How the EU works

A lot of misinformation is spread about the EU, both accidentally and intentionally, but the structures that govern it are straightforward. It’s also not as big as you might have been led to believe — the European Commission employs fewer people than Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils, but serves 500 million people rather than 1 million. There are 751 MEPs, but that is 65 fewer than there are members of the House of Lords, just one chamber of one member state Parliament (and MEPs are democratically elected).

Yes, there is a lot going on in Brussels, but it is not that complicated.

Central to explaining how the various institutions work is understanding that the EU is not — in structure or intent — a federal country like the USA. At its heart are a collection of sovereign member states who came together to form a single market. A single market needs rules to function, and defining what things are means that trade can be conducted fairly and without discriminating against any individual citizen. Likewise, for Scots and other EU citizens to take up their rights to travel, study, live, work or retire in any other member state, we need to do that on the basis of laws.

These laws are democratically agreed, by

the democratically elected governments and the

democratically elected MEPs. It is absurd that

the EU is described as undemocratic because,

in reality, every step of the legislative process is


If there is not agreement, the law does not happen.

– Extract from the WEE BLEU BOOK by Alyn Smith MEP and Ian Hudghton MEP.