1.3.- EU institutions and other bodies


The powers and responsibilities of all of these institutions are laid down in the Treaties, which are the foundation of everything the EU does. They also lay down the rules and procedures that the EU institutions must follow. The Treaties are agreed by the presidents and/or prime ministers of all the EU countries, and ratified by their parliaments

European Economic and Social Committee

Representatives of Europe's employers, workers and other interest groups can express their views on EU issues through the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). It is a consultative assembly, issuing opinions to the larger institutions – in particular the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

Commitee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is an advisory body representing local and regional authorities in the European Union. The role of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is to put forward local and regional points of view on EU legislation. It does so by issuing reports (‘opinions’) on Commission proposals.

European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is owned by the 28 EU countries. It borrows money on the capital markets and lends it at a low interest rate to projects that improve infrastructure, energy supply or environmental standards both inside the EU and in neighbouring or developing countries.

European Invesment Fund

The European Invesment Fund is committed to helping small businesses. The EIF provides venture capital for small firms (SMEs), particularly new firms and technology-oriented businesses. It also provides guarantees to financial institutions to cover their loans to SMEs. The EIF is not a lending institution: it does not grant loans or subsidies to businesses, nor does it invest directly in any firms. Instead, it works through banks and other financial intermediaries.

European Ombudsman

The Ombudsman responds to complaints from EU citizens, businesses and organisations, helping to uncover cases of 'maladministration' – where EU institutions, bodies, offices or agencies have broken the law, failed to respect the principles of sound administration or violated human rights. Examples include:

Unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, lack of or refusal to provide information, unnecessary delay, incorrect procedures.

European Data Protection Supervisor

The responsibility of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is to make sure that all EU institutions and bodies respect people’s right to privacy when processing their personal data.

Directorates-General of the European Commission

The DGs are basic structures of reference in the functioning of the European Commission. It is based on departments. Each covers a specific policy area or service and manages their own budgets. DGs are cross operation services which can be assigned to a specific department. This organisation aims to achieve a greater coherence support in the political action of several commissioners and their departments.


The Directorates-General related to SMEs are divided into the following:


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