​​The EU’s decision-making system is based on a number of treaties that set out the functioning of the Union. The Treaties, considered as the primary source of law, establish the workings of the EU institutions, which can pass secondary legislation in a process called the ordinary legislative procedure. 

This procedure was established to ensure the best degree of cooperation between the institutions. The main decision-making institutions are the Council representing the national governments, the European Parliament representing the citizens and the European Commission, a body independent of EU governments that upholds the collective EU interest.

The European Council is composed of the Heads of States or Governments of all the EU Member States and the Presidents of the European Council and Commission. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy can also take part in meetings when foreign affairs issues are discussed. It sets specific goals and comes up with ways to reach them. The European Council can take action on current international issues via the ‘Common Foreign and Security Policy’. It can take decisions on thorny issues the Council of the Ministers was unable to agree on. In doing so, they refresh the EU’s political direction in response to current challenges. This political direction is then furthered by the Council of the European Union by passing new laws. 

The Council of the EU also known as the Council of Ministers is made up of ministers from the EU’s national governments. Council meetings are attended by one minister per Member State depending on the policy areas being discussed. The Council’s main job is to pass EU laws. It shares this responsibility with the European parliament.  The Council and European Parliament also share equal responsibility for adopting the EU budget.

The European Parliament is directly elected by the citizens it represents and has three main roles. It shares legislative power with the Council.  It shares authority with the Council over the EU budget and can influence EU spending.  It supervises the EU’s activities and exercises democratic supervision over the European Commission by approving or rejecting a new Commission every 5 years.

The European Commission is the politically independent institution that represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole.  The European Commission is answerable to the European Parliament.  It puts forward legislative proposals to be tabled by the Council and Parliament. Therefore, it is responsible for prioritising actions and setting objectives. Among these is the EU budget, carefully drawn to adequately cover every policy area and managing EU policies. It can also enforce European law together with the European Court of Justice and represents the European Union around the world.

This complex process was set in place in order to ensure democracy, promote EU values, development and more importantly, act in service of the citizens.