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After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally unite in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty, signed by ministers of the European Community, called for greater economic integration, common foreign and security policies and cooperation between police and other authorities on crime, terrorism, and immigration issues.
The agreement also laid the groundwork for the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as the “euro.” By the time the Maastricht Treaty took effect in 1993, it had been ratified by 12 nations: Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Since then, Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have also joined the union. The euro was introduced into circulation on January 1, 2002.
In June 2016, in what became known as "Brexit," the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. They UK officially severed ties with the EU on January 31, 2020 and entered an 11-month transition period.
READ MORE: The History Behind Brexit
Enlargement and post-Maastricht reforms
On January 1, 1995, Sweden, Austria, and Finland joined the EU, leaving Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland as the only major western European countries outside the organization. Norway’s government twice (1972 and 1994) attempted to join, but its voters rejected membership on each occasion. Switzerland tabled its application in the early 1990s. Norway, Iceland, and the members of the EU (along with Liechtenstein) are members of a free trade area called the European Economic Area, which allows freedom of movement for goods, services, capital, and people.
Two subsequent treaties revised the policies and institutions of the EU. The first, the Treaty of Amsterdam, was signed in 1997 and entered into force on May 1, 1999. Building on the social protocol of the Maastricht Treaty, it identified as EU objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, and proper social protection added sex-discrimination protections and transferred asylum, immigration, and civil judicial policy to the community’s jurisdiction granted the Council of Ministers the power to penalize members for serious violations of fundamental human rights and gave the Parliament veto power over a broad range of EC policies as well as the power to reject the European Council’s nominee for president of the Commission.
A second treaty, the Treaty of Nice, was signed in 2001 and entered into force on February 1, 2003. Negotiated in preparation for the admission of new members from eastern Europe, it contained major reforms. The maximum number of seats on the Commission was set at 27, the number of commissioners appointed by members was made the same at one each, and the president of the Commission was given greater independence from national governments. Qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers was extended to several new areas. Approval of legislation by qualified voting required the support of members representing at least 62 percent of the EU population and either the support of a majority of members or a supermajority of votes cast. Although national vetoes remained in areas such as taxation and social policy, countries choosing to pursue further integration in limited areas were not precluded from doing so.
After the end of Cold War, many of the former communist countries of eastern and central Europe applied for EU membership. However, their relative lack of economic development threatened to hinder their full integration into EU institutions. To address this problem, the EU considered a stratified system under which subsets of countries would participate in some components of economic integration (e.g., a free trade area) but not in others (e.g., the single currency). Turkey, at the periphery of Europe, also applied for membership, though its application was controversial because it was a predominantly Islamic country, because it was widely accused of human rights violations, and because it had historically tense relations with Greece (especially over Cyprus). Despite opposition from those who feared that expansion of the EU would stifle consensus and inhibit the development of Europe-wide foreign and security policies, the EU in 2004 admitted 10 countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), all but two of which (Cyprus and Malta) were former communist states Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007. Negotiations on Turkey’s membership application began in 2005 but faced numerous difficulties.
Building on the limited economic and political goals of the ECSC, the countries of western Europe have achieved an unprecedented level of integration and cooperation. The degree of legal integration, supranational political authority, and economic integration in the EU greatly surpasses that of other international organizations. Indeed, although the EU has not replaced the nation-state, its institutions have increasingly resembled a parliamentary democratic political system at the supranational level.
In 2002 the Convention on the Future of Europe, chaired by former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was established to draft a constitution for the enlarged EU. Among the most difficult problems confronting the framers of the document was how to distribute power within the EU between large and small members and how to adapt the organization’s institutions to accommodate a membership that would be more than four times larger than that of the original EEC. The framers also needed to balance the ideal of deeper integration against the goal of protecting members’ national traditions. The drafting process evoked considerable controversy, particularly over the question of whether the constitution should mention God and the Christian heritage of much of European society (the final version did not). The proposed constitution was signed in 2004 but required ratification by all EU members to take effect voters in France and the Netherlands rejected it in 2005, thereby scuttling the constitution at least in the short term. It would have created a full-time president, a European foreign minister, a public prosecutor, and a charter of fundamental rights. Under the constitution the powers of the European Parliament would have been greatly expanded and the EU given a “legal personality” that entailed the sole right to negotiate most treaties on its members’ behalf.
Under the leadership of Germany, work began in early 2007 on a reform treaty intended to replace the failed constitution. The resulting Lisbon Treaty, signed in December 2007, required approval by all 27 EU member countries in order to take effect. The treaty, which retained portions of the draft constitution, would establish an EU presidency, consolidate foreign policy representation for the EU, and devolve additional powers to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, and the European Parliament. Unlike the draft constitution, the Lisbon Treaty would amend rather than replace existing treaties. The treaty failed, at least in the short term, in June 2008 after it was rejected by voters in a national referendum in Ireland. However, in a second referendum, in October 2009, Irish voters—apparently concerned that another “no” vote would imperil Ireland’s ailing economy—overwhelmingly approved the treaty. A week after the Irish vote, Poland completed its ratification of the treaty as well. At that time the treaty remained to be ratified by only one country, the Czech Republic. Although the Czech Parliament already had approved the treaty, Czech Pres. Václav Klaus expressed concern that it would threaten Czech sovereignty and refused to sign it. In early November, after the Czech Constitutional Court ruled that the treaty did not imperil the Czech constitution, Klaus reluctantly endorsed the document, completing the country’s ratification process. Having been approved by all 27 member countries, the treaty entered into force on December 1, 2009.
The EU represents one in a series of efforts to integrate Europe since World War II. At the end of the war, several western European countries sought closer economic, social, and political ties to achieve economic growth and military security and to promote a lasting reconciliation between France and Germany. To this end, in 1951 the leaders of six countries—Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany—signed the Treaty of Paris, thereby, when it took effect in 1952, founding the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). (The United Kingdom had been invited to join the ECSC and in 1955 sent a representative to observe discussions about its ongoing development, but the Labour government of Clement Attlee declined membership, owing perhaps to a variety of factors, including the illness of key ministers, a desire to maintain economic independence, and a failure to grasp the community’s impending significance.) The ECSC created a free-trade area for several key economic and military resources: coal, coke, steel, scrap, and iron ore. To manage the ECSC, the treaty established several supranational institutions: a High Authority to administrate, a Council of Ministers to legislate, a Common Assembly to formulate policy, and a Court of Justice to interpret the treaty and to resolve related disputes. A series of further international treaties and treaty revisions based largely on this model led eventually to the creation of the EU.
European Union (EU): History, Members, Aims and Achievements of EEC
The European Union (EU) is supranational and intergovernmental union of 27 states in Europe. It was established in 1992 by the Treaty on European Union (The Maastricht Treaty) and is the de facto successor to the six-member European Economic Community founded in 1957.
Since then new accessions have raised its number of member states and competencies have expanded. The EU is the current stage of a continuing open-ended process of European integration.
The EU is one of the largest economic and political entities in the world, with 494 million peoples and a combined nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of £11.6 ($14.5) trillion in 2006. The Union is the single market with a common trade policy, a Common Agriculture/Fisheries Policy and a Regional Policy to assist underdeveloped regions.
It introduced a single currency, the euro, adopted by 13 member states. The EU imitated a limited Common Foreign and Security Policy and a limited Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters.
Important EU institutions and bodies include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament.
Citizens of EU member states are also EU citizens they directly elect the European Parliament, once every five years. They can live, travel, work and invest in other members states (with some restrictions on new member states). Passport control and customs checks at most internal borders were abolished by the Schengen Agreement.
The EU has evolved from a western European trade body into the supranational and intergovernmental body. After the Second World War, an impetus grew in western European for institutional forms of cooperation (through social, political and economic integration) between states, driven by the determination to rebuild European and eliminate the possibility of another war between Germany and France. Eastern European, on the other hand, was largely within the soviet sphere of influence and only in the 1990s did was the EU see central and eastern European states as potential members.
In 1976 Winston Church-chill called for a “United States of European” (though without the inclusion of the UK). On 9 May 1950 the French foreign minister Robert Schuman presented a proposal for the joint management if France’s and West Germany’s coal and steel industries.
The proposal, known as the “Schuman Declaration”, envisaged the scheme as “the first concrete step towards a European federation”. It is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what in now the European Union and led to the formation of the European Coal and steel community by West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries. This was accomplished by the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1951. The founding nations singing the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
The first full customs union, the European Economic Community, was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and implemented on 1st January 1958. This later changed to the European Community, which is now the “first pillar” European Union created by the Maastricht treaty.
On 29 October 2004, EU member state heads of government and state signed the Treaty establishing the Constitution for European. This was later ratified by 17 member states. However, in most cases ratification was based on parliamentary action, rather than popular vote and the process faltered on 29 May, 2005 when French voters rejected the constitution by 55% to 45%. The French rejection was followed three days later by a Dutch one, in which 62% of voters rejected the constitution as well.
European Economic Community (EEC):
A prominent policy goal of the European Union is the development and maintenance of an effective single market. Significant efforts have been made to create harmonized standards claimed by their proponents to bring economic benefits through creating larger, more efficient markets.
Since the Treaty of Rome, policies have implemented free trade of goods and services among member states and continue to do so. This policy goal was further extended to three of the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states by the European Economic Area, (EEA).
Common EU competition law restricts anti­competitive activities of companies (through antitrust law and merger control) and member states (through the State Aids regime). The EU promotes free movement of capital between member states (and other EEA states). The members have a common system of indirect taxation, the Value Added Tax (VAT), as well as common customs duties and excises on various products.
From 2007-13 new member states expect investments financed with EU Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds, (new motorway near Poznan, Poland) they have a Common Agriculture Policy (with the Common Fisheries Policy) and the structural and cohesion funds, which improve infrastructure and assist disadvantaged regions. Together they are known as the cohesion polices.
The EU also has funds for emergency financial aid, for instance after natural disaster. The funding extends to programmes in candidate countries and other East European countries, as well as aid to many developing countries, through programmes. The EU also funds research and technological development, thorough four-year Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.
In a more political sense, the EU attempts to create with much controversy a sense of European citizenship and European political life. That includes freedom for citizens of the EU to vote and to stand as candidates in local government and European Parliament elections in any member state.
Members of EEC:
The six states that founded the EEC and the other two Communities were known as the “inner six” (the “outer seven” were those countries who formed the European Free Trade Association). The six were France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The first enlargement was in 1973, with the accession of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Greece, Spain and Portugal joined throughout in the 1980s. Following the creation of the EU in 1993, it has enlarged to include a further fifteen countries by 2007.
Aims and Achievements of EEC:
The main aim of the EEC, as stated in its preamble, was to “preserve peace and liberty and to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. Calling for balanced economic growth, this was to be accomplished through, (1) the establishment of a customs union with a common external tariff (2) common policies for agriculture, transport and trade (3) enlargement of the EEC to the rest of Europe.
For the customs union, the treaty provided for a 10 % reduction in custom duties and up to 20 % of global import quotas. Progress on the customs union proceeded much faster than the twelve years planned, however France faced some setbacks due to their war with Algeria.
Euro currency was created by the Economics and Monetary Union (EMU). It was established on 1 January 1999 and based on the Maastricht treaty from 1992. 12 countries are members of the Euro area also known as the Euroland. Every other member of the EU can join this group provided that certain conditions (regulating the level of inflation and the condition of public money etc.) are fulfilled.
But not all the EU have introduced the Euro-currency, some haven’t met the requirements (Sweden isn’t member of the EMU and Greece has met the requirement in 2000 and since then it has been a member of the Euro-land) and other decided that maybe they introduce Euro sometime later (UK and Denmark). Countries which jointed the EU in 2004 aren’t in the Euro area.
What did they Need Euro for?
In the beginning of 1999 member countries of EMU have lost the right to release their national currency giving this right to the European Central Bank. But why they gave this right, one of the most important privileges of sovereign countries, you may ask. The answer is simple and not clarifying anything because of political reasons.
European countries wanted to establish a new federation structure which would ensure peace and provide good economic conditions. The most important thing was to establish such, connections between Germany and other countries that no more was could outbreak.
Economic reasons were also very important in the creation of the Euro area. Since 1993 all EU countries function as a uniform market where services and products and man-power flow freely.
The process of eliminating borders between countries took a few decades and after it has finished it became obvious that what economy need was unification of currency. EU’s members would no longer have to pay for exchanging national currencies and it would allow companies to save money (according to the European Council the savings would be of about 40 billion USD annually).
What Influences The Euro Exchange Rate?
Only the European Systems of Central Bank (ESCB), which works similarly as German central bank, the Bundes bank. Bundes bank is known for excellent ant-inflation policies can release Euro currency. ESCB is divided into central unit (European Central Bank (ECB) which was created on 1 June 1998) and national central banks.
The main ECB’s task is take care of monetary politics and national banks realize these politics in member countries. The aim of the aforementioned politics is to maintain price stability that means keeping the inflation level below 2%. EMU’s central bank can support economical growth as long as it doesn’t collide with its anti-inflation ESCB’s politics has to be the same in the whole Euro-land.
These politics could lead to a rise of unemployment level and escalate social conflicts. In this case the creators of Maastricht treaty have added in this treaty a few points assuring that countries’ politics and economical situation would not influence bank’s decisions.
The bank has the sovereignty needed to resist political pressure and to concentrate on keeping the inflation level low. All this is to make Euro currency the second (after the American dollar) one in the world.
Stages of Introduction Euro:
The process of the Euro currency introduction was three and a half years long. There are many reasons for this. Technical aspects are the most important it takes a while to print 12 billion green backs and to produce 70 billion coins.
But 300 million people and many companies would also have to get used to the new Euro Currency (you don’t change a currency every day, you know). The magnitude of this undertaking caused that it was decided that it would be best to introduce Euro step-by-step.
This process is divided into two parts: transitional part from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2001, where there aren’t any Euro notes or coins. National currencies aren’t independent they have became parts of Euro. The exchange rate (1 Euro Currency = x National Currency) has been accepted by the Council of the European Union and it does not change.
From the beginning of 1999 only Euro currency does exist in the Euro-land but it is divided into certain particles. National currencies disappear from the international currency market and Euro is put in their place. Final part: from 1 January 2002 to 30 June 2002, national currencies are withdrawn from public usage and Euro greenbacks and coins are introduced.
On 1 January 2002 all savings in national currencies in banks are converted into Euro. Prices displayed only in Euro. National currencies can be used only until the end of the final part from 1 July 2002 Euro is the only legal currency in the Euro-land.
The introduction of Euro is one of the most important events not only in the history of Europe but also in the history of the World. A dozen European countries, altogether a huge economic potential, take part in it.
Due to their role in international trade and finances the success of this undertaking would benefit us all. All necessary steps will be taken to ensure Euro’s stability and functionally. Only then will Euro earn international respect.
Abandoned treaties [ edit | edit source ]
The European Constitution failed due to negative votes in two member states
1973 and 1995 Acts of Accession of Norway
Norway applied to join the European Communities/Union on two occasions. Both times a national referendum rejected membership, leading Norway to abandon their ratification of the treaty of accession. The first treaty was signed in Brussels on 22 January 1972 and the second in Corfu on 24 June 1994.
The European Constitution was a treaty that would have repealed and consolidated all previous overlapping treaties (except the Euratom treaty) into a single document. It also made changes to voting systems, simplified the structure of the EU and advanced co-operation in foreign policy. The treaty was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 and was due to come into force on 1 November 2006 if it was ratified by all member states. However, this did not occur, with France rejecting the document in a national referendum on 29 May 2005 and then the Netherlands in their own referendum on 1 June 2005. Although it had been ratified by a number of member states, following a "period of reflection", the constitution in that form was scrapped and replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon.
A. Objectives and legal principles
The Treaty establishing the European Community is renamed the ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’ (TFEU) and the term ‘Community’ is replaced by ‘Union’ throughout the text. The Union takes the place of the Community and is its legal successor. The Treaty of Lisbon does not create state-like Union symbols like a flag or an anthem. Although the new text is hence no longer a constitutional treaty by name, it preserves most of the substantial achievements.
No additional exclusive competences are transferred to the Union by the Treaty of Lisbon. However, it changes the way the Union exercises its existing powers and some new (shared) powers, by enhancing citizens’ participation and protection, creating a new institutional set-up and modifying the decision-making processes for increased efficiency and transparency. A higher level of parliamentary scrutiny and democratic accountability is therefore attained.
Unlike the Constitutional Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon contains no article formally enshrining the supremacy of Union law over national legislation, but a declaration was attached to the Treaty to this effect (Declaration No 17), referring to an opinion of the Council’s Legal Service which reiterates consistent case-law of the Court.
The Treaty of Lisbon for the first time clarifies the powers of the Union. It distinguishes between three types of competences: exclusive competence, where the Union alone can legislate, and Member States only implement shared competence, where the Member States can legislate and adopt legally binding measures if the Union has not done so and supporting competence, where the EU adopts measures to support or complement Member States’ policies. Union competences can now be handed back to the Member States in the course of a treaty revision.
The Treaty of Lisbon gives the EU full legal personality. Therefore, the Union obtains the ability to sign international treaties in the areas of its attributed powers or to join an international organisation. Member States may only sign international agreements that are compatible with EU law.
The Treaty for the first time provides for a formal procedure to be followed by Member States wishing to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with their constitutional requirements, namely Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).
The Treaty of Lisbon completes the absorption of the remaining third pillar aspects of the area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ), i.e. police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, into the first pillar. The former intergovernmental structure ceases to exist, as the acts adopted in this area are now made subject to the ordinary legislative procedure (qualified majority and codecision), using the legal instruments of the Community method (regulations, directives and decisions) unless otherwise specified.
With the Treaty of Lisbon in force, Parliament is able to propose amendments to the Treaties, as was already the case for the Council, a Member State government or the Commission. Normally, such an amendment would require the convocation of a Convention which would recommend amendments to an IGC (the European Council could, however, decide not to convene such a Convention, subject to Parliament’s consent (Article 48(3) of the TEU, second paragraph). An IGC could then be convened to determine amendments to the Treaties by common accord. It is, however, also possible to revise the Treaties without convening an IGC and through simplified revision procedures, where the revision concerns the internal policies and actions of the Union (Article 48(6) and 48(7) of the TEU). The revision would then be adopted as a decision of the European Council, but might remain subject to national ratification rules.
B. Enhanced democracy and better protection of fundamental rights
The Treaty of Lisbon expresses the three fundamental principles of democratic equality, representative democracy and participatory democracy. Participatory democracy takes the new form of a citizens’ initiative (4.1.5).
The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not incorporated directly into the Treaty of Lisbon, but acquires a legally binding character through Article 6(1) of the TEU, which gives the Charter the same legal value as the Treaties (4.1.2).
The process of the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was opened when the 14th protocol to the ECHR entered into force on 1 June 2010. This allows not only states but also an international organisation, i.e. the European Union, to become signatories of the ECHR. Accession still requires ratification by all states that are parties to the ECHR, as well as by the EU itself. Negotiations between Council of Europe and EU representatives led to the finalisation of a draft agreement in April 2013, which, however, was deemed incompatible with Article 6 of the TEU by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its Opinion 2/2013. Further negotiations will be necessary before accession can take place.
C. A new institutional set-up
1. The European Parliament
Pursuant to Article 14(2) of the TEU, Parliament is now ‘composed of representatives of the Union’s citizens’, not of representatives of ‘the peoples of the States’.
Parliament’s legislative powers have been increased through the ‘ordinary legislative procedure’, which replaces the former codecision procedure. This procedure now applies to more than 40 new policy areas, raising the total number to 73. The assent procedure continues to exist as ‘consent’, and the consultation procedure remains unchanged. The new budgetary procedure creates full parity between Parliament and the Council for approval of the annual budget. The multiannual financial framework has to be agreed by Parliament.
Parliament now elects the President of the Commission by a majority of its members on a proposal from the European Council, which is obliged to select a candidate by qualified majority, taking into account the outcome of the European elections. Parliament continues to approve the Commission as a college.
The maximum number of MEPs has been set at 751 with citizens’ representation being degressively proportional. The maximum number of seats per Member State is reduced to 96 while the minimum number is increased to 6. On 7 February 2018, Parliament voted in favour of reducing the number of its seats from 751 to 705 after the UK’s departure from the EU and re-distributing some of the seats thereby freed up among those Member States that were slightly under-represented (1.3.3).
The UK left the EU on 1 February 2020. As of this date, the new composition of 705 MEPs has been applied. Of the 73 seats vacated by the UK’s withdrawal, 27 seats have been reallocated to better reflect the principle of degressive proportionality: the 27 seats have been distributed to France (+5), Spain (+5), Italy (+3), Netherlands (+3), Ireland (+2), Sweden (+1), Austria (+1), Denmark (+1), Finland (+1), Slovakia (+1), Croatia (+1), Estonia (+1), Poland (+1) and Romania (+1). No Member State has lost any seats.
The Treaty of Lisbon formally recognises the European Council as an EU institution, responsible for providing the Union with the ‘impetus necessary for its development’ and for defining its ‘general political directions and priorities’. The European Council has no legislative functions. A long-term presidency replaces the previous system of six-month rotation. The President is elected by a qualified majority of the European Council for a renewable term of 30 months. This should improve the continuity and coherence of the European Council’s work. The President also represents the Union externally, without prejudice to the duties of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (see below).
3. The Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR)
The VP/HR is appointed by a qualified majority of the European Council with the agreement of the President of the Commission and is responsible for the EU’s common foreign and security policy, with the right to put forward proposals. Besides chairing the Foreign Affairs Council, the VP/HR also has the role of Vice-President of the Commission. The VP/HR is assisted by the European External Action Service, which comprises staff from the Council, the Commission and national diplomatic services.
The Treaty of Lisbon maintains the principle of double majority voting (citizens and Member States). However, the previous arrangements remained in place until November 2014 since 1 November 2014, the new rules have applied.
A qualified majority is reached when 55% of members of the Council (in practice, 15 states out of 27), comprising at least 65% of the population, support a proposal (Article 16(4) of the TEU). When the Council is not acting on a proposal from the Commission or the VP/HR, the necessary majority of Member States increases to 72% (Article 238(2) of the TFEU). To block legislation, at least four Member States have to vote against a proposal. A new scheme inspired by the ‘Ioannina compromise’ allows 55% (75% until 1 April 2017) of the Member States necessary for the blocking minority to ask for reconsideration of a proposal during a ‘reasonable time period’ (Declaration 7).
The Council meets in public when it deliberates and votes on a draft legislative act. To this end, each Council meeting is divided into two parts, dealing respectively with legislative acts and non-legislative activities. The Council Presidency continues to rotate on a six-month basis, but there are 18-month group presidencies of three Member States in order to ensure better continuity of work. As an exception, the Foreign Affairs Council is continuously chaired by the VP/HR.
Since the President of the Commission is now chosen and elected taking into account the outcome of the European elections, the political legitimacy of the office is increased. The President is responsible for the internal organisation of the college (appointment of commissioners, distribution of portfolios, requests to resign under particular circumstances).
6. The Court of Justice of the European Union
The jurisdiction of the Court is extended to all activities of the Union with the exception of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). Access to the Court is facilitated for individuals.
D. More efficient and democratic policy-making with new policies and new competencies
Several so-called passerelle clauses allow a change from unanimous decision-making to qualified majority voting and from the consultation procedure to codecision (Article 31(3) of the TEU, Articles 81, 153, 192, 312 and 333 of the TFEU, plus some passerelle-type procedures concerning judicial cooperation in criminal matters) (1.2.4). In his 2017 State of the Union speech, Commission President Juncker announced initiatives to move away from the unanimity rule in a number of areas by using the passerelle clauses. As a follow-up, the Commission has adopted four communications, proposing to enhance the use of qualified majority voting instead of unanimity in the fields of CFSP (2018), tax policy (January 2019), energy and climate (April 2019) and social policy (April 2019). These communications aim at rendering decision-making more prompt, flexible and efficient where an EU competence already exists.
In areas where the Union has no exclusive powers, at least nine Member States can establish enhanced cooperation among themselves. Authorisation for its use must be granted by the Council after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. On CFSP matters, unanimity applies.
The Treaty of Lisbon considerably strengthens the principle of subsidiarity by involving the national parliaments in the EU decision-making process (1.2.2) (1.3.5).
A certain number of new or extended policies have been introduced in environment policy, which now includes the fight against climate change, and energy policy, which makes new references to solidarity and the security and interconnectivity of supply. Furthermore, intellectual property rights, sport, space, tourism, civil protection and administrative cooperation are now possible subjects of EU law-making.
On the common security and defence policy (CSDP) (5.1.2), the Treaty of Lisbon introduces a mutual defence clause which provides that all Member States are obliged to provide help to a Member State under attack. A solidarity clause provides that the Union and each of its Member States have to provide assistance by all possible means to a Member State affected by a human or natural catastrophe or by a terrorist attack. A ‘permanent structured cooperation’ is open to all Member States which commit themselves to taking part in European military equipment programmes and to providing combat units that are available for immediate action. To establish such cooperation, it is necessary to obtain a qualified majority in Council after consultation with the VP/HR.
History of the European Union
After the Second World War, Europe was in a troubled state. Two bloody wars had been fought on the continent. European countries had been making war against one another since the Middle Ages. The relations between the countries were poor. After two catastrophic world wars, the European leaders decided that the only way of preventing war in Europe was to start to cooperate.
This cooperation began in trade and economy. Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg settled their biggest disagreements and started cooperating in the production of coal and steel. Later this cooperation was extended to other areas of life. The European Economic Community (EEC) and other joint institutions were founded. A common administration, the European Community (EC), was created in 1967. The European Community had a Council and Commission common to all members.
Establishment of the European Union. Photo: European Parliament.
The Community started expanding in the 1970s when new members joined it. For the first time the citizens could elect members to the European Community Parliament by direct popular vote in 1972.
Finland has been a member of the
European Union since 1995.
Photo: European Parliament.
In 1992 the Community members agreed on even closer cooperation. The European Community was renamed the European Union (EU). As the agreement was signed in the City of Maastricht, the treaty establishing the EU came to be known as the Maastricht Treaty.
Finland joined the European Union in 1995. Before that since 1973 Finland had had a Free Trade Agreement (EEC Agreement) with Europe. The Free Trade Agreement made it possible to trade across the borders in Europe without any customs duties.
Treaty of Rome
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Treaty of Rome, originally (1957–93) Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community, succeeded by (1993–2009) Treaty Establishing the European Community and (2009– ) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union also called, together with the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, Treaties of Rome, international agreement, signed in Rome on March 25, 1957, by Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, that established the European Economic Community (EEC), creating a common market and customs union among its members. The Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, for the purpose of developing peaceful applications of atomic energy, was signed by the same countries on the same day, and therefore the two treaties together are often called the Treaties of Rome. Following the advent of the European Union (EU) in 1993, the treaty that had established the EEC remained one of the EU’s core documents, though the EEC itself was renamed the European Community (EC), and the EC was embedded into the EU. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the EC was eliminated, and the Treaty of Rome that had established it was formally renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
European Union treaty signed - HISTORY
The first Treaty signed in 1951 set up the Parliamentary Assembly, which was later renamed the European Parliament. The purpose of the original Treaty was for six countries that were previously at war to work together to achieve common aims. Subsequent Treaties have agreed new areas in which to work together or have been designed to improve the working of the EU institutions as membership has grown from six to 28. For example, agriculture policy was introduced in the EEC Treaty and the Nice Treaty reformed the institutional structure of the EU.
The European Parliament, Council, Commission, Court of Justice and Court of Auditors exercise their powers in accordance with the Treaties. The Commission is considered «the Guardian of the Treaties». When a new Treaty is to be created, or an existing Treaty amended, an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) is set up in which the governments of the member states meet. Parliament is consulted and gives its opinion on the Treaty as it is shaped and developed. Parliament has acquired ever more democratic, supervisory and legislative powers with each new Treaty. With the Treaty of Brussels (signed in 1975), the Parliament acquired the right to scrutinise the EU accounts at the end of each year, and assess whether the Commission has wisely and correctly spent the EU budget. New additions with the Single European Act (Treaty signed in 1986) ensured that Parliament’s assent is mandatory before a new country can join the EU. The Amsterdam Treaty (signed in 1997) gave a much stronger position to the Parliament in co-legislating with the Council on a whole range of areas that are subject to EU law (consumer protection, ability to work legally in another country and environmental issues, to name a few).
The latest Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, entered into force on 1 December 2009. It strengthens the European Parliament, gives national parliaments more responsibility in determining the course of European policy, as well as allowing EU citizens the power of initiative. The Lisbon Treaty enhances European Parliament’s powers as a fully recognised co-legislator with increased budgetary powers. It also gives Parliament a key role in the election of the European Commission President.