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Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Legal basis   Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and Articles 9, 10, 19, 45-48, 145-150 and 151-161 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Objectives   The promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, proper social protection, dialogue between management and other members of staff, the development of human resources with a view to ensuring lasting high employment and the prevention of social exclusion are the common objectives of the EU and its Member States in the social and employment fields, as described in Article 151 of the TFEU. Achievements   A. From the Treaty of Rome to the Maastricht Treaty In order to allow workers and their families to take full advantage of the right to move and seek employment freely throughout the common market, the Treaty of Rome provided for the coordination of the Member States’ social security systems. It enshrined the principle of equal pay for men and women, which was recognised by the Court of Justice as being directly applicable, and provided for the establishment of the European Social Fund (ESF) (2.3.2). Concerns about structural imbalances and uneven growth in Europe later led to a more proactive social policy at Community level. In 1974, the Council adopted the first Programme of Social Action. The Single European Act (SEA) introduced provisions for the harmonisation of health and safety conditions at work.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

The Treaty of Lisbon transformed the MFF from an interinstitutional agreement into a legally binding act. Established for a period of at least five years, an MFF must ensure that the Union’s expenditure develops in an orderly manner and within the limits of its own resources, and sets out provisions with which the annual budget of the Union must comply, thus laying down the cornerstone of financial discipline. Legal basis   Article 312 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020[1]; Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2017/1123 of 20 June 2017 amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020[2]; The Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management[3]. Background   In the 1980s, a climate of conflict in relations between the institutions arose out of a growing mismatch between resources and requirements. The concept of a multiannual financial perspective was developed as an attempt to lessen conflict, enhance budgetary discipline and improve implementation through better planning. The first interinstitutional agreement (IIA) was concluded in 1988.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Sport   Load fact sheet in pdf format  Sport is a field in which the EU’s responsibilities are relatively new, acquired only with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009. The EU is responsible for the development of evidence-based policy, as well as fostering cooperation and managing initiatives in support of physical activity and sport across Europe. In the 2014-2020 period, a specific budget line has been made available for the first time under the Erasmus+ programme to support projects and networks in the area of sport. Legal basis   Although the Treaties did not mention a specific legal competence for sport before 2009, the Commission built up the beginnings of an EU policy for sport with the 2007 White Paper on sport and the Pierre de Coubertin action plan in 2008. With the Lisbon Treaty, the EU acquired a specific competence in the field of sport. Article 6(e) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) confers on the EU the competence to carry out actions to support or supplement the actions of the Member States in the field of sport, while Article 165(1) of the TFEU sets out the details of a sports policy, stating that the Union ‘shall contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function’.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Parliament’s participation in the legislative process, its budgetary and control powers, its involvement in treaty revision and its right to intervene before the European Court of Justice enable it to uphold democratic principles at European level. Legal basis   Articles 223 to 234 and 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Objectives   As an institution representing the citizens of Europe, Parliament forms the democratic basis of the European Union. If the EU is to have democratic legitimacy, Parliament must be fully involved in the Union’s legislative process and exercise political scrutiny over the other EU institutions on behalf of the public. Constitutional-type powers and ratification powers (1.2.4)   Since the Single European Act (SEA), all treaties marking the accession of a new Member State and all association treaties have been subject to Parliament’s assent. The SEA also established this procedure for international agreements with important budgetary implications for the Community (replacing the conciliation procedure established in 1975). The Maastricht Treaty introduced it for agreements establishing a specific institutional framework or entailing modifications to an act adopted under the codecision procedure. Parliament must also give its assent to acts relating to the electoral procedure (since the Maastricht Treaty).

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Legal basis   Education — and in this context also higher education — was formally recognised as an area of EU competency in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. The Treaty of Lisbon did not change the provisions on the role of the EU in education and training (Title XII, Articles 165 and 166). Article 165(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states that ‘the Union shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, by supporting and supplementing their action, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems and their cultural and linguistic diversity’. In Article 165(2) of the TFEU, it is stated that Union action is to be aimed at ‘encouraging mobility of students and teachers, by encouraging, inter alia, the academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study; promoting cooperation between educational establishments; and developing exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the education systems of the Member States’. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon contains a provision that can be described as a horizontal ‘social clause’. Article 9 of the TFEU states: ‘In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of […] a high level of education [and] training’.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Legal basis   In the European Union’s single institutional framework, the Council exercises the powers conferred on it under Article 16 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 237 to 243 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Role   A. Legislation On the basis of proposals submitted by the Commission, the Council adopts EU legislation in the form of regulations and directives, either jointly with Parliament in accordance with Article 294 TFEU (ordinary legislative procedure) or alone, following consultation of Parliament (1.2.3). The Council also adopts individual decisions and non-binding recommendations (Article 288 TFEU) and issues resolutions. The Council and Parliament establish the general rules governing the exercise of the implementing powers conferred on the Commission or reserved to the Council itself (Article 291(3) TFEU). B. Budget The Council is one of the two arms of the budgetary authority, the other being Parliament, which adopts the European Union’s budget (1.2.5). The Council also adopts, pursuant to a special legislative procedure and acting unanimously, decisions laying down the provisions applying to the EU’s own resources system and the multiannual financial framework (Articles 311 and 312 TFEU). In the latter case, Parliament must give its consent by a majority of its Members. The most recent Multiannual Financial Framework (2014–2020) was adopted by Parliament in November 2013.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

The budgetary procedure   Load fact sheet in pdf format  Since the 1970 and 1975 Treaties, Parliament’s role in the budgetary process has gradually been enhanced. The Lisbon Treaty gave Parliament an equal say with the Council in the entire EU budget. Legal basis   Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community; Articles 36 to 52 of the Financial Rules (Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002[1]); Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management approved by Parliament on 19 November 2013 and by the Council on 2 December 2013[2], following the political agreement reached between the Presidents of Parliament, the Council and the Commission on 27 June 2013. Objectives   The exercise of budgetary powers consists in establishing both the overall amount and distribution of annual EU expenditure and the revenue necessary to cover it, and in exercising control over the implementation of the budget.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Legal basis   The Treaties do not contain any specific chapter or article concerning communication policy. However, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, rendered binding by the Treaty of Lisbon, has the same legal status as the EU Treaties. It provides all EU institutions with a common framework for linking EU achievements to the underlying values of the EU when communicating to the public at large[1]. Relevant articles in the Charter include Article 11 (right to information and freedom of expression, as well as freedom and diversity of the media), Article 41 (right to be heard and right of access to documents relating to oneself), Article 42 (right of access to the documents of the EU institutions) and Article 44 (right of petition). As there is no separate legal basis in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) for communication policy, any action at EU level needs to refer to Article 352 TFEU[2]. Objectives   The EU has a responsibility to communicate its decisions and activities to EU citizens and other interested parties. The EU institutions have specialist staff and specific budgets dedicated to making sure that information about the EU is easily available in a language that citizens understand. The communication tools used include websites, social media accounts, facilities for visitors, liaison and local offices in all EU countries as well as special services for the media.

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Its opinions are required on the basis of a mandatory consultation in the fields established by the Treaties or a voluntary consultation by the Commission, the Council or Parliament. It may also issue opinions on its own initiative. Its members are not bound by any instructions. They shall be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the Union’s general interest. Legal basis   Article 13(4) TEU; Articles 301-304 TFEU; and Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2015/1790 of 1 October 2015 appointing the members of the European Economic and Social Committee for the period from 21 September 2015 to 20 September 2020. Composition   A. Number and national allocation of seats (Article 301 TFEU) The EESC currently has 350 members, divided between the Member States as follows: 24 each for Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom; 21 each for Poland and Spain; 15 for Romania; 12 each for Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden; 9 each for Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania and Slovakia; 7 each for Latvia and Slovenia; 6 for Estonia; 5 each for Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg. B. Method of appointment (Article 302 TFEU) The members of the Committee are appointed by the Council by qualified majority, on the basis of proposals by the Member States. The Council consults the Commission on these nominations (Article 302(2) TFEU).

Fact Sheets on the European Union 
 

Employment policy   Load fact sheet in pdf format  Creating more and better jobs is one of the main goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. The European employment strategy (EES), with its monitoring process and connected funding instruments, contributes to ‘soft coordination’. European law is relevant in certain areas even if the responsibility for employment and social policy lies primarily with national governments. Legal basis   Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 8-10, 145-150, 156-159 and 162-164 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Objectives   Among the important principles, objectives and activities mentioned in the TFEU are the promotion of a high level of employment through the development of a coordinated strategy, particularly with regard to the creation of a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce and labour markets responsive to economic change. According to the horizontal clause in Article 9 of the TFEU, the objective of a high level of employment must be taken into consideration in the definition and implementation of Union policies and activities. Achievements   A. From the early stages (1950s to 1990s) to the Europe 2020 strategy As long ago as the 1950s, workers were benefiting from ‘readaptation aid’ in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Aid was granted to workers in the coal and steel sectors whose jobs were threatened by industrial restructuring.