The European Union, or the EU, is a political and economic union consisting of twenty-eight partner states that are located mostly in Europe. It was established under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993 where the idea of European citizenship and the euro were introduced. The EU is a complex governing body that is comprised of seven institutions, three of which are the main lawmaking entities: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament.
The European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the EU and represents its interests as a whole, as opposed to the interests of each individual partner state. Its functions include managing the everyday workings of the EU, creating the budget, enforcing laws and proposing legislation.
The Commission itself includes twenty-eight members, one of whom is the president and seven who are vice presidents. The president is proposed by the European Council and then elected by the European Parliament. The remaining members of the Commission are then agreed upon by the European Council and the president, and must be approved by the European Parliament. The current president is Jean-Claude Juncker, who was elected in 2014 and will stay in office until 2019, since reelections occur every five years.
The main location of the Commission is in Brussels, Belgium, with additional buildings in Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
The Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union, or Council of the EU, negotiates and adopts legislative acts by vote and allows the governing bodies twenty-eight member states to contribute to the EU government. It is comprised of ten different groups which change depending on what type of policy is being discussed. The office of president changes every six months, rotating through each of the member states, and the current president is Donald Tusk. The Council of the EU is not to be confused with the European Council, which has no legislative power but guides the political direction of the EU.
The Council of the EU is located in Brussels, Belgium.
The European Parliament
The European Parliament is the representation of the people of the EU and exercises legislative power by adopting laws and the budget. The members are directly elected every five years. It is the largest electorate in the world at approximately 750 members. It has one speaker, or president, who is elected every two-and-a-half years. The current president is Martin Schulz.
The European Parliament meets in three locations: Brussels, Belgium; Luxembourg, Luxembourg; and Strasbourg, France.
Working together to make law
The aforementioned groups all work together to create and enforce laws in the EU. The procedure they use is called "Ordinary Legislative Procedure." The Commission creates the law, which is then approved by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. The law is implemented by the member states and regulated by the Commission.
In summary, the EU's governing system is complicated but is successful in working together while considering the needs of all member states.