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European Council

The European Council gives political direction to the EU. It convenes at least four times a year and comprises the President of the European Council (currently Charles Michel), the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state (either its head of state or head of government). The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Josep Borrell) also takes part in its meetings. It has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority".[141] It is actively involved in the negotiation of treaty changes and defines the EU's policy agenda and strategies.

The European Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes between member states and the institutions, and to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies. It acts externally as a "collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for example, international agreements and treaties).[142]

Tasks for the President of the European Council are ensuring the external representation of the EU,[143] driving consensus and resolving divergences among member states, both during meetings of the European Council and over the periods between them.

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

European Commission

The European Commission acts both as the EU's executive arm, responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU, and also the legislative initiator, with the sole power to propose laws for debate.[144][145][146] The commission is 'guardian of the Treaties' and is responsible for their efficient operation and policing.[147] It operates de facto as a cabinet government,[citation needed] with 27 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.

One of the 27 is the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen for 2019–2024), appointed by the European Council, subject to the Parliament's approval. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is ex-officio a Vice-President of the Commission and is also chosen by the European Council.[148] The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President. The 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to approval (or otherwise) by vote of the European Parliament.

Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union (also called the Council[149] and the "Council of Ministers", its former title)[150] forms one half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different configurations, it is considered to be one single body.[151] In addition to its legislative functions, the council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

In some policies, there are several member states that ally with strategic partners within the Union. Examples of such alliances include the Visegrad Group, Benelux, the Baltic Assem

65,993 km (41,006 mi) coastline dominates the European climate (Natural Park of Penyal d'Ifac, Spain)

  • Mont Bl

    Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest peak in the EU

  • The <

    The Danube (pictured in Budapest), is the longest river in the European Union

  • Repovesi National Park in Finland, where there are some 187,888 lakes larger than 500 square metres (5,382 sq ft)

  • Including the overseas territories of France which are located outside the continent of Europe, but which are members of the union, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic (north-east Europe) to tropical (French Guiana), rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the population lives in areas with a temperate maritime climate (North-Western Europe and Central Europe), a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), or a warm summer continental or types of climate from Arctic (north-east Europe) to tropical (French Guiana), rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the population lives in areas with a temperate maritime climate (North-Western Europe and Central Europe), a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Northern Balkans and Central Europe).[130]

    The EU's population is highl

    The EU's population is highly urbanised, with some 75% of inhabitants living in urban areas as of 2006. Cities are largely spread out across the EU with a large grouping in and around the Benelux.[131]

    The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranational and intergovernmental decision-making,[132][133] and according to the principles of conferral (which says that it should act only within the limits of the competences conferred on it by the treaties) and of subsidiarity (which says that it should act only where an objective cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states acting alone). Laws made by the EU institutions are passed in a variety of forms.[134] Generally speaking, they can be classified into two groups: those which come into force without the necessity for national implementation measures (regulations) and those which specifically require national implementation measures (directives).[135]

    Constitutionally, the EU bears some resemblance to both a confederation and a federation,[136][137] but has not formally defined itself as either. (It does not have a formal constitution: its status is defined by the Treaty of European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). It is more integrated than a traditional confederation of states because the general level of government widely employs qualified majority voting in some decision-making among the member states, rather than relying exclusively on unanimity.[138][139] It is less integrated than a federal state because it is not a state in its own right: sovereignty continues to flow 'from the bottom up', from the several peoples of the separate member states, rather than from a single undifferentiated wh

    Constitutionally, the EU bears some resemblance to both a confederation and a federation,[136][137] but has not formally defined itself as either. (It does not have a formal constitution: its status is defined by the Treaty of European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). It is more integrated than a traditional confederation of states because the general level of government widely employs qualified majority voting in some decision-making among the member states, rather than relying exclusively on unanimity.[138][139] It is less integrated than a federal state because it is not a state in its own right: sovereignty continues to flow 'from the bottom up', from the several peoples of the separate member states, rather than from a single undifferentiated whole. This is reflected in the fact that the member states remain the 'masters of the Treaties', retaining control over the allocation of competences to the Union through constitutional change (thus retaining so-called Kompetenz-kompetenz); in that they retain control of the use of armed force; they retain control of taxation; and in that they retain a right of unilateral withdrawal from the Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. In addition, the principle of subsidiarity requires that only those matters that need to be determined collectively are so determined.

    The European Union has seven principal decision-making bodies, its institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors. Competence in scrutinising and amending legislation is shared between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, while executive tasks are performed by the European Commission and in a limited capacity by the European Council (not to be confused with the aforementioned Council of the European Union). The monetary policy of the eurozone is determined by the European Central Bank. The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU budget is scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors. There are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the EU or operate in a specific area.

    EU policy is in general promulgated by EU directives, which are then implemented in the domestic legislation of its member states, and EU regulations, which are immediately enforceable in all member states. Lobbying at EU level by special interest groups is regulated to try to balance the aspirations of private initiatives with public interest decision-making process[140]

    The European Council gives political direction to the EU. It convenes at least four times a year and comprises the President of the European Council (currently Charles Michel), the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state (either its head of state or head of government). The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Josep Borrell) also takes part in its meetings. It has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority".[141] It is actively involved in the negotiation of treaty changes and defines the EU's policy agenda and strategies.

    The European Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes between member states and the institutions, and to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies. It acts externally as a "collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for example, international agreements and treaties).[142]

    Tasks for the President of the European Council are ensuring the external representation of the EU,[143] driving consensus and resolving divergences among member states, both during meetings of the European Council and over the periods between them.

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

    European Commission

    The European Commission acts both as the EU's executive arm, responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU, and also the legislative initiator, with the sole power to propose laws for debate.[144][145][146] The commission is 'guardian of the Treaties' and is responsible for their efficient operation and policing.[147] It operates de facto as a cabinet government,[citation needed] with 27 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.

    One of the 27 is the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen for 2019–2024), appointed by the European Council, subject to the Parliament's approval. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is ex-officio a Vice-President of the Commission and is also chosen by the European Council.[148] The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President. The 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to approval (or otherwise) by vote of the European Parliament.

    Council of the European Union

    The Council of the European Union (also called the Council[149] and the "Council of Ministers", its former title)[150] forms one half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different configurations, it is considered to be one single body.[151] In addition to its legislative functions, the council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

    In some policies, there are several member states that ally with strategic partners within the Union. Examples of such alliances include the Visegrad Group, Benelux, the Baltic Assembly, the New Hanseatic League, the Weimar Triangle, the Lublin Triangle, EU Med Group and the Craiova Group.

    European Parliament

    collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for example, international agreements and treaties).[142]

    Tasks for the President of the European Council are ensuring the external representation of the EU,[143] driving consensus and resolving divergences among member states, both during meetings of the European Council and over the periods between them.

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

    The European Commission acts both as the EU's executive arm, responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU, and also the legislative initiator, with the sole power to propose laws for debate.[144][145][146] The commission is 'guardian of the Treaties' and is responsible for their efficient operation and policing.[147] It operates de facto as a cabinet government,[citation needed] with 27 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.

    One of the 27 is the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen for 2019–2024), appointed by the European Council, subject to the Parliament's approval. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is ex-officio a Vice-President of the Commission and is also chosen by the European Council.[148] The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President. The 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to approval (or otherwise) by vote of

    One of the 27 is the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen for 2019–2024), appointed by the European Council, subject to the Parliament's approval. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is ex-officio a Vice-President of the Commission and is also chosen by the European Council.[148] The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President. The 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to approval (or otherwise) by vote of the European Parliament.

    The Council of the European Union (also called the Council[149] and the "Council of Ministers", its former title)[150] forms one half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different configurations, it is considered to be one single body.[151] In addition to its legislative functions, the council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

    In some policies, there are several member states that ally with strategic partners within the Union. Examples of such alliances include the Visegrad Group, Benelux, the Baltic Assembly, the New Hanseatic League, the Weimar Triangle, the Lublin Triangle, EU Med Group and the Craiova Group.

    European Parliament

    Visegrad Group, Benelux, the Baltic Assembly, the New Hanseatic League, the Weimar Triangle, the Lublin Triangle, EU Med Group and the Craiova Group.

    The European Parliament is one of three legislative institutions of the EU, which together with the Council of the European Union is tasked with amending and approving the Commission's proposals. The 705 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years on the basis of proportional representation. MEPs are elected on a national basis and they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats and is divided into sub-national constituencies where this does not affect the proportional nature of the voting system.[152]

    In the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Commission proposes legislation, which requires the joint approval of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to pass. This process applies to nearly all areas, including the EU budget. The Parliament is the final body to approve or reject the proposed membership of the commission, and can attempt motions of censure on the commission by appeal to the Court of Justice. The President of the European Parliament (currently David Sassoli) 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.ordinary legislative procedure, the European Commission proposes legislation, which requires the joint approval of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to pass. This process applies to nearly all areas, including the EU budget. The Parliament is the final body to approve or reject the proposed membership of the commission, and can attempt motions of censure on the commission by appeal to the Court of Justice. The President of the European Parliament (currently David Sassoli) 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.[153]

    The EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007–2013,[155] representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods. In 1960, the budget of the then European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP.[156]

    In the 2010 budget of €141.5 billion, the largest single expenditure item is "cohesion & competitiveness" with around 45% of the total budget.[157] Next comes "agriculture" with approximately 31% of the total.[157] "Rural development, environment and fisheries" takes up around 11%.[157] "Administration" accounts for around 6%.[157] The "EU as a global partner" and "citizenship, freedom, security and justice" bring up the rear with approximately 6% and

    In the 2010 budget of €141.5 billion, the largest single expenditure item is "cohesion & competitiveness" with around 45% of the total budget.[157] Next comes "agriculture" with approximately 31% of the total.[157] "Rural development, environment and fisheries" takes up around 11%.[157] "Administration" accounts for around 6%.[157] The "EU as a global partner" and "citizenship, freedom, security and justice" bring up the rear with approximately 6% and 1% respectively.[157]

    The Court of Auditors is legally obliged to provide the Parliament and the council (specifically, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council) with "a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions".[158] The Court also gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions.[159] The Parliament uses this to decide whether to approve the commission's handling of the budget.

    The European Court of Auditors has signed off the European Union accounts every year since 2007 and, while making it clear that the European Commission has more work to do, has highlighted that most of the errors take place at national level.[160][161] In their report on 2009 the auditors found that five areas of Union expenditure, agriculture and the cohesion fund, were materially affected by error.[162] The European Commission estimated in 2009 that the financial effect of irregularities was €1,863 million.[163]

    EU member states retain all powers not explicitly handed to the European Union. In some areas the EU enjoys exclusive competence. These are areas in which member states have renounced any capacity to enact legislation. In other areas the EU and its member states share the competence to legislate. While both can legislate, member states can only legislate to the extent to which the EU has not. In other policy areas the EU can only co-ordinate, support and supplement member state action but cannot enact legislation with the aim of harmonising national laws.[164]

    That a particular policy area falls into a certain category of compet

    That a particular policy area falls into a certain category of competence is not necessarily indicative of what legislative procedure is used for enacting legislation within that policy area. Different legislative procedures are used within the same category of competence, and even with the same policy area.

    The distribution of competences in various policy areas between Member States and the Union is divided in the following three categories:


    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.[166] 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[p] which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants.[q] The EU has legal personality, with the right to sign agreements and international treaties.[167]

    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.[r]

    The direct effect and supremacy doctrines were not explicitly set out in the European Treaties but were developed by the Court of Justice itself over the 1960s, apparently under the influence of its then most influential judge, Frenchman Robert Lecourt[168]

    Court of Justice of the European Union

    The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court.[169] The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it by the courts of member states.[170] Because of the doctrines of direct effect and supremacy, many judgments of the Court of Justice are automatically applicable within the internal legal orders of the member states.

    The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts,[171] and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[172] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[173]

    Fundamental rights

    The treaties declare that the EU itself is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities ... in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail."[174]

    In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU's legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the Court of Justice and derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the member states."[175] The Court of Justice has long recognised fundamental rights and has, on occasion, invalidated EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to those fundamental rights.[176]

    Warsaw Pride 2018. Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights asserts that "any discrimination based on any ground such as [...] sexual orientation shall be prohibited."

    Signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership.[s] Previously, the EU itself could not accede to the convention as it is neither a state[t] nor had the competence to accede.[u] The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR have changed this: the former binds the EU to accede to the convention while the latter formally permits it.

    The EU is independent from the Council of Europe, although they share purpose and ideas, especially on the rule of law, human rights and democracy. Furthermore, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, as well as the source of law for the Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by the Council of Europe. The EU has also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.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.[r]

    The direct effect and supremacy doctrines were not explicitly set out in the European Treaties but were developed by the Court of Justice itself over the 1960s, apparently under the influence of its then most influential judge, Frenchman Robert Lecourt[168]

    The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court.[169] The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it by the courts of member states.[170] Because of the doctrines of direct effect and supremacy, many judgments of the Court of Justice are automatically applicable within the internal legal orders of the member states.

    The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts,[171] and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[172] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[173]

    Fundamental rights

    The treaties declare that the EU itself is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities ... in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail."[174]

    In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the [171] and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[172] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[173]

    The treaties declare that the EU itself is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities ... in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail."[174]

    In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU's legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the Court of Justice and derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the member states."[175] The Court of Justice has long recognised fundamental rights and has, on occasion, invalidated EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to those fundamental rights.[176]

    Signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership.[s] Previously, the EU itself could not accede to the convention as it is neither a state[t] nor had the competence to accede.[u] The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR have changed this: the former binds the EU to accede to the convention while the latter formally permits it.

    The EU is independent from the Council of Europe, although they share purpose and ideas, especially on the rule of law, human rights and democracy. Furthermore, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, as well as the source of law for the Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by the Council of Europe. The EU has also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.[177]

    On 19 October 2020, the European Union revealed new plans to create a legal structure to act against human ri

    The EU is independent from the Council of Europe, although they share purpose and ideas, especially on the rule of law, human rights and democracy. Furthermore, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, as well as the source of law for the Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by the Council of Europe. The EU has also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.[177]

    On 19 October 2020, the European Union revealed new plans to create a legal structure to act against human rights violations worldwide. The new plan was expected to provide the European Union with greater flexibility to target and sanction those responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses around the world.[178]

    The main legal 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,[v] and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions.[p] 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.[w] 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 modes 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.[179]

    The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty. The ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament for the length of the Parliament's term, and the position is renewable.[180] Any EU citizen or entity may appeal to the ombudsman to investigate an EU institution on the grounds of maladministration (administrative irregularities, unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, failure to reply, refusal of information or unnecessary delay).[181] Emily O'Reilly is the current ombudsman since 2013.[182]

    Home affairs and migrat

    Since the creation of the EU in 1993, it has developed its competencies in the area of justice and home affairs; initially at an intergovernmental level and later by supranationalism. Accordingly, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition,[183] family law,[184] asylum law,[185] and criminal justice.[186] Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties.[x] In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation.[y] By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.[z]

    The Union has also established agencies to co-ordinate police, prosecutorial and immigrations controls across the member states: Europol for co-operation of police forces,[187] Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors,Europol for co-operation of police forces,[187] Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors,[188] and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities.[189] The EU also operates the Schengen Information System[16] which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. This co-operation had to particularly be developed with the advent of open borders through the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border crime.

    The borders inside the Schengen Area between Germany and Austria

  • Europol Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands

  • Eurojust Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands

  • Eurojust Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands

  • Seat of Frontex in Warsaw, Poland

  • Foreign relations

    Foreign policy co-operation 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 EU's common commercial policy.[190] Steps for a more wide-ranging co-ordination 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. In 1987 the 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.[191]

    The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU's own interests and those of the international community as a whole, including the furtherance of international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.[192] The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq.[193]

    The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department[194] that has been officially implemented and operational since 1 December 2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.[195] The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.[196]

    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 European formerly Communist countries.[197]:762 This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".[198]

    Switzerland was called to vote on whether to end the agreement with European Union on the free movement of people, in September 2020.[199] The demand of Swiss People’s Party (SPP) was, however, turned down, as the voters rejected SPP’s demand for taking back immigration control.[200]

    Security and Defence

    Out of the 27 EU member states, 21 are also members of NATO. Another four NATO members are EU applicants – Albania, Montenegro, Turkey and North Macedonia.

    The predecessors of the European Union were not devised as a military alliance because NATO was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes.[201] 21 EU members are members of NATO[202] while the remaining member states follow policies of neutrality.[203] The Western European Union, a military alliance with a mutual defence clause, was disbanded in 2010 as its role had been transferred to the EU.[204]

    France is the only member officially recognised as a nuclear weapon state and the sole holder of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Possessing the EU's largest armed forces and the largest national defence budget of the bloc,[205] France is also the only EU country that has power projection capabilities outside of Europe.[206]

    Most EU member states opposed the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.[207]

    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 personnel.[208]

    EU forces have been deployed on

    The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU's own interests and those of the international community as a whole, including the furtherance of international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.[192] The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq.[193]

    The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department[194] that has been officially implemented and operational since 1 December 2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.[195] The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.[196]

    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 European formerly Communist countries.[197]:762 This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".[198]

    Switzerland was called to vote on whether to end the agreement with European Union on the free movement of people, in Septem

    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 European formerly Communist countries.[197]:762 This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".[198]

    Switzerland was called to vote on whether to end the agreement with European Union on the free movement of people, in September 2020.[199] The demand of Swiss People’s Party (SPP) was, however, turned down, as the voters rejected SPP’s demand for taking back immigration control.[200]

    The predecessors of the European Union were not devised as a military alliance because NATO was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes.[201] 21 EU members are members of NATO[202] while the remaining member states follow policies of neutrality.[203] The Western European Union, a military alliance with a mutual defence clause, was disbanded in 2010 as its role had been transferred to the EU.[204]

    France is the only member officially recognised as a nuclear weapon state and the sole holder of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Possessing the EU's largest armed forces and the largest national defence budget of the bloc,[205] France is also the only EU country that has power projection capabilities outside of Europe.[206]

    Most EU member states opposed the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.[207]