Institutions

COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (represents the European interest)

The executive arm of the community. The Commission’s duty is to ensure the treaty is implemented by dealing with the day-to-day running of the Union and taking others to Court if they fail to comply.

It was designed to be independent, but was composed of national representatives (two from each of the larger states, one from the smaller states). One of its members was the President, appointed by the Council, who chaired the body and represented it

SOME HISTORICAL FACTS:

The first Commission originated in 1951 as the nine-member “High Authority” under President Jean Monnet. The High Authority was the supranational administrative executive of the new European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). 

Later on, their executives were called “Commissions” rather than “High Authorities”. The reason for the change in name was the new relationship between the executives and the Council.


President Jacques Delorsthe last EEC Commission President.

COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (represents governments)

A body holding legislative and executive powers and was thus the main decision making body of the Community. Its Presidency rotated between the member states every six months. The Council was composed of one national minister from each member state (depending on the topic). They were accountable to their national political systems. Votes were taken either by majority (with votes allocated according to population) or unanimity.

SOME HISTORICAL FACTS:

At first only a minimum of two meetings per year were required, later on, in 1996 it was four meetings per year but they were exceded.

They were informal summits of the leaders of the European Community, and were started due to the French President Charles de Gaulle’s resentment at the domination of supranational institutions (notably the European Commission) over the integration process. The first influential summit held, after the departure of de Gaulle, was the Hague summit of 1969, which reached an agreement on the admittance of the United Kingdom into the Community and initiated foreign policy cooperation (the European Political Cooperation) taking integration beyond economics.

The summits were only formalised in the period between 1974 and 1988, it was agreed that more high level, political input was needed following the “empty chair crisis” and economic problems. The inaugural European Council, as it became known, was held in Dublin on 10 and 11 March 1975 during Ireland’s first Presidency of the Council of Ministers. In 1987, it was included in the treaties for the first time (the Single European Act) and had a defined role for the first time in the Maastricht Treaty.

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY (represents citizens)

It had an advisory role to the Council and Commission. At first, and even though sometimes was ignored, there was only the consultation procedure, which meant Parliament had to be consulted. Then a number of Community legislative procedures were established. The Single European Act gave Parliament more power, with the assent procedure giving it a right to veto proposals and the cooperation procedure giving it equal power with the Council if the Council was not unanimous.

SOME HISTORICAL FACTS:

 It was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10th-13th September 1952, it began as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) formed by 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states.

The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Council of Europe’s Assembly to perform the task. A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy.

The wording of the ECSC Treaty demonstrated the leaders’ desire for more than a normal consultative assembly by using the term “representatives of the people” and allowed for direct election. Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. By this document, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952 with extra members, but after the failure of the proposed European Defence Community the project was dropped.

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The European Parliament held its first elections in 1979, slowly gaining more influence over Community decision making.

COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES

The highest court on matters composed of one judge per state with a president elected from among them. Its role was to ensure that Community law was applied in the same way across all states and to settle legal disputes between institutions or states. It became a powerful institution as Community law overrides national law.

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EUROPEAN COURT OF AUDITORS

Despite its name had no judicial powers like the Court of Justice. Instead, it ensured that taxpayer funds from the Community budget have been correctly spent. The court provided an audit report for each financial year to the Council and Parliament and gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions.

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Essentially, the Council, Parliament or another party place a request for legislation to the Commission. The Commission then drafts this and presents it to the Council for approval and the Parliament for an opinion (in some cases it had a veto, depending upon the legislative procedure in use).

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OTHER ORGANS

Organs are similar to the institutions but with less range. Even though their functions are concrete, they have competences that go further than the simple management and they have an independence when talking about the exercise of their functions.

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE (EESC)

Official emblem of the EESC

Is a consultative body of the European Union (EU) established in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome in order to unite different economic interest groups to establish a Single Market. It is composed of “social partners”, namely: employers (employers’ organisations), employees (trade unions) and representatives of various other interests. The creation of this committee gave them an institution to allow their voices to be heard by the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. The EESC declares itself to be “a bridge between Europe and organised civil society”

It is mandatory for the Committee to be consulted on those issues stipulated in the Treaties and in all cases where the institutions deem it appropriate. The Treaty of Maastricht considerably enlarged the Committee’s domain.


EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK (EIB) 

European Investment Bank (emblem).svg

It was founded in Brussels in 1958 when the Treaty of Rome came into force. It relocated to Luxembourg in 1968. By 1999, it had more than 1,000 staff members, a figure that had nearly doubled by 2012; when the EIB was founded in 1958 it had 66 employees. The shareholders are the member states of the EU. Its objectives are reaching economic integration and social cohesion.