Organs and Institutions of the European Union

The European Council


The heads of state or government get together at least twice a year. They set the goals and rules of the community and discuss plans for the future. Every six months a different country serves as president of the union.


The Council of Ministers

is the lawmaking part of the EU. It is made up of one representative from each of the member nations. The council decides how laws are made and agreements carried out. Most of the decisions that are reached here are unanimous.


The European Commission

is the executive branch of the EU. It is responsible for planning new laws and suggesting them to the Council of Ministers and parliament. The commission makes sure that treaties of the union are carried out and rules are followed. There are 27 commissioners, one from each member state. Each of them is responsible for a certain area, like the environment, energy, transportation or farming. They serve 5 year terms and must be approved by parliament. The president of the commission, currently Jose Barroso, is thought to be the most important official of the European Union.



European Parliament


It is the only body of the EU that is elected directly by the people of the member countries. Every five years citizens in all member states elect a total of 785 MEPs (Member of the European Parliament). Countries with a large population like Germany, Italy, and France have more MEPs, smaller countries like Luxembourg have few MEPs.

European Parliament is different from other parliaments because it cannot pass laws. It discusses the suggestions of the Commission and the Council of Ministers, but it must be heard by the lawmaking organs. The Parliament has the strongest powers in budget and money matters.


The European Council of Justice

runs the courts of the EU. It is located in Luxembourg and is made up of 27 judges who decide if the actions of the Commission, member states or private citizens comply with the rules of the EU. The court’s decisions are final and everyone, including governments, must follow them.


The European Central Bank

controls the amount of money in the euro zone and tries to keep the euro a strong currency. The ECB was founded in 1998, its headquarters is in Frankfurt, Germany.




The European Union- Table of Contents

The European Union- Exercises


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Related Topics



  • agreement = when two or more people, organizations or countries promise to do something
  • amount = quantity
  • approve = to accept
  • body = organ
  • carry out = to do something that needs to be planned and organized
  • certain = special
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • community = here: group of countries that have the same interests
  • comply = to do what you have to do
  • council = group of people that sit together and make decisions
  • court = place where a judge and a jury decides if someone is innocent or guilty
  • currency = the money of a country
  • currently = right now
  • decide = to make a choice or judgement about
  • decision = result, choice
  • elect = vote for
  • environment = the world that is around you
  • executive branch = the organization that has the power to make decisions
  • final = it cannot be changed
  • found - founded = to start something new
  • goal = aim, what you want to achieve
  • government = group of people who govern or rule a country
  • head of state = president or the highest person in a country
  • headquarters = the main building of a company or organisation
  • law = rules of a country
  • locate = a place where you can find something
  • official = someone who is in a high position in an organization
  • made up of = consist of
  • matters = topics
  • pass a law = to officially accept a law
  • representative = someone who has been chosen to speak, vote or make decisions for a country
  • responsible = in charge of
  • rule = instructions on how things must be done
  • serve = work as
  • suggest = to tell other people about your plans or ideas
  • term = a period of time in which you do things
  • treaty = written agreement between two or more countries
  • unanimous = when everybody agrees or says yes to something