Javier Solana

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Posted by pompos 04/23/2009 @ 18:13

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EU's Solana, US VP Biden To Visit Bosnia-Herzegovina Tuesday - EasyBourse.com
BRUSSELS (AFP)--European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has confirmed he will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina with US Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday to prepare for the transition of the international high representative post there....
Opposition Leader to Meet Solana - The FINANCIAL
The FINANCIAL -- Salome Zourabichvili, leader of Georgia's Way party and one of key figures behind the ongoing protest rallies in Tbilisi , will meet with EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in Brussels on May 18 evening, according to Solana's...
Moldovan president has phone conversation with Javier Solana - Moldpress
Chisinau, 13 May /MOLDPRES/ - President Vladimir Voronin has had a phone conversation with Secretary-General of the European Union's Council, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, according to the presidential...
Pro-Democracy Leader Goes on Trial in Myanmar - New York Times
On Monday the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said, “It's not the moment to lower sanctions, it's the moment in any case to increase them.” Among Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters, including exile groups and her own lawyers,...
EU eyes extending anti-piracy mission to Indian Ocean - Earthtimes (press release)
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the mission had so far succeeded in escorting more than 20 World Food Programme ships, allowing 130000 tonnes of food to be delivered. Solana also put the total number of captured pirates at 52....
EU to decide on ties after Israel review-Solana - Reuters
PRAGUE, May 6 (Reuters) - The European Union will decide what to do about a frozen upgrade in ties with Israel once Israel unveils its Palestinian strategy review, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Wednesday. Solana said "not much has...
Somalia: Statement of J. Solana for the transitional government of ... - Somaliweyn
Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), issued a statement reiterating his full solidarity with and support for the Transitional Government of Somalia, which is facing new attacks in Mogadishu by armed...
Lavrov and Solana talked about Kosmet - Radio Srbija
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU High Representative Javier Solana discussed the current international problems, among other things, the Iranian nuclear program, resolution of the Middle East issue, Kosovo problem, the situation in Moldova...
Council of the European Union: EU HR Javier SOLANA met Gjorge ... - Girodivite
Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) met today Gjorge IVANOV, President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The President was accompanied by Prime Minister Nikola GRUEVSKI....
Georgia's Way Leader To Meet With Eu High Commissioner - Journal of Turkish Weekly
Leader of the Georgia's Way party Salome Zurabishvili will leave for Brussels today to meet with European Union High Commissioner for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. Zurabishvili said he will use all mechanisms so that the...

Javier Solana

Javier Solana

Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga, Ph.D. (born 14 July 1942 in Madrid, Spain) is the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU). He was named Secretary General of the 10 permanent member Western European Union in November 1999. Solana was a physicist who became a political minister for 13 years under Felipe González before serving as Secretary General of NATO from 1995 to 1999.

Since October 1999, he has served as the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In 2004, Solana had been designated to become the EU's Minister for Foreign Affairs for when the European Constitution was to come into force in 2009 but it was not ratified and his position has been renamed under the Treaty of Lisbon.

Solana comes from a well-known Spanish family, being the grand nephew of Spanish League of Nations disarmament chief, diplomat, writer and European integrationist Salvador de Madariaga. His father was a chemistry professor Francisco Solana. His older brother Luis was once imprisoned for his political activities opposing the rule of Francisco Franco and subsequently became a distinguished leader in the Spanish telecommunications industry, and was one of the first socialist members of the Trilateral Commission.

Solana studied at the El Pilar College, an exclusive Catholic secondary school, before going to Complutense University (UCM). There as a student in 1963 he suffered sanctions imposed by the authorities for having organised an opposition forum at the so-called Week of University Renovation. In 1964 he clandestinely joined the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), which had been illegal under Franco since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. In the same year he graduated and then spent a year furthering his studies at Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and in the United Kingdom.

In 1965 he went to the United States, where he spent six years studying at various universities on a Fulbright Scholarship. He visited the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego, and then enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. There, he taught physics classes as a Teaching Assistant and carried on independent research; he also joined in the protests against the Vietnam War and was President of the Association of Foreign Students. He received his doctorate in physics from Virginia in 1971 with a thesis on Theory of the Elementary Excitation Spectrum of Superfluid Helium: the Roton Lifetime, extending his planned stay in the US by a year in order to continue his research. Returning to Spain he became a lecturer in solid-state physics at the Autonomous University of Madrid, UAM, and then in 1975 he became a Professor at Complutense University. During these years he published more than 30 articles. For a time he worked as assistant to Nicolás Cabrera, whom he had met when Cabrera was Professor at the University of Virginia. The last Ph.D. dissertations that he directed were in the early 1990s.

On returning to Spain in 1971 Solana joined the Democratic Co-ordination of Madrid as the PSOE representative.

In 1976, during PSOE's first national congress inside Spain since the civil war, he was elected Secretary of the party's Federal Executive Commission, and also Secretary for Information and Press, remaining in the post for five years. He was a close personal friend of the party's leader Felipe González, and is considered one of the PSOE leaders responsible for the transformation of the party in the post-Franco era. In 1976 he represented the PSOE at a Socialist international congress held in Suresnes, France, and again when it was held in Spain in 1977. On 20 May 1977 he accompanied González in visiting King Juan Carlos at the Zarzuela Palace.

He became a representative of a teacher's union in the Complutense University, and in this role won a parliamentary seat for PSOE on 15 June 1977 and represented Madrid region until December 1995. On 23 February 1981 he was in the parliament when it was taken over for 18 hours in an attempted coup by armed gunmen led by Antonio Tejero.

On 28 October 1982 PSOE won a historic victory with 202 out of 350 seats in the lower house. On 3 December, along with the other members of González's first cabinet, Solana was sworn in as Minister for Culture, where he remained until moving to the Ministry of Education in 1988. On 5 July 1985 he was also made the Official Spokesman for the Government for three years.

He was made Minister for Foreign Affairs on 22 July 1992, the day before the opening of the II Ibero-American conference of heads of state in Madrid, replacing the terminally ill Francisco Fernández Ordóñez. On November 27–28 1995, while Spain held the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Solana convened and chaired the Barcelona Conference. A treaty was achieved between the twenty-seven nations in attendance with Solana gaining credit for what he called "a process to foster cultural and economic unity in the Mediterranean region".

It was during these thirteen years as a cabinet minister that Solana's reputation as a discreet and diplomatic politician grew. By going to the foreign Ministry in the later years of González administration he avoided the political scandals of corruption, and of the dirty war allegedly being fought against ETA, that characterised its last years. Towards the end of 1995, Solana – the only surviving member of González's original cabinet – was talked about in the press as a possible candidate to replace him and lead the PSOE in the following March elections. Instead, he made the leap to international politics.

During and after his spell as NATO secretary general (see below) Solana continues to play an active role in PSOE and Spanish politics. In June 1997, at the XXXIV PSOE Congress, Solana left their Executive Commission and joined their Federal Committee, being re-elected in second place three years later. By supporting Colin Powell's 5 February 2003 speech to the UN Security council which claimed that Iraq had WMD's Solana contradicted the position of his party leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who opposed the PP government of José María Aznar's support for the invasion of Iraq. Solana is seen, along with González, as representing the older wing of the party. On 15 February 2005 he criticised the Plan Ibarretxe for its position on Basque Country independence, saying that its call for separate Basque representation within the EU had no place within the proposed EU constitution.

On 5 December 1995, Solana became the new Secretary-General of NATO, replacing Willy Claes who had been forced to resign in a corruption scandal. His appointment created controversy as, in the past, he had been an opponent of NATO. He had written a pamphlet called 50 Reasons to say no to NATO, and had been on a US subversives list. On 30 May 1982 Spain joined NATO. When PSOE came to power later that year, Solana and the party changed their previous anti-NATO positions into an atlanticist, pro-NATO stance. On 12 March 1986 Spain held a referendum on whether to remain in NATO, with the government and Solana successfully campaigning in favour. When criticised about his anti-NATO past, Solana argued that he was happy to be its representative as it had become disassociated from its Cold War origins.

Solana immediately had to deal with the Balkans NATO mission Operation Joint Endeavour that consisted of a multinational peacekeeping Implementation Force (IFOR) of 60,000 soldiers which took over from a United Nations mission on 20 December. This came about through the Dayton agreement, after NATO had bombed selected targets in Bosnia and Herzegovina the previous August and September. He did this by deploying the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). In December 1996 the ARRC was again activated, with IFOR being replaced by a 32,000-strong Stabilisation Force (SFOR) operating under codenames Joint Guard and later Joint Forge.

During Solana's term, NATO reorganised its political and military structure and changed its basic strategies. He gained the reputation of being a very successful, diplomatic Secretary General who was capable of negotiating between the differing NATO members and between NATO and non-NATO States. In December 1995 France partially returned to the military structure of NATO, while in November 1996 Spain joined it. On 27 May 1997, after 5 months of negotiations with Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, an agreement was reached resulting in the Paris NATO-Russia Founding Act. On the same day, Solana presided over the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to improve relations between European NATO and non-NATO countries.

Keeping the peace in the former Yugoslavia continued to be both difficult and controversial. IFOR and SFOR had received a lot of criticism for their inability to capture the Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. In late 1998 the conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo between the Yugoslav authorities and the Kosovar Albanian guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army deteriorated, culminating in the Račak incident on 15 January 1999, in which 45 Albanians were killed. NATO decided that the conflict could only be settled by introducing a proper military peacekeeping force under their auspices, to forcibly restrain the two sides. On 30 January 1999, NATO announced that it was prepared to launch air strikes against Yugoslav targets. On 6 February, Solana met both sides for negotiations at the Château de Rambouillet, but they were unsuccessful.

On 24 March, NATO forces launched air attacks on military and civilian targets in Yugoslavia, without authorization from the United Nations Security Council. Solana justified the attacks on humanitarian grounds, and on the responsibility of NATO to keep peace in Europe and to prevent recurrences of ethnic cleansing and genocide similar to those which occurred during the Bosnian War (1992-1995).

Solana and NATO were criticised for the civilian casualties caused by the bombings. On April 23-24, the North Atlantic Council met in Washington D.C. where the Heads of State of the member nations agreed to the New Strategic Concept, which changed the basic defensive nature of the organisation and allowed for NATO intervention in a greater range of situations than before.

On 10 June, Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo, and NATO stopped its attacks, which ended the Kosovo War. The same day UN Security Council Resolution 1244 authorised NATO to active the ARRC, with the Kosovo Force launching Operation Joint Guardian and occupying the province on 12 June. Solana left NATO on 6 October , 1999, two months ahead of schedule, and was replaced by George Robertson.

After leaving NATO, Solana took up a role in the European Union. Earlier in the year, on the 1999-07-04, he was appointed by the Cologne European Council as Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union. An administrative position but it was decided that the Secretary-General would also be appointed High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In this role he represented the EU abroad where there was an agreed common policy. He took up the post on 1999-10-18, shortly after standing down from NATO. The post has a budget of €40 million, most of which goes to Balkan operations. From 25 November 1999-11-25 he was also appointed Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU), overseeing the transfer of responsibilities from that organisation to the CFSP. In 2004 his 5 year mandate was renewed. He has also become president of the European Defence Agency.

The Clinton administration claimed in May 2000 that Solana was the fulfilment of Henry Kissinger's famous desire to have a phone number to talk to Europe. In December 2003 Solana released the European Security Strategy, which sets out the main priorities and identifies the main threats to the security of the EU, including terrorism. On 25 March 2004 Solana appointed Gijs de Vries as the anti-terrorist co-ordinator for the CFSP, and outlined his duties as being to streamline, organise and co-ordinate the EU's fight against terrorism.

On 29 June 2004 he was designated to become the EU's first "Union Minister for Foreign Affairs", a position created by the European Constitutional Treaty combining the head of the CFSP with that of the European Commissioner for External Relations. It would give a single voice to foreign policy and combine the powers and influence of the two posts with a larger budget, more staff and a coherent diplomatic corps. The position (colloquially known as "Mr. Europe") has been partly maintained in the Reform Treaty as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, but it is unknown if Solana will still take the post.

He has negotiated numerous Treaties of Association between the European Union and various Middle Eastern and Latin American countries, including Bolivia and Colombia. Solana played a pivotal role in unifying the remainder of the former Yugoslavian federation. He proposed that Montenegro form a union with Serbia instead of having full independence, stating that this was done to avoid a domino effect from Kosovo and Vojvodina independence demands. Local media sarcastically named the new country "Solania".

On 21 January 2002 Solana said that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. The EU has stated that it hopes to avoid another war like the Iraqi invasion through this and future negotiations, and Solana has said the most difficult moments of his job were when the United Kingdom and France, the two permanent EU Security Council members, were in disagreement.

The so-called Vilnius letter, a declaration of support by eastern European countries for the United States' aim of régime change in Iraq, and the letter of the eight, a similar letter from the UK, Italy, and six second-tier countries, are generally seen as a low-water mark of the CFSP.

Solana has played an important role working toward a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and continues to be a primary architect of the "Road Map for Peace," along with the UN, Russia, and the United States in the Quartet on the Middle East. On 22 July 2004 he met Ariel Sharon in Israel. Sharon had originally refused to meet Solana, but eventually accepted that, whether he liked it or not, the EU was involved in the Road Map. He criticised Israel for obstructing the Palestinian presidential election of 9 January 2005, but then met Sharon again on 13 January.

In November 2004 he assisted the United Kingdom, France and Germany in negotiating a nuclear material enrichment freeze with Iran. In the same month he was involved in mediating between the two presidential candidates in the post-election developments in Ukraine, and on 21 January 2005 he invited Ukraine's new President Viktor Yushchenko to discuss future EU membership.

Solana is married to Concepción Giménez, and they have two adult children, Diego and Vega. He lives in Brussels, where his apartment has a reputation of being a focal point for Spanish politicians in or visiting this capital. Apart from his native Spanish, he also speaks fluent French, as well as English.

U.S. ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow said of him: "He is an extraordinary consensus-builder who works behind the scenes with leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that NATO is united when it counts." He is a frequent speaker at the prestigious U.S. based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is likewise active in the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) as well as the New York City based East West Institute.

He is a Knight of the Order of St Michael and St George, a member of the Spanish section of the Club of Rome. He has received the Grand Cross of Isabel the Catholic in Spain and the Manfred Wörner Medal from the German Defence Ministry. He has been President of the Madariaga European Foundation since 1998. He received the Vision for Europe Award in 2003. Also in 2003, he received the 'Statesman of the Year Award' from the EastWest Institute, a Transatlantic think tank that organizes an annual Security Conference in Brussels. In 2006 Solana received the Carnegie-Wateler peace prize. He has also been awarded the Charlemagne Prize for 2007 for his distinguished services on behalf of European unification.

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European Union

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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993, upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community. With almost 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share (US$16.8 trillion in 2007) of the nominal gross world product.

The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, guaranteeing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. Sixteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro. It has developed a limited role in foreign policy, having representation at the WTO, G8 summits, and at the UN. Twenty-one EU countries are members of NATO. The EU has developed a role in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport controls between many member states which form part of the Schengen Area, which also incorporates some associated European non-EU countries.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. In certain areas it depends upon agreement between the member states. However, it also has supranational bodies, able to make decisions without unanimity between all national governments. Important institutions and bodies of the EU include the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. EU citizens elect the Parliament every five years.

The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Since then the union has grown in size through the accession of new countries, and new policy areas have been added to the remit of the EU's institutions.

After the end of the Second World War, moves towards European integration were seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent. One such attempt to unite Europeans was the European Coal and Steel Community which, while having the modest aim of centralised control of the previously national coal and steel industries of its member states, was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe". The founding members of the Community were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.

Two additional communities were created in 1957: the European Economic Community (EEC) establishing a customs union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for cooperation in developing nuclear energy. In 1967 the Merger Treaty created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities, although more commonly just as the European Community (EC).

In 1973 the Communities enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Norway had negotiated to join at the same time but a referendum rejected membership and so it remained outside. In 1979 the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.

Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986. In 1985 the Schengen Agreement created largely open borders without passport controls between most member states. In 1986 the European flag began to be used by the Community and the Single European Act was signed.

In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the former East Germany became part of the Community as part of a newly united Germany. With enlargement toward East-Central Europe on the agenda, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed.

The European Union was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993, and in 1995 Austria, Sweden and Finland joined the newly established EU. In 2002, euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Since then, the eurozone has increased to encompass sixteen countries, with Slovakia joining the eurozone on 1 January 2009. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary joined the Union.

On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became the EU's newest members and Slovenia adopted the euro. In December of that year European leaders signed the Lisbon Treaty which was intended to replace the earlier, failed European Constitution, which never came into force after being rejected by French and Dutch voters. However, uncertainty clouds the prospects of the Lisbon Treaty's coming into force as result of its rejection by Irish voters in June 2008.

The European Union is composed of 27 independent sovereign states which are known as member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

There are three official candidate countries, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey. The western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia are officially recognised as potential candidates. Kosovo is also listed by the European Commission as a potential candidate but the Commission does not list it as an independent country because not all member states recognise it as an independent country, separate from Serbia.

To join the EU, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. These require a stable democracy which respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country's fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council. The current framework does not specify how a country could exit the Union (although Greenland, a Territory of Denmark, withdrew in 1985), but the proposed Treaty of Lisbon contains a formal procedure for withdrawing.

Four Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU have partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are a part of the single market through the European Economic Area, and Switzerland has similar ties through bilateral treaties. The relationships of the European microstates: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican include the use of the euro and other areas of co-operation.

The territory of the EU consists of the combined territories of its 27 member states with some exceptions outlined below. The territory of the EU is not the same as that of Europe, as parts of the continent are outside the EU, such as Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, and European Russia. Some parts of member states are not part of the EU, despite forming part of the European continent (for example the Channel Islands and Faroe Islands). Several territories associated with member states that are outside geographic Europe are also not part of the EU (such as Greenland, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and all the non-European territories associated with the United Kingdom). Some overseas territories are part of the EU even if they are not geographically part of Europe, such as the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Lampedusa and Lampione, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion (these seven regions have the status of Outermost Regions of the EU), Ceuta, Melilla, Saint Martin, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The island country of Cyprus, a member of the EU, is approximate to Turkey – specifically, Anatolia (Asia Minor) – and often considered part of Asia. As well, although being technically part of the EU, EU law is suspended in Northern Cyprus as it is under the de facto control of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, a self-proclaimed state that is only recognised by Turkey.

The EU's member states cover a combined area of 4,422,773 square kilometres (1,707,642 sq mi). The total territory of the EU is larger than all but six countries and its highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps, 4,807 metres (15,771 ft) above sea level. The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. The EU has the world's second longest coastline, after Canada. The combined member states share land borders with 21 non-member states for a total of 12,441 kilometres (7,730 mi), the fifth longest border in the world.

Including the overseas territories of member states, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic to tropical, rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. In practice, the majority of the population lives either in areas with a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), a temperate maritime climate (Western Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Eastern Europe).

The EU is often described as being divided into three areas of responsibility, called pillars. The original European Community policies form the first pillar, while the second consists of Common Foreign and Security Policy. The third pillar originally consisted of Justice and Home Affairs, however owing to changes introduced by the Amsterdam and Nice treaties, it currently consists of Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters. Broadly speaking, the second and third pillars can be described as the intergovernmental pillars because the supranational institutions of the Commission, Parliament and the Court of Justice play less of a role or none at all, while the lead is taken by the intergovernmental Council of Ministers and the European Council. Most activities of the EU come under the first, Community pillar. This is mostly economically oriented pillar and is where the supranational institutions have the most influence.

The activities of the EU are regulated by a number of institutions and bodies. They carry out the tasks and policies set out for them in the treaties. The EU receives its political leadership from the European Council, which is composed of one representative per member state — either its head of state or head of government — plus the President of the Commission. Each member states' representative is assisted by its Foreign Minister. The Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes which have arisen between member states and the institutions, and to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies.

The Council is headed by a rotating presidency, with every member state taking the helm of the EU for a period of six months during which that country's representatives chair meetings of the European Council and the Council of Ministers. The member state holding the presidency typically uses it to drive a particular policy agenda such as economic reform, reform of the EU itself, enlargement or furthering European integration. The Council usually meet four times a year at European Summits.

The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organisation independent from the EU.

The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. It is intended to act solely in the interest of the EU as a whole, as opposed to the Council which consists of leaders of member states who reflect national interests. The commission is also seen as the motor of European integration. It is currently composed of 27 commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state. The President of the Commission and all the other commissioners are nominated by the Council. Appointment of the Commission President, and also the Commission in its entirety, have to be confirmed by Parliament.

The European Parliament forms one half of the EU's legislature. The 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats. The Parliament and the Council form and pass legislation jointly, using co-decision, in certain areas of policy. This procedure will extend to many new areas under the proposed Treaty of Lisbon, and hence increase the power and relevance of the Parliament. The Parliament also has the power to reject or censure the Commission and the EU budget. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The president and vice presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.

The Council of the European Union (sometimes referred to as the Council of Ministers) forms the other half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member states and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different compositions, it is considered to be one single body. In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The judicial branch of the EU consists of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Court of First Instance. Together they interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU. The Court of First Instance mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts, and the ECJ primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions and cases referred to it by the courts of member states. Decisions from the Court of First Instance can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.

The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties. These are power giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants. Under the principle of supremacy, national courts are required to enforce the treaties that their member states have ratified, and thus the laws enacted under them, even if doing so requires them to ignore conflicting national law, and (within limits) even constitutional provisions.

The main legislative acts of the EU come in three forms: Regulations, Directives and Decisions. Regulations become law in all member states the moment they come into force, without the requirement for any implementing measures, and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions. Directives require member states to achieve a certain result while leaving them discretion as to how to achieve the result. The details of how they are to be implemented are left to member states. When the time limit for implementing directives passes, they may, under certain conditions, have direct effect in national law against Member States. Decisions offer an alternative to the two above mode of legislation. They are legal acts which only apply to specified individuals, companies or a particular Member State. They are most often used in Competition Law, or on rulings on State Aid, but are also frequently used for procedural or administrative matters within the institutions. Regulations, directives and decisions are of equal legal value and apply without any formal hierarchy.

One of the complicating features of the EU's legal system is the multiplicity of legislative procedures used to enact legislation. The treaties micro-manage the EU's powers, indicating different ways of adopting legislation for different policy areas and for different areas within the same policy areas. A common feature of the EU's legislative procedures, however, is that almost all legislation must be initiated by the Commission, rather than member states or European parliamentarians. The two most common procedures are co-decision, under which the European Parliament can veto proposed legislation, and consultation, under which Parliament is only permitted to give an opinion which can be ignored by European leaders. In most cases legislation must be agreed by the council.

National courts within the Member States play a key role in the EU as enforcers of EU law, and a "spirit of cooperation" between EU and national courts is laid down in the Treaties. National courts can apply EU law in domestic cases, and if they require clarification on the interpretation or validity of any EU legislation related to the case it may make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the ECJ. The right to declare EU legislation invalid however is reserved to the EU courts.

At present the EU does not have a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which its legal acts might be judged. However the European Court of Justice does give judgements on fundamental rights derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the Member States," and may even invalidate EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to these fundamental rights. While the EU may be said to have an unwritten fundamental rights code, there have, nonetheless, been efforts to establish a written catalogue. In 2000 the EU drew up the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Charter is not legally binding at present but would become so if the Lisbon Treaty comes into force.

Although signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership, the EU itself is not covered by the convention as it is neither a state nor has the competence to accede. Nonetheless the Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights co-operate to ensure their case-law does not conflict. If the Lisbon Treaty comes into force the EU would be required to accede to the ECHR.

Foreign policy cooperation between member states dates from the establishment of the Community in 1957, when member states negotiated as a bloc in international trade negotiations under the Common Commercial Policy. Steps for a more wide ranging coordination in foreign relations began in 1970 with the establishment of European Political Cooperation which created an informal consultation process between member states with the aim of forming common foreign policies. It was not, however, until the 1987, when European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.

The Maastricht Treaty gives the CFSP the aims of promoting both the EU's own interests and those of the international community as a whole. This includes promoting international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

The Amsterdam Treaty created the office of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (currently held by Javier Solana) to co-ordinate the EU's foreign policy. The High Representative, in conjunction with the current Presidency, speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy matters and can have the task of articulating ambiguous policy positions created by disagreements among member states. The Common Foreign and Security Policy requires unanimity among the now 27 member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP makes disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq, not uncommon.

Besides the emerging international policy of the European Union, the international influence of the EU is also felt through enlargement. The perceived benefits of becoming a member of the EU act as an incentive for both political and economic reform in states wishing to fulfil the EU's accession criteria, and are considered an important factor contributing to the reform of former Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".

Besides the CFSP, the Commission also has its own representation in international organisations. This is primarily through the European Commissioner for External Relations, who works alongside the High Representative. In the UN, as an observer and working together, the EU has gained influence in areas such as aid due to its large contributions in that field (see below). In the G8, the EU has rights of membership besides chairing/hosting summit meetings and is represented at meetings by the presidents of the Commission and the Council. In the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where all 27 member states are represented, the EU as a body is represented by Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.

The European Community Humanitarian Aid Office, or "ECHO", provides humanitarian aid from the EU to developing countries. In 2006 its budget amounted to €671 million, 48% of which went to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Counting the EU's own contributions and those of its member states together, the EU is the largest aid donor in the world.

The EU's aid has previously been criticised by the Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe for being inefficient, mis-targeted and linked to economic objectives. Furthermore, some charities have claimed European governments have inflated the amount they have spent on aid by incorrectly including money spent on debt relief, foreign students, and refugees. Under the de-inflated figures, the EU as a whole did not reach its internal aid target in 2006 and is expected not to reach the international target of 0.7% of GNI until 2015. However, four countries have reached that target, most notably Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Denmark. In 2005 EU aid was 0.34% of the GNP which was higher than that of either the United States or Japan. The current commissioner for aid, Louis Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly, to greater effect, and on humanitarian principles.

Member states are responsible for their own territorial defence. Many EU members are also members of NATO although some member states follow policies of neutrality. The Western European Union (WEU) is a European security organisation related to the EU. In 1992, the WEU's relationship with the EU was defined, when the EU assigned it the "Petersberg tasks" (humanitarian missions such as peacekeeping and crisis management). These tasks were later transferred from the WEU to the EU by the Amsterdam Treaty and now form part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy. Elements of the WEU are currently being merged into the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the President of the WEU is currently the EU's foreign policy chief.

Following the Kosovo War in 1999, the European Council agreed that "the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and the readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO". To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. After much discussion, the most concrete result was the EU Battlegroups initiative, each of which is planned to be able to deploy quickly about 1500 men. EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from Africa to the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European Defence Agency, satellite centre and the military staff.

Over the years, the EU has developed a wide competence in the area of justice and home affairs. To this end, agencies have been established that co-ordinate associated actions: Europol for co-operation of police forces, Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors, and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities. The EU also operates the Schengen Information System which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities.

Furthermore, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition, family law, asylum law, and criminal justice. Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties. In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.

Since its origin, the EU has established a single economic market across the territory of all its members. Currently, a single currency is in use between the 16 members of the eurozone. Considered as a single economy, the EU generated an estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of US$16.91 trillion in 2007, amounting to over 22% of the world's total economic output in terms of purchasing power parity which makes it the largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the second largest trade bloc economy in the world by PPP valuation of GDP. It is also the largest exporter of goods, the second largest importer, and the biggest trading partner to several large countries such as India, and China.

170 of the top 500 largest corporations measured by revenue (Fortune Global 500) have their headquarters in the EU. In May 2007 unemployment in the EU stood at 7% while investment was at 21.4% of GDP, inflation at 2.2% and public deficit at -0.9% of GDP. There is a great deal of variance for annual per capita income within individual EU states, these range from US$7,000 to US$69,000.

Two of the original core objectives of the European Economic Community were the development of a common market, subsequently renamed the single market, and a customs union between its member states. The single market involves the free circulation of goods, capital, people and services within the EU, and the customs union involves the application of a common external tariff on all goods entering the market. Once goods have been admitted into the market they can not be subjected to customs duties, discriminatory taxes or import quotas, as they travel internally. The non-EU member states of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland participate in the single market but not in the customs union. Half the trade in the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU.

Free movement of capital is intended to permit movement of investments such as property purchases and buying of shares between countries. Until the drive towards Economic and Monetary Union the development of the capital provisions had been slow. Post-Maastricht there has been a rapidly developing corpus of ECJ judgements regarding this initially neglected freedom. The free movement of capital is unique insofar as that it is granted equally to non-member states.

The free movement of persons means citizens can move freely between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. This required the lowering of administrative formalities and recognition of professional qualifications of other states.

The free movement of services and of establishment allows self-employed persons to move between member states in order to provide services on a temporary or permanent basis. While services account for between sixty and seventy percent of GDP, legislation in the area is not as developed as in other areas. This lacuna has been addressed by the recently passed Directive on services in the internal market which aims to liberalise the cross border provision of services. According to the Treaty the provision of services is a residual freedom that only applies if no other freedom is being exercised.

The creation of a European single currency became an official objective of the EU in 1969. However, it was only with the advent of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 that member states were legally bound to start the monetary union no later than 1 January 1999. On this date the euro was duly launched by eleven of the then fifteen member states of the EU. It remained an accounting currency until 1 January 2002, when euro notes and coins were issued and national currencies began to phase out in the eurozone, which by then consisted of twelve member states. The eurozone has since grown to sixteen countries, the most recent being Slovakia which joined on 1 January 2009.

All other EU member states, except Denmark and the United Kingdom, are legally bound to join the euro when the economic conditions are met, however only a few countries have set target dates for accession. Sweden has circumvented the requirement to join the euro area by not meeting the membership criteria.

The euro is designed to help build a single market by, for example: easing travel of citizens and goods, eliminating exchange rate problems, providing price transparency, creating a single financial market, price stability and low interest rates, and providing a currency used internationally and protected against shocks by the large amount of internal trade within the eurozone. It is also intended as a political symbol of integration and stimulus for more.

The euro, and the monetary policies of those who have adopted it in agreement with the EU, are under the control of the European Central Bank (ECB). There are eleven other currencies used in the EU. A number of other countries outside the EU, such as Montenegro, use the euro without formal agreement with the ECB.

The EU operates a competition policy intended to ensure undistorted competition within the single market. The Commission as the competition regulator for the single market is responsible for antitrust issues, approving mergers, breaking up cartels, working for economic liberalisation and preventing state aid.

The Competition Commissioner, currently Neelie Kroes, is one of the most powerful positions in the Commission, notable for the ability to affect the commercial interests of trans-national corporations. For example, in 2001 the Commission for the first time prevented a merger between two companies based in the United States (GE and Honeywell) which had already been approved by their national authority. Another high profile case against Microsoft, resulted in the Commission fining Microsoft over €777 million following nine years of legal action.

In negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded in removing the words "free and undistorted competition" from the treaties. However, the requirement is maintained in an annex and it is unclear whether this will have any practical effect on EU policy.

The twenty-seven member state EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007-2013, representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods. By comparison, the United Kingdom's expenditure for 2004 was estimated to be €759 billion, and France was estimated to have spent €801 billion. In 1960, the budget of the then European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP.

In the 2006 budget, the largest single expenditure item was agriculture with around 46.7% of the total budget. Next came structural and cohesion funds with approximately 30.4% of the total.

Internal policies took up around 8.5%. Administration accounted for around 6.3%. External actions, the pre-accession strategy, compensations and reserves brought up the rear with approximately 4.9%, 2.1%, 1% and 0.1% respectively.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest policies of the European Community, and was one of its core aims. The policy has the objectives of increasing agricultural production, providing certainty in food supplies, ensuring a high quality of life for farmers, stabilising markets, and ensuring reasonable prices for consumers (article 33 of the Treaty of Rome). It was, until recently, operated by a system of subsidies and market intervention. Until the 1990s, the policy accounted for over 60% of the then European Community's annual budget, and still accounts for around 35%.

The policy's price controls and market interventions led to considerable overproduction, resulting in so-called butter mountains and wine lakes. These were intervention stores of produce bought up by the Community to maintain minimum price levels. In order to dispose of surplus stores, they were often sold on the world market at prices considerably below Community guaranteed prices, or farmers were offered subsidies (amounting to the difference between the Community and world prices) to export their produce outside the Community. This system has been criticised for under-cutting farmers in the developing world. The overproduction has also been criticised for encouraging environmentally unfriendly intensive farming methods. Supporters of CAP say that the economic support which it gives to farmers provides them with a reasonable standard of living, in what would otherwise be an economically unviable way of life. However, the EU's small farmers receive only 8% of CAP's available subsidies.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the CAP has been subject to a series of reforms. Initially these reforms included the introduction of set-aside in 1988, where a proportion of farm land was deliberately withdrawn from production, milk quotas (by the McSharry reforms in 1992) and, more recently, the 'de-coupling' (or disassociation) of the money farmers receive from the EU and the amount they produce (by the Fischler reforms in 2004). Agriculture expenditure will move away from subsidy payments linked to specific produce, toward direct payments based on farm size. This is intended to allow the market to dictate production levels, while maintaining agricultural income levels. One of these reforms entailed the abolition of the EU's sugar regime, which previously divided the sugar market between member states and certain African-Caribbean nations with a privileged relationship with the EU.

In 2006, the 27 member states of the EU had a gross inland energy consumption of 1,825 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). Around 46% of the energy consumed was produced within the member states while 54% was imported. In these statistics, nuclear energy is treated as primary energy produced in the EU, regardless of the source of the uranium, of which less than 3 percent is produced in the EU.

The EU has had legislative power in the area of energy policy for most of its existence; this has its roots in the original European Coal and Steel Community. The introduction of a mandatory and comprehensive European energy policy was approved at the meeting of the European Council in October 2005, and the first draft policy was published in January 2007.

The Commission has five key points in its energy policy: increase competition in the internal market, encourage investment and boost interconnections between electricity grids; diversify energy resources with better systems to respond to a crisis; establish a new treaty framework for energy co-operation with Russia while improving relations with energy-rich states in Central Asia and North Africa; use existing energy supplies more efficiently while increasing use of renewable energy; and finally increase funding for new energy technologies.

The EU currently imports 82% of its oil, 57% of its gas and 97.48% of its uranium demands. There are concerns that the EU is largely dependent on other countries, primarily Russia, for its energy. This concern has grown following a series of clashes between Russia and its neighbours, threatening the flow of gas. As a result the EU is attempting to diversify its energy supply.

The EU is working to improve cross-border infrastructure within the EU, for example through the Trans-European Networks (TEN). Projects under TEN include the Channel Tunnel, LGV Est, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Oresund Bridge and the Brenner Base Tunnel. In 2001 it was estimated that by 2010 the network would cover: 75,200 kilometres (46,700 mi) of roads; 78,000 kilometres (48,000 mi) of railways; 330 airports; 270 maritime harbours; and 210 internal harbours.

The developing European transport policies will increase the pressure on the environment in many regions by the increased transport network. In the pre-2004 EU members, the major problem in transport deals with congestion and pollution. After the recent enlargement, the new states that joined since 2004 added the problem of solving accessibility to the transport agenda. The Polish road network in particular was in poor condition: at Poland's accession to the EU, 4,600 roads needed to be upgraded to EU standards, demanding approximately €17 billion.

Another infrastructure project is the Galileo positioning system. Galileo is a proposed Global Navigation Satellite System, to be built by the EU and launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), and is to be operational by 2010. The Galileo project was launched partly to reduce the EU's dependency on the US-operated Global Positioning System, but also to give more complete global coverage, allow for far greater accuracy and to provide redunancy, given the aged nature of the GPS system. It has been criticised by some due to costs, delays, and their perception of redundancy given the existence of the GPS system.

There are substantial economical disparities across the EU. Even corrected for purchasing power, the difference between the richest and poorest regions (NUTS-2 and NUTS-3 of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) is about a factor of ten. On the high end Frankfurt has €71,476 PPP per capita, Paris €68,989, and Inner London €67,798, while the three poorest NUTS, all in Romania, are Vaslui County with €3,690 PPP per capita, Botoşani County with €4,115, and Giurgiu County with €4,277. Compared to the EU average, the United States GDP per capita is 35% higher and the Japanese GDP per capita is approximately 15% higher.

There are a number of Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds to support development of underdeveloped regions of the EU. Such regions are primarily located in the new member states of East-Central Europe. Several funds provide emergency aid, support for candidate members to transform their country to conform to the EU's standard (Phare, ISPA, and SAPARD), and support to the former USSR Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS). TACIS has now become part of the worldwide EuropeAid programme. The EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) sponsors research conducted by consortia from all EU members to work towards a single European Research Area.

The first environmental policy of the European Community was launched in 1972. Since then it has addressed issues such as acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, waste and water pollution. The Water Framework Directive is an example of a water policy, aiming for rivers, lakes, ground and coastal waters to be of "good quality" by 2015. Wildlife is protected through the Natura 2000 programme and covers 30,000 sites throughout Europe. In 2007, the Polish government sought to build a motorway through the Rospuda valley, but the Commission has been blocking construction as the valley is a wildlife area covered by the programme.

The REACH regulation was a piece of EU legislation designed to ensure that 30,000 chemicals in daily use are tested for their safety. In 2006, toxic waste spill off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, from a European ship, prompted the Commission to look into legislation regarding toxic waste. With members such as Spain now having criminal laws against shipping toxic waste, the Commission proposed to create criminal sentences for "ecological crimes". Although the Commission's right to propose criminal law was contested, it was confirmed in this case by the Court of Justice.

In 2007, member states agreed that the EU is to use 20% renewable energy in the future and that is has to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels. This includes measures that in 2020, one-tenth of all cars and trucks in EU 27 should be running on biofuels. This is considered to be one of the most ambitious moves of an important industrialised region to fight global warming.

At the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference, dealing with the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has proposed at 50% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050. The EU's attempts to cut its carbon footprint appear to have also been aided by an expansion of Europe's forests which, between 1990 and 2005, grew 10% in western Europe and 15% in Eastern Europe. During this period they soaked up 126 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 11% of EU emissions from human activities.

Education and science are areas where the EU's role is limited to supporting national governments. In education, the policy was mainly developed in the 1980s in programmes supporting exchanges and mobility. The most visible of these has been the ERASMUS programme, a university exchange programme which began in 1987. In its first 20 years it has supported international exchange opportunities for well over 1.5 million university and college students and has become a symbol of European student life. There are now similar programmes for school pupils and teachers, for trainees in vocational education and training, and for adult learners in the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013. These programmes are designed to encourage a wider knowledge of other countries and to spread good practices in the education and training fields across the EU. Through its support of the Bologna process the EU is supporting comparable standards and compatible degrees across Europe.

Scientific development is facilitated through the EU's Framework Programmes, the first of which started in 1984. The aims of EU policy in this area are to co-ordinate and stimulate research. The independent European Research Council allocates EU funds to European or national research projects. The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) deals in a number of areas, for example energy where it aims to develop a diverse mix of renewable energy for the environment and to reduce dependence on imported fuels.

Since January 2000 the European Commission has set its sights on a more ambitious objective, known as the European Research Area, and has extensively funded research in a few key areas. This has the support of all member states, and extends the existing financing structure of the frameworks. It aims to focus on co-ordination, sharing knowledge, ensuring mobility of researchers around Europe, improving conditions for researchers and encouraging links with business and industry as well as removing any legal and administrative barriers. The EU is involved with six other countries to develop ITER, a fusion reactor which will be built in the EU at Cadarache. ITER builds on the previous project, Joint European Torus, which is currently the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the world. The Commission foresees this technology to be generating energy in the EU by 2050. It has observer status within CERN, there are various agreements with ESA and there is collaboration with ESO. These organisations are not under the framework of the EU, but membership heavily overlaps between them.

The EU's population is 7.3% of the world total, yet the EU covers just 3% of the Earth's land, amounting to a population density of 113 km2 (44 sq mi) making the EU one of the most densely populated regions of the world. One third of EU citizens live in cities of over a million people, rising to 80% living in urban areas generally. The EU is home to more global cities than any other region in the world. It contains 16 cities with populations of over one million.

Besides many large cities, the EU also includes several densely populated regions that have no single core but have emerged from the connection of several cites and are now encompassing large metropolitan areas. The largest are Rhine-Ruhr having approximately 10.5 million inhabitants (Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf et al.), Randstad approx. 7 million (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht et al.), Frankfurt Rhein-Main Region approx. 5.8 million (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden et al.), the Flemish diamond approx. 5.5 million (urban area in between Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven and Ghent), the Upper Silesian Industrial Region approx. 3.5 million (Katowice, Sosnowiec et al.), and the Oresund Region approx. 2.5 million (Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden).

Among the many languages and dialects used in the EU, it has 23 official and working languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and Swedish. Important documents, such as legislation, are translated into every official language. The European Parliament provides translation into all languages for documents and its plenary sessions.. Some institutions use only a handful of languages as internal working languages. Language policy is the responsibility of member states, but EU institutions promote the learning of other languages.

German is the most widely spoken mother tongue (about 88.7 million people as of 2006), followed by English, Italian and French. English is by far the most spoken foreign language at over half (51%) of the population, with German and French following. 56% of European citizens are able to engage in a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue. Most official languages of the EU belong to the Indo-European language family, except Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian, which belong to the Uralic language family, and Maltese, which is a Semitic language. Most EU official languages are written in the Latin alphabet except Bulgarian, written in Cyrillic, and Greek, written in the Greek alphabet.

Besides the 23 official languages, there are about 150 regional and minority languages, spoken by up to 50 million people. Of these, only the Spanish regional languages (Catalan/Valencian, Basque and Galician), Scottish Gaelic and Welsh can be used by citizens in communication with the main European institutions. Although EU programmes can support regional and minority languages, the protection of linguistic rights is a matter for the individual member states.

Besides the many regional languages, a broad variety of languages from other parts of the world are spoken by immigrant communities in the member states: Turkish, Maghrebi Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Ukrainian, Punjabi and Balkan languages are spoken in many parts of the EU. Many older immigrant communities are bilingual, being fluent in both the local (EU) language and in that of their ancestral community. Migrant languages have no formal status or recognition in the EU or in the EU countries, although from 2007 they are eligible for support from the language teaching section of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013.

The EU is a secular body with no formal connections to any religion and no mention of religion in any current or proposed treaty. Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity and/or God in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped.

Emphasis on Christianity stems from this being the dominant religion in Europe, and thus of the EU. It divides between Roman Catholicism, a wide range of Protestant churches (especially in northern Europe) and Eastern Orthodox (in south eastern Europe). Other religions such as Islam and Judaism are also represented in the EU population. The EU had an estimated Muslim population of 16 million in 2006, and an estimated Jewish population of over a million.

Eurostat's Eurobarometer opinion polls show that the majority of EU citizens have some form of belief system, with only 21% seeing it as important. There is increasing atheism or agnosticism among the general population in Europe, with falling church attendance and membership in many countries. The 2005 Eurobarometer showed that of the European citizens (of the 25 members at that time), 52% believed in a god, 27% in some sort of spirit or life force and 18% had no form of belief. The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were the Czech Republic (19%) and Estonia (16%), The most religious countries are Malta (95%; predominantly Roman Catholic), and Cyprus and Romania both with about 90% of citizens believing in God. Across the EU, belief was higher among women, increased with age, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 with a basic education, and those leaning towards right-wing politics.

Other significant religions present in the EU territories are Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism with the latter two having a strong presence in the United Kingdom.

Policies affecting cultural matters are mainly set by individual member states. Cultural co-operation between member states has been a concern of the EU since its inclusion as a community competency in the Maastricht Treaty. Actions taken in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000 7-year programme, the European Cultural Month event, the Media Plus programme, orchestras such as the European Union Youth Orchestra and the European Capital of Culture programme – where one or more cities in the EU are selected for one year to assist the cultural development of that city. In addition, the EU gives grants to cultural projects (totalling 233 in 2004) and has launched a Web portal dedicated to Europe and culture, responding to the European Council's expressed desire to see the Commission and the member states "promote the networking of cultural information to enable all citizens to access European cultural content by the most advanced technological means".

Within the EU, politicians, such as the President of the European Parliament, appeal to a shared European historical/cultural heritage, including Greek philosophy, Roman law, the Judeo-Christian heritage, and a tradition of freedom and democracy, but also negative elements such as the World wars.

Sport is mainly the responsibility of individual member states or other international organisations rather than that of the EU. However, some EU policies have had an impact on sport, such as the free movement of workers which was at the core of the Bosman ruling, which prohibited national football leagues from imposing quotas on foreign players with European citizenship.

Under the proposed Treaty of Lisbon sports would be given a special status which would exempt this sector from much of the EU's economic rules. This followed lobbying by governing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due to objections over the applications of free market principles to sport which led to an increasing gap between rich and poor clubs.

Several European sports associations are consulted in the formulation of the EU's sports policy, including FIBA, UEFA, EHF, IIHF, FIRA and CEV. All EU member states and their respective national sport associations participate in European sport organisations such as UEFA.

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European Security and Defence Policy

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The European Security and Defense Policy or ESDP is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar of the European Union (EU) and is the domain of EU policy covering defense and military aspects. The ESDP is the successor of the European Security and Defence Identity under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.

Formally, the European Security and Defense Policy is the domain of the Council of the European Union, which is an intergovernmental body in which the member states are represented. Nonetheless, the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy—in the person of Javier Solana—also plays a significant role. In his position as Secretary General of the Council, he prepares and examines decisions to be made before they are brought to the Council. He is based at and supported by the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

European security policy has followed several different paths during the 1990s, developing simultaneously within the Western European Union, NATO and the European Union itself.

Earlier efforts were made to have a common European security and defense policy. In 1948, the Western European Union, a collective defence organisation composed of Treaty of Brussels states—who were members of NATO—was founded. NATO soon overshadowed the organisation in importance. In the 1950s, a European Defense Community, similar in nature to the European Coal and Steel Community, was proposed but the French parliament failed to ratify the treaty, and the project was abandoned.

At the 1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the Western European Union (WEU) would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO structures. The ESDI was to create a European 'pillar' within NATO, partly to allow European countries to act militarily where NATO wished not to, and partly to alleviate the United States' financial burden of maintaining military bases in Europe, which it had done since the Cold War. The Berlin agreement allowed European countries (through the WEU) to use NATO assets if it so wished (this agreement was later amended to allow the European Union to conduct such missions, the so-called Berlin-plus arrangement).

The European Union incorporated the same Petersberg tasks within its domain with the Amsterdam Treaty. The treaty signalled the progressive framing of a common security and defence policy based on the Petersberg tasks. In 1998, traditional British reluctance to such a plan changed into endorsement after a bilateral declaration of French President Jacques Chirac and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in St. Malo, where they stated that "the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises".

In June 1999, the Cologne European Council decided to incorporate the role of the Western European Union within the EU, effectively shutting down the WEU. The Cologne Council also appointed Javier Solana as the High Representative of the CFSP to help progress both the CFSP and the ESDP.

The European Union made its first concrete step to enhance military capabilities, in line with the ESDP, in 1999 when its member states signed the Helsinki Headline Goal. They include the creation of a catalogue of forces, the 'Helsinki Force Catalogue', to be able to carry out the so called “Petersberg Tasks”. The EU launched the European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP) at the Laeken Summit in December 2001. However, it became clear that the objectives outlined in the Helsinki Headline Goal were not achievable quickly. In May 2004, EU defence ministers approved "Headline Goal 2010", extending the timelines for the EU's projects.

Concerns were voiced that an independent European security pillar might result in a declining importance of NATO as a transatlantic forum. In response to St. Malo, the former US-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put forth the three famous D’s, which outline American expectations towards ESDP to this day: no duplication of what was done effectively under NATO, no decoupling from the US and NATO, and no discrimination against non-EU members such as Turkey.

In the joint EU-NATO declaration of 2002, the six founding principles included partnership—for example, crisis management activities should be "mutually reinforcing"—effective mutual consultation and cooperation, equality and due regard for ‘the decision-making autonomy and interests’ of both EU and NATO, and ‘coherent and mutually reinforcing development of the military capability requirements common to the two organisations’. In institutional terms, the partnership is reflected in particular by the "Berlin plus agreement" from March 2003, which allows the EU to use NATO structures, mechanisms and assets to carry out military operations if NATO declines to act. Furthermore, an agreement has been signed on information sharing between the EU and NATO, and EU liaison cells are now in place at SHAPE (NATO’s strategic nerve center for planning and operations) and NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples.

A phrase that is often used to describe the relationship between the EU forces and NATO is "separable, but not separate": the same forces and capabilities will form the basis of both EU and NATO efforts, but portions can be allocated to the European Union if necessary. Concerning missions, the right of first refusal exists: only if NATO refuses to act, the EU can decide to do so.

The European Security Strategy is the policy document that guides the European Union's international security strategy. Its headline reads: "A Secure Europe In A Better World". The document was approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2003 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy CFSP Javier Solana. With the emergence of the ESDP, it is the first time that Europe has formulated a joint security strategy. It can be considered a counterpart to the National Security Strategy of the United States.

The document starts out with the declaration that "Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free". Its conclusion is that "The world is full of new dangers and opportunities". Along these lines, it argues that in order to ensure security for Europe in a globalising world, multilateral cooperation within Europe and abroad is to be the imperative, because "no single nation is able to tackle today's complex challenges". As such the ESS identifies a string of key threats Europe needs to deal with: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, failed states, and organised crime.

On 12 July 2004, details of a European Defence Agency were finalised. The 80-person agency is headed by Nick Whitney, formerly of the UK's Ministry of Defence. The total spent by the 27 EU nations on defence is approximately €160 billion ($250 billion).

The Conference also notes that the provisions covering CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) do not give new powers to the Commission to initiate decisions or increase the role of the European Parliament.

Defense and security will become available to enhanced co-operation.

The first deployment of European troops under the ESDP, following the 1999 declaration of intent, was in March 2003 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. "EUFOR Concordia" used NATO assets and was considered a success and replaced by a smaller police mission, EUPOL Proxima, later that year. Since then, there have been other small police, justice and monitoring missions. As well as Macedonia, the EU has maintain its deployment of peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of EUFOR Althea mission.

Between May and September 2003, "Operation Artemis" began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under UN Security Council Resolution 1484. This laid out the "framework nation" system to be used in future deployments. The EU returned to the DRC during July–November 2006 with EUFOR RD Congo, which supported the UN mission there during the country's elections.

Geographically, EU missions outside the Balkans and the DRC have taken place in Georgia, Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and Ukraine-Moldova. There is also a judicial mission in Iraq (EUJUST Lex). On 28 January 2008, the EU deployed its largest and most multi-national mission to Africa, EUFOR Tchad/RCA. The UN-mandated mission involves troops from 25 EU states (19 in the field) deployed in areas of eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic in order to improve security in those regions. EUFOR Tchad/RCA reached full operation capability in mid-September 2008 and is expected to hand over security duties to the UN in mid-March 2009.

The following permanent political and military bodies were established after the approval of the European Council.

ESDP is furthermore strongly facilitated by the EU Council Secretariat - home of for example Javier Solana, but also the EUMS - which can is some respects be considered as the equivalent of the EC in the second pillar.

From 1 January 2007, the EU Operations Centre began work in Brussels. It can command a limited size force of about 2000 troops (e.g. a battlegroup).

In addition to the EU centre, five national operational headquarters have been made available for use by the Union; Mont Valérien in Paris, Northwood in London, Potsdam, Centocelle in Rome and Larissa. For example, Operation Artemis used Mont Valérien as its OHQ and EUFOR's DR Congo operation uses Potsdam. The EU can also use NATO capabilities.

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Treaty of Lisbon

Treaty of Lisbon logo.svg

The Treaty of Lisbon (also known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 that would change the workings of the European Union (EU). The treaty is not yet ratified by all EU member states. The treaty would amend the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome). In the process, TEC is renamed to Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Prominent changes include more qualified majority voting in the EU Council, increased involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process through extended codecision with the EU Council, eliminating the pillar system, preventing the provision in the Treaty of Nice reducing the number of commissioners, and the creation of a President of the European Union and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs to present a united position on EU policies. If ratified, the Treaty of Lisbon would also make the Union's human rights charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding.

The stated aim of the treaty is "to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action." Opponents, such the British think-tank Open Europe and former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, argue that it will centralise the EU, and weaken democracy by moving power away from national electorates.

Negotiations to modify EU institutions began in 2001, resulting first in the European Constitution, which failed due to rejection by French and Dutch voters. The Constitution's replacement, the Lisbon Treaty, was originally intended to have been ratified by all member states by the end of 2008, so it could come into force before the 2009 European elections. However, the rejection of the Treaty on 12 June 2008 by Irish voters means that the treaty cannot currently come into force. As of February 2009, 23 of the total 27 member states have ratified the Treaty.

The need to review the EU's constitutional framework, particularly in light of the accession of ten new Member States in 2004, was highlighted in a declaration annexed to the Treaty of Nice in 2001. The agreements at Nice had paved the way for further enlargement of the Union by reforming voting procedures. The Laeken declaration of December 2001 committed the EU to improving democracy, transparency and efficiency, and set out the process by which a constitution aiming to achieve these aims could be created. The European Convention was established, presided over by former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and was given the task of consulting as widely as possible across Europe with the aim of producing a first draft of the Constitution. The final text of the proposed Constitution was agreed upon at the summit meeting on 18–19 June 2004 under the presidency of Ireland.

The Constitution, having been agreed by heads of government from the 25 Member States, was signed at a ceremony in Rome on 29 October 2004. Before it could enter into force, however, it had to be ratified by each member state. Ratification took different forms in each country, depending on the traditions, constitutional arrangements, and political processes of each country. In 2005, referendums held in the Netherlands and France rejected the European Constitution. While the majority of the Member States already had ratified the European Constitution (mostly through parliamentary ratification, although Spain and Luxembourg held referendums), due to the requirement of unanimity to amend the constitutional treaties of the EU, it became clear that it could not enter into force. This led to a "period of reflection" and the political end of the proposed European Constitution.

In 2007, Germany took over the rotating EU Presidency and declared the period of reflection over. By March, the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the Berlin Declaration was adopted by all Member States. This declaration outlined the intention of all Member States to agree on a new treaty in time for the 2009 Parliamentary elections, that is to have a ratified treaty before mid-2009.

On 21 June 2007, the European Council of heads of states met in Brussels to agree upon the foundation of a new treaty to replace the rejected Constitution. The meeting took place under the German Presidency of the EU Council, with Chancellor Angela Merkel leading the negotiations as President-in-Office of the European Council. After the Council quickly dealt with its other business, such as deciding on the accession of Cyprus and Malta to the Eurozone, negotiations on the Treaty took over and lasted until the morning of 23 June 2007. The hardest part of the negotiations was reported to be Poland's insistence on 'square root' voting in the EU Council.

Agreement was reached on a 16-page mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference, that proposed removing much of the constitutional terminology and many of the symbols from the old European Constitution text. In addition it was agreed to recommend to the IGC that the provisions of the old European Constitution should be amended in certain key aspects (such as voting or foreign policy). Due to pressure from the United Kingdom and Poland, it was also decided to add a protocol to the Charter of fundamental human rights within the EU (clarifying that it did not extend the rights of the courts to overturn domestic law in Britain or Poland). Among the specific changes were greater ability to opt-out in certain areas of legislation and that the proposed new voting system that was part of the European Constitution would not be used before 2014 (see Provisions below).

In the June meeting, the name 'Reform Treaty' also emerged, finally clarifying that the Constitutional approach was abandoned. Technically it was agreed that the Reform Treaty would amend both the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) to include most provisions of the European Constitution, however not to combine them into one document. It was also agreed to rename the Treaty establishing the European Community, which is the main functional agreement including most of the substantive provisions of European primary law, to "Treaty on the Functioning of the Union". In addition it was agreed, that unlike the European Constitution where a Charter was part of the document, there would only be a reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to make that text legally binding. After the council, Poland indicated they wished to re-open some areas. During June, Poland's Prime Minister had controversially stated that Poland would have a substantially larger population were it not for World War II. Another issue was that Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende succeeded in a greater role for national parliaments in the EU decision making process, as he declared this to be non-negotiable for Dutch agreement.

Portugal had pressed and supported Germany to reach an agreement on a mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) under their presidency. After the June negotiations and final settlement on a 16-page framework for the new Reform Treaty, the Intergovernmental conference on actually drafting the new treaty commenced on 23 July 2007. The IGC opened following a short ceremony. The Portuguese presidency presented a 145 page document (with an extra 132 pages of 12 protocols and 51 declarations) entitled the 'Draft Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community' and made it available on the Council of the European Union website as a starting point for the drafting process.

In addition to government representatives and legal scholars from each member state, the European Parliament sent three representatives. These were conservative Elmar Brok, social democratic Enrique Baron Crespo and liberal Andrew Duff.

Before the opening of the IGC, the Polish government expressed a desire to renegotiate the June agreement, notably over the voting system, but relented under political pressure by most other Member States, due to a desire not to be seen as the sole trouble maker over the negotiations.

The October European Council, led by Portugal's Prime Minister and then President-in-Office of the European Council, José Sócrates, consisted of legal experts from all Member States scrutinising the final drafts of the Treaty. During the council, it became clear that the Reform Treaty would be called Treaty of Lisbon because its signing would take place in Lisbon, Portugal being the holder of Council presidency at the time.

At the European Council meeting on 18 October and 19 October 2007 in Lisbon, a few last-minute concessions were made to ensure the signing of the treaty. That included giving Poland a slightly stronger wording for the revived Ioannina Compromise, plus a nomination for an additional Advocate General at the European Court of Justice. The creation of the permanent "Polish" Advocate General was formally permitted by an increase of the number of Advocates General from 8 to 11.

The treaty was signed 13 December 2007 by heads of government for Member States in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not take part in the main ceremony, instead signing the treaty separately a number of hours after the other delegates. A requirement to appear before a committee of British MPs was cited as the reason for his absence.

In order to enter into legal force, the Treaty of Lisbon must be ratified in all Member States. As this did not happen as scheduled by the end of 2008, the Treaty will come into force on the first day of the month following the last ratification.

Most states have or will ratify in parliamentary processes.

Hungary was the first to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon on 17 December 2007. Since that date, the number of Member States that have completed the ratification has risen to 25 of the total 27, and the number of Member States that have deposited their ratification with the Government of Italy, which is the final step needed in order for the Treaty of Lisbon to enter into force, to 23.

In order for the Irish Government to ratify the Treaty, the Irish government needed to put the matter to a referendum. This requirement arises from a legal precedent that to do otherwise would violate the Irish Constitution. This precedent was established by a 1987 Irish Supreme Court decision that ruled that significant changes to national sovereignty included in the Single European Act require the permission from the Irish People in the form of a referendum. The Treaty seeks to amend the Single European Act. A part of the the Supreme Court decision is that the State's power to determine its foreign relations is held in trust from the people and may not be alienated by the government without their approval.

The proposed Twenty eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution (that the Irish State (Irish Government) may ratify the Treaty of Lisbon) was defeated by 53.4% to 46.6%, with a turnout of 53.1%.

There were unsuccessful calls for governments to hold referendums in some other member states.

The European Parliament and some special territories of EU Member States carry out votes on the treaties. While with respect to these territories a rejection could result in the treaty not applying to the territory in question, although this depends on the domestic laws applicable to the territory in question. The votes do not affect the overall ratification process and the treaty could come into force whether these territories approve the treaty or not.

Ireland was the only Member State that held a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, in addition to a parliamentary vote.

The Irish government decided to put the matter to a referendum on the basis of legal advice that to do otherwise would violate the Irish Constitution. This arose from a 1987 Irish Supreme Court decision that ruled that significant changes to the Treaties of the European Union required the permission from the Irish People in the form of a Referendum.

All members from the three government parties supported the 'Yes' campaign, as did all the opposition parties with members in the Oireachtas, with the exception of Sinn Féin. The Green Party, while being a party in the government, did not officially take a line, having failed to reach a two-thirds majority either way at a party congress in January 2008, leaving members free to decide. Most Irish trade unions and business organisations supported the 'Yes' campaign also. Those campaigning for the 'No' vote included political party Sinn Féin, lobby group Libertas and the People Before Profit Alliance. The result of the referendum on 12 June 2008 was in opposition to the treaty, with 53.4% against the Treaty and 46.6% in favour, in a 53.1% turnout. A week later, Eurobarometer conducted hours after the vote was released, indicating why the electorate voted as they did. On 10 September, the government published the more in-depth research analysis on voters' states reasons for voting yes or no.

First plans for a revote appeared in July 2008: The term of the current European Commission would be extended until the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, member states would agree not to reduce the number of Commissioners and Ireland would hold another vote in September or October 2009 after receiving guarantees on abortion, taxation and military neutrality. In a widely-publicised policy paper, published in October 2008, EU specialist Dr. John O'Brennan argued that, presuming that all other 26 member states ratified the Treaty by early 2009, the Irish government would have no option but to hold a second referendum. But the issue will be whether Ireland remains a member of the EU or voluntarily departs. In November 2008 the Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin told his parliamentary Subcommittee on Ireland's Future in the European Union that there was "no question" of Ireland's EU partners putting pressure on its government, and that: "There is an appreciation that the result of the referendum reflected serious and genuinely held concerns". On 12 December 2008 the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen confirmed that a second referendum would be held, after an EU leaders summit agreed to keep one Commissioner per member state and to incorporate legally binding guarantees on abortion, taxation and military neutrality in the Croatian Accession Treaty. An opinion poll in February 2009 suggested that 58% of people would support a Yes vote, against 25% supporting No.

Current Czech President, Václav Klaus opposes ratifying the Lisbon Treaty and has called the process to be brought to an end. He has also stated that he would not sign the treaty unless Ireland had ratified before.

Under the Czech Constitution ratification requires a presidential signature, though some believe it is unlikely to be withheld should both houses of parliament approve the treaty.

Ratification in Poland was stalled while awaiting presidential signature (so-called "ratification act"). The President, by that point, did sign the bill which allows him to ratify the treaty (in that bill the procedure for granting consent to ratification was chosen according to Article 90.4 of the Polish constitution). It did not mean that he finished the ratification of the treaty. The President is not obliged to ratify the treaty.

The president, Lech Kaczyński, has yet to give his final signature and has cited that it would be pointless to do so before a solution to the Irish no vote is found. This situation is generally attributed to a domestic dispute between the two major political parties PO (the current government) and PiS (the presidential party). The PiS want the PO to enact a new law which would oblige the government to consider the opinion of the president and parliament before every summit of the European Council.

The president has come under increasing pressure from the French Presidency to ratify the treaty with President Sarkozy reminding him that he originally negotiated the treaty.

German ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon was placed on hold on June 30, 2008. While parliamentary ratification has been completed, formal ratification requires the signature of the President, which has been withheld pending a ruling from the Constitutional Court on its compatibility with the Basic Law, Germany's constitution, following a challenge launched by German MP Peter Gauweiler a member of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), who sits in the Bundestag, claiming the treaty unconstitutional. Mr. Gauweiler launched a similar challenge to the European Constitution in 2005 but after its failure the Constitutional Court made no ruling and a presidential signature was never given.

In October 2008 Germany's president Horst Köhler has signed the German law which prepares the implementation of the treaty on a national level and has agreed to sign the instruments of ratification of the treaty, but will wait to sign and deposit it in Rome until the Constitutional Court has given its approval. The Court held oral hearings on 10 and 11 February 2009 and a ruling is expected around May.

The Åland Islands, an autonomous region in Finland, will vote on the Treaty in the regional parliament. A two-thirds majority of the given votes will be required for the Treaty to be accepted. The process has begun, but no date for the vote has yet been set.

No changes in the Treaty itself have been proposed. A rejection of the Treaty on Åland would not prevent it in the rest of Finland and the Union.

Finland is set to lose one Member of European Parliament in accordance with both the Treaties of Nice and Lisbon. Åland wishes to maintain their own representative in the European Parliament but this would give the island a disproportionate amount of voter influence, with a value of 30 (relative to Germany), whereas Finland as a whole currently only has a relative influence of 2.

In line with the nature of most amending treaties, the Treaty of Lisbon is not intended to be read as an autonomous text. It consists of a number of amendments to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, the latter being renamed 'Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union' in the process. The Treaty on European Union would, after being amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, provide a reference to the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, making that document legally binding. The Treaty on European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental rights would have equal legal value and combined constitute the European Union's legal basis.

The fifty-five articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights list political, social and economic rights for EU citizens. It is intended to make sure that European Union regulations and directives do not contradict the European Convention on Human Rights which is ratified by all EU Member States (and to which the EU as a whole would accede under the Treaty of Lisbon). In the rejected EU Constitution it was integrated into the text of the treaty and was legally binding. The UK, as one of the two countries with a common law legal system in the EU and a largely uncodified Constitution, was against making it legally binding over domestic law. The suggestion by the German presidency that a single reference to it with a single article in the amended treaties, maintaining that it should be legally binding, was implemented. Nevertheless, in an attached protocol, Poland and the United Kingdom have opt-outs from these provisions of the treaty. Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union elevates the Charter to the same legal value as the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The European Central Bank would become an official institution.

The Treaty of Lisbon would rename the Court of Justice of the European Communities the 'Court of Justice of the European Union'.

A new 'emergency' procedure would be introduced into the preliminary reference system, which would allow the Court of Justice to act "with the minimum of delay" when a case involves an individual in custody.

The ECJ's jurisdiction would continue to be excluded from matters of foreign policy, though it would have new jurisdiction to review foreign policy sanction measures. It would also have jurisdiction over certain 'Area of Freedom, Security and Justice' (AFSJ) matters not concerning policing and criminal cooperation.

The Court of First Instance would be renamed the 'General Court'.

The Council of the European Union will still be an organised platform of meetings between national ministers of specific departments (e.g. finance- or foreign ministers). Legislative procedural meetings that include debate and voting will be held in public (televised).

The Treaty of Lisbon would expand the use of qualified majority voting (QMV), by making it the standard voting procedure. Though some areas of policy still require unanimous decisions (notably in foreign policy, defence and taxation). QMV is reached when a majority of all member countries (55%) who represent a majority of all citizens (65%) vote in favour of a proposal. When the Council is not acting on a proposal of the Commission, the necessary majority of all member countries is increased to 72% while the population requirement stays the same. To block legislation at least 4 countries have to be against the proposal.

The current Nice treaty voting rules that include a majority of countries (50% / 67%), voting weights (74%) and population (62%) would remain in place until 2014. Between 2014 and 2017 a transitional phase would take place where the new qualified majority voting rules apply, but where the old Nice treaty voting weights can be applied when a member state wishes so. Also from 2014 a new version of the 1994 "Ioannina Compromise" would take effect, which allows small minorities of EU states to call for re-examination of EU decisions they do not like.

The Council would have an 18-month rotating Presidency shared by a trio of Member States, with the purpose of providing more continuity. The exception would be the Council's Foreign Affairs configuration, which would be chaired by the newly created post of Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The European Council of national heads of government or heads of state (either the prime minister or the president), will officially be separated from the Council of the European Union (national ministers for specific areas of policy).

The current post of President-in-Office of the European Council is loosely defined, with the Union's treaties stating only that the European Council shall be chaired by the head of government (or state) of the country holding the presidency of the European Union which rotates every six months. If ratified the new President of the European Council would be elected for a two and a half year term. The election would take place by a qualified majority among the members of the body, and the President can be removed by the same procedure. Unlike the President of the European Commission, there is no approval from the European Parliament.

The President's work would be largely administrative in coordinating the work of the Council and organising the meeting. It does however offer external representation of the council and the Union and reports to the European Parliament after Council meetings and at the beginning and end of his or her term.

In many newspapers this new post is being called "President of Europe".

The legislative power and relevance of the directly elected European Parliament would, under the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon, be increased by extending codecision procedure with the Council to new areas of policy. This procedure would become the ordinary legislative procedure in the work of the Council and the Parliament.

In the few remaining areas (currently called "special legislative procedures"), Parliament would either have the right of consent to a Council measure, or vice-versa, except where the few cases where the old Consultation procedure applied (where the Council would need to consult the European Parliament before voting on the Commission proposal and take its views into account. It would not be bound by the Parliament's position but only by the obligation to consult it. Parliament would need to be consulted again if the Council deviated too far from the initial proposal).

The number of MEPs would be permanently reduced to 750, in addition to the President of the Parliament. If the treaty does not come into effect before 2009, the number of MEPs will be permanently reduced to 732 according to the Treaty of Nice. The Lisbon treaty would also reduce the maximum number of MEPs from each member state from 99 to 96 (applies to Germany) and increases the minimal number from 5 to 6 (applies to Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta).

The Parliament would also gain greater powers over the entirety of the EU budget, and its authority would be extended from 'obligatory' expenditure to include the budget in its entirety. On the other hand, the Commission would no longer be obliged to submit a preliminary draft budget to the Council, but to submit the budget proposal directly.

The Treaty of Lisbon would expand the role of Member States' parliaments in the work and legislative processes of the EU institutions and bodies, giving them a greater role in responding to new applications for membership (new Article 34 replacing Article 49). National parliaments would be able to veto measures furthering judicial cooperation in civil matters (new Article 69d).

Protocol 2 provides for a greater role of national parliaments in ensuring that EU measures comply with the principle of subsidiarity. In comparison with the proposed Constitution, the Reform Treaty allows national parliaments eight rather than six weeks to study European Commission legislative proposals and decide whether to send a reasoned opinion stating why the national parliament considers it to be incompatible with subsidiarity. National parliaments may vote to have the measure reviewed. If one third (or one quarter, where the proposed EU measure concerns freedom, justice and security) of national parliaments are in favour of a review, the Commission would have to review the measure and if it decides to maintain it, must give a reasoned opinion to the Union legislator as to why it considers the measure to be compatible with subsidiarity.

The Commission of the European Communities would officially be renamed 'European Commission'.

The Treaty of Lisbon stated that the size of the Commission would reduce from one per member state to one for two thirds of member states from 2014. This would have ended the arrangement which has existed since 1957 of having at least one Commission for each Member State at all times. However, the Treaty also provided that the European Council could unanimously decide to alter this number. Following the Irish referendum, the Council decided in December 2008 to revert to one Commissioner per member state with effect from the date of entry into force of the Treaty.

The person holding the new post of 'High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy' would automatically also be a Vice-President of the Commission.

The changes in foreign relations have been seen by some as the core changes in the treaty, in the same way as the Single European Act created a single market, the Maastricht Treaty created the euro, or the Treaty of Amsterdam created greater cooperation in justice and home affairs. Foreign Relations is a policy area which under the Treaty of Lisbon still would require unanimity in the European Council.

The Treaty would merge the post of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (currently held by Javier Solana) with the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy (currently held by Benita Ferrero-Waldner), creating a 'High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy' in an effort to reduce the number of Commissioners, and coordinate the Union's foreign policy with greater consistency. The new High Representative would also become a Vice-President of the Commission, the administrator of the European Defence Agency and the Secretary-General of the Council. He or she would also get an External Action Service and a right to propose defence or security missions. The Constitution called this post the 'Union Foreign Minister'.

The Conference also notes that the provisions covering CFSP do not give new powers to the Commission to initiate decisions or increase the role of the European Parliament. The Conference also recalls that the provisions governing the CFSP do not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of the Member States.

This merger of the pillars, including the European Community, would partly finalise the progress of establishing various communities and treaty-bodies, that has been going on since around the 1950s. The defence body of Western European Union (WEU) would effectively also be absorbed by the EU, through the European Defence Agency, which would gain a legal role under the Lisbon Treaty.

A proposal to enshrine the Copenhagen Criteria for further enlargement in the treaty was not fully accepted as there were fears it would lead to Court of Justice judges having the last word on who could join the EU, rather than political leaders.

The treaty introduces an exit clause for members wanting to withdraw from the Union. This formalises the procedure by stating that a member state must inform the European Council before it can terminate its membership. While there has been one instance where a territory has ceased to be part of the Community (Greenland in 1985), there is currently no regulated opportunity to exit the European Union.

A new provision in the Treaty of Lisbon is that the status of French, Dutch and Danish overseas territories can be changed more easily, by no longer requiring a full treaty revision. Instead, the European Council may, on the initiative of the member state concerned, change the status of an overseas country or territory (OCT) to an outermost region (OMR) or vice versa. This provision was included on a proposal by the Netherlands, which is investigating the future of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the European Union as part of an institutional reform process that is currently taking place in the Netherlands Antilles.

The Process for revision of the Treaties is divided into the ordinary revision procedure and simplified revision procedure. In the ordinary procedure the government of a Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission submits proposed amendments to the Council which submits them to the European Council. The national parliaments are also notified on the proposal. The European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and Commission, decides by simple majority whether to examine the amendments. If approved, the Presidency of the European Council will then convene a Convention composed of representatives of the national Parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and of the Commission. In the case of institutional changes in the monetary area the European Central Bank shall also be consulted. After examining the proposals the Convention will adopt by consensus a recommendation to a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States convened by the President of the Council to determine by common accord the amendments to be made to the Treaties. Following this the amendments will go through the ratification process in each Member State. The European Council can decide by simple majority after consulting the Commission and with consent of the European Parliament to bypass the Convention process and proceed straight to the conference of representatives.

In the simplified procedure proposals for amendments to Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, dealing with internal policy and action of the Union, can be submitted directly to the European Council. The European Council then decides by unanimity on amendments to the provisions after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, and the European Central Bank in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. The Treaties also provide for areas decided by unanimity to be changed to qualified majority after unanimous vote by the European Council after getting the consent of the European Parliament except areas with military implications or on defense. The European Council can also decide by unanimity to change areas decided by special legislative procedures to be decided by the ordinary legislative procedure after getting consent of the European Parliament.

The Treaty of Lisbon adds explicit sentences stating that combating climate change and global warming are targets of the Union.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, Member States should assist if a member state is subject to a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster (but any joint military action is subject to the provisions of Article 31 of the consolidated Treaty of European Union, which recognises various national concerns). In addition, several provisions of the treaties have been amended to include solidarity in matters of energy supply and changes to the energy policy within the EU.

The treaty foresees that the European Security and Defence Policy will lead to a common defence agreement for the EU if and when the European Council (national leaders) resolves unanimously to do so and provided that all member states give their approval through their usual constitutional procedures.

Defense and security becomes available to enhanced co-operation.

1. The Charter does not extend the ability of the Court of Justice of the European Union, or any court or tribunal of Poland or of the United Kingdom, to find that the laws, regulations or administrative provisions, practices or action of Poland or of the United Kingdom are inconsistent with the fundamental rights, freedoms and principles that it reaffirms. 2. In particular, and for the avoidance of doubt, nothing in Title IV of the Charter creates justiciable rights applicable to Poland or the United Kingdom except in so far as Poland or the United Kingdom has provided for such rights in its national law. Article 2 To the extent that a provision of the Charter refers to national laws and practices, it shall only apply to Poland or the United Kingdom to the extent that the rights or principles that it contains are recognised in the law or practices of Poland or of the United Kingdom.

Though the Civic Platform party in Poland had signalled during the 2007 parliamentary elections that it would not seek to opt-out from the Charter, Prime Minister Tusk has since stated that Poland will not sign up to the Charter. Tusk declared that the deals negotiated by the previous Polish government will be honoured, though suggested that Poland may eventually sign up to the Charter at a later date.

Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted out from the change from unanimous decisions to qualified majority voting in the sector of police and judicial affairs; this decision will be reviewed in Ireland three years after the treaty enters into force (if the Treaty is ever approved by referendum in Ireland). Both states will be able to opt in to these voting issues on a case-by-case basis.

Member States can have opt-outs from some of these policy areas (e.g. UK opt-out from some legislation in the area of freedom, security and justice).

The Treaty will provide countries with the option to opt out of certain EU policies in the area of police and criminal law. Provisions in the Treaty framework draft from the June 2007 summit stated that the division of power between Member States and the Union is a two-way process, implying that powers can be taken back from the union.

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