Blend these items in below:

European Council: Rules of Procedure

Merkel says an EU vote will not be decisive on who is next Commission President

How EU decisions are made

Law-making procedures in detail (infographic)

How a new commissioner gets appointed

The balance of power in the current European Parliament is crucial for understanding the issues at stake in the 2014 European elections


Why the European Union?

Ten historic steps

Key dates in the history of European integration

What Happened to Europe (New York Times)

The Ghosts of Europe Past (New York Times)

History by decade (read just the paragraphs on each decade)

The Founding Fathers (read just the paragraphs on each founder)


Jean Monnet

Robert Schuman

Konrad Adenauer

Winston Churchill



European Council: seems to me to be similar to a board of directors of a corporation.
European Commission: similar to the CEO or President of a corporation
Council of the European Union: similar to the upper house of the legislature
European Parliament: similar to the lower house of the legislature

European Council: Main website

European Council

The EU's broad priorities are set by the European Council, which brings together national and EU-level leaders.

The European Council sets the EU's overall political direction – but has no powers to pass laws. Led by its President – currently Herman Van Rompuy – and comprising national heads of state or government and the President of the Commission, it meets for a few days at a time at least every 6 months.

President of the European Council: Herman Van Rompuy
Term: June 2012 - November 2014
Appointed by: national leaders (heads of state or government of EU countries).

Herman van Rompuy

EU President Herman van Rompuy and his love of haiku

Herman van Rompuy to leave politics after 2014

European Council: the President's role

European Council:
Read the introductory paragraph. Then read the material under the following headings:
"Powers and Functions"
"Members" [scan the list; note what position each person holds in his/her country]



European Council: seems to me to be similar to a board of directors of a corporation.
European Commission: similar to the CEO or President
Council of the European Union: similar to the upper house of the legislature
European Parliament: similar to the lower house of the legislature

President of the European Commission: José Manuel Barroso
Term: January 2010 - December 2014
Appointed by: national leaders (heads of state or government of EU countries), with the approval of the European Parliament.

How many Commissioners are there?
The College counts 28 Commissioners. They are each in charge of particular policy areas and meet collectively as the College of Commissioners.

Who are the commissioners?

Biographical sketch of President Barroso [what are the key steps in his career]

State of the Union video [your reactions]

Here is the written text of the State of the Union speech

Role of the President of the European Commission

"Relationship to European Council Presidency"

The EU at the G8/G20 summit in Russia [note how it emphasizes "joint" comments]



European Council: seems to me to be similar to a board of directors of a corporation.
European Commission: similar to the CEO or President
Council of the European Union: similar to the upper house of the legislature
European Parliament: similar to the lower house of the legislature

Other names used: [Consilium, Council, Council of Ministers (formerly)]

Council of the European Union=Consilium

The Council of the EU - where national ministers discuss EU legislation - doesn't have a permanent, single-person president. Its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months. For example, representatives from the presidency country chair its meetings.

Council as law-maker:

The EU's laws are made by the Council, together with the European Parliament.

In most cases, the Council can only legislate on the basis of proposals submitted to it by the European Commission.

Council Presidency

The EU's 28 Member States take it in turn to chair the Council for a period of six months each.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature.

It rotates among the member states of the EU every six months.

The presidency is not an individual, but rather the position is held by a national government. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the President of the European Union.

The current presidency (as of July 2013) is held by Lithuania.

Each three successive presidencies cooperate on a "triple-shared presidency" work together over an 18-month period to accomplish a common agenda by the current president simply continuing the work of the previous "lead-president" after the end of his/her term.

The 2013–2014 trio consists of Ireland (1 January - 30 June 2013), Lithuania (1 July - 31 December 2013), Greece (1 January - 30 June 2014) and Italy (1 July - 31 December 2014).

Council Configurations

The Council is made up of the ministers of the Member States.

The Council is a single body, but for reasons relating to the organisation of its work, it meets – according to the subject being discussed – in different "configurations", which are attended by the Ministers from the Member States and the European Commissioners responsible for the areas concerned. For example, the Agriculture Council is composed of the national ministers responsible for Agriculture.

In the 1990s there were 22 configurations; this was reduced to 16 in June 2000 and then to 9 in June 2002. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, there are ten configurations.

The Council's seat is in Brussels, where it meets several times a month (meetings are held in Luxembourg in April, June and October).

It meets in ten different configurations depending on the subjects under discussion.

1. General Affairs
2. Foreign Affairs
3. Economic and Financial Affairs
4. Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
5. Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
6. Competitiveness (internal market, industry, research and space)
7. Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
8. Agriculture and Fisheries
9. Environment
10. Education, youth, culture and sport

The General Affairs Council, which is usually attended by foreign ministers or European affairs ministers, makes sure that the various Council configurations are working consistently with one another and makes the preparations for European Council meetings.

Foreign ministers, for example, meet roughly once a month in the Foreign Affairs Council. Similarly, economics and finance ministers meet once a month in the Council which handles economic and financial affairs, called the Ecofin Council.


4. European Parliament

Let's work through the material on this wiki page:

European Council: seems to me to be similar to a board of directors of a corporation.
European Commission: similar to CEO or President (Executive branch, civil service)
Council of the European Union: similar to the upper house of the legislature
European Parliament: similar to the lower house of the legislature

Read: Guide to the European Parliament: Introduction (2009)
Even though this piece is several years old, it contains valuable information for us

Scan what is available on the European Parliament's main website

President of the European Parliament: Martin Schulz
Term: January 2012 - July 2014
Elected by: Members of the European Parliament
Read this two links:

Read: this interesting article about Martin Schulz

Video: The EU institutions explained by their Presidents (9:13)
How the EU works: a video guide (BBC News) [Matthew Price 29 July 2013]

European Parliament: 360 degree virtual tour
Check out the seating arrangement in the following article:

Read: Guide to the European Parliament: Political Groupings (Updated to January 2012)

Familiarize yourself with what is available on both of the following links:

European Parliament: 7 Current Political Groups

Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) [EPP]

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament [S&D]

Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe [ALDE]

Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance [Greens/EFA]

European Conservatives and Reformists Group [ECR]

Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left [GUE/NGL]

Europe of freedom and democracy Group [EFD]

Each political group takes care of its own internal organization by appointing a chair (or two co-chairs in the case of some groups), a bureau and a secretariat.

The places assigned to Members in the Chamber are decided by political affiliation, from left to right, by agreement with the group chairmen.

25 Members are needed to form a political group, and at least one-quarter of the Member States must be represented within the group.

Members may not belong to more than one political group.

Some Members do not belong to any political group and are known as non-attached Members.

Before every vote in plenary the political groups scrutinize the reports drawn up by the parliamentary committees and table amendments to them.

The position adopted by the political group is arrived at by discussion within the group. No Member can be forced to vote in a particular way.

In European politics, the centre-right is usually occupied by Christian democrats or by conservatives.

In western Europe, social-democratic parties have been the dominant centre-left force since the dawn of modern European cooperation.

In European politics, liberalism tends to be associated with classical liberalism, which advocates limited government intervention in society in general

European Parliament: Powers and Procedures

The European Parliament has been steadily gaining power over recent decades and now acts as a co-legislator for nearly all EU law.

Together with the Council, the Parliament adopts or amends proposals from the Commission. Parliament also supervises the work of the Commission and adopts the European Union's budget.

Beyond these official powers the Parliament also works closely with national parliaments of EU countries. Regular joint parliamentary assemblies allow for a better inclusion of national perspectives into the Parliament's deliberations.

Members of the European Parliament [MEP's]

The European Parliament is made up of 766 Members elected in the 28 Member States of the enlarged European Union. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period.

Each Member State decides on the form its election will take, but follows identical democratic ground rules: equality of the sexes and a secret ballot.

In all Member States, the voting age is 18, with the exception of Austria, where it is 16.

European elections are already governed by a number of common principles: direct universal suffrage, proportional representation and a five-year renewable term.

The seats are, as a general rule, shared out proportionately to the population of each Member State.

Each Member State has a set number of seats, the maximum being 99 and the minimum 6.

Equality of men and women: the proportion of women in the European Parliament has risen steadily. At present slightly over one third of MEPs are women.

MEPs divide their time between Brussels, Strasbourg and their constituencies.

In Brussels they attend meetings of the parliamentary committees and political groups, and additional plenary sittings. In Strasbourg they attend 12 plenary sittings. In parallel with these activities they must also, of course, devote time to their constituencies.

The Members of the European Parliament are grouped by political affinity and not by nationality.

EU Parliament: Presidential term of office

In 1987 the Single European Act came into force and, under the new cooperation procedure, the
Parliament needed to obtain large majorities to make the most impact.

So the EPP and PES came to an agreement to co-operate in the Parliament. This agreement became known as the "grand coalition" and, aside from a break in the fifth Parliament, it has dominated the Parliament for much of its life, regardless of necessity.

The grand coalition is visible in the agreement between the two Groups to divide the five-year term of the President of the European Parliament equally between them, with a socialist president for half the term and a People's president for the other half, regardless of the actual election

European Parliament: How Plenary Sessions Work

The high point of the European Parliament's political activity, plenary sittings represent the culmination of the legislative work done in committee and in the political groups. The plenary sitting is also the forum in which the representatives of the citizens of the European Union - the Members of the European Parliament or MEPs - take part in Community decision-making and express their standpoint vis-à-a vis the Commission and Council.

For many years the Parliament was simply a forum for debate, a purely consultative body.
But since its election by direct universal suffrage and thanks to the active work of its members, it has been able to secure greater powers and acquire the status of equal partner in co-decision with the Council in areas covering three quarters of Community legislation.

Today, the European Parliament has 766 elected members from 28 Member States of the European Union and conducts its plenary debates in 24 languages. In plenary, MEPs, officials, interpreters and translators follow very precise procedures in order to ensure the best possible conduct of the sitting.

Who's who in plenary

Plenary sittings are chaired by the President of the European Parliament. The President of the European Parliament is assisted in this task by the 14 vice-presidents, who can take over the chair. The President opens the sitting, sometimes with a tribute or a speech on a current topic. Parliament is in fact constantly concerned to respond to the latest developments in any major issue and has no hesitation in changing its agenda in order to call on the Union to act. The President's influence can be decisive in this respect.

During the sitting, the President calls upon speakers and ensures that the proceedings are properly conducted.

Most of the 766 MEPs belong to a political group, of which there are currently 7, representing all ideological tendencies in the EP.

However, no Member can be obliged by his group to vote in a particular way.


Storm in a Dipping Bowl over Europe's Olive Oil Rule

Rise of British anti-EU party threatens Prime Minister's re-election

Britain's Brussels Syndrome

Crisis for Europe as trust hits record low

European Union's Unending Quandary

How the UK Adopts EU Laws

UK and the EU: Better off out or in? (BBC News)

Analysis: UK's Cameron aims to erase EU goal of 'ever closer union'

Analysis: French EU-wariness complicates life for Hollande

How to Legitimize European Union: Decentralize


Enlargement and neighbourhood policy

Glossary: Accession of New Member States

EU-Georgia treaty highlights enlargement fatigue

Arguments for and against EU enlargement
Plus: What articles grab your attention in the "What European political parties think" section

Arguments For and Against: Turkey's membership in the EU
Plus: What articles grab your attention in the "What European political parties think" section

Russia halts Lithuanian dairy imports before EU summit

Ukraine’s Bumpy Road to Europe

As Ukraine looks west to Europe, Russia's shadow looms

Envoys ask Ukraine leader to pardon jailed rival to save EU deal