Subject file

The European Union is the international organisation with the most developed but also the most complex institutional architecture established to date. This depth reflects the choice of the founding fathers to give the joint institutions the responsibility to sustain the European Union, in other words to promote its values, to pursue its aims, to serve its interests, those of its citizens and those of its Member States, and to guarantee coherence, efficiency and continuity in its policies and actions. Indeed, 95 % of applicable EU law comes from the legislative or regulatory activity of the institutions.

From 1950 to the 1970s, the infrastructure formed by the Community institutions and bodies remained relatively stable. Subsequently, the allocation of new responsibilities and the frequent enlargements made it necessary to modernise the composition and operation of the main institutions. The Treaty of Lisbon, adopted following a 12-year revision cycle, introduces a series of substantive changes designed to guarantee a greater degree of efficiency, democracy and transparency within the EU.

This subject file adopts an institutional, long-term perspective in a bid to shed light on this development of the institutional system. It sets out the various components of this system (institutions, committees, agencies, informal bodies, etc.) as well as the principles, regulations and practices that govern their functions, their powers, their composition and their operation. The subject file also focuses on the elements that determine relations between the institutions: the legal principles (institutional balance, autonomy, loyal cooperation and separation of powers), political procedures (appointment, revocation and dialogue), and legislative and budgetary procedures.

This file contains a series of explanatory texts illustrated by a variety of documentary resources (treaty extracts, press articles, recorded accounts, interactive diagrams, etc.).

The subject file will be published in October 2013 on the CVCE website.