3RD FORUM OF OUTERMOST REGIONS @EC

3RD FORUM OF OUTERMOST REGIONS  (OR), Brussels, 30th September and 1st October 2014

The Charlemagne building has been chosen as venue for a two-days Forum that hosted hundreds of people coming from all Europe, especially from the outermost Regions of Europe. In fact, the meeting focused on the importance of nine regions which are at the heart of Europe although they are situated far away from mainland Europe. For those who don’t know, these regions are the French overseas departments, namely Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin, French Guiana, La Réunion, Mayotte, the Azores and  Madeira (Portugal), and the Canary Islands (Spain).  The OR (or RUP in French, Regions Ultra Périphériques) are an integral part of the European Union and must apply its laws and obligations, in accordance with the Treaty. During the panel all Presidents highlighted the role that article 349 TFUE has in the development of their regions, because it enables specific and adapted measures to be applied to the OR, taking into account the characteristics and specific constraints that these regions have in complying with the European Treaties. The panellists debated about how to address the unemployment challenge by focusing on youth employment, training, mobility in the light of socio-economic characteristics of the OR, or how to use resources in the best way to achieve innovative results and to stimulate sustainable growth. Throughout the discussion I couldn’t help but noticing that the stakeholders used the occasion to  stress the difficulties they have to tackle to the MEPs and EC Heads of Unit,  and to influence the political decision procedure. Indeed, they were both advocating and lobbying, which are two completely different means to persuade the counterpart. It was very interesting to see with my own eyes this legal traffic of interests, because each country tried to negotiate with the EC in order to implement actions in their favour, to demonstrate that effective policies have to suit their characteristics,  and they have done it by using figures. As I learnt in a Training Course in Lobbying, the use of figures is fundamental in the lobbying process because it shows the consequences of an action; by attending the Forum,  I had the opportunity to see lobbyist in action for the first time. I saw “the Politics” . Moreover, President Barroso, in his speech on the strategic value of OR, seized the chance to say “ à bientôt” to the European Commission. I look forward to seeing Politics in action again, and to learn the more and the more! 

Cristiana Marchitelli, EVSer

Overview

EU institutions and other bodies

In the EU's unique institutional set-up: the EU's broad priorities are set by the European Council, which brings together national and EU-level leaders directly elected MEPs represent European citizens in the European Parliament the interests of the EU as a whole are promoted by the European Commission, whose members are appointed by national governments governments defend their own country's national interests in the Council of the European Union.

Setting the agenda

The European Council sets the EU's overall political direction – but has no powers to pass laws. Led by its President – currently Herman Van Rompuy – and comprising national heads of state or government and the President of the Commission, it meets for a few days at a time at least every 6 months.

Law-making

There are 3 main institutions involved in EU legislation:

  1. the European Parliament, which represents the EU’s citizens and is directly elected by them;
  2. the Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of the individual member countries. The Presidency of the Council is shared by the member states on a rotating basis.
  3. the European Commission, which represents the interests of the Union as a whole.

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Administration

EU administration - staff, languages and location

The EU spends around 6% of its annual budget on staff, administration and maintenance of its buildings.

Staff

 The European Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates General (DGs), roughly equivalent to ministries. Each covers a specific policy area or service such as trade or environment, and is headed by a Director-General who reports to a Commissioner. Around 33 000 people are employed by the European Commission.

 

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European Parliament

European Parliament 

Directly elected by EU voters every 5 years, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent the people. Parliament is one of the EU’s main law-making institutions, along with the Council of the European Union ('the Council'). 

The European Parliament has three main roles: 

  • debating and passing European laws, with the Council 
  • scrutinising other EU institutions, particularly the Commission, to make sure they are working democratically
  • debating and adopting the EU's budget, with the Council.

Passing European laws 

In many areas, such as consumer protection and the environment, Parliament works together with the Council (representing national governments) to decide on the content of EU laws and officially adopt them. This process is called "Ordinary legislative procedure" (ex "co-decision"). 

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European Commission

European Commission

The European Commission is one of the main institutions of the European Union. It represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws. It manages the day-to-day business of implementing EU policies and spending EU funds.

Composition

The 28 Commissioners, one from each EU country, provide the Commission’s political leadership during their 5-year term. Each Commissioner is assigned responsibility for specific policy areas by the President.

The current President of the European Commission is José Manuel Barroso who began his second term of office in February 2010.

The President is nominated by the European Council. The Council also appoints the other Commissioners in agreement with the nominated President.

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