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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Accession negotiations

Accession negotiations examine applicant countries’ capacity to fulfil the obligations of a Member State and to apply the body of Community laws (acquis) from the date on which they join the EU; this particularly applies to those measures required to enlarge the internal market, which must be implemented immediately. The negotiations also take account of experience with the pre-accession aid provided by the European Union in order to help with incorporation of the Community acquis.

Agencies of the European Union

The agencies differ from the institutions and bodies of the EU in that they are not founded by the EU Treaties but rather by specific legal instruments. Different terms are used to designate them, such as Centre, Foundation, Office and Authority. There are currently 19 Community agencies which accomplish specific technical, scientific or administrative tasks; another three agencies perform tasks under the second pillar and four have tasks under the third pillar.

Agenda 2000

The Berlin European Council in March 1999 adopted the Agenda 2000 reform package, which set out the prospects for further EU integration up to 2006. The most important aspects of Agenda 2000 include EU enlargement, new initiatives in the areas of agricultural, regional and environment policy, and the financial framework for the period 2000-2006.

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) introduced the objective of progressively establishing and further developing an area of freedom, security and justice in the EU (Title IV, Article 61 EC Treaty). A common approach by Member States in the field of police and judicial cooperation, coupled with action to combat and prevent racism and xenophobia, is to provide the public with a high degree of security. This is to be achieved by preventing and fighting crime (terrorism in particular), people trafficking and offences against children, the trade in illegal drugs and arms, and bribery, corruption and fraud.


Barcelona Process

In November 1995, the EU Member States and 12 Mediterranean countries signed the Barcelona Declaration in order to ensure stability in the Mediterranean area. The EU set aside EUR 5.35 billion under this Mediterranean partnership for projects in the Mediterranean partner countries between 2000 and 2006. The MEDA assistance programme focuses on job creation by promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, on modernising economic infrastructure and on incentives to boost trade relations between the partner countries.

Border controls

The timetable for the completion of the Internal Market provided for the removal of border controls at the EU’s internal borders by 1 January 1993 through the harmonisation or mutual recognition of the different regulations of the Member States. This goal was achieved in respect of free movement of goods; the removal of border controls in respect of persons in the context of the Schengen Agreement was delayed owing to national reservations and unresolved security problems. It was not until March 1995 that systematic border controls between eight EU countries were completely abolished in the framework of the Schengen Agreement. At present 15 Member States implement the free movement of persons in the Schengen area.


All the European Union’s revenue and expenditure is entered in the Community budget on the basis of annual forecasts. The budget is governed by several principles, in particular: unity: all revenue and expenditure is listed in a single document; annuality: budget operations must be carried out in a given budget year; equilibrium: expenditure must not exceed revenue. The Commission is responsible for submitting a preliminary draft budget to the Council, which shares budgetary authority with the European Parliament. The nature of the expenditure determines which of the two institutions has the final say: depending on whether the expenditure is compulsory (the Council decides) or not (the Parliament decides). In the final analysis, however, the European Parliament adopts or rejects the budget as a whole.


Charter of Fundamental Rights

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1998, the European Council decided at the Cologne meeting (3-4 June 1999) to draw up a Charter of Fundamental Rights. The aim was that the fundamental rights applicable at Union level should be consolidated in a single document to raise awareness of them. The task of drafting the charter was given to a special body, a convention, comprising 62 members who were primarily representatives of the European institutions and the governments of the Member States. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was proclaimed at the Nice European Council on 7 December 2000. It contains the classic fundamental rights and freedoms, including fundamental social rights, equal treatment rights, Union citizens’ rights and judicial rights.

Citizenship of the EU

Citizenship of the Union is dependent on holding the nationality of one of the Member States. In other words, anyone who is a national of a Member State is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship does not replace national citizenship - it is an addition thereto. Besides the rights and duties laid down in the Treaty establishing the European Community, Union citizenship confers four special rights: freedom to move and take up residence anywhere in the Union; the right to vote and to stand in local government and European Parliament elections in the country of residence; diplomatic and consular protection from the authorities of any Member State where the country of which a person is a national is not represented in a non-Union country; the right of petition and appeal to the European Ombudsman.

Codecision procedure

The codecision procedure (Article 251 of the EC Treaty) was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht and gives the European Parliament the power to adopt legal instruments jointly with the Council of the European Union. The codecision procedure comprises one, two or three readings and requires numerous contacts between the Parliament and the Council, the co-legislators, and with the European Commission. The codecision procedure has strengthened the European Parliament’s legislative powers in the following fields: the free movement of workers, right of establishment, freedom of services, internal market legislation, education, health and culture policy (incentive measures), consumer policy, trans-European networks (guidelines), environment policy (general action programme) and research (framework programme).

Cohesion Fund

The Cohesion Fund was established in 1994 and, like the Structural Funds, is an instrument for funding EU regional policy, which aims to reduce development disparities between regions and Member States. For the Cohesion Fund, EUR 18 billion (in 1999 prices) is available for the years 2000-2006. The Cohesion Fund is intended for those countries whose per capita GDP is less than 90% of the Community average. Since the enlargement to 25 Member States, the 10 new members have become eligible for support from the Cohesion Fund. Support of EUR 7.59 billion (in 1999 prices) has been made available for these countries.


Under the Treaty establishing the European Community, the Commission is responsible for implementing legislation at Community level. Each legislative instrument specifies the scope of the implementing powers granted to the Commission and how the Commission is to use them. Provision is frequently made for a committee to support the Commission in accordance with a “comitology” procedure. The committees comprise representatives from Member States and are chaired by a representative of the Commission. The new “comitology decision” adopted in 1999 gives the European Parliament a say in the implementation of legislative instruments adopted under the codecision procedure.

Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is a political assembly that represents the local and regional authorities in the institutional structure of the EU. The Treaties require the Commission and the Council to consult the CoR whenever new proposals are made in certain areas that could have specific repercussions at regional or local level.

Committees of the European Parliament

As with national parliaments, the European Parliament has established many committees which do the preparatory work for the plenary sessions. The parliamentary committees carry out most of the legislative work. The members of the committees are elected from among the members of the European Parliament at the beginning and at the end of the first half of the electoral period according to their party membership and specialist field.

Common agricultural policy

Agriculture and trade in agricultural products are regulated by the common agricultural policy (CAP). The most important objectives of the CAP are: to increase agricultural productivity and protect farmers’ living standards; market stability; to guarantee the supply of agricultural products; reasonable prices for agricultural products; to develop rural areas.

Common commercial policy

The European Community has exclusive responsibility for the common commercial policy (Article 133 of the EC Treaty, formerly Article 113). The objective of the commercial policy is to contribute to the harmonious development of world trade, the gradual removal of restrictions in international trade and the dismantling of customs barriers.

Common Foreign and Security Policy

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), also known as the EU’s second pillar, was created by the Maastricht Treaty (1993). It replaced European political cooperation, the system devised in the 1970s. The CFSP also has an important security policy component in the shape of the European Security and Defence Policy. New forms of action and new procedures are designed to make it possible for the EU to act more rapidly at an international level. Unlike cooperation in the European Community (first pillar), which is structured on a supranational basis, cooperation under the CFSP is intergovernmental. The CFSP’s legal instruments are common strategies, joint actions and common positions. In December 2003 the EU adopted the European Security Strategy.

Community acquis

The Community acquis is the body of common rights and obligations which bind all the Member States together within the European Union. The acquis evolves constantly and comprises: the content, principles and political objectives of the treaties; legislation adopted in application of the treaties and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities; declarations and resolutions adopted by the European Union; legislation on the common foreign and security policy; legislation on justice and home affairs; international agreements concluded by the Community and those concluded between the Member States in areas relating to the Union’s activities. In order to integrate into the Union, applicant countries have to transpose the Community acquis into their national law and apply it as soon as they effectively accede.

Conciliation Committee

In areas subject to the codecision procedure, the Council and the European Parliament share the function of enacting legislation. This means that legislation can be adopted only with the approval of both sides. If the two institutions fail to agree, a Conciliation Committee is set up to reconcile the differing points of view. The Conciliation Committee comprises the 25 members of the Council or their representatives and an equal number of representatives from the Parliament. The Commission also takes part in the work of the Conciliation Committee in order to help reconcile the positions of the European Parliament and the Council.

Convergence criteria

Member States that wish to adopt the euro must meet a number of criteria (“convergence criteria”) laid down in the EU Treaty. They are: government deficit must not exceed 3% of the gross domestic product and government debt must not exceed 60% of the gross domestic product, low inflation rate, low long-term interest rates and a stable exchange rate. Fulfilment of the criteria is monitored on the basis of reports drawn up by the Commission and the European Central Bank.

Copenhagen criteria

At its meeting in Copenhagen in June 1993, the European Council laid down specific conditions which a country must meet in order to become a new member of the European Union. These are known as the “Copenhagen criteria” and concern: stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities; a functioning market economy and the ability to withstand the pressure of competition and market forces within the European Union; the ability to assume the obligations arising from membership, including the objectives of economic and monetary union and of political union. The ability of the Union to accept new members without losing the impetus of European integration - the “fourth Copenhagen criterion” - was cited as a further important consideration for the Union and accession candidates.


CORrespondance EUropéenne (French) is a communication network linking the foreign ministries of the Member States of the European Union. It facilitates cooperation between the Member States and the European Commission in matters of foreign policy. It makes it easier for decisions to be taken quickly in emergencies

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 as the first of the large post-war European organisations. Forty-six countries, all the European countries except Belarus, are now members. Five further countries have observer status (the Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico). Its headquarters are in Strasbourg (France). The Council of Europe works to achieve greater unity between its members so as to safeguard and further the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitate their economic and social progress (Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe).

Council of the European Union

The Council meets in different configurations. In each Council meeting, the ministers responsible for the field concerned (foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, social affairs, transport, etc.) are represented and their decisions are binding on their respective governments. The Council is based in Brussels, where it meets several times a month (meetings are held in Luxembourg in certain months). The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months. Above all, the Council has legislative powers which it exercises in the Community domain in close cooperation with the European Parliament and the Commission.

Council working groups

Over 200 working groups, made up of representatives from the Member States, assist the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper). The working groups cover the full range of EU activities. These working groups are set up either for a short period only or as long-term committees, depending on what is required. The basis for their discussions is normally Commission proposals, and the Commission attends Council working group meetings as well as Coreper meetings. The results from the meetings of the Council working groups then serve as a basis for Coreper in preparing the corresponding Council meetings. Matters on which agreement has already been reached, either in the Council working group or at Coreper level, are submitted to the Council as ‘A items’ to be adopted without further debate.

Country of origin principle

The country of origin principle governs the customs duties and rules applicable to imported goods. Imports are therefore subject to the provisions agreed with the country of origin. The country of origin principle is not applicable to taxation. Since indirect taxes in the Union have not yet been approximated, tax is removed from goods exported in commercial trade between two States at the border and is re-imposed on import – the taxation is therefore levied in the country of destination.

Court of Justice of the European Communities

The Court of Justice has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties establishing the European Communities and of the provisions adopted by the competent Community institutions. The Court is composed of one judge per Member State and is assisted by eight advocates-general, appointed for six years by mutual agreement of the governments of the Member States. The European Court of First Instance was set up under the Single European Act (1987) to ease the workload of the Court of Justice.

Customs union

The customs union is an essential component of the single market. The most important aspects of the customs union are: elimination of all customs duties and restrictions between the EU Member States; a common customs tariff applicable throughout the EU to goods originating from non-member countries; and a common commercial policy as an external dimension of the customs union (the Community speaks with one voice at international level).


Economic and Monetary Union

A fundamental element of the Maastricht Treaty was the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union in three stages up to 1999. The third stage of economic and monetary union began on 1 January 1999: the common currency, the euro, was introduced, first as bank money, and then on 1 January 2002 bank notes and coins were introduced. Since 2002, euro notes and coins have been the sole currency in the 12 Member States of the eurozone.


The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was founded in 1960 as a reaction to the setting up of the European Economic Community (EEC) to safeguard the trade interests of those countries that were not members of the EEC. Finland, Sweden and Austria joined the EU in 1995, which left Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in EFTA.

Employment pact

The European employment pact was approved by the Heads of State and Government at the European Council meeting in Cologne in June 1999. The employment pact aims to involve all the stakeholders in a comprehensive overall employment strategy, to create a more favourable general economic environment and to make measures to tackle unemployment part of a medium and long-term strategy.

Enhanced cooperation

Enhanced cooperation, introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, allows a certain number of Member States, who are able and willing to advance further, to deepen European integration, provided such cooperation respects the single institutional framework. The Treaty of Nice (2002) greatly simplified the mechanism: 1. The minimum number of Member States required for enhanced cooperation was reduced by half to eight compared with the Amsterdam Treaty, irrespective of the total number of Member States, 2. The establishment of enhanced cooperation can no longer be prevented by a single Member State, 3. A further condition was added for the implementation of enhanced cooperation, namely that it may not undermine the internal market or economic and social cohesion. It also introduced the option of enhanced cooperation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), with the exception of military and defence issues.


The term ‘enlargement’ describes the admission of new Member States into what was previously the European Community and is now the European Union. Thus the Europe of Six – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – evolved over time into the EU 25, soon to become the EU 27.

Equal treatment for men and women

The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community enshrined, as early as 1957, the principle of equality between men and women. Article 141 states that men and women must receive equal pay for equivalent work. Beginning in 1975, a series of directives broadened the principle to cover access to employment, training and promotion, in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination at work. They also laid down the principle of equal treatment in social security schemes, both statutory and occupational. The Treaty of Amsterdam extended the limited scope of Article 141 and established equality of men and women as one of the Community’s tasks. The principle of equality between men and women in all fields was also incorporated into the Charter of Fundamental Rights.


Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is a part of the Socrates education programme. It promotes study abroad in the European Union.


The Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry – Eurochambres – was founded in 1958. Its headquarters are in Brussels and it has 44 national associations as members.


Eurogroup is an informal body working to improve coordination between the Member States that have adopted the single currency, the euro. The Ecofin Council, in which all Member States are represented, is still however the main body coordinating the EU’s economic and financial policy.

Europe Agreements

Europe Agreements are a special type of association agreement. They are concluded between the European Union and certain associated Central and Eastern European countries (Article 310 EC Treaty). They basically provide for a flexible, phased plan under which the EC unilaterally removes its customs and import barriers, and the associated countries gradually open up their national markets to EC goods. In addition, Europe Agreements give the associated countries a definite prospect of joining the European Union. They stipulate respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law and establish the principle of a market economy. Europe Agreements are also forums for political dialogue. When the 10 new Member States joined the EU on 1 May 2004, the Europe Agreements (or association agreements in the case of Malta and Cyprus) with these countries were replaced by treaties of accession. Only the agreements with Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey now remain in force.

European Arrest Warrant

The European arrest warrant is based on a framework decision adopted by the Council of the European Union on 13 June 2002 and has been applied since 1 January 2004. It is intended to replace extradition procedures and strengthen cooperation between the Member States’ judicial authorities. It is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions in criminal matters.

European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC)

The EAEC was founded in 1958 at the same time as the European Economic Community (EEC) and is one of the original three European Communities. Its task is to control and coordinate the civil nuclear industry in the Member States. Under the 1967 Merger Treaty, the institutions of the EEC, EAEC and the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) were amalgamated.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

The Bank for Reconstruction and Development was set up in 1991 with its headquarters in London. Like the European Investment Bank (EIB), it provides loans to support private and corporate initiatives and infrastructure projects that promote the transition to an open market economy in Central and Eastern Europe and central Asia. The bank operates in a total of 27 countries. The European Union and its Member States have the controlling interest as founders of the EBRD.

European Central Bank

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the single European currency, the euro. Since 1 January 1999, it has had the task of implementing European monetary policy, which is set by the European system of central banks (ESCB) and has price stability as its goal. The ECB’s decision-making bodies (the Governing Council and the Executive Board) run the European system of central banks, which is responsible for setting and implementing monetary policy, carrying out foreign-exchange operations, holding and managing Member States’ currency reserves, and furthering the smooth running of the payments systems. Jean-Claude Trichet from France is the current ECB President.

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

The ECSC was in existence for 50 years – from 23 July 1952 to 23 July 2002. It was the first of the original three Communities (ECSC, EEC and EAEC) and thus helped pave the way for European integration. Its task was to create a common market for coal and steel. Due to the absence of common external tariffs and a common trade policy, this market was less comprehensive than was the case in the other two Communities. However, the economic considerations were less significant than the underlying political considerations, namely that integrating the key industries and decision-making structures would lead to mutual dependency and common interests, which would ultimately render impossible another war between the Member States.

European Commission

The European Commission is a politically independent collegial institution which embodies and defends the general interests of the European Union. Its virtually exclusive right of initiative in the field of Community legislation also makes it the driving force of European integration. As ’guardian of the Treaties’, it ensures compliance with Community law. The Commission is made up of a college of 25 members drawn from all the EU Member States. Their term of office lasts five years. The college of commissioners must be distinguished from the administrative machinery, also known as the European Commission, which supports it.

European Convention on Human Rights

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 under the aegis of the Council of Europe and ratified by all the European Union’s Member States, represented a new system for the international protection of human rights. It provided for the first time a legal basis on which enforcement of these rights could be monitored by the courts. A number of bodies based in Strasbourg were established to monitor compliance with the commitments arising from the Convention. The possibility of the European Union becoming a signatory to the ECHR has been raised many times in the past. However, in an opinion given on 28 March 1996, the Court of Justice of the European Communities stated that the Community could not accede to the Convention because it did not have the power under the EC Treaty to lay down rules or to conclude international agreements in the area of human rights. However, the basic principles enshrined in the ECHR are taken into account: in judgments by the Court of Justice, through the EU Treaty (the precept of respect for fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the ECHR and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law), and last but not least through the Charter of Fundamental Rights signed in December 2000.

European Council

The European Council is the European Union’s supreme political body. Heads of state or government, and the President of the European Commission, meet regularly in the European Council under the chairmanship of the Member State holding the Council Presidency. Its task is to give the European Union the necessary impetus for its development and to determine the general political objectives. Its decisions are implemented by the other EU bodies.

European Court of Auditors

The Court of Auditors, based in Luxembourg, is composed of 25 members who are appointed for six years by the Council of the European Union after consultation with the European Parliament. The Court checks European Union revenue and expenditure for legality, regularity and sound financial management and reports on any irregularities found.

European Economic Area (EEA)

Steps to create the internal market in the mid-1980s led to the threat of a split between EFTA and the EC countries. Commission President Jacques Delors took important initiatives to prevent this. His plan for a European Economic Area (EEA) provided for establishing conditions between the EC and EFTA similar to those in the internal market, with implementation of the four freedoms. The EEA Treaty was signed in Porto in 1992 and came into force in the EFTA countries Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden on 1 January 1994. Liechtenstein became a member on 1 May 1995. Switzerland did not join the EEA as originally intended, after a referendum resulted in a ‘no’ vote. When the 10 new Member States joined the EU on 1 May 2004, they also joined the EEA, thereby enlarging it to 28 countries and making it the largest single economic block in the world.

European Economic Community (EEC)

The Treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) were signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Both Treaties came into force on 1 January 1958. The EEC Treaty was renamed the EC Treaty when the Treaty of Maastricht (EU Treaty, 1993) came into force. The European Community’s task is to promote the Community’s goals (e.g. economic and social cohesion, high level of employment and of social protection, high degree of competitiveness, etc.) through the establishment of a common market and an economic and monetary union, and by implementing common policies and measures.

European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is the European Union’s financing institution. Its task is to contribute to balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States. To this end, it makes available resources to secure the long-term financing of projects both within the EU and outside (e.g. for development cooperation).

European Parliament

732 MEPs represent the EU’s 453 million citizens in the European Parliament. MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage since 1979. Seats are divided among Member States on the basis of the size of their population. The European Parliament has important powers as a Community co-legislator and is the joint budgetary authority together with the Council. It has important powers of control and appointment, particularly over the European Commission, and also has important powers with regard to the Community’s foreign relations.

European Research Area

The concept of a European Research Area was brought into being by the European Commission in 2000 with the aim of better coordinating activities in the research and innovation field and thereby developing a genuine common research policy in the European Union.

European Security and Defence Policy

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is an essential component of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The ESDP’s prime purpose is to ensure that the EU has the ability to act in civilian and military crisis management through operations covering the whole spectrum of the "Petersberg tasks" (humanitarian and rescue operations, peacekeeping operations and use of combat forces in crisis management, including peacebuilding operations) and to gradually develop a common defence policy that could lead to a common defence. The EU has already undertaken a number of civilian and military crisis management operations since 2003. In addition to the conduct of such operations, the ongoing development of the resources available to the Union for such missions is a key aspect of the ESDP.


Financial perspective

The financial perspective forms the framework for the Community’s expenditure over several years. It is the product of an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and indicates the maximum volume and composition of foreseeable Community expenditure. It is adjusted annually by the Commission to take account of prices and the development of Community GNP. The financial perspective is not a multi-annual budget: the annual budgetary procedure is still essential to determine the actual amount of expenditure and the breakdown between the different budget headings. To date, the Parliament, Council and Commission have concluded three interinstitutional agreements of this type: 1. In 1988, covering the period 1988-1992 (Delors I package), 2. In 1992, covering the period 1993-1999 (Delors II package), 3. In 1999, covering the period 2000-2006 (Agenda 2000). On 15/16 December 2005, the European Council reached agreement on the financial perspective for the period 2007-2013.

Financing the EU Budget

The EU budget is financed by the Member States, since the European Union does not have a source of income of its own, such as the power to levy taxes. Own resources are provided by the Member States from agricultural levies and customs duties, revenue from value added tax, revenue based on gross national product and other receipts. However, the total amount of own resources must not exceed a specific upper limit, namely 1.24% of gross domestic product (GNP) of the EU.

Framework programmes for science and research

The framework programmes for research and technological development have been the basis and instrument of the common research and technology policy since 1984. They set out the general strategic orientation of EU research and determine the goals, priorities and the financial volume of the Union’s support for research. As the framework programmes cover a period of five years, they provide a more secure basis for research planning. Consultations are currently in progress on the Seventh Research Framework Programme.

Freedom of establishment

The freedom of establishment is the right of Union citizens to carry on self-employed economic activities in another Member State.

Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement for workers is the right of EU citizens to work, live and to receive the social benefits of the country of residence in any EU country without discrimination on grounds of nationality and on the same terms as national employees (Title III EC Treaty).

Free trade agreement

A free trade agreement is a trade agreement which eliminates tariffs between the parties and prohibits quantitative restrictions on commercial products.

Fundamental freedoms

A priority goal of the EEC Treaty was to eliminate economic obstacles between the Member States. To this end, the Treaty provided for the establishment of a common market within the Community. The establishment of the common market involved the creation of an internal market in which the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital is ensured. The implementation of these four freedoms is therefore also an essential component of the common market.



Galileo is the name of a European satellite navigation system that will operate in future with 30 satellites and ground stations and transmit accurate time signals, by means of which a person with a receiver will be able to determine the exact location of an object. This navigation system was developed as a joint initiative of the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Green Paper

Commission Green Papers are documents intended to stimulate debate on a particular topic. They are a means of consulting stakeholders on specific issues.


A “Gymnich” meeting is an informal gathering of Ministers for Foreign Affairs which takes place once during each Presidency. The name originates from the Gymnich castle in Germany where the first of these informal meetings was held. During the Austrian Presidency, the Gymnich meeting of Foreign Ministers will be held in Salzburg on 10 and 11 March.


High Representative for the CFSP

The Treaty of Amsterdam (adopted in 1997) created the position of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The post is held by the Secretary-General of the Council of the EU (currently Javier Solana), who supports the Presidency of the European Union in matters relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The High Representative for the CFSP helps formulate, prepare and implement policy decisions taken by the Council and may conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Council’s behalf and at the request of the Presidency. The holder of the post is also known as “Mr or Ms CFSP”. The High Representative aims to enable the European Union to express itself with greater visibility and coherence on the international stage by giving it a more recognisable face and voice.


Institutional balance

The principle of institutional balance means that each institution has to act in accordance with the power conferred on it by the Treaties. The principle itself is not explicitly mentioned in the Treaties but derives from a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Communities. As a result, no institution may encroach on the powers conferred on another. The Court is responsible for ensuring that this principle is respected. In this context, the concept of the “institutional triangle” denotes the relationship between the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

Intergovernmental conference (IGC)

Intergovernmental conference (IGC) is the term used to describe negotiations between representatives of the Member States’ governments with a view to amending the founding treaties of the EU (primary legislation). The conferences are convened by the President of the Council at the initiative of a Member State or of the Commission following delivery of a favourable opinion by the Council of Ministers. The amendments agreed must be ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements before they can take effect. The most important IGCs of recent years resulted in the conclusion of the following treaties: Single European Act; Maastricht Treaty; Treaty of Amsterdam; Treaty of Nice; Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. Institutionalised intergovernmental conferences differ from IGCs convened to revise treaties. Representatives of Member State governments meet at institutionalised IGCs when this is explicitly provided for in the treaties or when the Council (configuration of the ministers responsible) does not have sufficient powers to move EU activities forward.

Internal market

The objective of creating a common market was already enshrined in the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC, 1958). The internal market is an integral part of the establishment of the common market and encompasses an area without internal borders, in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is guaranteed. The Single European Act (1987) set the target date of 31 December 1992 for completing the internal market. Although the internal market has to a large extent been implemented, work on its completion is continuing.


Leonardo da Vinci

In 1995, the EU programmes in the area of vocational training were grouped together, complemented and continued (training policy) under this name.

Lisbon Strategy

At the spring 2000 European Council, the heads of state or government agreed a programme for the further economic and social development of the European Union: “to make the European Union the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”. At the annual spring Summit, the European Council examines the progress made by the Member States towards achieving the aims of the Lisbon Process. The mid-term review of the strategy in spring 2005 resulted in a decision being taken to focus efforts more strongly on increasing growth and employment. The Member States have drawn up their own national reform programmes to this end.


Maastricht Treaty

The Maastricht Treaty, also known as the Treaty on European Union, was signed in Maastricht in 1992 and came into force on 1 November 1993. It was the second major reform of the Treaties of Rome after the Single European Act. Its provisions on the creation of an economic and monetary union constituted a major step forward, as did the further development of the basis for a political union, such as the conversion of European Political Cooperation to a Common Foreign and Security Policy (second pillar) and the establishment of cooperation in justice and home affairs (third pillar). The legal basis of the first pillar of the EU Treaty comprises: the original European Communities, namely the European Community (previously called the European Economic Community) and the European Atomic Energy Community, and until 2002 the European Coal and Steel Community. The European Union is the common roof over the three pillars.

Merger Treaty

The Merger Treaty was signed on 8 April 1965 and came into force on 1 July 1967. This treaty consolidated the institutional structures of the three European Communities (ECSC, EEC and Euratom) by establishing a single Council and a single Commission for the three Communities.

Motion of censure

With a two-thirds majority of the votes cast and the majority of its representatives, the European Parliament can adopt a motion of censure against the European Commission. In this event, the members of the Commission must all resign their office. Motions of censure against individual commissioners are not possible. The motion of censure is an important parliamentary instrument in the balance of power between the European institutions.

Movement of goods

The free movement of goods is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the common market/internal market. The free movement of goods requires customs duties and taxes to be harmonised and uniform regulations in the areas of health, consumer and environmental protection, as well as the removal of all other trade barriers within EU borders. Although the free movement of goods has largely been implemented, further alignment and development of the existing body of laws is necessary before the internal market can be fully implemented.

Mutual recognition

The principle of mutual recognition guarantees the free movement of goods and services even if Member States’ legislation is not harmonised. No Member State can prohibit the sale of a product lawfully manufactured in another Member State, even if the technical or qualitative regulations under which the product was manufactured differ from those applicable to domestic products. Exceptions, for example on the grounds of public order and safety, health protection or for environmental reasons, must not constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction in the area of trade.


Net contributor/beneficiary

The status of net contributor or net beneficiary is not decided or initiated, but is simply the arithmetic difference between the proportion a Member State contributes to the financing of the EU budget, and the amount which that Member State receives back from the EU budget in return. The financial contribution is calculated in proportion to a country’s economic power. However, the major part of the returns is made up of agricultural subsidies and structural support for regions lagging behind in development.


Official languages

Since the accession of the 10 new Member States on 1 May 2004, the EU now has 20 official languages with equal status. They are: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.


Since 1 June 1999, the European Anti-Fraud Office has been responsible for combating fraud against the European Union budget. The Anti-Fraud Office, which was set up under the European Commission decision of 28 April 1999, replaced the Unit for Coordination of Fraud Prevention (UCLAF), which was set up within the Commission in 1998 and the activities of which were limited to that one institution. On 6 October 1998, European Commission President Jacques Santer proposed to the European Parliament that UCLAF should become an independent body with extended powers. The new Anti-Fraud Office has total operational independence to examine the administration and financing of all the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.


The office of European Ombudsman was created by the Treaty of Maastricht. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about instances of maladministration by the European Community’s institutions. Maladministration arises when a public institution does not act in accordance with the rules or basic principles binding it.

Opting out

Opting out is an exemption granted to a country which does not wish to join other Member States in a particular area of Community cooperation, thereby avoiding a general stalemate. The United Kingdom, for instance, asked to be exempted from the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union. Similar clauses were agreed with Denmark as regards Economic and Monetary Union, defence and European citizenship.


Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper)

The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) comprises the Member States’ ambassadors to the EU (“Permanent Representatives”). It plays a supporting role to the EU Council by preparing the dossiers on the agenda (proposals and draft legal instruments presented by the Commission) prior to the meetings of the Council. Coreper meets weekly in two configurations: 1. The Deputy Permanent Representatives meet in Coreper I. They deal with specialised dossiers. 2. In Coreper II, the Permanent Representatives meet to discuss political, economic, institutional and trade-related issues.

Police and judicial cooperation in legal matters

The provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters contained in Title VI of the Treaty on European Union are also referred to as the “third pillar” of the EU. The Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) transferred many of the original provisions covered in the third pillar to the “communitised” area of the first pillar of the Union (asylum, immigration and other policies relating to the free movement of persons). For the areas of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters remaining in the third pillar, the Treaty of Amsterdam sets the objective of creating an area of freedom, security and justice.

Political and Security Committee (PSC)

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) was set up in addition to the Permanent Representatives Committee to support the Council in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The PSC comprises high-level representatives of the Member States. In accordance with Article 25 of the EU Treaty, the PSC is responsible for monitoring the international situation in the areas of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and contributing to the definition of policies by delivering opinions to the Council at the request of the Council or on its own initiative. Further tasks include monitoring the implementation of agreed policies and the political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations.

Principle of Subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity was firmly anchored in primary law by the Treaty of Maastricht (EU Treaty), which entered into force in 1993. This principle stipulates that regulations should be made at European level only if this involves a clear, added value compared with regulation at Member State level.

Prohibition of discrimination

The aim of this prohibition is to ensure equal treatment for all individuals irrespective of nationality, gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Discrimination on grounds of nationality was prohibited from the outset in Article 12 of the EC Treaty. The Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated a new Article 13 in the EC Treaty to supplement this principle and extend it to include the other cases cited above.


Qualified majority

The Council of the European Union takes decisions either unanimously, with a simple (= absolute) majority or with a qualified majority. A qualified majority where the votes of the Council members are “weighted” is the norm, which gives the small countries a greater weight vis-à-vis the large countries. The Single European Act (1987), the Treaty of Maastricht (1993) and the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) extended the areas in which decisions are taken by qualified majority (instead of unanimously, as before). The Treaty of Nice modified the requirements for obtaining a qualified majority in view of the impending EU enlargement: votes were re-weighted and the threshold for qualified majority was adjusted to take account of the large number of small and medium-sized Member States. Since then, in addition to 232 (out of a total of 321) votes, a qualified majority requires the majority, and in some cases two-thirds, of all Member States.


Right of petition

Citizens of the European Union and natural or legal persons with residence or place of establishment in a Member State may submit a request to the European Parliament or table a grievance before it on any subject which falls within the spheres of activity of the Community and which concerns him or her directly (Articles 21 and 194 of the EC Treaty, formerly Articles 8d and 138d). Parliament’s Committee on Petitions considers whether such requests or grievances are admissible. It may, if it sees fit, put questions to the Ombudsman. When preparing its opinion on a petition deemed admissible, it may ask the European Commission to provide documents or information.


Schengen Agreement

The intergovernmental agreement signed at Schengen (Luxembourg) in 1985 provides for the gradual removal of controls on persons at the internal borders of the Member States and for the introduction of freedom of movement for persons. Following the setting up of the “Schengen Information System” (SIS), which facilitates the combating of cross-border crime, the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement entered into force on 26 March 1995. Initially, it provided for the complete abolition of border controls between Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Italy and Austria followed suit in 1998, and Greece in 2000. Denmark, Finland and Sweden signed the accession protocols to the Schengen Agreement in 1996, and have been applying them since 2001, as have the associated States of Iceland and Norway. A Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) governs the integration of the Schengen acquis into the Treaties. The United Kingdom and Ireland are not, however, parties to the Agreement. Following an evaluation of the standard of protection of the external borders and the implementation of the SIS for the new Member States which joined on 1 May 2004, there may be a further extension of the Schengen area in 2007.

Schuman Plan

The plan for partial integration submitted by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950 provided the inspiration for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) which was founded in 1952.

Single European Act

The Single European Act, which came into force in 1987 (SEA), was the first major revision of the Treaty of Rome. The main elements were: gradual implementation of the internal market by 31 December 1992; improvements to the Community’s ability to act through changes to the decision-making procedures, and in particular qualified majority voting; new responsibilities for the Community, particularly as regards regional policy, policy on research and technology and environmental policy; and, of particular importance, the formalisation of European political cooperation (EPC), the forerunner to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Social partners

The Commission is required to consult the social partners when it wishes to submit proposals in the field of social policy. This social dialogue is held with the three main organisations representing the social partners at European level: European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC); Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE); European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation (CEEP).


Since the beginning of 1995, the EU education programmes Erasmus, Lingua and Comenius have been united under the umbrella of the Socrates programme and been supplemented with new measures. The aims of the action programme are to extend the European dimension of general education, to promote cooperation and mobility and to improve knowledge of languages.

Special representatives

In accordance with Article 18 of the EU Treaty, the Council may appoint special representatives with a mandate for particular policy issues. Special representatives can be deployed to observe trouble spots, establish contacts with conflicting parties and provide advice, provide their good offices, coordinate CFSP activities with the action of international organisations such as the UN or OSCE and exchange information. There are currently EU special representatives for Central Asia, the Republic of Sudan, the Republic of Moldova, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, for the Middle East peace process, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the African Great Lakes Region.

Stabilisation and Association Process

The Stabilisation and Association Process is the EU’s political framework for the countries of the Western Balkans. The Stabilisation and Association Agreements place relations between the countries concerned and the EU on a contractual basis. They are similar to the Europe Agreements with former candidate countries and contain a financial support programme known as CARDS (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation).

Stability and Growth Pact

The aim of the Stability and Growth Pact is to improve coordination and monitoring of economic policy and avoid excessive deficits. By requiring Member States to coordinate their budgetary policies and avoid excessive deficits, the Pact contributes to macroeconomic stability within the EU and plays a key role in keeping inflation and interest rates low, which are important factors in sustained economic growth and job creation. If a Member State that belongs to the eurozone fails to take the necessary steps to end an excessive deficit, the Council may impose sanctions, as provided for in the EC Treaty (Article 104).

Stability Pact for Southeast Europe

On Germany’s initiative, over 40 countries, international financial institutions and supranational organisations set up the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe in June 1999. The aim is to encourage the countries of south-east Europe to cooperate more closely with each other and to support their efforts to integrate into European structures. The Stability Pact can be divided into three tables and their working groups, in which projects and reform plans are prepared, submitted, discussed and coordinated: Table 1: democracy and human rights; Table 2: the economy; Table 3: (internal and military) security.

Structural funds

Like the Cohesion Fund, the Structural Funds are the financial instruments of European Union regional policy, which aims to reduce development disparities among the regions and Member States. For the period 2000-2006, financial support of EUR 213 billion is available for the regional policy, of which EUR 195 billion (in 1999 prices) is earmarked for the Structural Funds. There are four Structural Funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG).



Tempus (Trans-European mobility scheme for university students) is the Europe-wide programme promoting cooperation in higher education. The programme gives priority to areas which are of particular importance for the economic and socio-political transformation process in Central and Eastern Europe.

Three-pillar model of the EU

The “three-pillar model” is a graphic way of representing the structures of the EU, as they were introduced under the Maastricht Treaty (1993). The European Community (EC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) form the first pillar. The Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which also formed part of the first pillar, expired in 2002. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) forms the second pillar, with police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters forming the third.

Trans-European networks

The development of trans-European networks (TENs) in transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure is making an important contribution to the implementation in practice of the internal market goals, namely the smoothing out of infrastructure disparities between the regions and the Member States of the Union. The TEN budget for the 2000-2006 period amounts to EUR 4.6 billion.

Treaties of Rome

The Treaties of Rome and their protocols are the founding treaties of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The two treaties were signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in Rome on 25 March 1957 and came into force on 1 January 1958. Together with the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), they form the legal basis for further development of the European integration process. The Treaties of Rome have been subject to four major revisions so far, through the Single European Act (SEA), the Maastricht Treaty (1993), the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) and the Treaty of Nice (2003). The latest revision of the Treaties (the Constitutional Treaty) was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. The ratification process has continued in the Member States since the referendums in France and the Netherlands returned a ‘no’ vote, but a simultaneous reflection period has been launched that is being used to communicate better the content of the constitution and adjust the timetable.

Treaty of Amsterdam

The Treaty of Amsterdam, which was signed in 1997 and came into force in 1999, is the third-largest reform package amending the Treaties of Rome after the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht. It introduced provisions on a common employment policy, transferred to the Communities some of the areas in the field of justice and home affairs and set the objective of creating an area of freedom, security and justice for the areas of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters remaining in the third pillar; it also brought further development of the CFSP, a strengthening of the European Parliament’s powers and the possibility of enhanced cooperation between individual Member States.

Treaty of Nice

The Treaty of Nice was adopted at the meeting of the European Council in Nice in December 2000. It was signed on 26 February 2001 and came into force on 1 February 2003. The Treaty mainly made provision for the necessary institutional reforms for the accession of initially 10 new Member States in 2004. These reforms concern the size and composition of the Commission, the weighting of votes in the Council, the extension of qualified majority voting in decision-making and a more flexible organisation for enhanced cooperation.


White Papers

The White Papers published by the Commission contain proposals for Community action in a specific area. In some cases they follow a Green Paper published to launch a consultation process at European level. If a White Paper is favourably received by the Council, it can become the basis for an action programme for the Union in the area concerned.

Date: 07.03.2006