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The European Union in Brief

18.7.2018, , Zdroj: Verlag Dashöfer

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The European Union in Brief

Edward Thomas

1. THE EU IN BRIEF

What's that then?

Central to understanding any institution is understanding the key words which describe its organisation. Look at the terms in the box below. Can you fit them into the right sentence?

1. What the EU needs is well established …………………………… which can conduct its business.

2. The Nice …………………………… reformed the structure of the EU to allow for expansion eastwards.

3. …………………………… has traditionally been one of the tasks which only national governments carry out - but this is changing.

4. …………………………… are people who are appointed by national governments to control areas of government like health or education.

5. The …………………………… is the head of a government.

6. The …………………………… is the head of a state.

7. The …………………………… will meet on Thursday and decide on a general approach to this matter.

8. The …………………………… will decide exactly what legislation will be proposed.

9. …………………………… is an area where all Member States have quite specific needs depending on the kind of crime problems they have.

10. The Commission is responsible for proposing …………………………… the detailed principles

on which legal codes in different countries are developed.

11. All …………………………… have to agree to certain principles of co-operation.

12. Members of the European …………………………… (MEPs) face elections in their home countries every five years.

______________________________________________________________________________

treaty, member state, parliament, legislation, ministers, commission, council, institution, foreign policy, justice, president, prime minister

Correct answers are here1

2. AT THE CENTRE

What's that then?

Read through the following description of the EU's main governing bodies. Answer True or False to the questions which follow.

The Council

The Council of the European Union is the main decision-making institution in the EU, which means that it discusses proposals and decides if they are acceptable. It is often informally called the Council of Ministers or just the Council. It is composed of 27 members- one for each Member State, but these change depending on the topic- if it's agriculture, for example, then the agriculture ministers of the members are present.

The European Council

Don't be confused by the name- the European Council is a different body. It is composed of all the head of state or government of the EU members. It has neither legislative nor executive powers but is there to give general political direction through very expensive summits with excellent food and wine that happen about twice a year! Nice for some! It is headed by a rotating presidency so that each EU Member State hold the presidency for six months.

The Commission

The European Commission occupies the Berlaymont building in Brussels- quite a modern building and very big, with a metal frame around it. The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. It is intended to act in the interest of the EU as a whole. This means the Commission typically drives integration with great enthusiasm! It is currently composed of 27 commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state. The President of the Commission and all the other commissioners are nominated by the Council.

The Parliament

The Parliament is based in Strasbourg but also meets in Brussels, so every month they have to move between the two cities- which is very expensive as it means travel for lots of people, and double the office space! (but it is said to be nice for MEPs' expenses ;-) )


The 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years. MEPs are elected nationally in each Member State, but they sit in political groupings. Each country has a set number of seats. The Parliament cannot propose new legislation; it can only accept, reject or put forward amendments to laws proposed by the Commission. If the Treaty of Lisbon becomes law, it will increase its powers. The Parliament also has the power to reject or censure the Commission and the EU budget. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The president and vice presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.

The Lawyers

The legal structure of the EU consists of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of First Instance. Together they interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU. The Court of First Instance mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts, and the ECJ mainly deals with cases taken by member states.

True or False:

1. The Council usually proposes legislation.

2. All member states can head the European Council for a period of three months.

3. If a political crisis happens, people look to the European Council for help.

4. The Commission decides what legislation to propose.

5. The Commission acts in the interests of the Member States.

6. The President of the Commission and all the commissioners are nominated by the Parliament.

7. Parliament members stay in Brussels all the time.

8. MEPs sit with their fellow countrymen in the parliament building.

9. Parliament regularly proposes new laws requested by voters.

10. The European Court of Justice deals with companies and individuals.

Correct answers are here2

3. WORDS TO KNOW

The following nouns are all typical ways of describing facts of EU life. On the left we have words from the text in following exercise. On the right we have definitions. Can you match them together?

1. Day - to - day running a) detailed ideas for changing society
2. Integration b) special meetings where high level officials and heads of state meet
3. Expenses c) formal agreements that make laws affecting member states
4. Policies d) management of basic continuing functions
5. Proposals e) people who belong to a group