Location Of European Union Institutions
The governing institutions of the European Union (EU) are not concentrated in a single capital city; they are instead spread across three cities (Brussels, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg) with other EU agencies and bodies based further away. However, Brussels has become the primary seat, with each major institution and now the European Council being based wholly or in part there.
The seats have been a matter of political dispute since the states first failed to reach an agreement at the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. However, a final agreement between member states was reached in 1992, and later attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam.
Despite this, the seat of the European Parliament remains controversial. The work of Parliament is divided between all three major cities, which is seen as a problem due to the large number of MEPs, staff, and documents which need to be moved. As the locations of the major seats have been enshrined in the treaties of the European Union, Parliament has no right to decide its own seat, unlike other national parliaments.
Locating new bodies is also not without political disputes. The European Central Bank's (ECB) seat had to symbolise its independence from political control, and was located in a city which did not already host a national government or European institution. New agencies are also being based in eastern Europe since 2004 to balance the distribution of agencies across the EU.
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