aim of the European Central Bank is to maintain monetary stability in the euro area by providing low and stable consumer price inflation. Stable prices and low price inflation are vital for sustainable economic growth, as they encourage businesses to invest and create more jobs – thus increasing the living standards of Europeans. The ECB is an independent institution and does not seek or receive instructions from governments or other EU institutions when making its decisions.
The European Court of Auditors is the independent external audit agency of the European Union. It checks whether the Union's revenues are received correctly, whether the expenditures are made properly and properly, and that financial management is sound. It acts independently from other EU institutions and governments in fulfilling its duties. In doing so, it contributes to the management of European Union funds in the interests of the citizens.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an advisory body of the European Union. It consists of employer and employee organizations and civil society representatives, especially in socio-economic, civil, professional and cultural fields. Representing general interests, the Committee gives opinions to the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. EESC members do not act on any mandatory instructions and work for the Union's general interests. Thus, the EESC acts as a bridge between the EU institutions and EU citizens identified above, supporting the creation of a more participatory, more inclusive and, therefore, more democratic society within the European Union.
The Committee of the Regions is a consultative body consisting of representatives of the regional and local governments of Europe. It gives the regions of Europe a voice in the determination of EU policies and ensures that the powers and needs of the regions and local governments are respected. The Council and the Commission should consult the UK on matters concerning local and regional governments, such as regional policies, environment, education and transport.
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about poor or unsuccessful management (mismanagement) of EU institutions. The Ombudsman receives and investigates complaints from EU citizens, residents, businesses and institutions. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is responsible for protecting the privacy of personal data and the privacy of individuals and to support good practices among EU institutions and organizations.
European institutions can store and process the personal data of EU citizens and residents in electronic, written or visual format while performing their duties. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the Bank of the European Union. It is a bank owned by the Member States and its mission is to lend credits for investments to support the Union's objectives – for example, energy and transport networks, environmental sustainability and innovation. EIB focuses on increasing employment and growth potential in Europe, supporting climate-related activities, and supporting policies across the EU.