Member States delegate sovereignty for certain matters to independent institutions which represent the interests of the Union as a whole, its member countries and its citizens. These institutions comprise the Commission, Council, and European Parliament.
The inevitable trend towards econimic and political unification in Europe has began in 1958. The European Union's mission is to organise relations between the Member States and between their peoples in a coherent manner and on the basis of solidarity. The main objectives are:
- to promote economic and social progress (the single market was
established in 1993; the single currency was launched in 1999).
- to assert the identity of the European Union on the international scene (through European humanitarian aid to non-EU countries, common foreign and security policy, action in international crises; common positions within international organisations).
- to introduce European citizenship (which does not replace national citizenship but complements it and confers a number of civil and politic rights on European citizens).
- to develop an area of freedom, security and justice (linked to the operation of the internal market and more particularly the freedom of movement of persons);
- to maintain and build on established EU law (all the legislation adopted by the European institutions, together with the founding treaties).
1952. Treaty establishing of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
1958 The Treaty of Rome establishes the European Community.
1958. Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.
1967 The Single European Act (SEA)
1993 The Maastricht Treaty paved the way for the European Union.
1999 The Treaty of Amsterdam.
2001 The Treaty of Nice amended the existing Treaties. It requires ratification by the 15 Member States.
2002 The Euro adopted become the offical currency of 12 members
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain.
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia.
Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.
Based in Brussels, the European Commission consists of 16 members appointed by the Member States. It is the executive body of the EU and has the right to initiate legislation for proposals to Parliament and the Council. It is responsible for implementing the European legislation (directives, regulations, decisions), budget and programmes adopted by Parliament and the Council.
Based in Strasbourg, the European Parliament consists of 518 members each elected for a 5 year term by the peoples of the Member States. The number of seats held is proportional to the size of the country and, in common with most parliaments, has a split between the political factions. It shares with the Council the power to legislate, i.e. to adopt European laws (directives, regulations, decisions). It also shares budgetary authority with the Council, and democratic supervision over the Commission.
The Council represents the governments of the member states and is the EU's main decision-making body. It is the Union's legislative body, coordinates the broad economic policies of the Member States, concludes, on behalf of the EU, international agreements with one or more States or international organisations andshares budgetary authority with Parliament.
Based in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice has 13 independent Judges who settle disputes arising from Community Law. It has jurisdiction in disputes involving Member States, EU institutions, businesses and individuals.
The Court of Auditors is responsible for auditing the EU accounts and ensuring that financial management of the EU budget has been sound.
The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Advisory bodies which help to ensure that the positions of the EU's various economic and social categories and regions respectively are taken into account.
The European Ombudsman. Deals with complaints from citizens concerning maladministration at European level.
The European Investment Bank. It finances investment projects which contribute to the balanced development of the Union.
The European Central Bank. Implements monetary policy in the euro-area, conducts foreign exchange operations and ensures the smooth operation of payment systems.