This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
The European Union (EU) is both a political project and a legal organisation. It takes action in many areas affecting the daily lives of European citizens. Its policies are implemented in accordance with the rules and procedures set out in a series of Treaties.
Comprising 27 Member States which have, through these Treaties, ceded certain powers to the EU institutions, the EU thus has its own exclusive powers as well as others it shares with its Member States. The Member States have also retained certain powers for themselves.
A key element is the subsidiarity principle which determines when the EU is competent to legislate, and results in decisions being taken as closely as possible to citizens.