The European Union is the economic and political partnership of 27 European countries governed by three different representative bodies: the European Parliament (EP), the Council of the European Union (CEU) and the European Commission (EC). Most share a common currency, the euro, for which the European Central Bank administers monetary policy.
The European Union's 495 million citizens vote directly for the EP while their national governments elect the CEU and the EC, which functions as the EU executive branch, is appointed by the EU every five years and represents "the common EU interest". The EU began in 1957 as the European Economic Community (EEC), a regional economic co-operation agreement between its original six founding states of Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, Luxembourg and West Germany.
On May 24, 2011, the EU Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee approved proposals that allow the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to determine what types of derivatives should be centrally cleared. Lawmakers in the European Parliament voted on a measure that would require clearinghouses to hold at least 10 million euros ($14.1 million) in capital, which is designed to help absorb losses.