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EU-US Relations

Diplomatic relations between the EU and the U.S. date back to 1953. The relationship between the EU and the U.S. is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. The EU and U.S. are the biggest economic and military powers* in the world, dominate global trade, play the leading roles in international political relations, and whatever one says matters a great deal, not only to the other, but to much of the rest of the world.

Relations between the U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament can be traced back to 1972, when a group of Members of the House, led by Representative Sam Gibbons of the House Ways and Means Committee, traveled to Brussels for the express purpose of meeting and exchanging views with the Parliament. The first congressional visits to Brussels were arranged by Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means who were interested in issues such as agriculture subsidies, steel, tariffs, anti-dumping initiatives, and general trade-related areas. These initial parliamentary contacts, which only involved the House of Representatives, became known as the United States European Community Interparliamentary Group. Soon after these early exchanges were initiated, Members of the House and MEPs began meeting twice a year, once in the United States and once in Europe. In 1999, they formalized their institutional cooperation into a framework called the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD). This inter-parliamentary relationship is, indeed, the longest and most intensive one in the history of the European Parliament.

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A comparison of US and EU Branches of Government

The traditional division of the various functions of government is: legislative, executive, and judicial. In the U.S., each area is fulfilled by separate institutions to “check” potential abuses and balance each of the branches. Similarly in the EU there are three main political institutions that constitute the EU’s executive and legislative branches, as well as an independent judiciary with the power to exercise judicial review.

 
The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body, representing more than 500 million citizens. It is, in many instances, comparable to the Congress of the United States, itself elected directly by the American people to legislate on a federal level.
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The President of the European Commission is one of the most powerful officeholders in the EU, controlling the European Commission (executive arm of the EU) which collectively has a monopoly on initiating all EU legislation and is responsible for ensuring its enforcement. The President is responsible for allocating portfolios to members of the Commission and can reshuffle or dismiss them if needed. He determines the Commission’s policy agenda and all the legislative proposals it produces (the Commission is the only body that can propose EU laws); in practice, no policy can be proposed without the President’s agreement.
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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (ECJ) is the highest court in the EU in matters of EU law. Its independent judgements can affect both Member States and individuals – it is the intermediary between member states, institutions and individuals in disputes over EU law.
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The EU consists of three main political institutions – the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council – that constitute the EU’s executive and legislative branches, as well as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
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The European Union and the United States: A Shared Respect for Fundamental Rights

The historic relationship between the EU and the U.S. is based on shared values of human dignity, freedom, the rule of law, democracy, equality, the market economy, and a strong fundamental respect for respect for human rights, including minority rights. Internationally, the U.S. is an original signatory of the UN Charter and Declaration, while the EU holds its observer membership alongside the full memberships of all its 28 Member States.

 
In American law, the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes not only the rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution as “fundamental,” but further describes fundamental rights as those rights that pre-exist the Foundation of the United States. In EU law, the rights of every individual within the EU were established at different times, in different ways, and in different forms.
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