Who should you lobby in order to influence the decision-making process in Brussels?

The question seems obvious enough but the answer is not always that simple, and can actually be a bit overwhelming.

In this part of the site, we look at the three key institutions involved in the legislative process at European level, namely:

Other institutions intervene but their role is less crucial in shaping the final outcome, e.g. the advisory bodies such as the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, or specialized institutions such as the European Court of Justice, European Investment Bank, or Court of Auditors.

In other words: their work matters, but if you have to prioritise, you may never have the time to reach out to them!

The Council of the European Union



The Council brings together the representatives of the governments of the European Union member states, at ministerial level (normal Council) or at head of state or government level (European Council) and reflects the national interests and views of each Member State within the Union.

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Council Presidencies

Why a plural, you may ask? With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, isn’t there simply one permanent President of the Council? Well, not really is the answer. Things are rarely simple at EU level…

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Permanent Representations

Permanent Representations play a key role in ensuring the day-to-day follow-up of all matters handled at Council levels, both as regards the supplying of information and analysis to their national government and as regards the communication of the position of their government to the relevant EU institutions.”

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How Council Works

Councils are organised according to nine different configurations that basically reflect the broad themes handled at EU level

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The European Commission



The term “Commission” refers at the same time to the College of Commissioners, i.e. the heads of the Commission appointed by each Member State and approved by the European Parliament, and to the institution and its nearly 25.000 civil servants.

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Commissioners and their staff

Though put forward by their national government, members of the Commission (or “Commissioners” as they are informally referred to) are supposed to act in the interest of the EU as a whole, and not be influenced by their national governments.

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Directorates General

The nearly 25.000 civil servants in the Commission take care of the day-to-day running and are organised in some 40 departments known as Directorates- General (or “DGs”), and various other services (e.g. translation, publications, legal service, etc.).

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The European Parliament



The European Parliament presents itself as “the Voice of the People”, as it is the only EU institution that is elected directly.


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Many are former members of national parliaments (about 35%) or former ministers or equivalent (about 15%), at both senior and junior levels.


MEP Assistants

MEPs receive a secretarial allowance to employ staff and they pretty much use it as they wish. This means that whilst some MEPs prefer to hire two well-paid real policy assistants, others prefer to have more secretarial/office management types, whilst others use a combination of both.


Political Groups

The Members of the European Parliament are organised first and foremost according to their political affiliation. To that end, the Parliament is split in seven different Political Groups, going from extreme left to extreme right, and from the pro-federalists to the Eurosceptics (not to speak about the Europhobes).


Political Advisors and other Political staff

Political Groups are entitled to specifically allocated staff, the number of which is set in relation to the size of the Political group and the number of working languages used within the Group.


Secretariat and other European Parliament Staff

The European Parliament has about 6000 employees, a third of which sit in the linguistic services. Political advisors to the political groups are also employees of the Parliament.

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