Pillars of the European Union

In Community parlance people often refer to the three pillars of the EU Treaty to designate the three categories into which are divided the various areas where the Union is active to varying degrees and in different ways. These are:

The "first pillar": the Community dimension, comprising the arrangements set out in the EC, ECSC and Euratom Treaties, i.e. Union citizenship, Community policies, Economic and Monetary Union, etc.;

The "second pillar": the common foreign and security policy, which comes under Title V of the EU Treaty;

The "third pillar": police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, which comes under Title VI of the EU Treaty.

The difference between the three pillars basically reflects the provisions applicable to them. The first pillar comes under the "Community method", and the second and third pillars under the "intergovernmental method".


Community method and intergovernmental method
Single institutional framework
Presidency of the Union (rotation of the Presidency)

The Presidency of the Union is held in turn on a six-monthly basis by each Member State. A stint in the Presidency is a duty and a contribution that each Member State makes to the proper functioning of the European Union. At present, a Member State holds the Presidency every seven and a half years.

President of the European Commission

The governments of the Member States designate the person they intend to appoint as President by common accord - a choice which then has to be approved by the European Parliament.
The governments then designate the persons they intend to appoint as Members of the Commission, in agreement with the new President. The President lays down the broad policy lines to be followed by the Commission in its work. He also decides on the allocation of portfolios among the Commissioners and any reshuffling of portfolios during the Commission's term of office.

Composition of Commission
Confirmation of the Commission
European Commission