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Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is the process put in place by the Treaty of Maastricht to introduce the euro and, thereafter, to achieve stability and growth.

See:

Stability and Growth Pact
Economic and social cohesion

Economic and social cohesion is an expression of solidarity between the Member States and regions of the European Union. This means balanced and sustainable development, reducing structural disparities between regions and countries and promoting equal opportunities for all individuals. In practical terms it is achieved by means of a variety of financing operations, principally through the Structural Funds.

Economic and Social Committee

The Economic and Social Committee was set up in 1957 to represent the interests of the various economic and social groups. It consists of 222 members falling into three categories: employers, workers and representatives of particular types of activity (such as farmers, craftsmen, SMEs and industries, the professions, consumer representatives, etc.). Members are appointed for four years by unanimous Council decision and this term may be renewed.
The Committee is consulted before a great many acts concerning the internal market, education, consumer protection, environment, regional development and social affairs are adopted. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Committee has to be consulted on an even wider range of issues (the new employment policy, the new social affairs legislation, public health and equal opportunities). It may also issue opinions on its own initiative.

Enlargement

The European Community has experienced four successive waves of new members whereby nine countries have so far joined the six founder members - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - at the following times:
· 1973: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom;
· 1981: Greece;
· 1986: Portugal and Spain;
· 1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden.
Any candidate country wishing to join the European Union must meet a number of criteria fixed by the 1993 Copenhagen European Council (the "Copenhagen criteria").
The next wave of accessions should be accompanied by institutional reform in order to ensure that the European Union can function efficiently with considerably more members.

Europe "à la carte"

Like "Variable-geometry" Europe, Europe "à la carte" refers to the idea of a differentiated method of integration. Member States would be able to select policies as if from a menu and involve themselves fully in those policies; there would still be a minimum number of common objectives.

See:
Closer cooperation
Hard core
Single institutional framework
European Commission

The European Commission is an institution with powers of initiative, implementation, management and control. It embodies the general interests.
It is composed of twenty independent members (two each from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom and one each from all the other countries), including a President and two Vice-Presidents. It is appointed for a five-year term, by agreement among the Member States, and is subject to a vote of appointment by the European Parliament, to which it is answerable, before it can be sworn in. The Commissioners are assisted by an administration made up of directorates-general and specialised departments whose staff are divided mainly between Brussels and Luxembourg.

See:
Composition of the Commission
Confirmation of the Commission
President of the European Commission
European Community

The European Community, which replaced the European Economic Community, came into being through the Treaty of Maastricht. It covers, inter alia, the following areas: agriculture, customs union, environment, transport, competition, free movement of persons, consumer protection, monetary policy, common commercial policy, etc. All these areas make up what is referred to as the "first pillar" (or "Community pillar"). This pillar does not include the common foreign and security policy or police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, which are subject to different rules.

See:
Community method and intergovernmental method
Pillars of the European Union
European Council

The European Council, which brings together the Heads of State or Government of the European Union Member States and the President of the European Commission, was set up by the communiqué issued at the close of the December 1974 Paris Summit. Before that time, from 1961 to 1974, the practice had been to hold European summit conferences. Its existence was given legal recognition by the Single European Act, while official status was conferred on it by the Treaty on European Union. Meeting at least twice a year, the European Council gives the European Union the impetus it needs in order to develop further and defines general policy guidelines.

See:
Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)
European Parliament

The European Parliament is the assembly of the representatives of the 370 million European Union citizens. Since 1979 they have been elected by direct universal suffrage and today total 626 distributed between Member States by reference to their population, with an adjustment being made to favour the less populated Member States. Parliament's main functions are as follows:
· it is associated with the Council in the legislative process by means of various procedures, frequently as co-legislator;
· it has the power of control over the Union's activities through its confirmation of the European Commission (and the right to censure it) and through the written and oral questions it can put to the Commission and the Council;
· it shares budgetary powers with the Council in voting on the annual budget, rendering it enforceable through its President's signature, and overseeing its implementation via the vote giving a discharge to the Commission.
It can set up temporary committees of inquiry, whose powers are not confined to examining the actions of the Community institutions but may also relate to actions by Member States in implementing Community policies.
Members are elected on national or regional lists according to country.

See:
Confirmation of the Commission
National parliaments
European Union

The European Union came into being through the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993. It is presented in the Treaty as a "a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe". It rests on three "pillars", the first covers the "traditional" Community dimension (common agricultural policy, transport, internal market etc.), the second covers the common foreign and security policy, and the third covers police and judicial cooperation. The second and third pillars differ from the first by the provisions which apply to them.

See:
Community method and intergovernmental method
Pillars of the European Union