Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 11: Introduction to European Union environmental law
The European Union (EU) is the best-known regional international organization with, at present, 28 Member States. It was set up in 1957 as the European Economic Community and had a predecessor in the European Coal and Steel Community of 1950. Over the years, its objectives, areas of activity and legal basis have evolved considerably; environmental, social and political objectives were included and the organization was renamed the ‘European Union’. At present, the Treaties of the European Union constitute a form of constitution of the EU. The EU does not have a general competence to deal with all political or societal matters of policy, like a State; it may only act within the limits fixed by the Treaties. The following institutions of the EU were established (Article 13 TEU): The European Council, composed of the Heads of State and Government of the Member States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The European Council meets at least twice a year and determines the general political objectives and priorities. It is the highest political institution of the EU. The European Parliament, which has a maximum of 750 representatives, who are elected in general, direct elections in all Member States. Each Member State has at least six and not more than 96 representatives. The Council, which consists of one representative per Member State, normally at ministerial level.
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