Monday, February 15, 2010
European politics - some basic info
Can you navigate the bureaucratic tangle of European power structures? This is my effort to get a grip on how the EU works now that the Lisbon Treaty has passed. It's very basic.
So the EU Commission is made up of 27 commissioners and is located in the Berlaymount building in Brussels. The Commission is the executive branch of the EU with responsibility for proposing legislation, spending and ensuring compliance with treaties. Jose Manuel Barroso has just started his second term (2010 to 2014) as the President of the Commission. Ireland's newly appointed Commissioner is Máire Geoghegan Quinn who is responsible for Research and Innovation (everything from Aeronautics to Water).
Then we have the European Parliament which is made up of 736 directly elected MEPs (members of the European Parliament). It meets in two locations: Strasbourg and Brussels. The current President is Jerzy Buzek (from the Czech Republic). It is the legislative branch of the EU. Ireland has 12 MEPS from 4 constituencies.
Finally (for this blog post in any case), there is the European Council that is made up of the heads of state or governments from each nation state. It meets twice every six months. Now that the Lisbon Treaty has passed it has a President - the delightfully named Herman Van Rompuy. The Council doesn't legislate. From what I can gather it sets the political agenda for the Union.
Well, as I say, that's just some basics. I hope to return to this topic in future posts. Have you got a question about the EU? or a comment?
The graphic above is of Justus Lipsius (or if you prefer Joose Lips). Joose was a Flemish professor who lived in the 1500s. The building that the EU Council meets in is named after him.