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European Union Essay, Research Paper
Spring 1999 was supposed to be the European Union’s finest hour, as its Economic and Monetary Union finally got underway.
Instead, the union was thrown into turmoil. After a scathing report suggesting corruption and mismanagement in the European Commission, all 20 commissioners were forced to step down.
At the same time negotiations to reform the EU budget were deadlocked, jeopardizing ambitious plans to take in new members from Eastern Europe.
It took a meeting of the EU heads of state and government at the Berlin summit on 24-25 March to resolve the crisis.
EU Budget breakthrough
After 20 hours of non-stop negotiations at the Berlin summit, EU leaders agree on budget reforms – but they are less drastic than originally envisaged.
The EU budget compromise reached in Berlin is an intricate numbers game, hammered out in 20 hours of non-stop talks.
The reforms are not as radical as many politicians had called for. Several countries fought hard to protect their share of EU money and, as all budget decisions have to be unanimous, they could have vetoed any deal going against them.
In typical EU fashion, the compromise budget is mixture of give and take, but there are some clear winners and losers.
As the sun rose over Berlin, a compromise was finally foundMost consumers living in the European Union should be among the winners, as the price of many foods could fall in the coming years.
Spain, Greece, Portugal and France did quite nicely, defending their share of EU subsidies.
The big loser is Germany. The host government tried to get its EU payments reduced by 3bn euros, but for the talks to succeed the Germans had to settle for a cut of just 700m euros.
Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands are the other big contributors to the EU’s coffers and they did not achieve the big cuts they hoped for either.
Italy could soon become one of the big spenders. In two years new rules for calculating each country’s budget share will sharply drive up the size of Italy’s contributions.
The Union’s aims and prospects
During its brief history, the European Union has grown greatly in terms of the area it covers – it now numbers fifteen Member States – its political significance and its institutions. The founding Treaties have been revised three times: in 1987 (the Single Act), in 1992 (the Treaty on European Union) and in 1997 (the draft Treaty of Amsterdam).
The ultimate goal of the European Union is “an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen”; the objective is to promote economic and social progress which is balanced and sustainable, assert the European identity on the international scene and introduce a European citizenship for the nationals of the Member States.
The European Union has its own flag, its own anthem and celebrates Europe Day on 9 May.
The Union’s main objectives for the coming years are:
othe implementation of the Treaty of Amsterdam (which contains new rights for citizens, freedom of movement, employment, strengthening the institutions) oenlargement of the EU, to take in the applicant countries from central and eastern Europe (Agenda 2000) othe launching of the euro.
The European Union has gradually been conferring on people new rights which can be upheld by national courts and by the European Court of Justice. These rights, which have always been regarded by the Court of Justice as general principles that the European institutions were bound by, were written into the Treaty at various stages, reflecting the development of Union activities. The Treaty of Rome began by outlawing discrimination based on nationality in matters connected with the free movement of workers. Subsequently three other instruments – the Single Act (1987) and the Maastricht (1992) and Amsterdam (1997) Treaties – added further rights which can be divided into three major categories:
2.Rights inherent in freedom of movement
3.Individual democratic rights
It is essential for the democratic development of the European Union that the rights enjoyed by all people and by European citizens in particular be upheld.
In addition to these formal rights, it should be added that the Amsterdam Treaty implicitly acknowledges that Europeans are entitled to expect the Union to act in matters which concern them.
The mission of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg, is to provide the European Union with a high-quality statistical service. Eurostat receives statistical data, collected according to uniform rules, from the national statistical institutes of the EU Member States. It then consolidates and harmonises the data, before making them available to the public in the form of printed or electronic publications or press releases. The data are directly available from the Data Shop network and from EUR-OP distribution networks.
Publications, Databases and Documents
General information about the European Union is available as free of charge publications. The Official Journal, other official documents, specialized publications and databases addressing professional needs, can be ordered from EUR-OP. All these information sources can also be consulted in the relays and networks created in each Member State and several foreign countries.
The fifteen Member States
In the beginning they were six. Then nine, ten, twelve and today fifteen European countries bound together to form the European Union. Fifteen different nations determined to shape their future closely together. Governments on-line provides links to their public web servers.
ABOUT THE FLAG
The aim of this document is to help those who use the European emblem to reproduce it correctly. The document contains the basic rules for the construction of the emblem as well as the standard colours to be used.
Against the background of blue sky, twelve golden stars form a circle, representing the union of the peoples of Europe. The number of stars is invariable, twelve being the symbol of perfection and entirety.
On a field azure a circle of twelve mullets or, their points not touching.
The emblem is in the form of a blue rectangular flag of which the fly is one and a half times the length of the hoist. Twelve gold stars situated at equal intervals form an invisible circle whose centre is the point of intersection of the diagonals of the rectangle. The radius of the circle is equal to one-third of the height of the hoist. Each of the stars has five points which are situated on the circumference of an invisible circle whose radius is equal to one-eighteenth of the height of the hoist. All the stars are upright – that is to say, with the one point vertical and two points in a straight line at right angles to the mast.
The circle is arranged so that the stars appear in the position of the hours on the face of a clock. Their number is invariable.
The emblem is in the following colours:
PANTONE REFLEX BLUE for the surface of the rectangle; PANTONE YELLOW for the stars.
The international PANTONE range is very widely available and easily accessible even for non-professionals.