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The European Union

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Title: The European Union


1
The European Union
2
What is the European Union?
  • economic and political partnership between 27
    democratic European countries primarily located
    in Europe
  • established by the Treaty of Mastricht on
    November 1, 1993 upon the fundations of the
    European Communities
  • set up to bring peace, stability and prosperity
    for its citizens in fairer, safer world
  • being strengthened and confirmed all across
    Europe half a billion people have chosen to live
    under the rule of law and in accordance with
    age-old values centred on humanity and human
    dignity

3
How is EU organised?
  • To realize all goals, EU countries set up bodies
    to run the EU and adopt its legislation
  • The European Parliament
  • The Council of the European Union
  • The European Commission
  • The Court of Justice
  • The Court of Auditors
  • The European Economic and Social Commitee
  • The Commitee of the Regions
  • The European Central Bank
  • The Europe Investment Bank

4
EU bodies
5
The decision making triangle
  • The European Parliament (representing the people
    of Europe)
  • The Council of the Europen Union (representing
    national goverments)
  • The European Commission (representing the common
    EU iterests)

6
The decision making triangle
7
The European Parliament
  • Elected every five years by the people of Europe
  • Main job is to pass European laws on the basis of
    proposals presented by the European Commission
  • Parliament and Council share joint authority for
    approving the EU's 130 billion annual budget
  • Has the power to dismiss the European Commission
  • Members of the European Parliament are members of
    Europe-wide political groups
  • The main meetings of the Parliament are held in
    Strasbourg (France)
  • Parliament works in all 23 official EU languages
  • Jerzy Buzek is the current President

8
The Council of the European Union
  • EUs principal decision making body
  • Shares with Parliament the responsibility for
    passing EU laws
  • Defines the general political direction and
    priorities of the European Union
  • In charge of the EUs foreign, security and
    defence policies, and responsible for key
    decisions on justice and freedom issues
  • Consists of the Heads of State or Government of
    the Member States, together with its President
    and the President of the Commission
  • meets twice every six months, convened by its
    President
  • consists of ministers from the national
    governments of all the EU countries

9
The Council of the European Union
  • Each country has a number of votes in the Council
    broadly reflecting the size of its population,
    but weighted in favour of smaller countries
  • Most decisions are taken by majority vote,
    although sensitive issues in areas like taxation,
    asylum and immigration, or foreign policy,
    require unanimity
  • Several times a year the presidents and/or prime
    ministers of the member states meet as the
    European Council. These summit meetings set
    overall EU policy
  • Currently President is Herman Van Rompuy

10
The European Commission
  • EU's executive organ
  • represents and upholds the interests of Europe as
    a whole
  • drafts proposals for new European laws, which it
    presents to the European Parliament and the
    Council
  • manages the day-to-day business of implementing
    EU policies and spending EU funds
  • also seen as the motor of European integration
  • currently composed of 27 commissioners for
    different areas of policy, one from each member
    state

11
The European Commission
  • The President of the Commission and all the other
    commissioners are nominated by the Council
  • Appointment of the Commission President, and also
    the Commission in its entirety, have to be
    confirmed by Parliament
  • Current Commission President is José Manuel
    Barroso

12
Member states
  • Six original founding states Belgium, France,
    (then West) Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the
    Netherlands
  • Today European Union is composed of 27 sovereign
    Member States 
  • To join the EU a country must meet the Copenhagen
    criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European
    Council. These require
  • a stable democracy that respects human rights and
    the rule of law
  • a functioning market economy capable of
    competition within the EU
  • the acceptance of the obligations of membership,
    including EU law

13
Member states
  • Evaluation of a country's fulfilment of the
    criteria is the responsibility of the European
    Council and they must have a public
    administration capable of applying and managing
    EU laws in practice.
  • No member state has ever left the Union
  • There are three official candidate countries,
    Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey.
  • Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro,
    Serbia and Iceland are officially recognised as
    potential candidates.

14
Member states
15
How citizents can exercise their rights
  • Europeans have specific political rights.
  • Every citizen of the Union, regardless of
    nationality, has the right to vote and to stand
    as a candidate in local elections in his or her
    country of residence and in elections to the
    European Parliament. This brings the EU closer to
    its people.
  • Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not
    replace national citizenship.

16
Economy
  • Since its origin, the EU has established a single
    economic market across the territory of all its
    members.
  • Currently, a single currency is in use between
    the 16 members of the eurozone.
  • EU has the largest economy in the world and the
    second largest trade bloc economy in the world.
  • It is the largest exporter, and the largest
    importer of goods and services, and the biggest
    trading partner to several large countries.

17
Military and defence
  • The predecessors of the European Union were not
    devised as a strong military alliance because
    NATO was largely seen as appropriate and
    sufficient for defence purposes.
  • Twenty-one EU members are members of NATO while
    the remaining member states follow policies of
    neutrality.

18
Humanitarian aid
  • The European Commissions Humanitarian Aid Office,
    or ECHO, provides humanitarian aid from the EU
    to developing countries.
  • In 2006 its budget amounted to 671 million, 48
    of which went to the African, Caribbean and
    Pacific countries.
  • Counting the EU's own contributions and those of
    its member states together, the EU is the largest
    aid donor in the world.

19
The EU symbols
  • The European flag
  • Symbol for the whole of Europe
  • The 12 stars in a circle symbolise the ideals of
    unity, solidarity and harmony amog the people of
    Europe.
  •  
  • The European anthem
  • The melody comes from the Ninth Symphony by
    Beethoven, it is called Ode to Joy
  • When this music is used as the European anthem,
    it has no words.

20
The EU symbols
  • Europe Day, 9 May
  • The ideas behind what is now the European Union
    were first put forward on 9 May 1950 in a speach
    by the then French Foreign Minister, Robert
    Schuman.
  • Each year, 9 May is celebrated as the EUs
    birthday.
  • Motto of the EU.
  • United in diversity.

21
EUs mission in the 21st century
  • Provide peace, prosperity and stability for its
    people
  • Overcome the divisions on the continent
  • Ensure that its people can live in safety
  • Promote balanced economic and social development
  • Meet the challenges of globalisation and preserve
    the diversity of the people of Europe
  • Uphold the values that Europeans share, such as
    sustainable development and a sound environment,
    respect for human rights and the social market
    economy.

22
Some positive results so far
  • Frontier free travel and trade
  • The Euro (the single European Currency)
  • Safer food and greener environment
  • Better living standards in poorer regions
  • Joint action on crime and terror
  • Cheaper phone calls
  • Millions of opportunities to study abroad
  • Freedom, security and justice for all
  • Equal chances for everyone

23
Taxation in the European Union
  • Governments retain sole responsibility for levels
    of direct taxation
  • Tax rules must be consistent with the goals of
    job creation, the EUs competitiveness, the
    single market and free movement of capital
  • Member states set the rate of tax on company
    profits, personal incomes, savings and capital
    gains themselves

24
VAT
  • VAT rates are an exception, as they are
    fundamental for single market
  • Minimum rate of 15 of VAT on most goods and
    services exceptions are possible

25
Excise taxes
  • Subject to common rules as excise tax on petrol,
    alcoholic drinks or cigarettes, as they can
    distort competition
  • Cultural and economic differences are recognised

26
Revision
  • Which EU institution represents national
    governments?
  • Which institution is the executive organ of the
    EU?
  • Which states are original founding states?
  • Which countries are official candidates?
  • What are symbols of the EU?
  • Which are positive results of the EU so far?
  • Who retains responsibility for levels of direct
    taxation?
  • What is the minimum rate of VAT?
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