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The European Commission

The European Commission is the EU’s executive body. It represents the interests of the European Union as a whole (not the interests of individual countries).

The Commission’s main roles are to:

  • Propose legislation which is then adopted by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers
  • Enforce European law (where necessary with the help of the Court of Justice of the EU)
  • Set objectives and priorities for action, outlined yearly in the Commission Work Programme and work towards delivering them
  • Manage and implement EU policies and the budget
  • Represent the Union outside Europe (negotiating trade agreements between the EU and other countries, for example.).

The European Commission has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and some services also in Luxembourg. The Commission has Representations in all EU Member States and 139 Delegations across the globe.

A new team of 28 Commissioners (one from each EU Member State) is appointed every five years.

The candidate for President of the Commission is proposed to the European Parliament by the European Council that decides by qualified majority and taking into account the elections to the European Parliament.

The Commission President is then elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members (which corresponds to at least 376 out of 751 votes).

Following this election, the President-elect selects the 27 other members of the Commission, on the basis of the suggestions made by Member States. The final list of Commissioners-designate has then to be agreed between the President-elect and the Council. The Commission as a whole needs the Parliament’s consent. Prior to this, Commissioners-designate are assessed by the European Parliament committees.

The current Commission’s term of office runs until 31 October 2019 and the President is Jean-Claude Juncker.

European Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm)

The European Council

The European Council defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities. It is not one of the EU’s legislating institutions, so does not negotiate or adopt EU laws. Instead it sets the EU’s policy agenda, traditionally by adopting ‘conclusions’ during European Council meetings which identify issues of concern and actions to take.

The members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states, the European Council President and the President of the European Commission.

The European Council mostly takes its decisions by consensus. However, in certain specific cases outlined in the EU treaties, it decides by unanimity or by qualified majority.

If a vote is taken, neither the European Council President nor the Commission President take part.

European Council (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/european-council/)

The European Parliament

The European Parliament

The European Parliament is a forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level.

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The Parliament is made up of 751 Members elected in the 28 Member States. It is directly elected by EU voters every 5 years and uses the proportional representation voting mechanism. The number of seats are determined by the population of each member state. The last elections were held in May 2014.

The parliament consists of 751 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament).

The current allocation of seats is as follows:

Germany 96
France 74
Italy 73
United Kingdom 73
Spain 54
Poland 51
Romania 32
Netherlands 26
Belgium 21
Czech Republic 21
Greece 21
Hungary 21
Portugal 21
Sweden 20
Austria 18
Bulgaria 17
Denmark 13
Finland 13
Slovakia 13
Croatia 11
Ireland 11
Lithuania 11
Latvia 8
Slovenia 8
Cyprus 6
Estonia 6
Luxembourg 6
Malta 6

The Members of the European Parliament sit in political groups – they are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation. There are currently 8 political groups in the European Parliament.

25 Members are needed to form a political group, and at least one-quarter of the Member States must be represented within the group.

Members may not belong to more than one political group.

Some Members do not belong to any political group and are known as non-attached Members.

EUParliamentGroups

EUParliamentStatesGroups

Further details about MEPs including salaries pensions etc. can be found at:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/about-meps.html

Over the years and with subsequent changes in European treaties, the Parliament has acquired substantial legislative and budgetary powers that allow it to set, together with the representatives of the governments of the Member States in the Council, the direction in which the European project is heading.

source: European Parliament (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/portal/en)

EU Referendum June 23 2016

by Politicker

As per the European Union Referendum Act 2015, voters in the United Kingdom have an opportunity to vote in a referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should remain as members of the European Union.

What is the EU

The European Union, which is also known as the EU, is an economic and political partnership between countries in Europe.

There are currently 28 member states which are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

EUMap

(image courtesy of http://europa.eu © European Union, 1995-2016)

The EU was started 5 years after the end of World War 2 by France and Germany in an attempt to ensure that their countries would never go to war against each other again. The European Economic Community (EEC), or Common Market, was formed in 1957 (Treaty of Rome) by the 6 founding members Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to provide economic co-operation between countries (which has become a single market that allow goods and people to move freely between member states).

The UK joined (the EEC) in 1973 together with Ireland and Denmark.

Greece joined in 1981, Portugal and Spain in 1986.

Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1995.

10 more countries joined in 2004 followed by Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 with Croatia in 2013.

The EU has its own currency, the Euro, which was introduced in 1999 and is used by 19 of the member states making up the Euro area. Denmark and the UK have opt-out clauses which means they are exempt from having to use the Euro.

The EU is run by a number of institutions including the European Commission, The European Parliament, the European Council and the Court of Justice.

The official website of the European Union can be found at

European Union official website
http://europa.eu/index_en.htm

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