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The European Union Explained

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Presentation on theme: "The European Union Explained"— Presentation transcript:

1 The European Union Explained
Michael Raftery & Beccy Allen

2 European Council Who? Made up of all member-states’ heads of government or state President of Commission also attends How? Meets four times a year Presidency of the Council rotates every six months What? Defines EU’s strategic direction Presidency currently held by France The country holding the Presidency has more influence over the agenda

3 European Commission Who? Headed by Cabinet of 27 Commissioners
Employs about 30,000 people How? President of Commission chosen by EU governments Commissioners nominated by their national governments Commissioners and President approved by EU Parliament What? Drafts proposals for EU laws Implementing decisions Manages day-to-day business of EU The President and Commission are appointed for five years at the same time as elections for the European Parliament Commissioners are not there to represent national interests Each is responsible for a specific area of EU policy 1999 Commission resigned after unfavourable independent report alleged financial mismanagement (resigned before the parliament could vote on whether to dismiss it)

4 Council of Ministers Voice of the member states Who?
Made up of a government minister from each member state Membership changes according to the subject of discussion How? Each country has weighted vote Makes decisions alongside the EU Parliament What? Considers legislation from Commission Sets EU policy on issues where the EU can only act unanimously- such as defence & foreign policy Signs international treaties with non-EU states on behalf of the EU Also called Council of the European Union (more official title) Eg. Minister responsible for environment would attend the session addressing this issue Presidency rotates between EU members every 6 months Each country has a weighted vote and two thirds must agree to pass a law On most issues the Council must vote in agreement with the Parliament (co-decision) but certain issues such as national borders and defence are reserved and the Council acts unanimously

5 European Parliament Voice of the people Who? 785 MEPs
MEPs form cross-country coalition parties and sit in these groupings How? Elected every five years (in the UK we use a closed-list PR system) Only directly elected body in EU What? Legislates as an equal with Council of Ministers Most work done in committees Vote in plenary sessions Eg. Labour sits with the Party of European Socialists Hold the European Commission to account and can force it to resign Decides EU budget

6 Court of Justice Who? One judge per member-state
Judges elect one of their number as President for three years How? Judges appointed by the Governments of member-states Chosen from experienced and highly qualified judges in home countries What? Union law applied the same across EU Settles legal disputes Can overrule national law, if it conflicts with EU Law, since it is the highest court in the EU Terms last 6 years and are renewable

7 Court of Auditors Who? One member from each EU state
Elect one of themselves as President How? Appointed by Council of Ministers Chosen from highly qualified auditors in home countries What? Oversee EU accounts Produce audit report each year Renewable 6 year terms President renewable 3 year term Parliament must approve the handling of the budget by Commissioners (from Auditors report)

8 How it all fits together….
European Council Directs strategy European Commission Proposes legislation and budget Appoints & supervises Appoints European Parliament Council of Ministers co-decision National Governments citizens EU law EU budget arbitrates supervises Court of Justice Court of Auditors

9 How are laws passed? European Parliament suggests changes
European Commission proposes draft law The Council of Ministers considers this draft Does the Council of Ministers approve? The Council of Ministers suggests changes European Parliament re-examines the draft law Does European Parliament agree? European Parliament suggests changes Can the Council and European Parliament agree? European Parliament and Council call a conciliation committee Can the European Parliament and Council reach agreement Legislation is dropped No Law is adopted Yes European Parliament discusses draft and makes changes

10 What do MEPs do? The 12 regions and nations of the United Kingdom have between three and ten MEPs They divide their time between their regional constituencies in the UK and committee and political group meetings in Brussels For one week in every month they are in Strasbourg to vote in a full session of the European Parliament They do much of their political work as members of at least one of Parliament’s twenty specialist policy committees Contacting MEPs allows you to enter your postcode and find out who your MEPs are Typically, MEPs spend Monday to Thursday either in Brussels or Strasbourg and Friday/weekend in the UK Contact all MEPs in your region, giving them at least 6 weeks notice and a variety of dates Contact all MEPs in your region to have a good chance of them coming to your school Give them a variety of dates and at least 6 weeks notice

11 Useful Links

12 Breakout session Nominate a presenter to feedback:
What was the activity? Strengths/Weaknesses? How would you use it (differentiation)?

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