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The European Union (EU) gains more and more weight with the increasing european integration.


Organization form / Goals

The EU founded at 1. November 1993 is a union of 28 European states. It works on united Europe ("United States of Europe"). In united Europe all member states should enjoy advantages at political and economical level.

The European Union has own, however limited sovereignty powers (limits: Co-operation of the member states in the European Union legislation, subsidiarity), which had been transferred from the member states (see Article 23 GG). It is a so mentioned state group. This term is to clarify that the European union is not only a confederation of states, but also not a Federal State. The citizens of a member state are also citizens of the EU.

The Federal Republic of Germany is engaged in the European Union or its forerunner organizations since 1957.

Article 23 I

With a view to establishing a united Europe, the Federal Republic of Germany shall participate in the development of the European Union that is committed to democratic, social, and federal principles, to the rule of law, and to the principle of subsidiarity, and that guarantees a level of protection of basic rights essentially comparable to that afforded by this Basic Law. To this end the Federation may transfer sovereign powers by a law with the consent of the Bundesrat. The establishment of the European Union, as well as changes in its treaty foundations and comparable regulations that amend or supplement this Basic Law, or make such amendments or supplements possible, shall be subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 79.

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Legal Bases

Legal bases of the European Union, the so-called primary community law, are the treaty on the European Community (Treaty of Maastricht) from 1992 and the treaty for the establishment of the European Community (EC Treaty , 1957) in the form arranged by the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam (1997).

The European Union has been developed from the European community for coal and steel (Coal and Steel Community), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAG) and the European Economic Community (EEC). These three communities, which were created in the 1950 years, form together the European Community (EC).

The European Union contains the EEC and supplements it with the components of the common foreign and security policy and co-operation in police and justice affairs.

Because the European Union does not possess a juridical personality, purely legally viewed the EC acts for the EU. This separation has however no practical meaning.

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Poltics Ranges

In order to achieve the goal united Europe, the European Union becomes in particular active within the following three policies:

The part EC is executed by the organs of the European Union. The organs of the European Union are democratically legitimized either directly by election (European Parliament) or indirectly through their appointment through democratically legitimized organs of the member countries (for example Commission, Council).

The organs of the EU are identical with the organs of the EC, for example the Council of Ministers of the EU is at the same time the Council of Ministers of the EC.

The other two parts are executed through intergouvernmental cooperation of the member states.

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The organs and institutions

European Parliament

785 members, 99 of them from Germany

Election of the European Paliament:

The European Parliament is elected directly by the citizens of the EU for 5 years. The citizens have the active and passive right to vote in the county in which they live. The election is an election on the base of proportional representation. Large states can divide their area into constituencies. Percent-hurdles up to 5% are allowed.

The members of the European Parliament in principle must not be members of a parliament of the member states at the same time.

Tasks: Legislation, together with the Council, whereby the emphasis is at the Council, installation of the Commission

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30 members, 2 of them from Germany. The Commission is appointed by the state governments and confirmed by the European Parliament.

Tasks: Executive, "Keeper of the contracts", application of the clauses of the contracts, execution of the Council resolutions

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Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers)

Regular meetings of the specialized Ministers (with imperative mandate)

Tasks: Legislation, central decision organ of the European Union, resolution of legal instruments of the European Union in co-operation with the parliament and because of suggestions of the commission

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European Council

Regular meetings of the heads of state and the heads of the government, the ministers of foreign affairs as well as the president of the commission

Tasks: More politically "pulse generators", decisions of general principle

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European Court of Justice

One judge from each member state, elected by the governments for 6 years

Task: Keeping of the right, continuation of the right by interpretation

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European audit office

Task: Examination of the legal standard of the financial system

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Legal instruments

Based on the European Union contracts the European Union has the following three means for the penetration of its political goals:


A regulation is obligatory in all of its parts and applies directly in each member state.

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A guideline is obligatory in each member state, the individual states however have the choice, how they convert the guideline concretely.

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A decision applies only to individual member states. In these however it is obligatory.

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This in such a way specified "secondary Community law" proceeds in principle the German right, also the Basic Law. The legal protection for it takes place via the European Court of Justice.

If however the basic right standard given by the Basic Law is not kept, then also the Federal Constitutional Court can become active ("Solange II resolution" of the Federal Constitutional Court). But it is unlikely that this case become true.

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Legislation process

The secondary Community law becomes effective through a cooperation between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council.

The legislative initiation has the Commission.

Dependent on the kind of the subject which should be regulated four different procedures can be separated:

Under the consultation procedure, the Parliament gives its opinion to a proposal of the Commission (1st reading). The Council, which finally decides, can accept the opinion or reject it. The main area covered by the consultation procedure is agriculture policy.

The cooperation procedure first works like the consultation procedure. But the Council could not decide immediately after the 1st reading but prepares a decision. To this decision proposal the Parliament gives its opinion (2nd reading) and the Commission gives its opinion. After that, the Council decides. Like at the consultation procedure the opinion of the Parliament could be accepted or rejected by the Council. The areas covered by the cooperation procedure are parts of the economic policy. The cooperation procedure is not very important any more.

The codecision based on the cooperation procedure. If a bill has been changed by the Parliament during the 2nd reading and the Council does not accept the changes, a conciliation committee composed of 15 members of the Coucil and 15 members of the Parliament is called.

If the conciliation committee does not find a compromise the bill fails to become a law, if the conciliation committee finds a compromise there is a 3td reading in the Parliament The Parliament can accept the compromise or reject it. In this case the bill fails. Today the codecision is the main legislation procedure of the EU.

In the assent procedure the Parliament has to assent a bill with absolute majority. This procedure is used for certain international agreements.

The Council decides either unanimous or with simple majority (every state has one vote) or with qualified majority (the votes per state depend on the size of the state), depending on the kind of subject.

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