The Council of the EU negotiates and adopts EU legislation together with the European Parliament on the basis of proposals submitted by the European Commission. Council meetings are attended by representatives of each member state at the ministerial level.
The European Council brings together the elected leaders of the EU member states to set the EU's political agenda. It does not enact laws, but decides on the EU's overall direction and political priorities.
The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union, with 705 members. They are elected once every five years by voters right across the 27 Member States of the European Union on behalf of its 450 million citizens. Parliament plays an active role in drafting legislation which has an impact on the daily lives of its citizens. Parliament also has joint power with the Council over the annual budget of the European Union.
The European Commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm. It is solely responsible for drawing up proposals for new EU legislation and it has significant enforcement powers, as well. The Commission has 27 members, one from each EU country.
The Court of Justice is composed of 27 Judges and eleven Advocates-General, and its seat is in Luxembourg. The Court interprets EU law to make sure it is applied uniformly in all EU countries. The Court also settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions. In fact, there are two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court.
The European Economic and Social Committee is an advisory body comprising representatives of workers' and employers' organizations and other interest groups. It issues opinions on EU issues to the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, thus acting as a bridge between the EU's decision-making institutions and EU citizens.
The European Committee of the Regions is an EU advisory body composed of locally and regionally elected representatives from all 27 member states. The EU's law-making institutions must consult the Committee of the Regions when drawing up legislation on matters concerning local and regional government such as health, education, employment, social policy, transport, energy and climate change.
The ECB is the central bank for Europe's single currency, the euro. The ECB’s main task is to maintain the euro's purchasing power and thus price stability in the euro area. The euro area comprises the 16 European Union countries that have introduced the euro since 1999.
The European Investment Bank was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1958 as the long-term lending bank of the European Union. The task of the Bank is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the EU Member States. The EIB raises substantial volumes of funds on the capital markets which it lends on favourable terms to projects furthering EU policy objectives. The EIB continuously adapts its activity to developments in EU policies.