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4.1.  The main European Institutions

  1. The European Council
  2. The European Commission
  3. The European Parliament
  4. The Council
  5. The Court of Justice

Common policies, which are the essence of the multinational integration process, are the fruit of intensive negotiations among the parties, which participate in this process. In order to be acceptable to all parties (member states), the conception of a common policy must try to satisfy or, at least, not harm the national interests of the parties and, therefore, the governments of all member states must participate in the decision-making process. Their participation, however, may be direct or indirect. Decisions on fundamental common policies, requiring new transfers of national sovereignties to the shared or supranational sovereignty, are taken by the participating governments (in intergovernmental conferences) and are outlined in treaties, signed by those governments and ratified by them after authorisation by the national parliaments [see chapter 2]. Decisions on secondary common policies, i.e. those needed to attain the goals set in the treaty, including policy guidelines and legal acts based on the treaty, are taken by the common institutions set up by the treaty, according to procedures and following the legal forms agreed in this treaty [see sections 3.3 and 4.3]. In contrast to an organisation based on intergovernmental cooperation, where the governments are the main actors, in a multinational integration process the governments of the member states direct the play from the backstage, but they leave the stage to the actors, that is their representatives, appointed by them and/or by their citizens.

The principal actors of European integration are called "institutions" by the European Treaties. However, the qualification of an organ as institutional is changing in various revisions of the Treaties following the development of the European Community/Union. According to the Treaty of Lisbon the institutional framework comprises: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the Court of Justice,  the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors (Article 13 TEU). The European Council is therefore recognised by the new Treaty as a fully-fledged institution, a status it did not have according to the previous treaties. The Treaty of Lisbon (like the EC Treaty) recognises the status of "advisory bodies" to the Economic and Social Committee and to the Committee of the Regions.

For analytical purposes, we consider as principal actors of European integration the five organs which intervene principally in the decision-making process and therefore in the governance of the European Union: the European Council, which sets the goals of the common policies; the European Commission, which makes the proposals for the decisions to be taken and is mainly responsible for the implementation of the common policies; the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which take the decisions; and the Court of Justice, which controls the legality of these decisions.

The European Administrative School (EAS) is responsible for designing, organising and evaluating training courses, including management courses for officials of all European institutions, induction courses for new members of staff and compulsory training as part of the process for transferring between functions [Decisions 2005/118 and 2005/119]. Courses are given in both Brussels and Luxembourg.

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Your roadmap in the maze of the European Union.

Based on the book of Nicholas Moussis:
Access to European Union law, economics, policies

Translated into 14 languages

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