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GENERAL INFORMATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION


The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 Member States: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Finland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Greece, Romania, Croatia.

Flag:

                                                            

 

Motto:

Unity in diversity

Capital:

Brussel (Belgium)

Official languages:

24

European Day:

May 9

Area:

4.381.376km² (France is the largest country of ​​ EU, about 554,000 km²  and the smallest is Malta, about 300 km²)

Population:

512 million (1.1.2017)

GDP (EU 28):

16,398 USD[1][1] (2016)

GDP per capita:

33,248 USD/per capita /per year [2][2] (2016)

Leaders:

 

- President of European Council: Donald Tusk.

- President of European Commission: Jean-Claude Juncker.

- President of European Paliarment: Antonio Tajani.

- High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice- President of European Commission: Federica Mogherini.


            The Lisbon Treaty (2009) amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU): (i) Treaty of Rome (1957); (ii) Treaty of Maastricht on European Union - TEU (1992). Prominent changes of Lisbon Treaty included:   

·        Aim to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action; removing the EU's three pillars mechanism and clearly defining the EU's competence in policy planning.

·    Consolidated legal personality for the EU for the first time and the creation of a long-term President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (cum Vice President of EC).

I.       Organizing structure:

EU is a specific economic and political entity. Basically, the EU has eight main institutions including: European Council, European Parliament (P), Council of the European Union, European Commission (EC), the European Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, European External Action Service and the European Court of Auditors.

1. European Council:

The European Council is the group of heads of state or government of the EU member states. It meets four times a year to define the Union's policy agenda and give impetus to integration. The President of the European Council is the person responsible for chairing and driving forward the work of the institution, which has been described as the highest political body of the European Union. The president of the European Council has a term of 2.5 years (maximum 2 terms).

2. European Parliament (EP):

The European Parliament (EP) shares the legislative and budgetary authority of the Union with the Council of the European Union. Its 751 members are elected every five years by universal suffrage and sit according to political allegiance.They represent nearly 500 million citizens (the world's second largest democratic electorate) and form the only directly elected body in the Union.

At present, in Parliament, MPs divided into eight different political groups (not divided by nationality). EP’s main party groups includes: (1) European People's Party (EPP): 213 seats; (2) Social Democratic Group - S & D (center left): 190 seats; (3) Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (ALDE): 64 seats, (4) Green Party - Green / EFA: 52 seats; (5) European Conservative and Reform - ECR: 46 seats; (6) European Union Solidarity Party - GUE / NGL (leftist): 42 seats; (7) Liberal group - NI (not politically specific): 41 seats; (8) European Liberal Democracy Group - EFD (doubtful of European integration): 38 seats.

The Parliament's President (its speaker) is Antonio Tajani (EPP), who was elected from the Parliament's members in 2017.

3. Council of the European Union:

The Council of the European Union (informally known as the Council of Ministers or just the Council) is a body holding legislative and some limited executive powers and is thus the main decision making body of the Union. Its Presidency rotates between the states every six months, but every three Presidencies now cooperate on a common programme.

The Council is composed of twenty-eight national ministers (one per state). However the Council meets in various forms depending upon the topic. Votes are taken either by majority or unanimity with votes allocated according to population. In these various forms they share the legislative and budgetary power of the Parliament, and also lead the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The presidency has been held by Estonia since 1 July 2017.

4.  The European Commission (EC):

The European Commission (EC) is the executive arm of the Union. It is a body composed of one appointee from each state, currently twenty-eight, but is designed to be independent of national interests. The body is responsible for drafting all law of the European Union and has a near monopoly on proposing new laws (bills).It also deals with the day-to-day running of the Union and has the duty of upholding the law and treaties

The Commission is led by a President who is nominated by the Council (in practice the European Council) and approved by Parliament. The remaining 27 Commissioners are nominated by member-states, in consultation with the President, and have their portfolios assigned by the President. The Council then adopts this list of nominee-Commissioners.


5. European External Action Service (EEAS)

The European External Relations Agency (EEAS) was established following the entry into force of Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2010. This agency is responsible for European foreign and security policy. The EEAS is headed by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) Federica Mogherini. The principal function of the EEAS is to assist the High Representative in the conduct of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and in his/her capacities as President of the Foreign Affairs Council and Vice-President of the European Commission. The EEAS is also in charge of EU diplomatic missions (delegations) and intelligence and crisis management structures.

The EEAS's budget is proposed and managed by the HR and be signed off every year by Parliament. Parliament would also review the budget of each EU mission; Parliament's oversight would put an end to a long-standing gentlemen's agreementwhereby Parliament and Council do not look at each other's budget details.

The daily work of the EEAS is overseen by its Secretary-General who is assisted by three Deputy Secretaries-General. The EEAS is divided into both geographical and thematic directorates. Five large departments cover different areas of the world – Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia, the Greater Middle East and the Americas. Separate departments cover global and multilateral issues which include human rights, democracy support, migration, development, response to crises and administrative and financial matters. The EEAS also has important Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) planning and crisis response departments.

6. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

The role of the Court of Justice is to Ensure EU law is interpreted and applied the same in every EU country and ensure countries and EU institutions abide by EU law. The CJEU is divided into 2 courts: Court of Justice (1 judge from each EU country, plus 11 advocates general); and General Court (47 judges, 2019 this will be increased to 56 (2 judges from each EU country). Each judge and advocate general is appointed for a renewable 6-year term, jointly by national governments. In each Court, the judges select a President who serves a renewable term of 3 years.

The CJEU can also, in certain circumstances, be used by individuals, companies or organisations to take action against an EU institution, if they feel it has somehow infringed their rights.

7. The European Central Bank (ECB):

The European Central Bank (ECB) manages the euro and frames and implements EU economic & monetary policy. Its main task included: (i) set the interest rates at which it lends to commercial banks in the eurozone thus controlling money supply and inflation; (ii) manage the eurozone's foreign currency reserves and balance exchange rates; (iii) ensure that financial markets & institutions are well supervised by national authorities; (iv) ensure the safety and soundness of the European banking system; (v) monitor price trends and assesses risks to price stability.

The ECB has the 3 following decision-making bodies:

· Governing Council – the main decision-making body: consists of the Executive Board plus the governors of the national central banks from eurozone countries.

· Executive Board – handles the day-to-day running of the ECB.L: consists of the ECB President and Vice-President and 4 other members (usually are France, Germany, Italy, Spain) appointed for 8-year terms by the leaders of the eurozone countries

· General Council: consists of the ECB President and Vice-President and the governors of the central banks from all EU countries.

8. The European Court of Auditors (ECA)

As the EU's independent external auditor, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) looks after the interests of EU taxpayers. It does not have legal powers, but works to improve the European Commission's management of the EU budget and reports on EU finances.

The main roles of the ECA are: (i) Audits EU revenue & expenditure, to check EU funds are correctly raised, spent, achieve value for money and accounted for; (ii) Reports suspected fraud, corruption or other illegal activity; (iii) Produces an annual report for the European Parliament and Council of the EU; (iv) Gives its expert  opinion to EU policymakers.

The EU has a number of other institutions and interinstitutional bodies that play specialised roles:

· The European Economic and Social Committee represents civil society, employers and employees.

· The European Committee of the Regions represents regional and local authorities.

· The European Investment Bank finances EU investment projects and helps small businesses through the European Investment Fund.

· The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration by EU institutions and bodies.

· The European Data Protection Supervisor safeguards the privacy of people’s personal data.

I. Foreign Affairs Policy:

The High Representative presented the EU global strategy "Shared vision, common action: a stronger Europe" to the European Council on 28 June. The strategy is intended to guide EU foreign and security policy in the years to come. The Council adopted conclusions on the global strategy on 17 October 2016. This global strategy set out five priority areas: (i) ensuring the security of the Union, effectively responding to terrorism, hybrid threats, economic instability, climate change, Energy security; (ii) support and strengthen public and social institutions in Europe neighbors areas; (iii) integrated approach to conflicts and crises; (iv) promote inter-region cooperation mechanism; (v) promote a rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle and the United Nations at its core.

The EU will:

· Strengthen the EU's security role: towards building a "security community" through enhancing defense integration within the EU and with NATO.

· Promote global order based on international law and multilateralism, by: reforming the United Nations; establishing global economic rules through new generation of FTAs ​​with key partners; actively contributing to global maritime security and promoting UNCLOS; cooperating with the United Nations, NATO, ASEAN and strategic partners to promote "maritime multilateralism" and the rule of law at sea.

· With Asia: EU notes that "peace and stability in Asia are aprerequisite for Europe’s prosperity"; commits to promoting economic cooperation and "strengthening the security role" in the region, "contributing more effectively to Asian security". In the East and Southeast Asia, the EU supports "ASEAN-led security structure"; enhances security cooperation with Japan, Korea, Indonesia and other countries; promotes FTA negotiations with strategic partners such as Japan, India and ASEAN countries; steps towards negotiations for a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN.


APPENDIX


1950

The Schuman Declaration proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community.

1951

The six founding members (Belgium, West Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands)signed the Treaty of Paris. It created the European Coal and Steel Community - Europe’s first supranational Community

 1957

The Treaty of Rome brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom). The EEC aims to establish a common market, a customs union (completed in 1968) offering the free movement of capital and labor.

1967

The Merger Treaty (Brussels Treaty) enters into force, combined the executive bodies of ECSC, Euratom and EEC into a single institutional structure, named European Communities – EC.

1973

Britain, Denmark, and Ireland join the European Communities.

1981

Greece joins the European Communities.

1986

Portugal and Spain join the European Communities.

1987

The Single European Act (SEA) revises the 1957 Treaty of Rome, set the European Community an objective of establishing a single market.

1993

Treaty of Maastricht marks a new stage in the integration process of Europe, founded  the European Communities.

1995

Schengen Agreement enters into force.

1995

Austria, Finland, and Sweden join the European Union.

1997

The Treaty of Amsterdam, signed in 1997, entered into force in 1999, amends the Treaty of Maastricht in preparation for enlargement to the East.

1999

The euro is launched and becomes the official currency of 12 EU member countries.

2001

The Treaty of Nice enters into force, restricts itself to setting out the principles and methods for changing the institutional system as the Union grows, and strenghthens the role of EP.

2004

Ten countries join the EU: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

2007

Bulgaria and Romania join the EU.

2009

The Treaty of Lisbon enters into force

2013

2014

Croatia joins the EU.

Lithuania joins Eurozone on  January 1, 2015.

2016

The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48% on June  23, 2016 (Brexit).



                                                        


 


 


 


 


 




 

 


 
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