1. What is the Europien Union ? 2
2. How the EU takes decisions ? 3
3. Consultation 3
5. Codecision 4
6. Modenysing the system 4
7. What does the Parliament do ? 6
8. How it the Parliament‘s work organized ? 7
9. How is the Council‘s work organized ? 11
10. What is the commission ? 13
11. Where is the commission based ? 14
12. What does the commision do? 14
13. How is the commission‘s work organized ? 16
14. Limiting the size of commission ? 16
15. What does the court do ? 18
16. How is the courts work organized ? 19
17. What does the court do ? 19
18. What does the EESC do ? 21
19. What does the committee do ? 22
20. How is the committee‘s work organized ? 23
21. How is the Bank‘s work organized ? 25
22. Literature 29
What is the Europien Union ?
The European Union (EU) is not a federation like the United States. Nor is it simply an organisation for co-operation between governments, like the United Nations. It is, in fact, unique. The countries that make up the EU (its ‘member states’) remain independent sovereign nations but they pool their sovereignty in order to gain a strength and world influence none of them could haave on their own.
Pooling sovereignty means, in practice, that the member states delegate some of their decision-making powers to shared institutions they have created, so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.
• the European Parliament (EP), which represents the EU’s citizens and is directly elected by them;
• the Council of the European Union, which represents the individual member states;
• the European Commission, which seeks1 to uphold the interests of the Union as a whole.
This ‘institutional triangle’ produces the policies and laws that apply throughout the EU. In principle, it is the Commission that proposes2 new laws, but it is the Parliament and Council that adopt them.
Two other institutions have a vital part to play: the Court of Justice upholds the rule of European law, and the Court of Auditors checks the financing of the Union’s activities.
The powers annd responsibilities of these institutions are laid down in the Treaties, which are the foundation3 of everything the EU does. They also lay down the rules and procedures that the EU institutions must follow. The Treaties are agreed by the presidents and/or prime ministers of all the EU countries, and ratified by their parliaments.
In addition to its institutions, the EU has a number of other bodies that play specialised roles:
• the European Economic and Social Committee represents civil society, employers and em
• the Committee of the Regions represents regional and local authorities;
• the European Investment Bank finances EU investment projects, and helps small businesses via 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;
• the European Central Bank is responsible for European monetary4 policy;
Seek1 – ieškoti
Propose2 – pasiūlyti, pateikti
Foundation3 – pamatas, pagrindas
Monetary4 – piniginis, monetarinis
• the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities publishes information about the EU;
• the European Communities Personnel Selection Office recruits1 staff for the EU institutions and other bodies.
In addition, specialised agencies have been set up to handle certain technical, scientific or management tasks.
How the EU takes decisions ?
Decision-making at European Union level involves various European institutions, in particular2
• the European Commission,
• the European Parliament (EP),
• the Council of the European Union.
In general it is the European Commission that proposes new legislation3, but it is the Council and Parliament that pass the laws. Other institutions and bodies also have roles to play.
The rules and procedures for EU decision-making are laid down in the treaties4. Every proposal for a new European law is based on a specific treaty article, referred to as
Under the consultation procedure, the Council consults Parliament as well as the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR).
• approve the Commission proposal,
• reject it,
• or ask for amendments6.
If Parliament asks for amendments, the Commission will consider all the changes Parliament suggests. If it accepts any of these suggestions it will send the Council an amended proposal.
The Council examines the amended proposal and either adopts it or amends it further. In this procedure, as in all others, if the Council amends a Commission proposal it must do so unanimously7.
Recruit1 – naujokas, naujas narys
Particular2 – tam tikras, būtent tas, konkretus
Legislation3 – įstatymų leidimas, įstatymai
Treaty4 – sutartis susitarimas
Determine5 – (nu)lemti, sąlygoti, lemti; determinuoti
Amendment6 – (pa)taisymas; gerinimas
Unanimously7- vieningai, vienbalsiškai
The assent procedure means that the Council has to obtain the European Parliament’s assent before certain very important decisions are taken.
The procedure is the same as in the case of consultation, except that Parliament cannot amend a proposal: it must either accept or reject it. Acceptance (‘assent’) requires an absolute majority of the vote cast.
This is the procedure no
Modernising the system
The EU’s decision-making system has evolved5 over half a century. But it was originally designed for a community of just six nations. The EU now has 25 member states, and its membership will increase further in the years ahead. Its decision-making system therefore needs simplifying and streamlining6. To avoid paralysis, most decisions will have to be taken by ‘qualified majority voting’ rather than requiring every single country to agree.
The proposed Constitution agreed by the European Council in 2004 tackles7 these questions head on. It spells out much more clearly than in previous treaties what the European Union is and where it is going. It also lays down the new rules for more streamlined decision-making. It is due to come into force in 2006, but first it has to be approved by all 25 member countries – in some cases by referendum.
The Constitution is designed to make the EU more open and democratic. For example, it obliges8 EU ministers to hold their law-making discussions in public, and it gives citizens the right to draw up a petition asking the European Commission to propose new laws. Moreover, it gives national parliaments a greater role in monitoring Commission proposals.
Assent1 – pritarimas, sutarimas, sutikimas
Merely2 – paprasčiausiai, tiktai
Legislative3 – įstatymų leidžiamasis/leidimo; įstatyminis
Conciliation4 – su(si)taikymas, sutaikinimas
Evolve5 – plėtotis, vystytis, išsivystyti, evoliucionuoti
Streamline6 – kryptis; tėkmės kryptis; srovės linija
Tackle7 – reikmenys, rykai; įrengimai;
Oblige8 – įpareigoti; priversti
It also aims1 to make the European Union a more effective force on the world stage by creating the post of EU Foreign Affairs Minister and putting that person in charge of all aspects of the Union’s external relations.
The new Constitution maintains the existing balance between national interests and the general European interest, and between the interests of small and big countries.
The European Parliament (EP) is elected by the citizens of the European Union to represent their interests. Its origins go back to the 1950s and the founding treaties, and since 1979 its members have been directly elected by the people they represent.
Elections are held every five years, and every EU citizen who is registered as a voter is entitled to vote. Parliament thus expresses the democratic will of the Union’s citizens (more than 455 million people), and it represents their interests in discussions with the other EU institutions. The present parliament, elected in June 2004, has 732 members from all 25 EU countries. Nearly one third of them (222) are women.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do not sit in national blocks, but in seven Europe-wide political groups. Between them, they represent all views on European integration, from the strongly pro-federalist to the openly Eurosceptic.
In 2004, Josep Borrell Fontelles was elected President of the European Parliament.
TABLE: Number of seats per political group, as at 2 June 2005
Political group Abbreviation2 No. of seats
European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats EPP-ED 268
Socialist Group PES 201
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe ALDE 88
Greens/European Free Alliance Greens/EFA 42
European United Left – Nordic Green Left GUE/NGL 41
Independence/Democracy IND/DEM 36
Union for Europe of the Nations UEN 27
Non-attached NI 29
United Kingdom 78
The European Parliament has three places of work: Brussels (Belgium), Luxembourg and Strasbourg (France).
Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the ‘General Secretariat’). Meetings of the whole Parliament, known as ‘plenary sessions’, take place in Strasbourg and sometimes in Brussels. Committee meetings are also held in Brussels.
Aim1 – tikslas, taikinys
Abbreviation2 – sutrumpinimas, santrumpa
What does Parliament do?
Parliament has three main roles:
1. Passing European laws – jointly with the Council in many policy areas. The fact that the EP is directly elected by the citizens helps guarantee the democratic legitimacy1 of European law.
2. Parliament exercises democratic supervision2 over the other EU institutions, and in particular the Commission. It has the power to approve or reject the nomination of commissioners, and it has the right to censure the Commission as a whole.
3. The power of the purse. Parliament shares with the Council authority over the EU budget and can therefore influence EU spending. At the end of the procedure, it adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety.
These three roles are described in greater detail below.
1. Passing European laws
The most common procedure for adopting (i.e. passing) EU legislation is ‘codecision’. This procedure places the European Parliament and the Council on an equal footing and it applies to legislation in a wide range of fields.
In some fields (for example agriculture, economic policy, visas and immigration), the Council alone legislates, but it has to consult Parliament. In addition, Parliament’s assent is required for certain important decisions, such as allowing new countries to join the EU.
Parliament also provides impetus3 for new legislation by examining the Commission’s annual work programme, considering what new laws would be appropriate and asking the Commission to put forward proposals.
2. Democratic supervision
Parliament exercises democratic supervision over the other European institutions. It does so in several ways.
When a new Commission takes office, its members are nominated by the EU member state governments but they cannot be appointed without Parliament’s approval. Parliament interviews each of them individually, including the prospective Commission President, and then votes on whether to approve the Commission as a whole.
Throughout its term of office, the Commission remains politically accountable4 to Parliament, which can pass a ‘motion of censure’ calling for the Commission’s mass resignation.
Legitimacy1 – teisėtumas, pagrįstumas;
Supervision2 – priežiūra, prižiūrėjimas, stebėjimas; vadovavimas;
Impetus3 – smarkumas, (judėjimo) jėga;
Accountable4 – atsakingas
More generally, Parliament exercises control by regularly examining reports sent to it by the Commission (the annual general report, reports on the implementation1 of the budget, etc.). Moreover, MEPs regularly ask the Commission questions which the commissioners are legally required to answer.
Parliament also monitors the work of the Council: MEPs regularly ask the Council questions, and the President of the Council attends the EP’s plenary sessions and takes part in important debates.
Parliament can exercise further democratic control by examining petitions from citizens and setting up committees of inquiry2.
Finally, Parliament provides input to every EU summit3 (the European Council meetings). At the opening of each summit, the President of Parliament is invited to express Parliament’s views and concerns about topical issues and the items on the European Council’s agenda.
3. The power of the purse
The EU’s annual budget is decided jointly by Parliament and the Council. Parliament debates it in two successive4 readings, and the budget does not come into force until it has been signed by the President of Parliament.
Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control (COCOBU) monitors how the budget is spent, and each year Parliament decides whether to approve the Commission’s handling of the budget for the previous financial year. This approval process is technically known as ‘granting a discharge5’.
How is the Parliament’s work organised?
Parliament’s work is divided into two main stages:
• Preparing for the plenary session. This is done by the MEPs in the various parliamentary committees that specialise in particular areas of EU activity. The issues for debate are also discussed by the political groups.
• The plenary session itself. Plenary sessions are normally held in Strasbourg (one week per month) and sometimes in Brussels (two days only). At these sessions, Parliament examines proposed legislation and votes on amendments before coming to a decision on the text as a whole.
Other items on the agenda may include Council or Commission ‘communications’ or questions about what is going on in the European Union or the wider world.
Implementation1 – įgyvendinimas
Inquiry2 – teiravimasis, pasiteiravimas, (pa)klausimas; apklausa, apklausinėjimas
Summit3 – viršūnė, aukščiausias taškas
Successive4 – einantis vienas po kito, sekantis vienas paskui kitą (iš eilės); nuoseklus
Discharge5 – paleidimas, atleidimas, ėjimas, vykdymas
The Council is the EU’s main decision-making body. Like the European Parliament, the Council was set up by the founding treaties in the 1950s. It represents the member states, and its meetings are attended by one minister from each of the EU’s national governments.
Which ministers attend which meeting depends on what subjects are on the agenda. If, for example, the Council is to discuss environmental1 issues, the meeting will be attended by the Environment Minister from each EU country and it will be known as the ‘Environment Council’.
The EU’s relations with the rest of the world are dealt with by the ‘General Affairs and External Relations Council’. But this Council configuration also has wider responsibility for general policy issues, so its meetings are attended by whichever Minister or State Secretary each government chooses.
Altogether there are nine different Council configurations:
• General Affairs and External Relations
• Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN)
• Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
• Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
• Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
• Agriculture and Fisheries
• Education, Youth and Culture
Each minister in the Council is empowered3 to commit his or her government. In other words, the minister’s signature is the signature of the whole government. Moreover, each minister in the Council is answerable to his or her national parliament and to the citizens that parliament represents. This ensures the democratic legitimacy4 of the Council’s decisions.
Up to four times a year the presidents and/or prime ministers of the member states, together with the President of the European Commission, meet as the “European Council”. These ‘summit’ meetings set overall EU policy and resolve issues that could not be settled at a lower level (i.e. by the ministers at normal Council meetings). Given the importance of European Council discussions, they often continue late into the night and attract5 a lot of media attention.
Environmental1 – aplinkos
Competitive2 – konkuruojantis, rungtyniaujantis; konkurencinis
Empower3 – įgalioti, suteikti teisę
Legitimacy4 – teisėtumas, pagrįstumas
Attract5 – patraukti, pritraukti
The Council has six key responsibilities:
1. To pass European laws – jointly with the European Parliament in many policy areas.
2. To co-ordinate the broad economic policies of the member states.
3. To conclude1 international agreements between the EU and other countries or international organisations.
4. To approve the EU’s budget, jointly with the European Parliament.
5. To develop the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), based on guidelines set by the European Council.
6. To co-ordinate co-operation between the national courts and police forces in criminal matters (see the Freedom, security and justice section).
Most of these responsibilities relate to the ‘Community’ domain3 – i.e. areas of action where the member states have decided to pool their sovereignty and delegate decision-making powers to the EU institutions. This domain is the ‘first pillar’ of the European Union. However, the last two responsibilities relate largely to areas in which the member states have not delegated their powers but are simply working together. This is called ‘intergovernmental co-operation’ and it covers the second and third ‘pillars’ of the European Union.
Much EU legislation is adopted jointly by the Council and Parliament
As a rule, the Council only acts on a proposal from the Commission, and the Commission normally has responsibility for ensuring that EU legislation, once adopted, is correctly applied.
2. Co-ordinating the policies of member states
The EU countries have decided that they want an overall economic policy based on close co-ordination between their national economic policies. This co-ordination is carried out by the economics and finance ministers, who collectively form the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council.
They also want to create more jobs and to improve4 their education, health and social protection systems. Although each EU country is responsible for its own policy in these areas, they can agree on common goals5 and learn from each other’s experience of what works best. This process is called the ‘open method of coordination’, and it takes place within the Council.
3. Concluding international agreements
Each year the Council ‘concludes’ (i.e. officially signs) a number of agreements between the European Union and non-EU countries, as well as with international organisations. These agreements may cover broad areas such as trade, co-operation and development or they may deal with specific subjects such as textiles, fisheries, science and technology, transport etc.
Conclude1 – padaryti išvadą, nuspręsti
Prelate2 – prelatas
Domain3 – valda, teritorija
Improve4 – pagerinti, patobulinti
Goal5 – tikslas, uždavinys, vartai
In addition, the Council may conclude1 conventions between the EU member states in fields such as taxation2, company law or consular3 protection. Conventions can also deal with co-operation on issues of freedom, security and justice.
4. Approving the EU budget
The EU’s annual budget is decided jointly by the Council and the European Parliament.
5. Common Foreign and Security Policy
The member states of the EU are working to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). But foreign policy, security and defence are matters over which the individual national governments retain independent control. They have not pooled their national sovereignty in these areas, so Parliament and the European Commission play only a limited role here. However, the EU countries have much to gain4 by working together on these issues, and the Council is the main forum in which this ‘inter-governmental co-operation’ takes place.
To enable it to respond more effectively to international crises, the European Union has created a ‘Rapid Reaction Force’. This is not a European army: the personnel remain members of their national armed forces and under national command, and their role is limited to carrying out humanitarian, rescue, peacekeeping and other crisis management tasks. In 2003, for example, the EU conducted a military operation (code name Artemis) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in 2004 it began a peacekeeping operation (code name Althea) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Council is assisted in such operations by:
• the Political and Security Committee (PSC);
• the European Union Military Committee (EUMC);
• and the European Union Military Staff (EUMS), composed of military experts seconded to the Council Secretariat by the member states.
6. Freedom, security and justice
EU citizens are free to live and work in whichever EU country they choose, so they should have equal access to civil justice everywhere in the European Union. National courts therefore need to work together to ensure, for example, that a court judgement delivered in one EU country in a divorce or child custody5 case is recognised in all other EU countries.
Freedom of movement within the EU is of great benefit to law-abiding citizens, but it is also exploited by international criminals and terrorists. To tackle cross-border crime requires cross-border co-operation between the national courts, police forces, customs officers and immigration services of all EU countries.
Conclude1 – padaryti išvadą, nuspręsti
Taxation2 – apmkestinimas, mokesčio dydis
Consular3- konsulo, konsulinis
Gain4 – įgyjimas, laimėjimas, pasiekimas, išlošimas
Custody5 – globa
They have to ensure, for example:
• that the EU’s external borders are effectively policed;
• that customs officers and police exchange information on the movements of suspected drugs traffickers or people smugglers1;
• that asylum seekers are assessed and treated in the same way throughout the EU, so as to prevent ‘asylum shopping’.
Issues such as these are dealt with by the Justice and Home Affairs Council – i.e. the Ministers for Justice and of the Interior. The aim is to create a single ‘area of freedom, security and justice’ within the EU’s borders.
How is the Council’s work organised?
In Brussels, each EU member state has a permanent2 team (‘representation’) that represents it and defends its national interest at EU level. The head of each representation is, in effect, his or her country’s ambassador to the EU.
These ambassadors (known as ‘permanent representatives’) meet weekly within the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER). The role of this committee is to prepare the work of the Council, with the exception of most agricultural issues, which are handled by the Special Committee on Agriculture. COREPER is assisted by a number of working groups, made up of officials from the national administrations.
The Council Presidency3
The Presidency of the Council rotates every six months. In other words, each EU country in turn takes charge of the Council agenda and chairs all the meetings for a six-month period, promoting legislative and political decisions and brokering compromises between the member states.If, for example, the Environment Council is scheduled to meet during the second half of 2006 it will be chaired by the Finnish Minister for the Environment, since Finland holds the Council Presidency at that time.
The General Secretariat
The Presidency is assisted by the General Secretariat, which prepares and ensures the smooth4 functioning of the Council’s work at all levels.
In 2004, Mr Javier Solana was re-appointed Secretary-General of the Council. He is also High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and in this capacity he helps coordinate the EU’s action on the world stage. Under the new constitutional treaty5, the High Representative would be replaced by an EU Foreign Affairs Minister.
Smuggler1 –kontrabandininkas, kontrabandos laivas
Permanant2 – nuolatinis, pastovus, permanentinis,įprastas
Presidency3 – prezidentystė, prezidentavimas
Smooth4 – lygus, plynas, glotnus
Treaty5 – sutartis, susitarimas
The Secretary-General is assisted by a Deputy Secretary-General in charge of managing the General Secretariat.
How many votes per country?
Decisions in the Council are taken by vote. The bigger the country’s population, the more votes it has, but the numbers are weighted in favour of the less populous1 countries:
Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom 29
Spain and Poland 27
Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary and Portugal 12
Austria and Sweden 10
Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland 7
Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovenia 4
“Qualified majority voting”
In some particularly2 sensitive areas such as Common Foreign and Security Policy, taxation, asylum3 and immigration policy, Council decisions have to be unanimous. In other words, each member state has the power of veto in these areas.
On most issues, however, the Council takes decisions by ‘qualified majority voting’ (QMV).
A qualified majority is reached
• if a majority of member states (in some cases a two-thirds majority) approve AND
• if a minimum of 232 votes is cast4 in favour – which is 72.3% of the total.
In addition, a member state may ask for confirmation that the votes in favour represent at least 62% of the total population of the Union. If this is found not to be the case, the decision will not be adopted.
Populous1 – gausus gyventojų, tankiai gyvenamas
Particularly2 –ypač,ypatingai, labai
Asylum3 – prieglobstis, prieglauda, slėptuvė
Cast4 – rizika, mesti, išmesti
The Commission is independent of national governments. Its job is to represent and uphold the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts1 proposals for new European laws, which it presents to the European Parliament and the Council.
It is also the EU’s executive arm – in other words, it is responsible for implementing2 the decisions of Parliament and the Council. That means managing the day-to-day business of the European Union: implementing its policies, running its programmes and spending its funds.
Like the Parliament and Council, the European Commission was set up in the 1950s under the EU’s founding treaties.
What is the Commission?
The term ‘Commission’ is used in two senses. First, it refers to the team of men and women – one from each EU country – appointed to run the institution and take its decisions. Secondly, the term ‘Commission’ refers to the institution itself and to its staff.
Informally, the appointed Members of the Commission are known as ‘commissioners’. They have all held political positions in their countries of origin and many have been government ministers, but as Members of the Commission they are committed to acting in the interests of the Union as a whole and not taking instructions from national governments.
A new Commission is appointed every five years, within six months of the elections3 to the European Parliament. The procedure is as follows:
• The member state governments agree together on who to designate4 as the new Commission President.
• The Commission President-designate is then approved by Parliament.
• The Commission President-designate, in discussion with the member state governments, chooses the other Members of the Commission.
• The new Parliament then interviews each Member and gives its opinion on the whole team. Once it is approved, the new Commission can officially start work.
The present Commission’s term of office runs until 31 October 2009. Its President is José Manuel Barroso, from Portugal.
The Commission remains5 politically accountable6 to Parliament, which has the power to dismiss the whole Commission by adopting a motion of censure. Individual members of the Commission must resign7 if asked to do so by the President, provided the other commissioners approve.
Draft1 – metmenys, apmatai, planas
Implement2 – įrankis, priemonė, reikmenys
Election3 – rinkimai, išrinkimas
Designate4 – paskirtas, bet dar nepradėjęs eiti pareigų
Remain5 – pasilikti, išlikti
Accountable6 – atsakingas, atskaitingas
Resign7 – atsisakyti, atsistatydinti, atsižadėti
The Commission attends all the sessions of Parliament, where it must clarify and justify its policies. It also replies regularly to written and oral questions posed by MEPs.
The day-to-day running of the Commission is done by its administrative officials, experts, translators, interpreters and secretarial staff. There are approximately 25 000 of these European civil servants. That may sound a lot, but in fact it is fewer than the number of staff employed by a typical medium-sized city council in Europe.
Where is the Commission based?
The ‘seat’ of the Commission is in Brussels (Belgium), but it also has offices in Luxembourg, representations in all EU countries and delegations in many capital cities around the world.
What does the Commission do?
The European Commission has four main roles:
1. to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council;
2. to manage and implement EU policies and the budget;
3. to enforce1 European law (jointly with the Court of Justice);
4. to represent the European Union on the international stage, for example by negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries.
1. Proposing new legislation
The Commission has the ‘right of initiative2’. In other words, the Commission alone is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, which it presents to Parliament and the Council. These proposals must aim to defend the interests of the Union and its citizens, not those of specific countries or industries.
Before making any proposals, the Commission must be aware3 of new situations and problems developing in Europe and it must consider whether EU legislation is the best way to deal with them. That is why the Commission is in constant touch with a wide range of interest groups and with two advisory4 bodies – the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It also seeks5 the opinions of national parliaments and governments.
The Commission will propose action at EU level only if it considers that a problem cannot be solved more efficiently by national, regional or local action. This principle of dealing with things at the lowest possible level is called the ‘subsidiarity6 principle’.
Enforce1 – versti, spausti, primesti
Initiative2 – iniciatyva, pradinis
Aware3 – žinantis, informuotas, suprantantis
Advisory4 – patariamasis, konsultacinis
Seek5 – ieškoti, stengtis, siekti
Subsidiarity6 – pagalbinis, šalutinis, papildomas
If, however, the Commission concludes that EU legislation is needed, then it drafts a proposal that it believes will deal with the problem effectively and satisfy the widest possible range of interests. To get the technical details right the Commission consults experts, via its various committees and groups.
2. Implementing EU policies and the budget
As the European Union’s executive body, the Commission is responsible for managing and implementing the EU budget. Most of the actual spending is done by national and local authorities, but the Commission is responsible for supervising it – under the watchful eye of the Court of Auditors. Both institutions aim to ensure good financial management. Only if it satisfied with the Court of Auditors’ annual report does the European Parliament grant the Commission discharge for implementing the budget.
The Commission also has to manage the policies adopted by Parliament and the Council, such as the Common Agricultural Policy. Another example is competition policy, where the Commission has the power to authorise or prohibit1 mergers between companies. The Commission also has to make sure that EU countries do not subsidise their industries in such a way as to distort competition.
Examples of EU programmes managed by the Commission range from the ‘Interreg’ and ‘Urban’ programmes (creating cross-border partnerships between regions and helping regenerate declining urban areas) to the ‘Erasmus’ programme of Europe-wide student exchanges.
3. Enforcing European law
The Commission acts as ‘guardian of the Treaties’. This means that the Commission, together with the Court of Justice, is responsible for making sure EU law is properly applied in all the member states.
If it finds that an EU country is not applying an EU law, and therefore not meeting its legal obligations, the Commission takes steps to put the situation right.
First it launches2 a process called the ‘infringement3 procedure’. This involves sending the government an official letter, saying why the Commission considers this country is infringing EU law and setting it a deadline for sending the Commission a detailed reply.
If this procedure fails to put things right, the Commission must then refer the matter to the Court of Justice, which has the power to impose penalties4. The Court’s judgments are binding5 on the member states and the EU institutions.
Prohibit1 – uždrausti, sutrukdyti
Launch2 – paleisti, pradėti, ryžtingai imtis
Infringement3 – pažeidimas, sulaužymas
Penalty4 – bausmė, nuobauda, sankcija
Bind5 – surišti, pririšti, įrišti
4. Representing the EU on the international stage
The European Commission is an important mouthpiece for the European Union on the international stage. It enables the member states to speak ‘with one voice’ in international forums such as the World Trade Organisation.
The Commission also has the responsibility of negotiating international agreements on behalf of the EU. One example is the Cotonou Agreement, which sets out the terms of an important aid and trade partnership between the EU and developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
How is the Commission’s work organised?
It is up to the Commission President to decide which commissioner will be responsible for which policy area, and to reshuffle these responsibilities (if necessary) during the Commission’s term of office.
The Commission meets once a week, usually on Wednesdays in Brussels. Each item on the agenda is presented by the commissioner responsible for that policy area, and the whole team then takes a collective decision on it.
The Commission’s staff is organised in departments, known as ‘Directorates-General’ (DGs) and ‘services’ (such as the Legal Service). Each DG is responsible for a particular policy area and is headed by a Director-General who is answerable to one of the commissioners. Overall coordination is provided by the Secretariat-General, which also manages the weekly Commission meetings. It is headed by the Secretary-General, who is answerable directly to the President.
It is the DGs that actually devise and draft legislative proposals, but these proposals become official only when ‘adopted’ by the Commission at its weekly meeting. The procedure is roughly as follows.
Suppose, for example, that the Commission sees a need for EU legislation to prevent pollution of Europe’s rivers. The Directorate-General for the Environment will draw up a proposal, based on extensive consultations with European industry and farmers, with environment ministries in the member states and with environmental organisations. The draft will also be discussed with other Commission departments and checked by the Legal Service and the Secretariat-General.
Once the proposal is fully ready, it will be put on the agenda of the next Commission meeting. If at least 13 of the 25 commissioners approve the proposal, the Commission will ‘adopt’ it and it will have the whole team’s unconditional support. The document will then be sent to Council and the European Parliament for their consideration.
Limiting the size of the Commission
A Commission with too many members will not work properly. There is at present one commissioner from each EU country. When Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union it will have 27 member states. At that point, the Council – by a unanimous decision – will fix the maximum number of commissioners. There must be fewer than 27 of them, and their nationality will be determined by a system of rotation that is absolutely fair to all countries.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities (often referred to simply as ‘the Court’) was set up under the ECSC Treaty in 1952. It is based in Luxembourg.
Its job is to make sure that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries, so that the law is equal for everyone. It ensures, for example, that national courts do not give different rulings on the same issue.
The Court also makes sure that EU member states and institutions do what the law requires. The Court has the power to settle legal disputes between EU member states, EU institutions, businesses and individuals.
The Court is composed of one judge per member state, so that all 25 of the EU’s national legal systems are represented. For the sake1 of efficiency, however, the Court rarely2 sits as the full court. It usually sits as a ‘Grand Chamber’ of just 13 judges or in chambers of five or three judges.
The Court is assisted by eight ‘advocates-general’. Their role is to present reasoned opinions on the cases brought before the Court. They must do so publicly and impartially.
The judges and advocates-general are people whose impartiality is beyond doubt. They have the qualifications or competence needed for appointment to the highest judicial positions in their home countries. They are appointed to the Court of Justice by joint agreement between the governments of the EU member states. Each is appointed for a term of six years, which may be renewed.
To help the Court of Justice cope3 with the large number of cases brought before it, and to offer citizens better legal protection, a ‘Court of First Instance’ was created in 1989. This Court (which is attached to the Court of Justice) is responsible for giving rulings on certain kinds of case, particularly actions brought by private individuals, companies and some organisations, and cases relating to competition law.
The Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance each have a President, chosen by their fellow-judges to serve for a renewable term of three years. Vassilios Skouris, from Greece, was elected President of the Court of Justice in 2003. Bo Vesterdorf, from Denmark, is President of the Court of First Instance.
A new judicial body, the ‘European Civil Service Tribunal’, has been set up to adjudicate in disputes between the European Union and its civil service. This tribunal is composed of seven judges and is attached to the Court of First Instance.
What does the Court do?
The Court gives rulings on cases brought before it. The four most common types of case are:
1. references for a preliminary ruling;
2. actions for failure to fulfil an obligation;
3. actions for annulment;
4. actions for failure to act.
Sake1 – dėl ko nors, kieno ko labui
Rarely2 – retai, nedažnai
Cope3 – susidoroti, susitvarkyti, susidurti
1. The preliminary ruling procedure
The national courts in each EU country are responsible for ensuring that EU law is properly applied in that country. But there is a risk that courts in different countries might interpret EU law in different ways.
To prevent this happening, there is a ‘preliminary ruling procedure’. This means that if a national court is in any doubt about the interpretation or validity1 of an EU law it may, and sometimes must, ask the Court of Justice for advice. This advice is given in the form of a ‘preliminary ruling’.
2. Proceedings for failure to fulfil2 an obligation3
The Commission can start these proceedings if it has reason to believe that a member state is failing to fulfil its obligations under EU law. These proceedings may also be started by another EU country.
In either case, the Court investigates the allegations4 and gives its judgment. The accused member state, if it is indeed found to be at fault, must set things right at once. If the Court finds that the member state has not complied with its judgment, it may impose a fine on that country.
3. Actions for annulment5
If any of the member states, the Council, the Commission or (under certain conditions) Parliament believes that a particular EU law is illegal they may ask the Court to annul it.
These ‘actions for annulment’ can also be used by private individuals who want the Court to cancel a particular law because it directly and adversely affects them as individuals.
If the Court finds that the law in question was not correctly adopted or is not correctly based on the Treaties, it may declare the law null and void.
4. Actions for failure to act
The Treaty requires the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission to make certain decisions under certain circumstances6. If they fail to do so, the member states, the other Community institutions and (under certain conditions) individuals or companies can lodge7 a complaint with the Court so as to have this failure8 to act officially recorded.
Validity1 – pagrįstumas, svarumas
Fulfil2 – įvykdyti, atlikti, patenkinti
Obligation3 – įsipareigojimas, pareiga, prievolė
Allegation4 – tvirtinimas, teigimas, įtarimas
Annulment5 – panaikinimas, anuliavimas
Circumstance6 – aplinkybės, sąlygos, padėtis
Lodge7 – paduoti, pateikti
Failure8 – nepasisekimas, nesėkmė, žlugimas
How is the Court’s work organised?
Cases are submitted to the registry and a specific judge and advocate-general are assigned to each case.
The procedure that follows is in two stages: first a written and then an oral phase.
At the first stage, all the parties involved submit written statements and the judge assigned to the case draws up a report summarising these statements and the legal background to the case.
Then comes the second stage – the public hearing. Depending on the importance and complexity1 of the case, this hearing can take place before a chamber of three, five or 13 judges, or before the full Court. At the hearing, the parties’ lawyers put their case before the judges and the advocate-general, who can question them. The advocate-general then gives his or her opinion, after which the judges deliberate and deliver their judgment.
Since 2003, advocates general are required to give an opinion on a case only if the Court considers that this particular case raises a new point of law. Nor does the Court necessarily follow the advocate-general’s opinion.
Judgments of the Court are decided by a majority and pronounced at a public hearing. Dissenting opinions are not expressed. Decisions are published on the day of delivery. The Court of Auditors was set up in 1975. It is based in Luxembourg. The Court’s job is to check that EU funds, which come from the taxpayers, are properly collected and that they are spent legally, economically and for the intended purpose. Its aim is to ensure that the taxpayers get maximum value for their money, and it has the right to audit any person or organisation handling EU funds.
The Court has one member from each EU country, appointed by the Council for a renewable term of six years. The members elect one of their number as President for a renewable2 term of three years. Hubert Weber, from Austria, was elected President in January 2005.
What does the Court do?
The Court’s main role is to check that the EU budget is correctly implemented – in other words, that EU income and expenditure3 is legal and above board and to ensure sound financial management. So its work helps guarantee that the EU system operates efficiently and openly.
To carry out its tasks, the Court investigates the paperwork of any person or organisation handling EU income or expenditure. It frequently4 carries out on-the-spot checks. Its findings are written up in reports which bring any problems to the attention of the Commission and EU member state governments.
To do its job effectively, the Court of Auditors must remain completely independent of the other institutions but at the same time stay in constant touch with them.
Complexity1 – sudėtingumas, painumas; painiava
Renewable2 – atnaujinamas; atstatomas;
Expenditure3 – sunaudojimas, eikvojimas
frequently4 – dažnai
One of its key functions is to help the European Parliament and the Council by presenting them every year with an audit report on the previous financial year. Parliament examines the Court’s report in detail before deciding whether or not to approve the Commission’s handling of the budget. If satisfied, the Court of Auditors also sends the Council and Parliament a statement of assurance1 that European taxpayers’ money Finally, the Court of Auditors gives its opinion on proposals for EU financial legislation and for EU action to fight fraud2.
How is the Court’s work organised?
The Court of Auditors has approximately 800 staff, including translators and administrators as well as auditors. The auditors are divided into ‘audit groups’. They prepare draft reports on which the Court takes decisions.
The auditors frequently go on tours of inspection to the other EU institutions, the member states and any country that receives aid from the EU. Indeed3, although the Court’s work largely concerns money for which the Commission is responsible, in practice 90% of this income and expenditure is managed by the national authorities.
The Court of Auditors has no legal powers of its own. If auditors discover fraud or irregularities4 they inform OLAF – the European Anti-Fraud Office.
Founded in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an advisory5 body representing employers, trade unions, farmers, consumers and the other interest groups that collectively make up ‘organised civil society’. It presents their views and defends their interests in policy discussions with the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament.
So the EESC is a bridge between the Union and its citizens, promoting a more participatory, more inclusive and therefore more democratic society in Europe.
The Committee is an integral part of the EU’s decision-making process: it must be consulted before decisions are taken on economic and social policy. On its own initiative6, or at the request7 of another EU institution, it may also give its opinion on other matters.
The EESC has 317 members – the number from each EU country roughly8 reflecting9 the size of its population. The numbers per country are as follows:
Assurance1 – garantija, patikinimas
Fraud2 – apgaulė, apgavystė
Indeed3 – iš tikrųjų, tikrai
Irregularity4 – netaisyklingumas; nereguliarumas; nukrypimas nuo normos; taisyklių/drausmės/tvarkos ir pan. pažeidimas/nesilaikymas
Advisory5 – patariamasis; konsultacinis
Initiative6 – iniciatyva;
Request7 – prašymas; pageidavimas, (mandagus) (pa)reikalavimas
Roughly8 – šiurkščiai, nelygiai
Reflect9 – at(si)spindėti; atmušti
Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom 24
Poland and Spain 21
Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Sweden 12
Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland 9
Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia 7
Cyprus and Luxembourg 6
Once Bulgaria and Romania join, the Committee will have 344 members.
The members are nominated by the EU governments but they work in complete political independence. They are appointed1 for four years, and may be re-appointed.
The Committee meets in Plenary Assembly, and its discussions are prepared by six subcommittees known as ‘sections’, each dealing with particular policy areas. It elects its President and two Vice-Presidents for a two-year term. Anne-Marie Sigmund, from Austria, became President of the EESC in October 2004.
What does the EESC do?
The European Economic and Social Committee has three main roles:
• to advise the Council, Commission and European Parliament, either at their request or on the Committee’s own initiative;
• to encourage2 civil society to become more involved in EU policymaking;
• to bolster the role of civil society in non-EU countries and to help set up advisory structures.
Who are the EESC’s members?
Working mostly in their countries of origin, the members of the Committee form three groups that represent employers, workers and various economic and social interests.
The Employers’ Group has members from private and public sectors of industry, small and medium-sized businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale3 and retail trade, banking and insurance, transport and agriculture.
The Workers’ Group represents all categories of employees, from manual to executive. Its members come from national trade union organisations.
Appoint1 – paskirti, nustatyti
Encourage2 – padrąsinti, paskątinti
Wholesale3 – didmeninė prekyba, didmeninis
The third group represents a wide range of interests: NGOs, farmers’ organisations, small businesses, crafts1 and professions, cooperatives and non-profit associations, consumer and environmental organisations, the scientific and academic communities and associations that represent the family, women, persons with disabilities, etc.
Set up in 1994 under the Treaty on European Union, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is an advisory body composed of representatives of Europe’s regional and local authorities. The CoR has to be consulted before EU decisions are taken on matters such as regional policy, the environment, education and transport – all of which concern local and regional government.
The Committee has 317 members. The number from each member state approximately2 reflects its population size, as follows:
Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom 24
Poland and Spain 21
Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Sweden 12
Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland 9
Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia 7
Cyprus and Luxembourg 6
Once Bulgaria and Romania join, the CoR will have 344 members.
The members of the Committee are elected municipal or regional politicians, often leaders of regional governments or mayors of cities.
They are nominated by the EU governments but they work in complete political independence. The Council of the European Union appoints them for four years, and they may be reappointed. They must also have a mandate from the authorities they represent, or must be politically accountable to them.
The Committee of the Regions chooses a President from among its members, for a term of two years. Peter Straub, from Germany, was elected President in February 2004.
What does the Committee do?
Craft1 – profesija, menas, mokėjimas
Approximately2 – apytikriai, apytiksliai, maždaug, beveik
The role of the Committee of the Regions is to put forward the local and regional points of view on EU legislation. It does so by issuing opinions on Commission proposals.
The Commission and the Council must consult the Committee of the Regions on topics of direct relevance to local and regional authorities, but they can also consult the Committee whenever they wish. For its part, the Committee can adopt opinions on its own initiative and present them to the Commission, Council and Parliament.
How is the Committee’s work organised?
Each year the Committee of the Regions holds five plenary sessions, during which its general policy is defined and opinions are adopted.
The members of the Committee are assigned to specialist ‘commissions’ whose job is to prepare the plenary sessions. There are six commissions:
Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy (COTER)
Commission for Economic and Social Policy (ECOS)
Commission for Sustainable1 Development (DEVE)
Commission for Culture and Education (EDUC)
Commission for Constitutional Affairs and European Governance (CONST)
Commission for External Relations (RELEX).
The European Investment Bank (EIB) was set up in 1958 by the Treaty2 of Rome. Its job is to lend money for projects of European interest (such as rail and road links, airports, or environmental schemes), particularly in the less well-off regions, candidate countries and the developing world. It also provides credit for investment by small businesses. Philippe Maystadt, from Belgium, became President of the EIB on 1 January 2000.
What does the Bank do?
The EIB is non-profit-making and gets no money from savings or current accounts. Nor does it use any funds from the EU budget. Instead, the EIB is financed through borrowing on the financial markets and by the Bank’s shareholders – the member states of the European Union. They subscribe jointly to its capital, each country’s contribution reflecting its economic weight within the Union.
This backing by the member states gives the EIB the highest possible credit rating (AAA) on the money markets, where it can therefore raise very large amounts of capital on very competitive terms. This in turn enables the Bank to invest in projects of public interest that would otherwise not get the money – or would have to borrow it more expensively3.
The projects the Bank invests in are carefully selected according to the following criteria:
they must help achieve EU objectives such as making European industries and small businesses more competitive; creating trans-European networks (transport, telecommunications and energy); boosting4 the information technology sector; protecting the natural and urban environments; improving health and education services;
they must chiefly benefit the most disadvantaged regions;
they must help attract other sources of funding.
The EIB also supports sustainable development in the Mediterranean countries, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, as well as projects in Latin America and Asia.
Sustainable1 – (iš)laikyti, paremti
Treaty2 – sutartis; susitarimas
Expensively3 – brangus
Boost4 – augimas, didėjimas
Finally, the EIB is the majority shareholder1 in the European Investment Fund.
How is the Bank’s work organised?
The EIB is an autonomous institution. It makes its own borrowing and lending decisions purely2 on the merits3 of each project and the opportunities offered by the financial markets. Each year, it presents a report on all its activities.
The Bank co-operates with the EU institutions. For example, its representatives may take part in committees of the European Parliament, and the President of the EIB may attend Council meetings.
The Bank’s decisions are taken by the following bodies.
The Board of Governors consists of ministers (normally the Finance Ministers) from all the member states. It defines the Bank’s general lending policy, approves the balance sheet and annual report, authorises the Bank to fund projects outside the EU and decides on capital increases.
The Board of Directors, approves lending and borrowing operations and it makes sure that the EIB is properly managed. It consists of 26 Directors – one nominated by each EU member state and one by the European Commission.
The Management Committee is the Bank’s full-time executive. It handles the EIB’s day-to-day business and it has nine members.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) was set up in 1994 to help small businesses. Its majority shareholder is the European Investment Bank, with which it forms the ‘EIB Group’.
What does the Fund do?
The EIF provides venture capital for small firms (SMEs), particularly new firms and technology-oriented businesses. It also provides guarantees to financial institutions (such as banks) to cover their loans to SMEs.
The EIF is not a lending institution: it does not grant loans4 or subsidies to businesses, nor does it invest directly in any firms. Instead, it works through banks and other financial intermediaries5. It uses either its own funds or those entrusted to it by the EIB or the European Union.
The Fund is active in the member states of the European Union and in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and three EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
The European Central Bank (ECB) was set up in 1998, under the Treaty on European Union, and it is based in Frankfurt (Germany). Its job is to manage the euro – the EU’s single currency. The ECB is also responsible for framing and implementing the EU’s economic and monetary policy.
To carry out its role, the ECB works with the ‘European System of Central Banks’ (ESCB), which covers all 25 EU countries. However, only 12 of these countries have so far adopted the euro. The 12 collectively make up the ‘euro area’ and their central banks, together with the European Central Bank, make up what is called the ‘Eurosystem’.
The ECB works in complete independence. Neither the ECB, the national central banks of the Eurosystem, nor any member of their decision-making bodies can ask for or accept instructions from any other body. The EU institutions and member state governments must respect this principle and must not seek to influence6 the ECB or the national central banks.
Shareholder1 – akcininkas, akcijų turėtojas; pajininkas
Purely2 – visiškai, grynai; tiktai, išimtinai
Merit3 – vertingumas, gerumas; privalumas, nuopelnas
Loan4 – (pa)skolinimas; skolintas daiktas, paskola
Intermediary5 – tarpininkas
Influence6 – įtaka, poveikis
The ECB, working closely with the national central banks, prepares and implements the decisions taken by the Eurosystem’s decision-making bodies – the Governing Council, the Executive Board and the General Council.
Jean-Claude Trichet, from France, became President of the ECB in November 2003.
What does the Bank do?
One of the ECB’s main tasks is to maintain1 price stability in the euro area, so that the euro’s purchasing power is not eroded2 by inflation. The ECB aims to ensure that the year-on-year increase in consumer prices is less than 2%.
It does this in two ways:
First, by controlling the money supply. If the money supply is excessive compared to the supply of goods and services, inflation will result.
Second, by monitoring price trends and assessing the risk they pose to price stability in the euro area.
Controlling the money supply involves, amongst other things, setting interest rates throughout the euro area. This is perhaps the Bank’s best-known activity.
How is the Bank’s work organised?
The European Central Bank’s work is organised via the following decision-making bodies.
The Executive Board
This comprises the President of the ECB, the Vice-President and four other members, all appointed by common agreement of the presidents or prime ministers of the euro area countries. The Executive Board members are appointed for a non-renewable term of eight years.
The Executive Board is responsible for implementing monetary policy, as defined by the Governing Council, and for giving instructions to the national central banks. It also prepares the Governing Council meetings and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the ECB.
The Governing Council
The Governing Council is the European Central Bank’s highest decision-making body. It comprises the six members of the Executive Board and the governors of the 12 central banks of the euro zone. It is chaired by the President of the ECB. Its primary mission is to define the monetary policy of the euro zone, and, in particular, to fix the interest rates3 at which the commercial banks can obtain4 money from the Central Bank.
The General Council
The General Council is the ECB’s third decision-making body. It comprises the ECB’s President and the Vice-President and the governors of the national central banks of all 25 EU member states. The General Council contributes to the ECB’s advisory and coordination work and helps prepare for the future enlargement5 of the euro zone.
Maintain1 – palaikyti; (pa)remti
Erode2 – ėsti, graužti
Rate3 – tempas, greitis; dažnis, dažnumas
Obtain4 – (iš)gauti, į(si)gyti; pasiekti
Enlargement5 – didinimas; didėjimas; iš(si)plėtimas
The position of European Ombudsman1 was created by the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht, 1992). The Ombudsman acts as an intermediary between the citizen and the EU authorities. He is entitled to receive and investigate complaints from EU citizens, businesses and organsations, and from anyone residing or having their registered office in an EU country.
The Ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament for a renewable term of five years, which corresponds to Parliament’s legislative term. Nikiforos Diamandouros, the former national ombudsman of Greece, took up the post of European Ombudsman in April 2003 and was re-elected in January 2005 for a five-year term.
What does the Ombudsman do?
He helps to uncover2 ‘maladministration’ in the European Union institutions and bodies. ‘Maladministration’ means poor or failed administration – in other words, when an institution fails to act in accordance with the law, or fails to respect the principles of good administration, or violates human rights. Some examples are:
abuse of power,
lack or refusal3 of information,
The Ombudsman carries out investigations following a complaint or on his own initiative. He operates completely independently and impartially. He does not request or accept instructions from any government or organisation.
How do I complain to the Ombudsman?
If you want to complain about maladministration by an EU institution or body, the first thing to do is contact that institution or body through the usual administrative channels and try to get them to put the situation right.
If that approach fails, you can complain to the European Ombudsman.
You must make your complaint to the Ombudsman within two years of the date on which you became aware of the act of maladministration. You must clearly state who you are, which institution or body you are complaining about and what problem you are complaining about, though you may ask for the complaint to remain confidential.
What result can I expect?
If the Ombudsman cannot deal with your complaint – for example, if it has already been the subject of a court case – he will do his best to advise you which other body may be able to help. However, if he can deal with your complaint he will.
Ombudsman1 – ombudsmenas
Uncover2 – atvožti, atidengti, nudengti, nuvožti
Refusal3 – atsisakymas; (pasiūlymo, pakvietimo ir pan.) atmetimas
To resolve1 your problem, the Ombudsman may simply need to inform the institution or body concerned. If the problem is not cleared up during his enquiries, the Ombudsman will try to find a friendly solution which puts the matter right and satisfies you.
If this fails, the Ombudsman can make recommendations to resolve the issue. If the institution concerned does not accept his recommendations, he can make a special report to the European Parliament so that it can take whatever political action is necessary.
Every year, the Ombudsman presents the European Parliament with a report on all his work.
The position of European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) was created in 2001. The responsibility of the EDPS is to make sure that all EU institutions and bodies respect people’s right to privacy when processing their personal data.
What does the EDPS do?
When EU institutions or bodies process personal data about an identifiable2 person, they must respect that person’s right to privacy. The EDPS makes sure they do so, and advises them on all aspects of personal data processing.
‘Processing’ covers activities such as collecting information, recording and storing it, retrieving it for consultation, sending it or making it available to other people, and also blocking, erasing or destroying data.
There are strict3 privacy rules governing these activities. For example, EU institutions and bodies are not allowed to process personal data that reveals4 your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or trade-union membership. Nor may they process data on your health or sex life, unless the data is needed for health care purposes. Even then, the data must be processed by a health professional or other person who is sworn5 to professional secrecy.
The EDPS works with the Data Protection Officers in each EU institution or body to ensure that the date privacy rules are applied.
In 2004, Mr Peter Johan Hustinx was appointed as European Data Protection Supervisor and Mr Joaquin Bayo Delgado as the Assistant Supervisor.
How can the EDPS help you?
If you have reason to believe that your right to privacy has been infringed by an EU institution or body misusing your personal data, you should complain to the European Data Protection Supervisor. He will investigate your complaint and let you know as soon as possible whether he agrees with it and, if, so, how the situation is being put right. For example, he can order the institution or body concerned to correct, block, erase6 or destroy any of your personal data that has been unlawfully7 processed.
If you disagree with his decision, you may take the matter to the Court of Justice.
Identifiable2 – atpažįstamas , pripažintas, aiškus
Strict3 – griežtas, reiklus
Reveal4 – atskleisti, parodyti
Sworn5 – prisiekęs
Erase6 – ištrinti; išskusti; nuvalyti
Unlawfully7 – neteisėtas, neįstatymiškas
The Publications Office
The full name of this body is the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. It acts as the publishing house for the EU institutions, producing and distributing all official European Union publications, on paper and in digital form.
European Personnel Selection Office
The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) became operational in January 2003. Its task is to set competitive examinations for recruiting staff to work in all the EU institutions. This is more efficient than having each institution organise its own recruitment competitions. EPSO’s annual budget of roughly €21 million is 11% less than what the EU institutions used to spend on recruitment.
An agency is not an EU institution: it is a body set up by a specific piece of EU legislation to carry out a very specific task. Not all EU agencies have the word ‘agency’ in their official title: they may, instead, be called a Centre, Foundation, Institute, Observatory, Office, etc.
Three of them – the EDA, EUISS and EUSC – carry out tasks for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (the ‘second pillar’ of the European Union). Four others – AMOCEB, CEPOL, Europol and Eurojust – help co-ordinate Police and Judicial Cooperation in criminal matters (the ‘third pillar’ of the European Union), including management of the EU’s external borders.
All the other agencies carry out tasks under the EU’s ‘first pillar’– the so-called ‘Community domain’.
5. Vitalis Nakrošis, Europos Sąjungos regioninė politika ir struktūrinių fondų valdymas, 2003 m
6. Vygandas Paulikas, Europos Sąjungos institucijos ir valdymas, 2004 m.