- It is a supra national body – membership of that body are independent of their country, they are concerned with promoting the European Union.
- Each commissioner, like a government minister, has an individual portfolio and has a department of the European Civil Service working for them.
- Key role – to propose legislation to be approved by the council of ministers.
- Responsible for ensuring the proper functioning and development of the European Union.
- Negotiates on behalf of the union in the field of external trade, e.g. Oil.
Council of Ministers
- Non – permanent body
- Each government of the 15 member states has one representative on the council.
- Its composition varies according to the subject under discussion, the appropriate minister will attend for each topic.
- Key Role – to vote through legislation.
- Have power to instruct the Commission to undertake particular investigations.
- Council decisions are taken on a mixture of voting procedures. Some require a simple majority others require a qualified a majority and others require unanimity.
- Council are assisted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COPERER)
- In Britain MEPs are elected in the same way as MPs, each one representing a geographical area. Elections are held every five years.
- Currently 626 members, seats are allocated to each country roughly according to population. E.g. UK has 87, Luxembourg 6.
- Arranged in semi – circle, seated by political affiliation, e.g. socialists sit together.
- It has supervisory power over the Commission. It has a right of veto over the appointment of the Commission as a whole, and can also dismiss the whole commission by a vote of censure.
- The parliament has observatory powers over the Council. Parliament reports on it three times a year and the president of the council is obliged to address the parliament once a year followed by a debate.
- Parliament can bring actions against other European Union institutions for failure to implement European law.
- Parliament can set up committees of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions of European law.