The European Parliament European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. Together with the Council of the European Union and European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 (previously 766) members, who represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world.

It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. Although the European Parliament has legislative power that the Council and Commission do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do.The Parliament is the “first institution” of the EU, and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council. It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure.

The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels, the city of Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices. Meetings of the whole Parliament take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels.

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The European Commission European Commission is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate.

The Commission operates as a cabinet government. With 28 members of the Commission, there is one member per member state, though members are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. One of the 28 is the Commission President proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament. The Council then appoints the other 27 members of the Commission in agreement with the nominated President, and then the 28 members as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.

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The Council of Europe Council of Europe is an advisory international organisation promoting promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It was founded in 1949, has 47 member states with 820 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body from the  EU. It is not controlled by, and should not be confused with, the European Union. Unlike the European Union, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws. The two do however share certain symbols such as the flag and  the anthem.

The best known bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe’s work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries as an advisory body.

Its statutory institutions are the Comittee of Ministers comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, the Parliamentary Assembly composed of MPs from the parliament of each member state, and the Secretary General heading the secretariat of the Council of Europe. The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states.

The headquarters of the Council of Europe are in Strasbourg, France, with English and French as its two official languages. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress also use German, Italian, and Russian for some of their work.

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european_councilThe European Council is the Institution of the European Union that comprises the heads of state or government of themember states, along with the council’s own president and the president of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in its meetings.[1] Established as an informal summit in 1975, the council was formalised as an Institution in 2009 upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon

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The Court of Justice of the European Union is the institution of the European Union that encompasses the whole judiciary. Seated in Luxembourg, Luxembourg, it consists of two major courts and a specialised court.

They include; The Court of Justice, informally known as European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU legal system; The General Court, The Civil Service Tribunal, a specialised court created in 2004.

The institution was originally established in 1952 as a single court called the Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Communities (as of 1958 the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC)). With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the court system obtained its current name (Court of Justice of the European Union), while the court itself was renamed “Court of Justice”.

Its mission is to ensure that “the law is observed” “in the interpretation and application” of the Treaties. The Court reviews the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union; ensures that the Member States comply with obligations under the Treaties; and interprets European Union law at the request of the national courts and tribunals.

The Court constitutes the judicial authority of the European Union and, in cooperation with the courts and tribunals of the Member States, it ensures the uniform application and interpretation of European Union law.

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european_court_of_auditorsThe Court of Auditors (European Court of Auditors, ECA) is the fifth institution of the European Union (EU). It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg to audit the accounts of EU institutions.

The Court is composed of one member from each EU member state, one of whom is chosen to be its president.

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The European Central Bank,  is the central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 EU member states and is one of the largest currency areas in the world. It is one of the world’s most important central banks and is one of the seven institutions of the European Union (EU) listed in the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The capital stock of the bank is owned by the central banks of all 28 EU member states. The Treaty of Amsterdam established the bank in 1998, and it is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. As of 2011 the President of the ECB is Mario Draghi, former governor of the Bank of Italy. The bank occupied the Eurotower while new headquarters were being built. The owners and shareholders of the European Central Bank are the central banks of the 28 member states of the EU.

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