What do the EU institutions do? (infographic)

What does the Parliament do, what are the European Commission's responsibilities? What is the Council of the EU? Find out from our infographic.

Infographic showing the roles of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, and how they interact.
The roles of the main EU institutions and how they interact

The European Parliament

The European Parliament is the only EU institution directly elected by European citizens every five years. The 2024 European elections will be held on 6-9 June 2024. A total of 720 MEPs will be elected, 15 more compared to the previous elections.

The Parliament and the Council of the European Union are co-legislators, sharing the power to adopt and amend legislative proposals and to decide on the EU budget. The Parliament also supervises the work of the European Commission and other EU bodies and cooperates with the national parliaments of EU countries.

The European Commission

The European Commission is the executive body of the EU. It proposes new laws and policies, monitors their implementation and manages the EU budget. The Commission also ensures that EU policies and laws are correctly applied across all countries.

The Commission has 27 commissioners, one from each EU country. Parliament approves the full team of commissioners then the European Council formally appoints the Commission.

The Commission is led by a President. The leaders of the EU countries nominate a candidate for this post based on the results of the European elections and the European Parliament votes to elect the candidate. More than 50% of MEPs need to vote in favour, otherwise EU leaders need to come up with another candidate.

The Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council, negotiates and adopts legislative acts, in most cases together with the European Parliament. The Council is also responsible for coordinating EU countries' policies in specific fields. Members of the Council are national government ministers from each EU country, grouped by policy area.

The presidency of the Council is assigned to a different EU country every six months.

The European Council

The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. Members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 27 EU countries, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The European Council meet at least four times a year.

The Council of the EU and the European Council are not to be confused with the Council of Europe, which is not part of the EU institutions. It is an international organisation that is based in Strasbourg and which aims to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Other EU institutions

The work of the Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the European Council is complemented by other EU institutions and bodies, which include:

The European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council.
The buildings of the main EU institutions