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Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) are created by states through multilateral treaties that act like a constitution in that the states parties are consenting to be bound by the treaty that sets up the agencies, functions, and purposes of the organizat

The European Union

The EU has been called a supra-national organization because it resembles both an international organization and a nation. It exercises some of the powers of sovereignty that have been voluntarily relinquished to it by its members.

The European Council

The European Council consists of the leaders of the EU nations; it sets the organization's political priorities and deals with particularly sensitive issues.  It gained formal status in 1992 and became an official organ in 2009. 

The Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union consists of the ministers of the member nations. The ministers who attend each meeting change depending on the topic of the meeting.  The organ performs the following functions:

  • Passes EU laws
  • Coordinates the broad economic policies of EU member countries.
  • Signs agreements between the EU and other countries.
  • Approves the annual EU budget
  • Develops the EU's foreign and defense policies.
  • Coordinates cooperation between courts and police forces of member countries.

The European Commission

The European Commission represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws. It manages the day-to-day business of implementing EU policies and spending EU funds. The Commission has 27 commissioners, one from each EU country.  Each commissioner is responsible for one area of policy.  The Commission is responsible for:

  • proposing new laws to Parliament and the Council
  • managing the EU's budget and allocating funding
  • enforcing EU law (together with the Court of Justice), and
  • representing the EU internationally, for example, by negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries.


The European Parliament

The members of the European Parliament are elected every 5 years by the people of the EU.  The Parliament is responsible for:

  • debating and passing European laws, with the Council
  • scrutinizing other EU institutions, particularly the Commission, to make sure they are working democratically
  • debating and adopting the EU's budget, with the Council.

The Parliament and the Council share the responsibility for passing legislation. The laws are implemented by the European Commission and applied by the Court of Justice.


The EU has an excellent website named Europa. Europa has sections for each of the major bodies of the EU. The most important follow:

The Publications Office has links to the major sources of EU documents. They are also available on Eurlex:

The EU Archive contains older documents, ie, Parliamentary documents from 1952 to 1999, Commission documents are those over 30 years old, etc.

The European Court of Justice is described in more detail in the guide to Dispute Settlement.

The UC Libraries do not collect EU paper documents systematically. Use UCLID to find out what is available and where. Search for European Union as an author.

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