The EU’s Governmental Bodies are the 4 major institutions governing Europe, namely: The European Council, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

The European Council

  • Role: Defines the overall political direction and priorities of the European Union, setting its policy agenda.
  • Members: Heads of state or government of the 28 European Union member countries + European Council President + European Commission President.
  • Location: Brussels (Belgium)

The European Parliament

  • Functions: Represents the European citizens (The European Parliament is the European Union’s only institution directly elected by its citizens). It shares power over the EU budget and legislation with the European Council.
  • Members: Members of European Parliament (MEPs) elected in the member states.
  • Location: It sits in both Brussels and Strasbourg, with Members of European Parliament (MEPs) shuttling between the two, and its administrative offices are in Luxembourg.

The Council of the European Union

  • Functions: Represents the European Member State governments. It negotiates and adopts EU laws, coordinates member states’ policies, develops the EU’s common foreign and security policy, concludes international agreements and adopts the EU budget.
  • Members: Government ministers from each EU country, according to the policy area to be discussed. There are no fixed members of the EU Council.
  • Location: Brussels (Belgium)

The European Commission

  • Functions: Proposes European laws, provides interpretative guidance (incl. commission directives and decisions). It promotes the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies, interpretative guidance (incl. commission directives and decisions) and the EU budget.
  • The European Commission has no enforcement powers regarding compliance with EU laws. Member States are responsible for enforcement. Nevertheless, the Commission may take legal action – an infringement procedure – against an EU country that fails to implement EU law. The Commission may refer the issue to the EU Court of Justice, which in certain cases, can impose financial penalties.
  • Members: A team or ‘College’ of Commissioners, 1 from each EU country, led by the Commission President, who decides who is responsible for which policy area.
  • Location: Brussels (Belgium)