First 293 words of the document:
The European Union
Setting the agenda
The European Council sets the EU's overall political direction, but has no powers to pass laws.
Led by its President (currently Herman Van Rompuy) and comprising national heads of state
or government and the President of the Commission, it meets for a few days at a time at
least every 6 months.
There are 3 main institutions involved in EU legislation:
The European Parliament, which represents the EU's citizens and is directly elected by them;
The Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of the individual
member countries. The Presidency of the Council is shared by the member states on a
The European Commission, which represents the interests of the Union as a whole.
Together, these three institutions produce through the "Ordinary Legislative Procedure", the policies
and laws that apply throughout the EU.
In principle, the Commission proposes new laws, and the Parliament and Council adopt them.
The Commission and the member countries then implement them, and the Commission ensures that
the laws are properly applied and implemented.
Other EU institutions
The Court of Justice upholds the rule of European law
The Court of Auditors checks the financing of the EU's activities.
The powers and responsibilities of all 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