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How the European Union works


Your guide to the EU institutions


The European Union (EU) is unique. It is not a federal State like the United States of America because its member countries remain independent sovereign nations. Nor is it a purely intergovernmental organisation like the United Nations because the member countries do pool some of their sovereignty — and thus gain much greater collective strength and influence than they could have acting individually.

They pool their sovereignty by taking joint decisions through shared institutions such as the European Parliament, which is elected by the EU citizens, and the Council, which represents national government. They decide on the basis of proposals from the European Commission, which represent the interests of the EU as a whole. But what does each of these institutions do? How do they work together? Who is responsible for what?


This booklet sets out the answers in clear and simple language. It also gives a brief overview of the agencies and other bodies that are involved in the European Union’s work. The aim is to provide you with a helpful guide to EU decision-making.


There is also a special internet version of this booklet.


European Commission


Manuscript completed in July 2007

2007 - 50 pp. - 16.2 x 22.9 cm

Catalogue number: NA-AK-06-482-EN-C


Text only:   467 Kb


Illustrated pdf version:  2252 Kb

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Tags: works, Union, European, institutions, guide, Union, works, involved