About the European Union
The European Union is made up of 27 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.
The five main institutions of the European Union are the European Parliament,
the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors.
The European Union is a major player in international cooperation and development aid. It is also the world’s largest humanitarian aid donor. The primary aim of the EU’s own development policy, agreed in November 2000, is the eradication of poverty.
The European Commission is the European Community’s executive body.
Led by 27 Commissioners, the European Commission initiates proposals of
legislation and acts as guardian of the Treaties. The Commission is also a
manager and executor of common policies and of international trade relationships. It is responsible for the management of European Union external assistance. The Commissioner for Development is Mr. Andris Piebalgs.
Council of the European Union
Usually known as the Council of Ministers, specialised government ministers meet from each Member State to take decisions and resolve national differences in the various policy areas. The European Council, made up of 27 Heads of State or government, meets at least twice a year to set objectives and fix priorities. Each Member State takes the Presidency in turn for a term of six months.
The European Parliament is the directly elected expression of political will of
the European Union and the largest multinational Parliament in the world. The
European Parliament upholds citizens’ rights, adopts legislation and monitors the use of executive power.