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EU Institutions and specialised Agencies

The EU's decision-making process in general and the co-decision procedure in particular involve three main institutions:

This ‘institutional triangle’ produces the policies and laws that apply throughout the EU. In principle, it is the Commission that proposes new laws, but it is the Parliament and Council that adopt them.

Two other institutions have a vital part to play:

The powers and responsibilities of these institutions are laid down in the Treaties, which are the foundation of everything the EU does. They also lay down the rules and procedures that the EU institutions must follow. The Treaties are agreed by the presidents and/or prime ministers of all the EU countries, and ratified by their parliaments.

In addition to its institutions, the EU has a number of other bodies that play specialised roles:

In addition, a number of specialised and decentralised EU agencies have been established to support the EU Member States and their citizens. These agencies are an answer to a desire for geographical devolution and the need to cope with new tasks of a legal, technical and/or scientific nature.The EU's agencies are grouped into 4 different categories:

  • Community agency is a body governed by European public law; it is distinct from the Community Institutions (Council, Parliament, Commission, etc.) and has its own legal personality. It is set up by an act of secondary legislation in order to accomplish a very specific technical, scientific or managerial task, in the framework of the European Union's "first pillar".

  • Common Foreign and Security Policy agencies have been set up to carry out very specific technical, scientific and management tasks within the framework of European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) - the "second pillar" of the EU.
  • Police and Judicial Cooperation in criminal matters agencies have been set up to help the EU Member States co-operate in the fight against organised international crime. This co-operation in criminal matters is the "third pillar" of the EU.

  • Executive agencies are organisations established in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 (OJ L 11, 16.1.2003) with a view to being entrusted with certain tasks relating to the management of one or more Community programmes. These agencies are set up for a fixed period. Their location has to be at the seat of the European Commission (Brussels or Luxembourg).