The European Union: Institutions

8 July 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

The Politics of the European Union are different from other organisations and states due to the unique nature of the European Union (EU). The EU is similar to a confederation, where many policy areas are federalised into common institutions capable of making law; however the EU does not, unlike most states, control foreign policy, defence policy or the majority of direct taxation policies (the EU does limit the level of variation allowed for VAT). These areas are primarily under the control of the EU’s member states although a certain amount of structured co-operation and coordination takes place in these areas. For the EU to take substantial actions in these areas, all Member States must give their consent. EU laws that override national laws are more numerous than in historical confederations; however the EU is legally restricted from making law outside its remit or where it is no more appropriate to do so at a national or local level (subsidiarity) when acting outside its exclusive competencies. The principle of subsidiarity does not apply to areas of exclusive competence.   read more…

The European Union: Regional Policy

8 July 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Regional policy of the European Union
The Regional policy of the European Union (EU), also referred as Cohesion Policy, is a policy with the stated aim of improving the economic well-being of regions in the EU (European Committee of the Regions) and also to avoid regional disparities. More than one third of the EU’s budget is devoted to this policy, which aims to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU, restructure declining industrial areas and diversify rural areas which have declining agriculture. In doing so, EU regional policy is geared towards making regions more competitive, fostering economic growth and creating new jobs. The policy also has a role to play in wider challenges for the future, including climate change, energy supply and globalisation.   read more…

The European Union: Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy

8 July 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

European External Action Service

European External Action Service

(Latest update: 20 January 2020)
Foreign relations of the European Union
Although there has been a large degree of integration between European Union member states, foreign relations is still a largely intergovernmental matter, with the 28 members controlling their own relations to a large degree. However, with the Union holding more weight as a single bloc, there are attempts to speak with one voice, notably on trade and energy matters. The EU’s foreign relations are dealt with either through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, decided by the European Council or the economic trade negotiations handled by the European Commission. The leading EU diplomat in both areas is the High Representative Federica Mogherini. The number of delegates began to rise in the 1960s following the merging of the executive institutions of the three European Communities into a single Commission. Until recently some states had reservations accepting that EU delegations held the full status of a diplomatic mission. Article 20 of the Maastricht Treaty requires the Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic missions to “co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented”. As part of the process of establishment of the European External Action Service envisioned in the Lisbon Treaty, on 1 January 2010 all former European Commission delegations were renamed European Union delegations and till the end of the month 54 of the missions were transformed into embassy-type missions that employ greater powers than the regular delegations. These upgraded delegations have taken on the role previously carried out by the national embassies of the member state holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and merged with the independent Council delegations around the world. Through this the EU delegations take on the role of co-ordinating national embassies and speaking for the EU as a whole, not just the Commission. The first delegation to be upgraded was the one in Washington D.C., the new joint ambassador was João Vale de Almeida who outlined his new powers as speaking for both the Commission and Council presidents, and member states. He would be in charge where there was a common position but otherwise, on bilateral matters, he would not take over from national ambassadors. All delegations are expected to be converted by the end of 2010. Some states may choose to operate through the new EU delegations and close down some of their smaller national embassies, however France has indicated that it will maintain its own network around the world for now. The EU sends its delegates generally only to the capitals of states outside the European Union and cities hosting multilateral bodies. The EU missions work separately from the work of the missions of its member states, however in some circumstances it may share resources and facilities. In Abuja is shares its premises with a number of member states. Additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states.   read more…

The European Union: Common Trade and Economic Policy

8 July 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Common and Economic Policy
The European Single Market is the single market of the European Union, which has officially existed under that name since 1 January 1993. Today, the European single market is the largest common market in the world. The four fundamental freedoms (free movement of goods, free movement of persons, freedom to provide services and free movement of capital and payments) form the basis of the internal market of the European Union. The creation of the European Single Market led to a new economic momentum in the EU in the 1990s, during a difficult global economic environment, as the Japanese bubble bursted, the stock market crash in the USA and the Eastern European countries, due to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, in a deep recession. In order for the single market as well as the foreign trade to develop within a framework, the economic policy of the European Union is divided into a number of fields. The five main areas are the agricultural policy of the European Union, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Union’s financial market policy, the European Union’s budgetary policy and the monetary policy of the European Union, which in turn can be subdivided into numerous other thematic complexes.   read more…

United States presidential election of 2016

9 November 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

In the face of the 18-month presidential election campaign, which more and more degenerated into the mud fight, not only the Americans will be happy about the fact that at least this very inglorious episode has now been surpassed. The US voters initially elected the electors of choice in their federal state. On 19 December 2016 the so-called Electoral College will officially elect the new president. The inauguration of the president of the United States will take place on 20 January 2017. Until then, Barack Obama fortunately remains still US President.   read more…

The European Union: Blessing or curse? Past or future?

31 October 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General

Flag_of_Europe.svg Since the Brexit referendum in the UK, again great flurry can be felt in all of Europe and around the world. This contribution doesn’t go in this direction, because a bit of calmness and objectification is the right answer to deal rationally with the situation, or as Queen Elizabeth just put it “Stay calm and collected”. Let us all remain calm and concentrated to meet the upcoming challenges. The article is not intended to polarize, even if the headline might suggests different. In fact, the EU unites curse, blessing, past and future. Our common European past has been a curse for many centuries. On the one hand there was the development of science, art and culture, but on the other hand there were devastating wars. The EU is the logical consequence of shaping a common future in peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity through joint action. This contribution is therefore a clear “Yes” to Europe, a clear “Yes” to the EU and also takes into account the skeptical views. Some will say “Europe is not the EU and the EU is not Europe”. This is correct, but only applies to the moment. We are all background actors of the currently written history. In 100 years people will be able to read in history books about us and our today’s actions. Until then, all European countries can possibly be EU Member States.   read more…

The European Union: Café Europe

25 March 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Flag_of_Europe Café Europe, Café d’Europe or also Café Europa was a cultural initiative of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) during the Austrian presidency of the European Union, held on Europe Day (9 May 2006) in 27 cafés of the capitals of the then 25 EU member states and the two countries which would join the Union in 2007. Vienna, the capital of Austria, is well known for its long and vibrant café culture, dating back from the first introduction of coffee to Europe as a result of the wars with the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.   read more…

The European Union

4 January 2014 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

© - Alexrk2/cc-by-sa-3.0

© – Alexrk2/cc-by-sa-3.0

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.   read more…

20th Anniversary of the European Union

2 January 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: European Union, General

The flag of The Council of Europe and The European Union

The flag of The Council of Europe and The European Union

Not only this year, but especially this year, it’s time to celebrate the 20th Anniverary of the European Union. The more the better ;-)   read more…

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