European government is somewhat like that of the United States during the Articles of Confederation just after the American Revolution. Each European Community member is a nation in its own right. Giving up power to Brussels is not done lightly. This is how the three branches of EC government function: Executive: The Brussels-based Commission of the European Communities. This is like the executive branch in the United States. Members are appointed by governments of the 12 Community nations for four-year terms. The president (currently Jacques Delors of France) and vice-presidents serve for two-year renewable terms.
A sprawling bureaucracy comes under the jurisdiction of the commission. It is headed by a secretary-general, David Williamson, and has 22 departments, ranging from foreign relations to fisheries.
Legislative: The Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
The Council of Ministers resembles the US Senate when governors appointed senators. It is composed of ministers from each of the member states, delegated according to what subject (foreign affairs, economics, agriculture, etc.) will be discussed. They meet once a month. The presidency changes each six months. It is currently held by West Germany; from July to December, Greece will preside.
Voting is either by simple majority, qualified majority, or unanimity, depending on the subject. Qualified majority voting gives large nations such as France, Germany, Italy, and Britain more votes than smaller ones.
Government leaders from the 12 member countries meet in a summit twice a year to oversee development of the EC. The summit, held at the capital of the nation with current presidency of Council of Ministers, was held in Hannover on Monday and Tuesday.
Like the US House of Representatives, the European Parliament is elected directly by Europeans (next elections in June 1989). It has 518 members and is generally an advisory body. The Parliament is based in Luxembourg, meets annually in Strasbourg, holds committee sessions in Brussels. This road show goes a long way to hamper the effectiveness of the Parliament. Lord Charles Plumb of Britain is currently president of the Parliament.
Judicial: The Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, is like a combination of the US Supreme Court and the Justice Department. It has 13 judges and six advocates general, all appointed for renewable six-year terms by governments of member states. This gives the judiciary substantial independence. The Court of Justice rules on cases involving EC treaties. Current president of the court is Lord Mackenzie Stuart of Britain.