The President of the European Parliament presides over the plenary of the Parliament, which is one-half of the legislative branch of the Union. The President also chairs the Bureau and Conference of Presidents as well as representing the Parliament. The President's role is similar to that of a speaker in a national parliament, but also represents the Parliament externally and vis a vis the other institutions, which is a more political role.
The duty of the European Council president is primarily that of preparing and chairing the meetings of the European Council. The position became 30-month appointed position, elected by the members of the European Council, in 2009 by virtue of the Treaty of Lisbon. Before, it rotated around between the head of state or government of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (see below). This longer term President of the European Council has been described directly by some as a new "President of the European Union". According to the Financial Times, "the president would have few formal powers, but would give the EU strategic leadership and represent the bloc on the world stage on issues such as climate change, bilateral relations and development."
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) is rotated between member states of every 6 months. The Council is composed of the relevant national ministers depending on the topic being discussed with minister from the state holding the presidency charing. The country holding the Presidency is able to affect the overall policy direction for the six months. Since 2007, the Presidency has been co-ordinated every 18 months by three countries (a "triplet"), though one still takes a lead position every 6 months.
The President of the European Commission is head of the 28-member college of Commissioners. The Commission's responsibilities include drafting legislative proposals and managing the day-to-day running of the EU. It is also responsible for a degree of the EU's external representation, for example attending G8 meetings. The Commission President is proposed by the European Council, who take account of the previous European Elections, before being elected by the European Parliament for a five-year mandate. It has been described by some as the "President of the European Union" but a more common analogy is "Prime Minister of the European Union" given the style of position over a cabinet government.
The President of the Court of Justice is elected from and by the judges for a renewable term of three years. The President presides over hearings and deliberations, directing both judicial business and administration. The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union it is tasked with interpreting EU law and ensuring its equal application across all EU member states. The Court is based in Luxembourg and is composed of one judge per member state – currently 28 – although it normally hears cases in panels of three, five or thirteen judges.
The President of the European Central Bank is the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), the institution responsible for the management of the euro and monetary policy in the Eurozone of the European Union. The President heads the executive board, governing council and general council of the ECB. He or she also represents the bank abroad, for example at the G20. The President is appointed by majority in the European Council, de facto by those who have adopted the euro, for an eight-year non-renewable term. The primary objective of the European Central Bank, as mandated in Article 2 of the Statute of the ECB, is to maintain price stability within the Eurozone.
The duties of the President of the European Court of Auditors (which may be delegated) are to convene and chair the meetings of the Court, ensuring that decisions are implemented and the departments (and other activities) are soundly managed. Despite its name, the Court has no judicial functions. It is rather a professional external investigatory audit agency. The primary role of the court is to externally check if the budget of the European Union has been implemented correctly, in that EU funds have been spent legally and with sound management.