Wie doet wat: Europese instellingen en organen - EU monitor

EU monitor
Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Source: Europa Nu.

De Europese Unie (EU) is het belangrijkste samenwerkingsverband in Europa. De deelnemende landen hebben voor deze Unie een aantal organisaties opgericht waaraan zij een deel van hun eigen bevoegdheden hebben overgedragen, zoals de Europese Commissie i en het Europese Hof van Justitie i. De bevoegdheden van de EU-instellingen zijn vastgelegd in het Verdrag betreffende de werking van de Europese Unie i (VwEU).

(klik op de figuur hiernaast voor een grotere versie)

1.

Instellingen

De belangrijkste instellingen van de Europese Unie zijn:

Europees Parlement

The European Parliament is the EU's law-making body. It is directly elected by EU voters every 5 years.

What does the Parliament do?

The Parliament has 3 main roles:

Legislative

Europese Raad

The European Council brings together EU leaders to set the EU's political agenda. It represents the highest level of political cooperation between EU countries.

Raad van de Europese Unie/Raad van Ministers

In the Council, government ministers from each EU country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies. The ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed on in the meetings.

Together with the European Parliament , the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU.

Not to be confused with:

Europese Commissie

The European Commission is the executive body of the EU and runs its day-to-day business. It is made up of the College of Commissioners, 27 European Commissioners, one for each member state, who are each responsible for one or several policy areas. In addition, the 'Commission' also refers to the entire administrative body that supports the Commissioners, consisting of the Directorates-General and the Services.

Europees Hof van Justitie

The Court of Justice interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.

It can also, in certain circumstances, be used by individuals, companies or organisations to take action against an EU institution, if they feel it has somehow infringed their rights.

What does the CJEU do?

The Court gives rulings on cases brought before it. The most common types of case are:

  • interpreting the law (preliminary rulings) – national courts of EU countries are required to ensure EU law is properly applied, but courts in different countries might interpret it differently. If a national court is in doubt about the interpretation or validity of an EU law, it can ask the Court for clarification. The same mechanism can be used to determine whether a national law or practice is compatible with EU law.
  • enforcing the law (infringement proceedings) – this type of case is taken against a national government for failing to comply with EU law. Can be started by the European Commission or another EU country. If the country is found to be at fault, it must put things right at once, or risk a second case being brought, which may result in a fine.
  • annulling EU legal acts (actions for annulment) – if an EU act is believed to violate EU treaties or fundamental rights, the Court can be asked to annul it – by an EU government, the Council of the EU, the European Commission or (in some cases) the European Parliament.

    Private individuals can also ask the Court to annul an EU act that directly concerns them.

  • ensuring the EU takes action (actions for failure to act) – the Parliament, Council and Commission must make certain decisions under certain circumstances. If they don't, EU governments, other EU institutions or (under certain conditions) individuals or companies can complain to the Court.
  • sanctioning EU institutions ( actions for damages) – any person or company who has had their interests harmed as a result of the action or inaction of the EU or its staff can take action against them through the Court.

Composition

The Court is divided into 3 bodies:

  • Court of Justice – deals with requests for preliminary rulings from national courts, certain actions for annulment and appeals.
  • General Court – rules on actions for annulment brought by individuals, companies and, in some cases, EU governments. In practice, this means that this court deals mainly with competition law, State aid, trade, agriculture, trade marks.

Each judge and advocate general is appointed for a renewable 6-year term, jointly by national governments. In each Court, the judges select a President who serves a renewable term of 3 years.

How does the CJEU work?

Each case is assigned 1 judge (the "judge-rapporteur") and 1 advocate general. Cases are processed in 2 stages:

  • Written stage
    • the parties give written statements to the Court – and observations can also be submitted by national authorities, EU institutions and sometimes private individuals.
    • all of this is summarised by the judge-rapporteur and then discussed at the Court's general meeting, which decides:
      • how many judges will deal with the case (3, 5 or 15 judges (the whole Court), depending on the importance and complexity of the case). Most cases are dealt with by 5 judges, and it is very rare for the whole Court to hear the case.
      • whether a hearing (oral stage) needs to be held and whether an official opinion from the Advocate General is necessary.
  • Oral stage – a public hearing.
    • Lawyers from both sides can put their case to the judges and Advocate General, who can question them.
    • If the Court has decided an Opinion of the Advocate General is necessary, this is given some weeks after the hearing.
    • The judges then deliberate and give their verdict.
  • General Court procedure is similar, except that most cases are heard by 3 judges and there are no Advocates General.

The CJEU and you

If you – as a private individual or as a company – have suffered damage as a result of action or inaction by an EU institution or its staff, you can take action against them in the Court, in one of 2 ways:

  • indirectly through national courts ( which may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice)
  • directly before the General Court – if a decision by an EU institution has affected you directly and individually.

If you feel that the authorities in any couklantry have infringed EU law, you must follow the official complaints procedure.

Europees Openbaar Ministerie

As the EU's independent external auditor, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) looks after the interests of EU taxpayers. It does not have legal powers, but works to improve the European Commission's management of the EU budget and reports on EU finances.

What does the ECA do?

Financiële en controlerende instellingen

De Europese Rekenkamer i controleert of alle uitgaven van de Europese Unie goed zijn besteed.

Voor klachten over wanbeheer van Europese instellingen kunnen burgers zich richten tot de Europese Ombudsman i.

De Europese Centrale Bank i waakt over de euro. De bank is onafhankelijk; de andere EU-instellingen hebben geen invloed op het beleid van de bank.

Adviesorganen

Het Comité van de Regio's i geeft advies op alle terreinen waar belangen van gemeenten en provincies een grote rol spelen. Dat is bijvoorbeeld het geval bij onderwijs- en cultuurbeleid.

Het Europees Economisch en Sociaal Comité i geeft advies over allerlei onderwerpen die met de economie te maken hebben. Het gaat dan om sociale zaken, de interne markt, duurzame economische ontwikkeling en consumentenrechten.

Op sommige terreinen zijn de andere EU-instellingen verplicht één of beide adviesorganen om advies te vragen als ze wet- en regelgeving maken.

Europese agentschappen

 
Logo's van EU agentschappen

Een agentschap is een onafhankelijk orgaan dat het werk op een bepaald beleidsterrein ondersteunt. Dit doet het door Europabrede kennis te vergaren, besluiten te nemen over technische kwesties of door uitvoerende taken te verrichten.

Agentschappen werken hierin nauw samen met de Europese Commissie i en nationale overheden. Veel agentschappen onderhouden ook contacten met maatschappelijke organisaties en kennisinstituten uit de lidstaten.

Momenteel bestaan er meer dan veertig agentschappen, al heten ze soms anders (centrum, stichting, bureau, waarnemingscentrum). Agentschappen zijn geografisch over de hele Europese Unie verspreid en zorgen hierdoor voor een zekere mate van decentralisatie van de EU.

Overige EU-instellingen

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Personen

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