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European Union: EU Institutions


Finding EU information is greatly enhanced if the researcher is familiar with the institutions and agencies responsible for creating, interpreting and enforcing it. This guide attempts to delineate the major EU agencies and their responsibilities to assist in this process. 

Council of the European Union

Council of the European Union. Main decision-making institution of the EU, comprised of ministers from each member state. The Council passes laws with the European Parliament, negotiates international agreements, and makes decisions on foreign and economic policy.

The Parliament

European Parliament. Parliamentary institution of the EU, directly elected by EU citizens. Together with the Council, it comprises the legislative branch of the EU. Members of the European Parliament sit in political groups irrespective of nationality.


Documents of the European Parliament are organized as for each Plenary Sitting or session for each Parliament.

  • Committee Documents. Search engine for EU Parliament Committee documents.
  • Debates and Videos - Verbatim report of proceedings of each sitting (often referred to by its French abbreviation, CRE).
  • Reports - Adopted by parliamentary committees on a proposal from a rapporteur appointed by committee.
  • Motions for Resolution - Selected statements and questions to the Council and Commission are followed by a vote on a motion for a resolution. Debates on breaches of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law may also. 
  • Plenary texts Adopted - Motions or resolutions and reports tabled by Members and by the parliamentary committees are voted on in plenary, with or without a debate and the final texts are published.
  • Parliamentary Questions - Questions addressed by Members of the European Parliament to other European Union Institutions and bodies.
  • Written Declarations - Brief texts made bt MEPs relating on a matter falling within the competence of the EU. They are not legally binding. 
  • Public Hearings. Most committees organize regular hearings.

Other useful search engines and finding aids include:

The Courts

The EU Courts interpret EU law to make sure it is applied consistently across EU states. They also settle legal disputes between country governments and EU institutions. Individuals and groups may files cases if they feel their rights have been infringed by an EU institution.

Curia. Serves as the general portal for the EU Court system. Includes information and case law for the following EU courts:

Court of Justice. Ensures that EU legislation is interpreted and applied consistently across EU countries. National courts refer to the Court of Justice to clarify a point concerning the interpretation of EU law.

General Court. Hears actions brought by natural or legal persons against acts of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the European Union and against regulatory acts or against a failure to act on the part of those institutions, bodies, offices or agencies.

Court of Auditors.  Audits organizations, bodies or companies that handle EU funds.

Civil Service Tribunal. Jurisdiction to hear disputes between the European Union and its servants

Common Foreign and Security Policy Agencies

European Defence Agency (EDA).  Established to improve the EU's defence capabilities especially in the field of crisis management, promote EU armaments cooperation and strengthen the EU defence industrial and technological base.

European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). Set up in 2002 to promote a common security culture for the EU, help develop and project the CFSP, and enrich the strategic debate.

European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC).  Agency dedicated to exploitation and production of information deriving from the analysis of space imagery. It aims at supporting EU’s decision-making in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP).

Decentralized Agencies

EU Decentralised Agencies are bodies set up by an act of secondary legislation to accomplish technical, scientific or managerial tasks specified by EU Public Law.

The Commission

European Commission. The European Commission is the EU institution that proposes legislation to Parliament and the Council, administers and implements Community policies, and enforces Community law.

Departments and Executive Agencies. The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General. Each Directorate-General is supervised by a civil servant. There are other services and offices in the commission that perform additional functions.


See also links to EU Delegation web sites including the EU Delegation of the United States

Financial Bodies

European Central Bank. The ECB is the central bank for Europe's single currency, the euro. The ECB is responsible for maintaining the euro's purchasing power and price stability in the euro area. See the ECB statistical publications.

European Investment Bank. The EU's financing institution. Raises funds for capital projects according with the objectives of the Union.

European Investment Fund. Venture capital and guarantees agency of the EU.

The Regions

Committee of the Regions (CoR). Body of representatives of regional and local governments working to increase participation of European regions in the EU community. Six commissions support the preparation of opinions based on proposals of the European Commission. The draft version of opinions and resolutions are submitted to the Plenary for adoption.

EU Regional Policy. Information on EU action in support of regional development. See also the Projects database.

Council of European Municipalities and Regions. Represents the interests of Europe's local and regional governments.

Meeting Documents. Plenary Meeting documents are available.

Research Centers and Archives

Archive of European Integration. From the University of Pittsburgh. Extensive electronic repository and archive for documents on European integration and unification. Includes hundreds of annual reports, conference documents, journals, and EU series documents not available elsewhere.

CORDIS. Community Research and Development Information Service. Gateway for EU sponsored scientific and technical R&D:

The European University Institute.  Provides advanced academic training to Ph.D students and promotes European Community research in history, law, economics, political and social science. 

The Robert Schumann Centre. Center devoted to interdiscplinary research on issues related to the European integration process.

EU Historical Archives. See also the Archisplus historical archives database andEURHISTAR. Includes archives for the OEEC Organisation for European Economic Cooperation.

Historical Bulletins of the European Parliament.

Intergovernmental Conferences (IGC). Archive of major EU treaties resulting from EU Intergovernmental Conferences.

European Commission Archives. Archived documents and websites from the European Commission. Includes documents from conferences, the Bulletin of the EU and more.

History of European Union. History of the EU integration process.

Documentation Centers and Depositories

Other Institutions

European Ombudsman. Mean by which European citizens can seek redress when maladministration occurs within European Union Institutions or bodies. 

European Data Protection Supervisor. Body responsible for the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data.

European Economic and Social Committee. Non-political body that gives representatives of Europe's civil society groups a platform to express opinions on EU issues.

Western European Union. Dormant European defense and security organization established by the Brussels treaty of 1948 and composed of states who are members of both NATO and the EU.