Political Institutions:
European Union Institutions

The European Union is made up of three main institutions: the Parliament, the Council and the Commission; and four other institutions, as detailed below. The EU also comprises a number of other bodies, which are also listed.

Parliament | Council | Commission | Court of Justice | Court of Auditors | Ombudsman | Data Protection Supervisor |
Financial Bodies | Advisory Bodies | Interinstitutional Bodies | Decentralized Bodies (Agencies)

European Parliament

The European Parliament comprises 751 directly-elected members known as MEPs. Elected every five years, the Parliament is a co-legislator, has budgetary powers and exercises democratic controls over all the European institutions. The Parliament’s official seat is in Strasbourg, whilst extra sessions and committees are held in Brussels. The Secretariat is based in Luxembourg.

Council of the European Union

The Council is made up of the ministers of the Member States and is the main decision-making body of the European Union. Each country is represented by the minister responsible for whichever subject is on the agenda. The Council is based in Brussels. The presidency of the Council is currently held for six months by each Member State on a rotational basis as follows:

January - June 2015: Latvia

July - December 2015: Luxembourg

January - June 2016: Netherlands

July - December 2016: Slovakia

January - June 2017: Malta

July - December 2017: United Kingdom

January - June 2018: Estonia

July - December 2018: Bulgaria

January - June 2019: Austria

July - December 2019: Romania

January - June 2020: Finland

European Commission

The European Commission is the Executive body of the European Union. Its main roles are to propose and implement legislation and to act as ‘guardian of the treaties’ that provide the legal basis for the EU. Its headquarters is in Brussels.

Court of Justice of the European Communities

The Court of Justice is made up of 28 Judges and 9 Advocates-General appointed by the Governments of the Member States for a renewable six-year period. It is based in Luxembourg and adjudicates on the interpretation of European Union law.

European Court of Auditors

“The mission of the European Court of Auditors is to audit independently the collection and spending of European Union funds and, through this, to assess the way that the European institutions discharge these functions.” The Court is based in Luxembourg.

European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman is based in Strasbourg and is empowered to receive complaints from any citizen of the Union concerning instances of misadministration in the activities of the Community Institutions or Bodies (except for the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role.

European Data Protection Supervisor

The European Data Protection Supervisor is an independent post in the European Union ensuring that data privacy laws regarding citizens' personal information are not violated by EU Institutions.

In addition to the Institutions, the European Union includes the following bodies:

Financial Bodies

European Central Bank

CC Image ECB/Andreas Böttcher from
European Central Bank

  • European Central Bank: The European Central Bank is responsible for monetary policy within the Eurozone. Its headquarters are in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • European Investment Bank: The Bank was established to provide financing for capital investment furthering European Union policy objectives. It is based in Luxembourg.
  • European Investment Fund: an EU agency for the provision of finance to SMEs.

Advisory Bodies

Interinstitutional Bodies

Decentralized Bodies of the European Union (Agencies)