Teaching guide 12 (2016)Ejercicio Inglés
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Teaching guide 12.
Teaching guide 12.- Combining the Community and the Intergovernmental Methods: From the Europe of Communities to the European Union (19862009).
Qualified Majority Voting. It is a type of decision making in which the vote of bigger members is needed in order to take a decision. In that way, the bigger members retain power to block proposals deemed harmful to their national interests. With the Single European Act of 1986, this type of voting extended in the Council to new areas, as environment, regional policy, and consumer protection, and when the Treaty of Paris expired in 2002, the use of qualified majority voting became widespread in the Council.
British check. It was the demand by the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (19791990) that the European Community had to refund British “overpayments” to the common budget. She did so because she opposed the emerging project for ever closer union, and said that the money given by Britain was not benefiting it, by other countries, therefore being a donor country and obtaining no advantages from it, as most of the investment was spent on the Common Agricultural Policy, which benefited the UK much less than other countries as it had a relatively small farming sector.
Treaty of Maastricht (1992). It was the treaty signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, also known as the Treaty of the European Union, and it came into force once all ratification procedures were finalized, on 1 November 1993. It strengthened integration, leading to a tighter-knit economic and monetary union, in which the addition of new member states was accepted. Through it, the previous three European Communities were simplified into one: the European Union, and the three-pillar structure was introduced, with each pillar representing a certain policy area and a specific type of decision-making and institutional structure. It also introduced the notion of European citizenship, and included criteria for economic convergence.
Structured Pillar Integration. It was the new structure given by the Maastricht Treaty to the newly created European Union in 1992. In it, each pillar represented a certain policy area and a specific type of decision-making and institutional structure. The first pillar, called the “Community Pillar”, corresponded to the three existing Communities: ECSC, EAEC, and EEC, which followed the Qualified Majority Voting procedure. The second pillar dealt with Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the third addressed Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters. The integration method concerning these two pillars was intergovernmental, which meant that in these areas the decision-making procedures essentially followed the Unanimity Principle.
Treaty of Amsterdam (1997). It was signed on 2 October 1997 by the then 15 foreign ministers, and entered into force on 1 May 1999. It provided the Union with a deep reform of its governing principles, and represented some kind of amendment to the Treaties of Rome of 1957 and the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992. Under it, member states agreed to devolve certain powers from national governments to the European Parliament across diverse areas, including legislating on immigration, adopting civil and criminal laws, and enacting foreign and security policy, as well as implementing institutional changes for expansion as new member nations join the European Union.
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European Monetary Union (EMU). It is the process through which the Union aims at closer economic integration between the countries forming it. It started with the Maastricht Treaty, which provided with the first sights of European economic convergence that imposed strict controls on inflation, public debt and public deficit, exchange rate stability, and the convergence of interest rates. Thanks to it, in 1995 the European Union authorities invented the euro, which was introduced into the world’s financial markets as currency on January 1, 1999, though physical notes and coins were introduced on January 1, 2002.
Eurozone. Officially called the euro area, it is a monetary union composed of 19 the 28 European Union member states which have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender. It consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The other 9 EU states, except for Denmark and the United Kingdom, are obliged to adopt this currency once they meet the criteria to do so. However, there are other countries out of the Union that use this currency, whether with the EU agreement or not, but they do not have representation in the European Central Bank or in the Eurogroup, nor they form part of the Eurozone.
Treaty of Nice (2001). It was signed on 26 February 2001, setting the majorities necessary to make decisions after the successive expansions carried out, and paving the way for the Eastern Expansion by reforming the institutional structure. It came into force on 1 February 2003, after the ratification procedures are finalized in each member state. Therefore, it functioned as an amendment to the former European Union treaties, that is, the Rome Treaties of 1957, and the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992.
European Regional Development Funds (ERDF). It was created in 1975, being the first one of a system of regional funds aimed at compensate and give attention to the inequalities between the old and the new member states, and at bypassing uncooperative central governments and collaborate directly with regional interests within the member states. So it helped those poor regions which needed significant subsidies and reallocations of central aid in order to catch up with the rest and assure the success of the economic integration.
Treaty of the European Constitution (2004). It was an attempt to clarify the EU’s organization through the signing of a single treaty. On October 29, 2004, in Rome, the heads of state and government and their respective ministers of foreign affairs signed a treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. However, this treaty failed because the agreement was rejected in referendums by the citizens of France and the Netherlands in 2005, rejections which raised the question again about whether the European integration process suffers from a democratic deficit.
European Central Bank (1998). It was created in Frankfort on 1 June 2008. It is responsible for the supervision of credit institutions located in the euro area and participating non-euro area member states, within the Single Supervisory Mechanism, which also comprises the national competent authorities. It thereby contributed to the safety and soundness of the banking system and the stability of the financial system within the EU and each participating member state. So we have that it administers the monetary policy of the Eurozone.
Treaty of Lisbon (2009). Singed on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009 after the 27 ratification processes were completed. It replaced the Constitutional Treaty from three years earlier, that is, the Constitutional Treaty of 2004. It abolished the three-pillar structure, and for the first time the European Union became an entity with legal personality. It 2 Teaching guide 12.
also gave more power to the European Parliament, approved the right of European citizens to present legislative initiatives, and enforced the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
European Union enlargements: 2004, 2007 and 2013. The end of the Cold War and the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht facilitated the European Union’s further expansion, even integrating former communist countries, especially in what has been known as the Eastern Enlargement of 1 May 2004, with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and two Mediterranean states, Malta and Cyprus. On January 1, 2007, Romania and Bulgaria joined the Union, followed by Croatia on July 1, 2013, which is the newest member of the EU, and its 28th member state.
Acquis Communautaire. It is the cumulative body of European Community laws, comprising the European Communities’ objectives, substantive rules, policies and, in particular, primary and secondary legislation and case law, all of which form part of the legal order of the European Union. In order to understand its scope, we have to examine no less than four treaties: the Rome Treaties of 1957, the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 2000, and the amended version coming from the Lisbon Treaty of 2009.
Eurocrats. They are the officials and leaders at the EU-level, who take decisions without taking into account the opinion of the population. As they are the people sent by each of the 28 states forming the European Union, the decisions they take are binding upon all the member-states, therefore reducing the level of autonomy of each state, as they have to comply with these decisions.
Summit diplomacy. It was a way to circumvent the impediments of a cumbersome supranational bureaucracy in Brussels, invented by Giscard and Schmidt. It was a reminder that, as in the past, Franco-German cooperation was the necessary condition for the unification of Western Europe, but this time applied to the monetary coordination and European Monetary System, also invented by Schmidt and Giscard.
Democratic deficit. It is the idea that the governance of the European Union in some way lacks democratic legitimacy. The term was initially used to criticise the transfer of legislative powers from national government to the Council of Ministers of the EU and to the European Parliament, as at first European citizens had no representatives at the Union level nor could make their voices heard. In order to solve this issue, the European Parliament was afforded a degree of representation, as its members were to be elected by popular suffrage after its reform in 1979, and then it was given more powers after the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009, among other things.
Commission. It is the executive independent power of the European Union and promotes its general interest by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. So it proposes new laws, manages EU policies and allocates EU funding, enforces EU law, and represents the EU internationally. Nowadays it is headed by President Jean-Claude Juncker, and is located in Brussels, Belgium, since its creation in 1958.
European Council. It was established in 1974 as an informal forum, acquired formal status in 1992, and finally became an official EU institution in 2009. It is located in Brussels, Belgium, and its current president is Donald Tusk. It defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union, and is formed by the heads of state or government of EU countries, the 3 Teaching guide 12.
European Commission President, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. So it brings together EU leaders to set the EU’s political agenda, and represents the highest level of political cooperation between EU countries.
Council of ministers. Also known as Council of the European Union, it was established in 1958 as the Council of the European Economic Community. It is located in Brussels, Belgium, and is formed by government ministers form each EU country, according to the policy area to be discussed, and its presidency is held by each EU country on a 6-month rotating basis. It is the voice of EU member governments, and adopts EU laws and coordinates EU policies, as government ministers meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws. The ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed on in the meetings.
European Parliament. It was the new name given to the European Parliamentary Assembly, formerly known as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, on March 30, 1962. Again, it was only a formal change, leaving its functions intact. Therefore, it was still in charging of watching over the executive body and, at the same time, being controlled by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Eurogroup. It is an informal body of the European Union in which the ministers of the euro area member states discuss matters relating to their shared responsibilities to the euro. Its main task is to ensure close coordination of economic policies among the euro area member states, and also to promote conditions for stronger economic growth. It is also responsible for preparing the Euro Summit meeting and for their follow-up. It usually meets once a month, on the eve of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting.
Troika (“Institutions”). It is the gathering of three institutions: the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. It monitors countries in severe economic trouble that are receiving financial loans provided for by the EU and the IMF. It focuses on national causes, being its preferred targets wages, working hours, and social expenditure.
These measures and reforms, the conditions that the countries have to fulfil to continue receiving money, are established in a sort of contract, called Memorandum of Understanding.
European Higher Education Area. Its creation was approved on 19 June 1999, when the European education ministers signed the Bologna Declaration, and it was to be fully implemented by December 31, 2010. It was meant to ensure more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe. Between 1999 and 2010, all the efforts of the Bologna Process members were targeted to create the European Higher Education Area, that became reality with the Budapest-Vienna Declaration of March, 2010. The next decade will be aimed at consolidating it.
Council of European Regions. It was launched in 1985 comprising 107 member regions, with many more to come. Its aim was to create the idea of a united Europe by focusing on regionalism, offering it an alternate, “subnational” identity, displacing the nation itself.
Nowadays it is called the Committee of the Regions, which is an advisory body representing Europe’s regional and local authorities, and which has 350 members from all EU countries.
Through the Committee, they are able to share their opinion on EU legislation that directly impact regions and cities.
a. On text 1.
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1.- The Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992 as a way to strengthen integration, having a tighterknit Economic and Monetary Union, and accepting the future addition of new member states. It was signed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which allowed for German reunification after a lot of years of division, and which marked the end of the Cold War. Its end brought about the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 21, 1991, thus lifting the Iron Curtain and making Western Europe discover that the Eastern European countries were eager to participate in the European integration process. SO we have that the Treaty of Maastricht was the way chosen by the European Communities to respond to this new situation, paving the way for the future addition of new member states.
2.- With the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the three European Communities were simplified into the European Union, with a three pillar-structure, each pillar representing a certain policy area and a specific type of decision-making and institutional structure. The first pillar was the “Community Pillar”, which corresponded to the three existing communities, and which followed a supranational approach based on Qualified Majority Voting. The second pillar dealt with Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the third addressed Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters, both following an intergovernmental method, thus requiring unanimity to reach decisions.
Another important aspect introduced by the Maastricht Treaty was the European citizenship, which included rights such as to vote in European elections; the right to free movement, settlement and employment across the EU; and the right to consular protection from other EU states’ embassies when a person’s country of citizenship does not maintain an embassy or consulate in the country in which they need protection.
3.- The three-pillar structure of the Union was approved with the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. It provides with a division of the policy areas to be governed by the Union with different decisionmaking procedures and institutional structure. The first pillar is the “Community Pillar”, corresponded to the three existing Communities: the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community. When the Treaty of Paris expired in 2002, all their activities and resources were absorbed by the EU, and all the areas encompassed by this pillar were subject to the Community integration method, which meant that the decision-making procedure followed a supranational approach was based essentially on Qualified Majority Voting. Therefore, it gives more importance to the supranational aspect than to the national one, as states had already pooled some of their sovereignty when signing the treaties leading to these three communities.
The second pillar dealt with Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the third addressed Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters. The integration method concerning these two pillars was intergovernmental, which meant that in these areas the decision-making procedures essentially followed the Unanimity Principle. Thus, in these two pillars states still retain some sovereignty and competences, having an important say in the decision-making and being able to refuse some proposals, even blocking a proposal approved by the majority.
4.- From the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 on, the governments of the EU member states have been trying to restructure the Union’s foundations and legal bases in a manageable way. The Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997 focused on increasing the democratic legitimacy of the European Institutions by increasing the powers of the European Parliament; Security and Justice Reforms including the introduction of a common foreign and security policy; the reformation of the three pillars of the EU and the reform of the institutions to better prepare them for the upcoming 5 Teaching guide 12.
enlargement. The Nice Treaty of 2001 basically paved the way for further EU enlargement. It provided and set the majorities necessary for decision-making after the successive enlargements of 1973, 1981, 1986 and, especially, the one of 1995.
5.- The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on December 13, 2007, and superseded the Constitutional Treaty of 2004, entering into force on December 1, 2009, after its ratification by the 27 memberstates. It abolished the three-pillar structure and, most importantly, gave legal personality to the European Union, which means that from that moment on it can establish and enforce international law distinct from that of its member states, as stated in its Article 47. It also reinforced democracy by giving more power to the European Parliament, by approving the right of European citizens to present legislative initiatives upon the gathering of one million signatures, and by enforcing the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
6.- European integration is still legally extremely complex because, firstly, the EU still has no supranational constitution and, secondly, because its legislative basis is extraordinarily complicated. The first cause means that the EU relies on the Community and Intergovernmental methods, meaning that the national constitutions of the 28 member-states take legal precedence over the European treaties. Therefore, every time a step towards integration is taken at the treaty level the procedure for implementing it is long and complex, as every state has to ratify it, making a single state able to halt the whole process by not ratifying it.
As a consequence, the Acquis Communautaire, or the European Community Law, is extremely complex. Each new treaty has been used, at least in some part, as an amendment of previous treaties, thus making really hard to understand the European Community Law and to know the laws to which the citizens of the EU are subject, as we would have to examine at least four treaties if we want to understand the Lisbon one.
b. On text 2.
7.- French President Georges Pompidou decided to welcome the integration of the United Kingdom into the European Communities, which would become effective in January 1972 after the formally approval of the EC of the accession of Britain, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway, that would take effect a year later, thanks to two different reasons. The first one was that, after the death of Charles De Gaulle, Pompidou’s patron, nothing restrained France from supporting UK’s incorporation, as De Gaulle was the one hardly advocating for maintaining it out. Secondly, the strategic implications of Willy Brandt’s new Ostpolitik, with which he wanted to re-establish the relationship with East Germany, made it clear that France would welcome Great Britain’s membership of the EC.
8.- The case of Norway and the European Communities is really special. The EC approved the accession of Norway in 1972 with Britain, Ireland, and Denmark, becoming it effective a year later, but the Norwegian population rejected the proposal. They thought they were better off outside, as they proved with a referendum in September 1972, in which 54 percent of the country rejected EC membership and opted instead for a limited free-trade agreement with the Community, something they voted again twenty-two years later, obtaining the same result. The reason why they have always want to have a limited association with the European Communities and nowadays with the European Union, is that it will not benefit them, as they would obtain less benefits from oil and would have to share their fishing area with other Communitymembers, especially after the agreements over fishing areas.
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9.- The accession of the United Kingdom to the European Communities was thanks to the endorsement of its Prime Minister at the time, Edward Heath, although the referendum taken afterwards approved the UK membership, thus supporting the action taken by the Prime Minister. He worked towards the successful British application, as he thought that his nation’s faith had to join that of its continental neighbours. When the referendum took place in 1974, the country approved the membership by 17.300.000 to 8.400.000. So although he could not make the British feel European, he led the country towards EC membership and achieved a positive vote in the referendum.
10.- The integrations of Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1985 proved a challenge to Europe, as these countries were poor countries, and as their incorporation, especially that of Portugal and Spain, would not beneficiate France, as their agricultural products were cheaper and their people poorer, thus making them more eligible to European Community funds and subsidies from which France would not benefit. So after their integration, the European Community acquired the image of a sort of institutional cattle market in which countries trade political alliances for material reward. Spain, Portugal, and Greece received huge funds from Europe and, in exchange, they gave their consent in Community decisions.
11.- The emergence of a single European currency was the outcome of pragmatic responses to economic problems because of the economic anxiety of the Seventies. In that decade, the European economy was growing slowly if at all, inflation was endemic and the uncertainty resulting from the collapse of the Bretton Woods system meant that the exchange rates were volatile and unpredictable. So the European Monetary System was a sort of second-best response to the problem, substituting the Deutschmark for the dollar as the stable currency of reference for European bankers and markets. A few years later the replacement of national currencies by the euro, for all its disruptive symbolic implications, was the logical step. So with the single currency they aimed at a stronger currency, more stable and reliable than national ones that could help Europe to overcome crisis.
12.- In the case of the adhesion of Denmark and the UK, it was really easy and unproblematic, as both were wealthy and thus net contributors to the common budget, adding to the coffers and without significantly increasing its costs, or competing in sensitive areas with existing members. When it came to Ireland and Greece, although they were small and poor, they agriculture did not pose a threat to French farmers, so there were no powerful arguments against their admission, despite of some institutional impediments that ended up being solved.
The problem came with Spain and Portugal, as they were poor big countries, and competed with France in agricultural and farm products, as it cost less to grow and market south of the Pyrenees. Therefore, France put all the impediments it could upon their adhesion, as they would offer stiff competition to French farmers and as they were perfect candidates for European funds and subsidies.
13.- The Single European Act (SEA) was signed on February 17, 1986, and entered into force in July 1987. It strengthened the process of European integration by replacing the term Community with that of Union. It aimed at removing trade barriers to increase harmonization and competitiveness among EEC member states by 1992. This was approved because, at that time, they kept their eyes resolutely fixed upon the internal business of what was still primarily a common market. So it was important as it made a concrete progress towards European unity, as without that Common Market of goods and services the common market of labour and the free movement of people we have nowadays would have never be achieved.
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14.- The European Communities started the system of regional funds in 1975, with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Its first purpose was to address the problem of economic backwardness and unevenness within a Community that was still very much guided by a postwar culture of ‘growth’. Therefore, it aimed at giving attention and compensation to the inequalities between member states in order to achieve with successful the economic integration. The second purpose was to enable the European Commission in Brussels to bypass uncooperative central governments and collaborate directly with regional interests within the member states, having their favour. So it helped European integration as its beneficiaries became loyal Europeans, and as it expanded Community powers into many policy areas in which the EC had not previously been involved.
15.- The approval of the ERDF was so determinant in the growing of regionalist sentiments because each region started to look for the way of getting advantage from the European Communities and because the funds were given to regions and not to countries. In the case of the wealthy regions, they set up offices in Brussels and learned how to lobby on their own behalf, for investment or for Community policies favouring local over national institutions. On the other hand, the political representatives from disadvantaged regions were just as quick to manipulate grants and aid from Brussels to increase their local popularity. However, this has a negative side, as advanced by Judt, in as far as a lot of money has been misused by the provinces, as happened in the Italian region of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, as has been reclassified many times as a way of keeping receiving funds from Brussels, thus more for avarice than for real need.