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How is the EU run?

The EU is run by a number of bodies called institutions, according to a system of laws. The EU was established by a series of treaties that each member has signed, these are legal documents that set out the powers of the EU institutions.


The leaders of EU member countries meet in the European Council to agree policy direction. Different EU leaders try to find consensus and agree what action is possible. The European Commission then proposes EU laws and spending based on their agreement.

These laws are voted on by the European Parliament and by the appropriate part of the Council of the European Union. For example, if the Commission proposed a law on fishing trawlers, the fisheries ministers of each member would meet in the Council of the European Union to vote. These are the parts of the EU that are arguably the most directly democratic.

When an EU law is passed, each member puts it into their own national body of law. The European Commission monitors the equal enforcement of EU law across the members.

If there are disputes about a law’s interpretation, or accusations a country is not following the law properly, they are brought to the Court of Justice of the European Union which interprets the law in line with the treaties and delivers a judgement.

The European Central Bank controls the monetary policy of the eurozone, the countries which use the euro as their currency. The finance ministers of eurozone countries also often meet in the informal ‘eurogroup’ to run the euro single currency.