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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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EU Institutions and bodies

The Member States of the European Union have delegated some of their powers to common European institutions. Many decisions affecting people’s daily lives are adopted accordingly by a democratic process that brings the different institutions and bodies of the Union together.

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Institutional triangle

The Union’s three principal decision-making institutions are:

  • the European Parliament, which represents European citizens and whose members are elected by direct suffrage;
  • the Council, which represents the Member States;
  • the European Commission, tasked with defending the interests of the Union as a whole.

This ‘institutional triangle’ defines the policies and adopts the legislation (directives, regulations and decisions) which apply throughout the Union. In principle the Commission is responsible for proposing new European legislation, while the Parliament and the Council are responsible for adopting it.

Two other institutions play key roles: the Court of Justice ensures Community law is respected, while the Court of Auditors oversees the funding of EU activities.

In support of these institutions the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions act as advisory bodies that must be consulted before new rules are adopted in several areas of Community competence.

Financial bodies

Three EU bodies act in the financial sphere:

  •  the European Central Bank, which is responsible for European monetary policy;
  • the European Investment Bank, which is responsible for managing EU investment projects;
  • the European Investment Fund, which provides guarantees and contributes to venture capital initiatives to assist small and medium-sized enterprises.

Other specialised bodies

Some independent Community bodies also carry out technical, scientific or management tasks relating to the three Community pillars.

A total of 15 specialised agencies (called ‘Community agencies’) share the management of Community powers in relation to the first pillar.

The European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Union Satellite Centre perform specific tasks relating to common foreign and security policy (the second pillar). 

Finally, Europol and Eurojust help coordinate police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (the third pillar).

The European Ombudsman protects EU citizens and enterprises against risks of maladministration.

The European Data Protection Supervisor ensures that Community institutions and bodies respect the individual’s right to privacy when they process personal data concerning them.

The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities publishes, prints and distributes information on the EU and its activities;

The European Personnel Selection Office recruits the staff of the EU institutions and other bodies.

This page was last modified on : 30-12-2004

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