How the EU Institutions Function


Do you KNOW how the EU is governed? What are the important institutions? How they work together? You probably only have a vague idea how it
works, but probably know more about US politics than about European politics. Do you know who is the European president?
Trick question! There are around a dozen. This episode will look at how the European
government works but also show many of its flaws. This is not to say that the EU is necessarily
ruled poorly, but I will address many of the concerns average citizens have. And I think we can ALL agree that governments
could be run more efficiently in general. Alright, so let’s start at the top. First off: The European Council. It is comprised of the 28 chancellors, presidents,
and prime ministers of the European member states. At the council the European leaders meet 4
times per year to define the EU’s policy, to push forward European integration, and
to serve as an ‘emergency brake’ where it can cancel EU plans if it convinces at
least half the EU leaders to vote against that plan. So to whom does the European Council give
direction? To the European Commission. The commission is responsible for drafting
all the laws of the European Union. It is comprised of 28 commissioners, one for
each country, who are in charge of one aspect of European law. There is a commissioner of Transport, a commissioner
of Regional Policy, a commissioner of Research, Science, and Innovation, and so forth. In this way, the Commission acts like a cabinet:
It’s led by a president, nominated by the European Council and approved by the European
Parliament. The other 27 commissioners are chosen by each
member country. This way, every member state has 1/28th say
in creating the laws of the European Union. Okay, so what happens after the commission
proposes a law? There are two options. First, if it concerns mostly policy within
the European union then it gets send to the EU parliament to vote on, if the majority
votes in favour, the law is adopted. The parliament functions much like a national
parliament: there are political parties, the people vote for them, and they pass laws. So how are the seats in parliament determined? Well, every member state gets an amount of
seats depending on the population of that country, with each country receiving at least
6 seats out of a total of 751 seats. So when there are election, each country is
assigned 6 seats. The remining 583 are then divided depending
on population. Latvia, for example, has 2 million people
out of a total European population of 508 million. That’s 0,4%, meaning 2 extra seats on top
of their guaranteed 6. This is done for every country and I’ll
leave this here so you can see how many seats each country currently has. During elections, you vote for your national
party. So let’s say a Latvian party received 50%
of the votes then they get 4 seats in the European parliament. These 4 don’t sit alone but they form a
party with likeminded parties from other countries. I will leave this here if you’re interested
in the different EU parties and what they stand for. But what does the EU Parliament do? The parliament sets the budget for the EU
institutions every year, oversees the other EU institution, and votes on laws. But there is the catch. [problem parliament-commission] So, the Commissions
proposes a law, it sends that law to the parliament and that parliament decides to either pass
it or to send it back to the commission with the adjustments they’d like to see. This creates a strange distribution of power:
the commission is the one who create laws and parliament is the one who debates and
votes on laws. This is different from US or British politics:
there you make a laws, defend your law in parliament, and convince other parliamentarians
to vote on your law. This is one of the main reasons the EU is
thought of as undemocratic: the commission is selected by the member countries, not by
the voters. There are 28 commissioners. So, if you’re a Slovak then you didn’t
get a say in 27 out of the 28 commissioners. Not to mention that 28 commissioners are too
many to be effective. And parliament continuously fails in bringing
the Europeans closer to the European Union: turnout in European elections is low and falling,
and voters tend to decide on national, not European issues. Far from acting as a parliament that controls
spending, it has often behaved more as a lobby group whose main aim seems to be to spend
more and to augment its own powers. But it’s not ALL bad. For example, the commission is quite an efficient
institution, employing only around 33,000 people, about the same amount as a largish
local council in one of the member states. And under the leadership of Jean-Claude Junker
it has sharply reduced the amount of laws it proposes. And the EU parliamentarians are impressively
well qualified for improving legislation and questioning the EU commission. It has passed many ground-breaking laws in
the past such as reducing roaming charges, passing legislation that sets the EU up as
a global power, and taking steps towards more gender equality in the EU. Okay, so internal European matters it get
send to parliament. What if it’s not? Well, if it concerns foreign affairs or requires
cooperation between the countries, then it gets send to the Council of Ministers. This is comprised of one minister from each
EU country. Depending on what they will vote on there
are different ministers present. If they have to vote on an agricultural law,
there will only be agricultural ministers, if they vote on matters of finance, there
will be 28 finance minister, and so forth. The council of ministers acts as a balance
with the European parliament. Where parliament is a purely European institution
with European goals, the council of ministers is comprised of people who have the best interest
of their country in mind. Like the parliament, they get to decide on
the European budget. The European Court of Auditors sees to it
that the taxpayer’s money is spent effectively in the EU. The European Court of Justice is the judicial
arm of the European Union. It is comprised of 28 judges, one from each
of the member states. Its role is to see to it that the EU laws
are applied in all states and to settle legal matters between institutions and countries. It is the highest court in the EU.
lastly there are the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup, which we’ll get to next
episode. The European parliament moves between Brussels
and Strasbourg every month, costing 114 million euros every year. There is also the Economic and Social Committee
and the Committee of Regions. They bring together trade union and civil
representatives together for monthly meetings to advise the council of ministers. They cost about 200 million Euro ever year,
but nobody would miss them if they were to disappear tomorrow. Lastly, all the institutions just mentioned
are spread over Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, and Frankfurt. This was done to assure that not one country
can take the lead in the EU by having all the European institutions in one country. But it also means that you can’t communicate
properly so EU officials have to move between cities a lot. And that is only inside the EU. Then there are countries outside who want
access to the vast EU market but don’t want to adhere to all EU legislation, notably fishing
regulations for Norway and Iceland and Banking regulations for Switzerland. They are part of the European Economic Area
and Schengen, meaning that they can trade freely with the EU countries and you can move
between them, never realizing you left the EU. But the countries don’t have any say in
their rules, meaning that if the Schengen or EEA treaties are changed, they can either
sign the treaty or leave. So here you have it, a complete overview of
the important institutions and how they work. Next week we’ll delve into the Euro and
the Euro crisis. It will be equally critical of the EU as this
episode. If you liked this episode, press the like
button and subscribe for more videos like this This video was made in collaboration with My Country? Europe. If you want to show your support for Europe, head over to their page to see what they are doing.

Maurice Vega

65 Responses

  1. the European council barely got a mention. I thought is was them who gave the commission the general idea, of which they would draft the actual laws from, like the civil service. Do the European commission have power? I thought is was more independence. There is still a democratic deficit, but I didn't think it was as bad as people said, that was just Eurosceptics exaggerating the power the commission has. The problem with giving the elected members of parliament power is it makes the countries less sovereign. It's balancing on a knife's edge.

  2. Very informative, but don't you think that it is too bureaucratic and the number of people should be reduced? Over 700 seats seems too much, moving between Bruselles and Strasbourg is just a waste of resources, just spreading all the institutions would be enough.

  3. Well it does not work. Its nothing more than over Glorified free meals club for bureaucrats with small soft hand and triple chin. All you can eat foie gras and champagne for lunch.

  4. Thats a stupid way, its never going to work.
    So basically if more than half the countries are in favour of a policy that benifits them, Example freedom of movememnt, they can force the policy onto the rest of the countries, even if they really don't want to do it? hahaha good luck with that

  5. The information was given so slowly I got bored and fell asleep. Only joking. The information was supplied at such a speed that it did not have time to register in my head before you went on to make the next point. Good info; terrible presentation.

  6. Nice video and more people would benefit from watching it and I hope you make more but please please stop deleting all the silences between your sentences/words. It makes it really hard to listen to. It feel like being attacked by a word salad.
    On steroids.
    Backwards
    Twice
    Just some constructive feedback 😉

  7. No, countries don't control the EU just because the EU capital is within their borders. I mean theoretically they could try a military coup, but that's really far-fetched.

    The reason for that is that each country wants all those powerful politicians, the construction of the EU buildings etc to be in their country, to spend a bit of money and also for prestige

  8. The comission and the parliament are not the problem. the comission is confirmed by the parliament. In other countries also the government makes proposals which canthen are passed by parliamnet. It is debated whater parliament gets iniciative rights, and there are already ways of law iniciatives outside the comission. Additionally, no comissionaire is only looking at his own countries intrest, they all see the EU as a whole. 28 are too much, but the idea was, that lawmakers not only comes from Western Europe or one singel party family but are reflecting the diversity.

    One problem is that people have their national intrests in mind when voting for EU-parliament.
    The secound problem is that the parliament has NOT the final say in lawmaking, but the council has.
    The council decides not by a 50% mayority rule, but in most cases by an unanimity rule.
    Imagine US law being made by the 50 governors of all US-states. That would work even less efficiantly i guess. That is the big problem
    So most often there is a weak poor compromise which comes too late. The advantage is that no country has to apply to anything it does not want, because it ahas a veto in the lawmaking process. BUT: Since it is the most powerfull entity and it always stays hte same (some conservatives, some social democrates, some liberals) it comes up always with the same compromises. There is no possibility of voting for change. The parliament is voted for by all EU-citizens through elections, but it is not that powerful. There has to be a reform to ensure member state influence but to give up some national power (unanimity) in order to make the EU more governable. I would suggest something similar to the US-Senate where all member states are equal. So a myority of hte population (parliament) and a myority of member states (council replacement) pass laws.

  9. The most important point is the council and the unanimity rule, because without the council nothing gets done in the EU, so ministers out of 28 different countries need to come together and agree on something in order to get something done, and when they come home again and face concerns, they complain about the EU. This has to change. An elected chamber where member states intrests are regarder, maybe similar to the US senate and where a so called qualified mayority or maybe even a 50%+1 mayority is enough.

  10. 0:38 The German chancellor and the European prime ministers are not heads of state, they are heads of government. The presidents, and monarchs, are heads of state though.

  11. why all european institutions are located between france-germany-luxemburg-belgium ? this is a very bad bad thing no good

  12. dude you are going to help me pass my INBU final. bless.
    also, my goodness the USA's system of government is SO MUCH simpler!

  13. at 3:41 you say the commission is not selected by voters, that's not exactly true. Each country CAN elect democratically its commissioner, as it's the case here in Belgium. I don't know much of US politics, but in the UK, if I remember it correctly, bills can be introduced by the House Of Lords. Which is so much more undemocratic than this!

  14. just because the EU parliament cannot modify proposed laws without consent from the commission does not make it undemocratic. It still means that laws that ARE passed still have consent from the democratic elected representatives of the people. After all the House of Lords is not democratically elected and yet it can modify bills proposed by the government formed from the elected commons. The UK system is only partly democratic too.

  15. Similarly, just because the commission is not directly elected does not invalidate its actions as undemocratic. The Commission is the Civil Service of the EU. When did Brits ever elect their Civil Servants? Never!!

  16. Voter turnout tends to be low in elections for bodies where the general satisfaction is already high. Local government elections have very low turnouts but that does not mean there is anything to be concerned about. If on the other hand your services were lousy and your local taxes were high you would be down at that election booth next time to kick 'em out!!!

  17. The EU is a globalist project run by the wealthy one percent. It is an alienating political project designed by individuals who hold nothing in common with the average citizen of any member state. I am British and i stand by the decision of my country to seek independence from this mess of a Bloc.
    The EU want to create a EU army and establish a federal nation of member states, eventually they will erode the national identity and sovereignty of our nations and replace it with this vague bs "European" identity.
    The sooner our friends on the mainland recognize that they are losing their countries bit by bit to this madness the better.

  18. I dont agree with bigger populated countries have more seats. This system has been created to have those more populated countries like france, germany, spain and italy to have far more influence in getting things their way.. foolish system. i think smaller countries should break off.
    dont you guys agree?

  19. I voted to stay in the "common market" in 1975. I was conned (Edward Heath admitted he lied to the British public several years later).

    The EU Commission is just a modern version of the old USSR polit bureau (as Gorbachev pointed out at an event in Paris several years ago).
    The polit bureau creates the laws, the MEPs merely rubber stamp them with no ability to alter these laws in any meaningful way.

    Guy verhofstadt compared the EU 7 year economic plan with the soviet union 5 year economic plan. What a giveaway!

    Altiero Spinelli's (1907-1986) name is above the main entrance to the EU. Spinelli was an Italian communist who set out a manifesto which is being followed by the EU.

    Alexi Sayle has in his autobiography (and used it in an interview by remote camera) that his parents (both communists) attended meetings where it was discussed how and when they (communists) would take over the world.I though it was just a comedic tale but he was trying to warn us (obvious now).

    The European elections are just an illusion of democracy.

    The whole reason for the EU is to replace Europeans with a low IQ, mixed race.
    Any financial arguments are just a smokescreen as suggested by Jean Monnet, co-founder of the EEC who died in 1978.

    That is the plan. Look it up!

    The Barcelona Decalaration 1995 (relates to importing muslims), the Marrakesh Declaration 2018 (relates to importing sub saharan Africans) and the UN migration Pact 2018 all facilitate the replacement.

    They were trying to do this very gradually but the recent "crisis" has illuminated their plan. (This "migrant crisis" itself was orchestrated by the UN in 2000, so not really a "crisis".)

    Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote "Practical Idealism" in 1923. The EU is based on this book.

    He designed the flag and suggested Beethoven's Ode to Joy as it's anthem.
    Perhaps those of us who have woken up should have JSBach's "sleepers awake" from Cantata No.40 perhaps.

    In December 2018, junker admitted coudenhove-kalergi's influence in the creation of the EU (maybe he thought if the cat's out of the bag, why deny it?).

    For decades Europeans were told to reduce family size to save the planet (the guardian was still printing this in 2017!).
    Africa's population is exploding (seems africans were not told to save the planet!).

    Junker and his puppy,macron, are going to import 200 million Africans in the next 20 years becuase of falling birthrate. Why not just encourage Europeans to have more babies….or doesn't that fit the coudenhove-kalergi plan?

    We're told that automation will replace employment in many sectors (Apple have recently opened a store without staff).

    What will all these africans do all day?

  20. Europe of the riches and Europe of the poors ? P.S. Do I vote for all the politics in the EU ? Is this a Democracy or a Kleptocracy?

  21. Great overview of the EU! Thank you!

    While EU indeed needs reforms, it is a great achievement for Europe and for humankind at large. I hope we can one day implement a similar union in the Middle East (after changing the current borders and establishing new states)!

  22. Straight to the point.. How does the EU FUNCTION. With lot's of money from country's that join the EU……..
    THE EU leadership should hang there head's in shame 4 the way they treat members

  23. Wait, do the eu seats divider uses the same system as the electroral collage?

    Actually, Europe sees the inequality from these systems on a lower scale for it has more people divided among less countries

  24. In the EU I dont believe anyone controls spending .. of the mep's and other floozies, Their expenses and perks are a disgrace. They just keep voting themselves more dosh every year!

  25. In a way the E.U. kinda remind me of the Electoral College in the States. Each state receives so many electors depending on the size of the state plus one person from each the House of Representatives and plus two from local Senators. But the way the system is set up I feel that the individual votes of the people don’t count. For example the United States overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton to be president but because of the electoral college we got Trump. 🙄 A key reason the founders wanted the electoral college: To keep out demagogues and bullies yet we still ended up with one in office how ironic

  26. I disagree with most of what I know about the EU, and its reasons for continuing, but videos like this make a real, constructive debate possible.

    As it is, the EU can't last. But the ability to understand it, and discuss it means that it's possible to preserve the best parts and continue in the direction that it was created for: Peace and prosperity.

    Again, I'm not a supporter of the EU, but this kind of understanding might just lead it to a place where it becomes valuable to the world.

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