In addition to the core institutional bodies, there is a rich institutional ecosystem in place.
A brief overview of these other institutions and bodies is presented below:
The European Council—be careful here! Do not mistake with the Council of the EU—conveys together with the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states, the Council President and the President of the European Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in European Council meetings when foreign affairs issues are discussed.
The current President (Charles Michel) is elected for a term of two and a half years, which is renewable once. The European Council defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities. It does not exercise any legislative function.
The European Central Bank (in Frankfurt am Main, Germany) defines and implements monetary policy in the euro area countries (19 countries fulfilled the convergence criteria prior adopting the euro). Together with the national central banks of the Member States, the European Central Bank is in charge of price stability in the euro area and thus protects the value of the euro.
In order to contribute to the safety of the banking system and the stability of the financial system within the EU, the European Central Bank is responsible for the supervision of bank institutions located in the euro area (within the Single Supervisory Mechanism, which also comprises the national competent authorities).
The Court of Justice of the European Union ensures that the law is interpreted and enforced in the same way in every EU country. The headquarters of the Court of Justice of the European Union are in Luxembourg
It comprises two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court.
The Court of Justice (one judge from each Member State plus 11 advocates general). Its main tasks are:
The General Court (two judges from each Member State). Its main task is:
The European Court of Auditors audits the Union’s finances. The members (one member from each member state) are independent and take no instructions from their home countries.
The Economic and Social Committee gives the means to civil society organisations from the member states to express their opinions. Its views are forwarded to the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. It is a consultative body not an executive one.The committee has 350 members chosen from economic and social interest groups in Europe and the members are nominated by national governments.
The Committee of the Regions allows the regions and cities of the European Union (EU) to have a voice at the EU level. The Committee represents local and regional authorities across the European Union. It could also advise on new laws that have an impact on regions and local entities.
Learn from this short video how the committee of Regions works
Finally, we would like to highlight the importance of a particular stakeholder: the European Union’s diplomatic service: The European External Action Service (EEAS), whose role is to make sure that the EU is a relevant actor in the world.
The EU foreign affairs chief is the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is also a vice-president of the European Commission. The EEAS is headed by Josep Borrell from 2019 to 2024.
The EEAS helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief aforementioned carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and runs the EU delegations worldwide.
More information about the EEAS will be explained in the topic 4.4.1 The EU Science Diplomacy Ecosystem.
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