The years ahead offer both opportunities and challenges for the European Union. Once the Parliament has voted the political agreement will be converted into a formal common position. In 2016, for example, almost 313 million customs declarations were handled by more than 2 000 EU customs offices working 365 days a year. There may be police checks, based on police information and experience, that are not equivalent to border checks. The Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by people within the EU. It follows a similar pattern to the first reading, but this time with the Parliament examining, and voting on, the changes proposed by Council, and then the Council considering what the Parliament proposes. This is called a first-reading agreement. The European Parliament is elected by EU citizens in direct elections held every 5 years. The Parliament meets in both Brussels and Strasbourg. Success stories include EU peacekeeping missions in several of the world’s trouble spots, the training of police, soldiers and coastguards, support for state-building in post-conflict situations and fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa. And what about legislation or initiatives that are already in force? It enables most goods, services, money and people to move freely. If the two institutions cannot come to a common decision on the proposed legal act it is passed to a Conciliation Committee comprised of an equal number of representatives of the Parliament and the Council. It then monitors how these recommendations are implemented. People and businesses will be able to trade online, innovate and interact legally, safely, securely and affordably, making their lives easier. Launched on 7 December 2005, the domain is available for any person, company or organization based in the European Union. National parliaments send reasoned opinions to the Commission when they see a draft legislative act breaching the principle of subsidiarity. The Parliament, the Council and the Commission must consult the European Committee of the Regions (of which Karl-Heinz Lambertz is the President) on matters of relevance to the regions. The EU’s customs union means that all Member States are working together to ensure that goods imported into the EU circulate freely and that they are safe for people, for animals and for the environment. According to a 2015 report, in the EU there are still more than 4.4 million early school leavers and one in four adults who have a low level of skills, which makes it difficult for them to access the labour market and to fully participate in society. Citizens can also submit complaints and enquiries concerning the application of EU law. The 27 member countries in the EU; Countries using the euro; Members of the Schengen border-free area; Joining the EU; Other European countries; EU languages; EU symbols. The treaties lay down the objectives of the European Union and set out the rules on how the EU institutions operate, how decisions are made and the relationship between the EU and its Member States. The European Citizens’ Initiative empowers citizens to have a greater say on EU policies that affect their lives. The European Economic and Social Committee represents organised civil society and the European Committee of the Regions represents local and regional authorities. In 2018 there were 16 ongoing civilian missions and military operations on three continents. Do you employ any EU citizens, in the UK or in the EU, or do you plan to? The multiannual financial framework lays down the maximum annual amounts (ceilings) that the EU may spend in different categories of expenditure (headings). The tax laws of one Member State should not allow people or businesses to escape taxation in another. The EU’s youth strategy promotes young people’s transitions to adulthood, health and well-being, participation in society, involvement in voluntary and solidarity activities, and employment and entrepreneurship. Member State governments are broadly free to design their tax laws according to their national priorities. The EU focuses on sport as a means to keep people healthy, create communities, nurture social inclusion and promote equal opportunities. Together with national competition authorities and national courts, the European Commission enforces EU competition policy and rules to ensure that companies compete fairly with each other. The work on the positive agenda continued with the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe in March 2017, offering five scenarios for what the EU could look like by 2025. To achieve this, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal, the most ambitious package of measures that should enable European citizens and businesses to benefit from sustainable green transition. The European Commission is gradually integrating sport into bilateral agreements with countries outside the EU. Every adult EU citizen has the right to stand as a candidate and to vote in elections to the European Parliament, whether in their country of residence or country of origin. The EU’s relationships with the rest of the world are based on solidarity and cooperation. The EU’s external actions are guided by the principles that inspired its own creation and development, and which it seeks to promote in the wider world, including peace, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our verdict. The European Parliament elections in 2019 and the extraordinary summit to discuss the future of Europe in Sibiu, Romania on 9 May 2019, provided the EU with the chance to renew its commitment to delivering on the issues that really matter to people. 1  It eliminates all border controls between members. The EU’s aim is to take on the causes of poverty. Various institutions take part in the EU’s decision-making process, with the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission at the forefront. Instead it sets the EU's policy agenda, traditionally by adopting 'conclusions' during European Council meetings which identify issues of concern and actions to take. One cornerstone of the Action Plan is the Plastics Strategy, which aims to make all plastic packaging in the EU reusable or recyclable by 2030 and takes action to reduce single-use plastics. The production of energy in the EU is spread across a range of different energy sources: solid fossil fuels, natural gas, crude oil, nuclear energy and renewable energy (such as hydro, wind and solar energy).. Renewable energy (34 % of total EU energy production) was the largest contributing source to energy production in the EU in 2018. Together with the European Parliament, the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU. Emergency relief to displaced people inside Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries. Citizens can also participate directly in the development of EU policies by calling on the European Commission to make a proposal on matters on which the EU has the competence to legislate. To prevent overfishing, quotas for Member States set limits on how much of each species can be caught. It does things like proposing new laws for the European Parliament to vote on, … Some decisions are enforced directly at EU level, notably competition law such as antitrust cases. It has done so by defining emissions targets for key sectors of its economy. That is why we must tackle them through cooperation both within the EU and with the rest of the world. 90% of future global growth is forecast to come from outside Europe’s borders and a third of our national income depends on trade. In bringing other countries into the EU, one of the aims is to deepen the solidarity between the people of Europe and increase their prosperity and opportunities while respecting and preserving diversity. All pictures: © Shutterstock, © Fotolia, The European Union: What it is and what it does, How the European Union makes decisions and takes action, the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, ensure the accessibility, effectiveness and resilience of health systems in the EU, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/public-health_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/climate-action_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/economy-finance-and-euro_en, European Commission reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/migration-and-asylum_en, Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/borders-and-security_en, The EU’s business and industrial policy, the European Fund for Strategic Investments, https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/enterprise_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/single-market_en, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/employment-and-social-affairs_en, European Commission reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe, European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/education-and-training_en, open innovation, open science and open to the world, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/research-and-innovation_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/regional-policy_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/transport_en, Direct payments that support farm incomes, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/agriculture_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/maritime-affairs-and-fisheries_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/environment_en, Clean Energy for All Europeans initiative, Some of the additional policies and actions, 16 ongoing civilian missions and military operations, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/foreign-affairs-and-security-policy_en, European Commission reflection paper on the future of European defence, facebook.com/EuropeanExternalActionService, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/european-neighbourhood-policy_en, EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/trade_en, European Commission reflection paper on harnessing globalisation, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/international-cooperation-and-development_en, Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/humanitarian-aid-and-civil-protection_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/justice-and-fundamental-rights_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/food-safety_en, Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/consumers_en, EU’s agenda for sustainable development, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/banking-and-finance_en, financial support (state aid) from EU governments to companies, European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/competition_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/taxation_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/customs_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/culture-and-media_en, Erasmus for young entrepreneurs programme, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/youth_en, the Council recommendation on promoting health-enhancing physical activity across sectors, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/sport_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/budget_en, European Commission reflection paper on the future of EU finances, https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/fraud-prevention_en, Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, elects a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), a modern, long-term budget for the 2021-2027 period, https://europa.eu/european-union/contact_en, https://europa.eu/european-union/index_en, https://ec.europa.eu/info/about-european-commission/contact/local-offices-eu-member-countries_en, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/at-your-service/en/stay-informed/liaison-offices-in-your-country, https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/area/geo_en, This publication is available in the following formats. The Eurogroup consists of the ministers of economy and finance of the euro-area members. This means not just helping to provide decent access to food, clean water, healthcare, education and land; not just developing vital transport and energy infrastructure and a clean environment. Europe Direct is a service that answers your questions about the European Union. The prospect of membership is a key driver of transformation in the Western Balkans and helps to foster reconciliation and stability. The EU has stopped the UK from having free ports. The EU’s employment and social affairs policies are designed to: These policies contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 targets in employment, social inclusion and education. In the case of the EU this means that there are no customs duties to be paid when goods are transported from one Member State to another. The EU’s health policy focuses on tackling serious EU-wide health threats, preventing diseases and ensuring an equal chance of good health and quality healthcare for all. Regional policy targets all regions and cities in the European Union in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth and sustainable development and to improve citizens’ quality of life. The European Social Fund is investing €86.4 billion to help millions of Europeans acquire new skills and find better jobs. The EU protects our seas and oceans, while ensuring that they remain economically and environmentally sustainable as a driver for jobs, growth and innovation. A name change from the European Economic Community (EEC) to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this. Tackling these challenges at EU level will also provide new opportunities in terms of growth and jobs, research, and a more competitive and sustainable energy market. Through its youth policies and programmes the EU aims to make sure young people can participate fully in all areas of society and to give them more opportunities in education and the job market. This includes living in an environment where nothing is wasted, natural resources are managed sustainably and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored. The European Commission has delivered most of the legislative proposals it announced in its 2015 digital single market strategy. The Commission also proposed to make it mandatory for internet companies to remove terrorist content from the web within one hour of a removal order from national authorities. European citizens are encouraged to contribute to the democratic life of the Union by giving their views on EU policies during their development or suggest improvements to existing laws and policies. Equality is about equal rights for all citizens before the law. The EU also makes life easier for Europeans who study, work or get married in other EU countries by building bridges between the different national legal systems across the EU. The EU’s main economic engine is the single market. strengthen its industrial base and promote the transition to a low-carbon economy; promote innovation as a means to generate new sources of growth; encourage small businesses and promote an entrepreneurial culture; guarantee an EU-wide market for goods; and. Thanks to the single market (sometimes also called the internal market) people, goods, services and money can move around the EU almost as freely as within a single country. The digital single market will also help drive the economy by ensuring the free flow of non-personal data, investing in digital skills and providing better access to online public services. What was claimed. The European Youth Portal provides information on these and other EU initiatives for young people across Europe, while EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal, also helps connect jobseekers and companies offering a job. EU countries are responsible for their own education and training systems, but the EU helps them achieve quality education through the exchange of good practice, setting targets and benchmarks and providing funding and expertise. For example: See also the following pages in Section 2: Economy, finance and the euro; Banking and financial services; Taxation; Budget; and Fraud prevention. The Commission monitors the assistance Member State governments give to businesses to ensure that it does not give certain companies an unfair advantage over their competitors. Erasmus+ boosts the job prospects and the personal development of young people by giving them the skills they need in the labour market and society, both now and in the future. The euro, in circulation since 2002 and used by more than 340 million people in 19 Member States, is the world’s second most important currency after the US dollar. The third section, ‘How the European Union makes decisions and takes action’, describes the institutions at the heart of the EU’s decision-making process and how their decisions are translated into actions. It will then be published in the. The single rulebook created common rules for supervising bank capital requirements, improved protection of depositors and managing failing banks. Licensed rail companies can now offer their services anywhere in the EU, which enhances competition and connectivity. The EU is working to increase the rate of returns to their home country of irregular migrants with no right to stay in the EU. Further information on the European Structural and Investment Funds can be found at http://europa.eu/!RG44xN. A single country cannot tackle these issues on its own, so EU Member States work together to make sure that taxation is fair. The EU is taking action on climate change in response to changes in the Earth’s climate, in particular the rise in global temperatures due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. They may always return a product within 2 weeks and get their money back. However, Turkey has been moving further away from the EU’s core values and principles and therefore its accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill. With national budgets in many Member States under severe strain, the EU budget, and the Structural Funds in particular, emerged from the 2008 crisis as a stabilisation factor investing in growth and jobs. The EU has delivered more than half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards and launched a single European currency: the euro. The EU’s common migration and asylum policy helps Europe deal with migration challenges in an effective manner. The European Commission works with authorities and stakeholders in Member States to monitor and enforce the existing rules so that people and businesses can benefit from the opportunities offered by the single market. Tomic is a deputy in Slovenia's National Assembly, best known as a TV presenter and actress. Both institutions aim to ensure sound financial management. A name change from the European Economic Community to the European Union in 1993 reflected this. What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning many different policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. The basic principles of the EU’s food safety policy are defined in the EU’s general food law, which ensures a high level of protection for people’s health and consumer interests, while ensuring the single market works efficiently. The predecessor of the EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The EU is committed to helping victims of man-made and natural disasters worldwide and supports over 120 million people each year. Citizens’ health is a major priority for the European Union. The 7th EU environment action programme guides the EU’s environmental policy until 2020, and sets out a vision of where the EU should be by 2050. The European Union is the largest trade block in the world. The principal objectives of this policy are to: The key initiatives that put the policy into practice are: Cooperation takes place at bilateral level (with individual partners), at regional level (with two or more partners from the east or the south) or across the neighbourhood, depending on the nature of the action. Unsafe airlines are banned from flying in Europe and the EU has introduced tighter rules on maritime safety. The EU’s common fisheries policy aims to make sure that fishing and aquaculture (the farming of fish under controlled conditions) are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable so as to provide a source of healthy food for current and future generations of EU citizens. For example, while the euro is the single currency of the EU as a whole, the euro area currently comprises only 19 Member States, while Denmark has an opt-out and the remaining countries do not yet meet the criteria for joining. The EU and Turkey agreed in March 2016 that irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey may be returned to Turkey. Law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary. National parliaments receive draft legislative acts at the same time as the European Parliament and the Council. Sport and exercise are an integral part of life for millions of Europeans. Climate action is now incorporated into all of the main EU spending programmes, with 20% of the EU budget for 2014-2020 to be spent on climate-related initiatives. The EU aims to: The EU is committed to helping businesses and industry to be competitive and to generate growth and new jobs. Minimum standards for passenger rights have been set across all modes of transport, including information, assistance and compensation if cancellation or long delays occur. The EU agrees long-term budget plans that provide a stable basis for implementing the budget over a period of at least 5 years. The treaties lay down the objectives of the European Union, and set out the rules for how the EU institutions operate, on how decisions are made and on the relationship between the EU and its Member States. How does Europe affect our everyday lives? The EU runs several programmes and initiatives to help young people in Europe to play a more active role in society and benefit from experiencing another country. Culture and creativity are at the core of the European project and at the heart of the EU’s cultural policy. By building a single market for aviation and advancing on the Single European Sky initiative, flying continues to become easier and cheaper. For example, environment ministers meet in the Environment Council. Every EU country must treat EU citizens in exactly the same way as its own citizens when it comes to matters of employment, social security and tax. This is especially important in civil cases such as divorce, child custody or maintenance claims. The prospect of membership is a powerful stimulus for democratic and economic reforms in countries that want to become EU members. Responsibility for employment policies and social affairs is shared between the EU and its Member States. Challenges like climate change, violent extremism, trafficking and irregular migration are no respecters of borders, and only by working with partner countries in the developing world can we tackle extreme poverty. Enlargement is the process whereby European countries join the EU. Plenary sessions approve, amend or reject legislation: this is when all the MEPs gather in the chamber to give a final vote on the proposed legislation and the proposed amendments. It dedicates the bulk of its funding to help the EU’s less-developed countries and regions to catch up and so reduce the economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist in the EU. Through the web portal Have Your Say, citizens and stakeholders can contribute in different ways. The EU aims to make industry and business more competitive and to promote jobs and growth through a business-friendly environment. The Charter of Fundamental Rights, which brings together all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by people in the EU. The EU is in particular working to: In addition to the single market’s rules guaranteeing free movement of people, EU citizens do not need a passport to travel within the Schengen area, which currently comprises the EU Member States (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. At the same time, the EU works to ensure that these greater freedoms do not undermine fairness, consumer protection or environmental sustainability. The common agricultural policy provides support through the following means. After an investigation is concluded, OLAF recommends action to the EU institutions and national governments concerned: this usually includes launching criminal investigations, financial recoveries or other disciplinary measures. Safe and easy travel in the EU. According to the European Union's official website, the union's purpose is to promote peace, establish a unified economic and monetary system, promote inclusion and … The global strategy set the following five priorities for EU action: The EU supports countries facing conflict and crisis. In addition, the Horizon 2020 programme is investing €7.5 billion in health-related research and innovation, while the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU Structural Funds and the Investment Plan for Europe are investing in health infrastructure and the digitisation of healthcare. stabilise neighbouring countries by addressing economic development, employability and youth, transport and energy connectivity, migration, mobility and security; promote the key EU interests of good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights; and. Give feedback about this website or report a problem, Institutions, bodies & agencies – contact & visit details, Public contracts in the EU – rules and guidelines, The European Union - What it is and what it does, The General Report on the Activities of the European Union, 50 ways forward - Europe's best successes, The European story - 60 years of shared progress, Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), The European Data Protection Board (EDPB), promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens, offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders, sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection, combat social exclusion and discrimination, promote scientific and technological progress, enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries, respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity. In the Council government ministers from each Member State meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws and to coordinate policies. European Union priorities for 2019-2024; What the EU does for its citizens; EU citizenship; Countries. Reviewing the Commission’s work programme and requesting that it propose legislation. It is not one of the EU's legislating institutions, so does not negotiate or adopt EU laws. One example is the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed that helps ensure that food that does not comply with European rules is removed from the shelves. During the economic and financial crisis, the EU budget proved to be a powerful instrument to support investment. The EU plays an important role in diplomacy and works to foster stability, security and prosperity, democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law at international level. The Council is not to be confused with the Council of Europe, which is not a European Union body but an international organisation that was set up to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe. This partnership applies to all stages of programming, from design, through management and implementation, to monitoring and evaluation. This follows the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. The EU emissions trading system is a cornerstone of EU climate policy and is cutting emissions from industry, power plants and aviation within Europe cost-effectively. Through the EU Internet Forum, the Commission is facilitating cooperation between key internet companies, law enforcement agencies and civil society to reduce access to illegal content online and provide effective alternative narratives to counter terrorist propaganda. It also promotes good practice in this field among the EU institutions and bodies. 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