The primary institutions of the European Union are the "European Commission, the "European Council, the "Council of the European Union (Council) and the "European Parliament.
The "ordinary legislative procedure, applies to nearly all EU policy areas. Under the procedure, the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council. They then send amendments to the Council which can either adopt the text with those amendments or send back a "common position". That proposal may either be approved or further amendments may be tabled by the Parliament. If the Council does not approve those, then a "Conciliation Committee" is formed. The Committee is composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs who seek to agree a common position. Once a position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament again by an "absolute majority. There are other special procedures used in sensitive areas which reduce the power of Parliament.
The European Parliament shares the "legislative and budgetary authority of the Union with the Council. Its 766 "members are elected every five years by "universal suffrage and sit according to "political allegiance. It represents all "European Citizens in the EU's legislative process, in contrast to the Council, which represents the Member States. Despite forming one of the "two legislative chambers of the Union, it has weaker powers than the Council in some limited areas, and does not have "legislative initiative. It does, however, have powers over the Commission which the Council does not. The powers of the Parliament have increased substantially over the years, and in nearly all areas it now has equal power to the Council.
The European Council is the group of "heads of state or "government of the EU "member states. It meets four times a year to define the Union's policy agenda and give impetus to integration. The "President of the European Council, "Donald Tusk, is the person responsible for chairing and driving forward the work of the institution, which has been described as the highest political body of the "European Union.
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union (informally known as the Council of Ministers or just the Council) is a body holding legislative and some limited executive powers and is thus the main decision making body of the Union. Its "Presidency rotates between the "states every six months. The Council is composed of twenty-eight national "ministers (one per state). However the Council meets in various forms depending upon the topic. For example, if agriculture is being discussed, the Council will be composed of each national minister for agriculture. They represent their governments and are accountable to their national political systems. Votes are taken either by majority or unanimity with votes allocated according to population.
The European Commission is composed of one appointee from each state, currently twenty-eight, but is designed to be independent of national interests. The body is responsible for drafting all "law of the European Union and has a monopoly over "legislative initiative. It also deals with the day-to-day running of the Union and has a duty to uphold the law and "treaties (in this role it is known as the "Guardian of the Treaties").
The Commission is led by a "President who is nominated by the Council (in practice the "European Council) and approved by Parliament. The remaining twenty-seven Commissioners are nominated by member-states, in consultation with the President, and has their portfolios assigned by the President. The Council then adopts this list of nominee-Commissioners. The Council's adoption of the Commission is not an area which requires the decision to be unanimous, their acceptance is arrived at according to the rules for "qualified majority voting. The European Parliament then interviews and casts its vote upon the Commissioners. The interviews of individual nominees are conducted separately, in contrast to Parliament's vote of approval which must be cast on the Commission as a whole without the ability to accept or reject individual Commissioners. Once approval has been obtained from the Parliament the Commissioners can take office. The current president is "Jean-Claude Juncker ("EPP); "his commission was elected in 2014.
Direct elections take place to the European Parliament every five years. The Council and European Council is composed of nationally elected or appointed officials and thus are accountable according to national procedures. The Commission also isn't direct elected although future appointments of the President must take into account of results of Parliament's elections.
Parliament's elections are held by "universal suffrage of "EU citizens according to national restrictions (such as age and criminal convictions). "Proportional representation is used in all "parliamentary constituencies. "Members of the European Parliament cannot also be elected nationally and are elected in "national or sub-national constituencies. The first such election was of the "in 1979. The latest elections were "in 2014 The turnout has fallen in every EU election since 1979. In 2014, the overall turnout was 42.6%, down from 43.0% in 2009. In Britain the turnout was 35.6% up from 34.7% in 2009, in France and Germany turnout also increased, whereas in Italy and Poland turnout decreased.
Political parties in the member states organise themselves with like-minded parties in other states into "political parties at European level or "Europarties. Most national parties are a member of one of these "Europarties and there are currently 11 that are recognised and receive EU funding. "Europarties behave and operate to a certain extent like national parties but only the larger ones ("EPP, "PES, "ELDR) put forward comprehensive manifestos during the campaigns for the European elections.
The "Europarties are horizontally present in all the main institutions – Council, Commission, Parliament – but are most active through their "political groups in Parliament. At the beginning of every parliamentary term, most organise themselves with other parties, non-attached national parties or independents to form a "political group. No party has ever held a majority in the Parliament, this does not have a great effect as it does not form a government but there is usual a coalition between the two major parties to elect the "President of the European Parliament.
The EU's foreign affairs are driven by its "Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and also through the Commission-led economic trade negotiations. The EU's chief diplomat, sometimes dubbed its "foreign minister, is the "High Representative "Federica Mogherini.
Foreign policy is still largely the domain of the member-states however and there has been significant disagreement between members. The failure to present a common voice on the world stage has led to the EU being sidelined in international negotiations.
The "Financial Perspective for 2007–2013 was defined in 2005 when EU members agreed to fix the common budget to 1.045% of the European GDP. UK Prime Minister "Tony Blair agreed to review the "British rebate, negotiated by "Margaret Thatcher in 1984. Former French president "Jacques Chirac declared this increase in the budget will permit Europe to "finance common policies" such as the "Common Agricultural Policy or the "Research and Technological Development Policy. France's demand to lower the "VAT in catering was refused. Controversial issues during budget debates include the British rebate, France's benefits from the Common Agricultural Policy, Germany and the Netherlands' large contributions to the EU budget, reform of the "European Regional Development Funds, and the question of whether the "European Parliament should continue to meet both in "Brussels and "Strasbourg.
The "Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE), commonly referred to as the European Constitution, is an international "treaty intended to create a constitution for the European Union. The constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands, where referendums were held causing other countries to postpone or halt their "ratification procedures. Late in 2009, a new "Reform Treaty was ratified by all member states of the European Union, and took effect on 1 December 2009.
Enlargement of the Union's membership is a major political issue, with division over how far the bloc should expand. While some see it as a major policy instrument aiding the Union's development, some fear over-stretch and dilution of the Union.
"Counter-nationalistic shearing stress" is the term coined by one commentator for the theoretical tendency of certain regions of larger countries of the EU to wish to become fully independent members within the wider context of the European Union's "bigger umbrella". If the Union is to become "ever closer", it follows that regions with their own distinctive histories and identities within the existing member nations may see little reason to have a layer of "insulation" between themselves and the EU. The surprisingly close vote on "Scottish Independence in September 2014 may be seen in this context. Others have suggested that regions of Germany could be candidates for "Euro-Balkanisation", particularly given Germany's commitment to the EU project and to a more nuanced, mature view of the notion of national allegiance.
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