Glossary of EU Jargon

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Glossary of EU jargon which has relevance to Inclusive Entrepreneurship



Action plan/Action programme

These two terms are often used interchangeably. An action plan or programme contains a set of actions designed to meet various objectives. An action plan is most likely to engage institutions or national governments. An action programme will be set for a defined number of years and may accompany legislative acts.


This is the principle by which Community financial assistance supplements national spending rather than replacing it.

Agenda 2000

Agenda 2000 is an action programme adopted by the Commission in 1997 to tackle the issues facing the European Union at the beginning of the 21st century. It covers four closely linked areas for the period 2000-06:

  • reform of the Common Agricultural Policy;
  • reform of regional policy;
  • pre-accession instruments; and
  • financial framework.

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Amsterdam Treaty established an area of freedom, security and justice to ensure genuine freedom of movement for individuals within the EU and more effective action against organised crime and fraud.

Article 13 (anti-discrimination clause)

Introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty, this clause establishes for the first time a legal basis for EU action to combat discrimination in the fields of age, disability, gender, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. Previously, specific action had only been possible in terms of equal pay for women and men and other labour market measures, and some more general measures in the social policy field.

Article 308 (formerly Article 235)

Article 308 is an Article of last resort, allowing Community action to achieve an agreed Community objective where no specific provision is made in the Treaties. In order to limit the use of this important facility, approval by the Council of Ministers must be unanimous, allowing any one Member State a veto.

Assent procedure

The assent procedure requires the Council to obtain Parliament's assent before certain important decisions are taken. The European Parliament may accept or reject a proposal but cannot amend it. If the European Parliament does not give its assent, the act in question cannot be adopted. It applies mainly to the accession of new Member States, association agreements and other fundamental agreements with non-EU countries, and the appointment of the Commission President.


Sometimes known as the 'n+2' rule, auto-decommitment requires Structural Funds allocated in one year to be spent by the second year after allocation. If they are not spent, they are returned to the EU's coffers. The aim is to encourage maximum use of funds with a programme.


Budgetary discipline

This is the mechanism by which the overall Community budget will annually remain within a ceiling of 1.27% of Community Gross Domestic Product until 2006. (See also financial perspective.)


In institutional terms, this is the name given to the management committees of some of the EU institutions.



CARDS (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation) is a funding programme to support Stabilisation and Association Agreements (see below) with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. The agreements cover the political, trade and economic relations between the EU and the Balkans.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

The Charter of Fundamental Rights aims to consolidate the fundamental rights applicable at EU level in a single document to raise awareness of them. It is based on the Community Treaties, international conventions such as the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and the 1989 European Social Charter, constitutional traditions common to the Member States and various European Parliament Declarations. Adopted in 2000, it defines fundamental rights relating to dignity, liberty, equality, solidarity, citizenship and justice. EU leaders have so far been unable to agree to incorporate it into the Treaties to make it legally binding, however the Court of Justice uses it as a guide in making its judgements.

Civil society

Non-governmental, non-profit making organisations, networks and voluntary associations.

Closer cooperation

The aim of such cooperation is to enable a limited number of Member States that are willing and able to advance further to deepen European integration within the single institutional framework of the EU.

Cohesion Fund

Provides financial help in the fields of environment and transport infrastructure in the poorest Member States, ie those with a Gross National Product per head of less than 90% of the EU average. It currently applies to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain (see Structural Funds).


Although it is for the Commission to implement legislation at Community level, in practice each legislative instrument specifies the scope of the implementing powers granted to the Commission and how the Commission is to use them. Frequently, the instrument will also allow for the Commission to be 'assisted' by a committee in accordance with a procedure known as comitology.

The committees consist of representatives from Member States and are chaired by the Commission. They enable the Commission to consult national governments before adopting implementing measures. The Commission ensures that they reflect the situation in each country in question as far as possible.

The committees can be divided into the following categories:

  • advisory committees
  • management committees
  • regulatory committees

In implementing the Structural Funds, the Commission is assisted by:

  • the Committee on the Development and Conversion of Regions
  • the Committee pursuant to Article 147 of the Treaty
  • the Committee on Agricultural Structures and Rural Development
  • the Committee on Structures for Fisheries and Aquaculture

Commitment appropriations

Part of the annual budget, commitment appropriations are payments covering several years as part of a multiannual programme. They differ from payment appropriations, which refer to spending for the current year only.

Committee of Permanent Representatives - see Coreper

CoR - Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions currently consists of 222 representatives of local and regional authorities appointed by the Council of Ministers for four years on the basis of proposals from the Member States. Members must be elected to a regional or local authority or be politically accountable to an elected assembly. The Council of Ministers, Parliament and the Commission consult the COR in areas affecting local and regional interests, such as education, youth, culture, health and social and economic cohesion, the environment, the Social Fund, vocational training, cross border cooperation and transport.

See Internal market.

Common organisations of the markets

The common organisations of the market are provisions laid down at Community level which govern the production of and trade in agricultural products in all the Member States of the European Union. Since the introduction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), they have gradually replaced national market organisations in the sectors where that was necessary. The common organisations of the market seek primarily to achieve the goals of the CAP, and in particular to stabilise markets, provide farmers with a fair standard of living and increase agricultural productivity. (See also Common Agricultural Policy; EAGGF.)

Common position

This is the result of a first reading by the Council of Ministers of a legislative proposal under the codecision and cooperation procedures. The common position should take into account the positions of the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee and any revisions proposed by the European Commission. The common position is then transmitted to the other institutions for their second readings. (See also Codecision procedure; Cooperation procedure.)


A Communication is published by the Commission and sets out the background and context to a given policy area. It may indicate the Commission's intended course of action in this field. It does not constitute a legislative proposal, but it may well accompany a legislative proposal in order to aid understanding of the proposed action.

Communitisation and Community method

Communitisation means transferring a matter which, in the institutional framework of the EU, is dealt with using the intergovernmental method (second and third pillars) to the Community method (first pillar). The Community method is based on the idea that the general interest of EU citizens is best defended when the Community institutions play their full role in the decision making process, where appropriate, and has the following salient features:

  • Commission monopoly on the right to initiate legislation;
  • widespread use of qualified majority voting in the Council;
  • an active role for the European Parliament;
  • uniform interpretation of Community law by the Court of Justice.

It contrasts with the intergovernmental method of operation used in the second and third pillars, which proceeds from an intergovernmental logic of cooperation and has the following salient features:

  • the Commission's right to initiate legislation is shared with the Member States or confined to specific areas of activity;
  • the Council generally acts unanimously;
  • the European Parliament has a purely consultative role;
  • the Court of Justice plays only a minor role.


Shorthand for European Community. (See European Union.)

Community Initiatives

These are programmes intended to complement Structural Fund operations in specific problem areas. There are currently four Community Initiatives representing 5.35% of the Structural Funds:

  • Interreg III promotes cross border, transnational and interregional cooperation and is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
  • URBAN II supports innovative strategies to regenerate cities and declining urban areas and is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
  • Leader + promotes the socio-economic development of rural areas and is funded by the European Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund (EAGGF); and
  • EQUAL provides for the development of new practices to fight against discrimination and inequalities of every kind in access to the labour market, and is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF).

Community support frameworks

These coordinate EU regional activities involving the Structural Funds and the European Investment Bank. (See also Structural Funds.)


Community competence is the power conferred on the Community in specific areas. There are three types of powers: • explicit powers, which are clearly defined in the Treaties; • implicit powers, where the European Community has explicit powers in a particular area, such as transport, it also has powers in the same field with regard to external relations, such as the negotiation of international transport agreements; and • subsidiary powers, where the Community has no explicit or implicit powers to achieve a Treaty objective concerning the single market, the Council, acting unanimously, can take measures it considers necessary.

Conciliation committee

Under the codecision procedure between Council and Parliament, a Conciliation committee may be set up. It comprises members of the Council and an equal number of representatives of the Parliament. Any disagreement between the two institutions on the outcome of decision taken under the codecision procedure (see above) is referred to the Committee with a view to reaching an agreement acceptable to both sides. To be adopted, it then needs to be approved within six weeks by qualified majority in the Council and by an absolute majority of MEPs.

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe

Known as CLRAE for short, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe is a consultative body of the Council of Europe (see below), giving advice on all aspects of local and regional policy. It has 286 representatives and 286 substitutes and is composed of two chambers, one representing local authorities and the other regions. It aims to strengthen democratic institutions at the local level, and in particular to assist the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

Consultation procedure

The consultation procedure obliges the Council to consult the European Parliament in specific policy areas before voting on a Commission proposal, though not necessarily to act on its position. The Parliament should be consulted again if the Council deviates too far from the initial proposal. The powers of the Parliament are fairly limited under this procedure, and it is left to hope that the Commission takes its amendments into account in an amended proposal.


The convention on the future of Europe, chaired by former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, was established to draft a new constitutional Treaty for the EU, bearing in mind that its institutions and procedures were designed for six Member States, whereas the EU will soon be a continent-wide Union of 25 members. The convention, which included representatives of Member State governments and parliaments, as well as Members of the European Parliament, submitted its draft text to EU Heads of State and Government in June 2003, which forms the basis for negotiations at an intergovernmental conference. (See also Intergovernmental conference.)

Convergence criteria

To ensure sustainable convergence for economic and monetary union, the Treaty sets five convergence criteria: • the ratio of government deficit to Gross Domestic Product must not exceed 3%; • the ratio of government debt to Gross Domestic Product must not exceed 60%; • there must be a sustainable degree of price stability and an average inflation rate over one year which does not exceed by more than 1.5% that of the three best performing Member States in terms of price stability; • there must be a long-term nominal interest rate which does not exceed by more than 2% that of the three best performing Member States in terms of price stability; • the normal fluctuation margins provided for by the exchange rate mechanism on the European Monetary System must have been respected without severe tensions for at least the last two years. (See also Economic and monetary union.)

Cooperation procedure

The cooperation procedure applies exclusively to economic and monetary union. The Parliament issues an Opinion on a Commission proposal and the Council, acting by a qualified majority, then draws up a common position, which Parliament examines at a second reading. Within three months it should adopt, amend or reject the common position. If rejected, Ministers in the Council must approve then it unanimously for it to go forward. The Commission then re-examines the proposal and within three months, the Council may adopt the re-examined proposal by qualified majority, amend it unanimously or adopt the amendments not taken into consideration by the Commission, also unanimously.

In the cooperation procedure, the Council may still exercise a veto by refusing to express its opinion on the amendments proposed by the European Parliament or on the amended proposal from the Commission, thereby blocking the legislative procedure. (See also Common position.)

COR - see Committee of the Regions


Coreper, the French acronym by which the Committee of Permanent Representatives is known, consists of the Member States' Permanent Representatives (Ambassadors to the EU) and is responsible, at a preliminary stage, for assisting the Council in dealing with proposals and drafts put forward by the Commission. It a forum for dialogue, among the Permanent Representatives and between them and their respective national capitals, and a body which exercises political control, by laying down guidelines for, and supervising, the work of the expert groups. (See also UKREP.)

Corporate social responsibility

Companies have been encouraged to develop socially and environmentally aware practices and policies.


Confusing shorthand for both the Council of the European Union, which is also known as the Council of Ministers (see below), and for the European Council (see below).

Council of the European Union, Council of Ministers

The Council of the European Union (Council, sometimes referred to as the Council of Ministers) is the EU's main decision making institution. It consists of the Ministers of the 15 Member States responsible for the area of activity on the agenda: foreign affairs, agriculture, industry, transport, etc. Despite the existence of these different configurations depending on the area of activity, the Council is nonetheless a single institution. (See also European Council.)

Court of First Instance The Court of First Instance aims to strengthen the protection of individuals' interests by introducing a second tier of judicial authority, allowing the Court of Justice to concentrate on its basic task of ensuring the uniform interpretation and application of Community law. The CFI is the ordinary court for most direct actions, such as appeals against a decision, failure to act, damages, etc.

Court of Justice

The Court of Justice of the European Communities is composed of as many judges as there are Member States. At present it has 15 judges, assisted by eight Advocates General, appointed for six years by agreement among the Member States. It checks whether EU or national legislation is compatible with the Treaties and, at the request of a national court, pronounces on the interpretation or the validity of provisions contained in Community law.



As a legal instrument, a Council or Commission Decision is fully binding on those to whom it is addressed. It must be based on a specific Treaty Article and does not require national implementing legislation. It may be addressed to a specific Member State, company or individual.

Delimitation of competences

The delimitation of competences between the European Union and its Member States aims to establish a clear and precise distribution of the Union's competences, identifying what comes under Community, Member State, regional or local competence.

Democratic deficit

An accusation of democratic deficit is sometimes levelled at the EU it complex method of operating seems inaccessible to ordinary people and because members of the Commission are not directly elected, though they are appointed by the Member States and are collectively accountable to Parliament.


A derogation is a temporary waiver from a Regulation or a Directive and is normally only granted by unanimous agreement of the Council of Ministers and for a limited period.

DG - see Directorate General


A Directive is binding as to the result to be achieved, but allows the individual Member States to choose how, often leaving a degree of latitude to accommodate national conventions. A Directive must be based on a Treaty Article, and will normally set a deadline by which the national legislatures must transpose it into national law. If a Directive is not transposed into national law within the deadline, it can confer rights on individuals and take precedence over any conflicting national law.

Directorate General

The term for a department in all of the EU institutions. Each is headed by a Director General.



See European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund.

Economic and monetary union

Economic and monetary union is the name given to the process of harmonising the economic and monetary policies of EU Member States with a view to the introduction of a single currency, the euro.

Economic and social cohesion

Economic and social cohesion is an expression of solidarity between the Member States and regions of the European Union. The aim is balanced development throughout the EU, reducing structural disparities between regions and promoting equal opportunities. This is achieved by means of a variety of funding schemes, principally through the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. (See also Structural Funds.)

ECOSOC - see European Economic and Social Committee

EEA - see European Economic Area


The eEurope initiative was launched by EU leaders meeting in Lisbon in March 2000 and forms part of what is known as the Lisbon strategy which sets the objective for the European Union to become the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy by 2010. Its key objectives are to bring every citizen, home, school, business and administration into the digital age and online, create a digitally literate Europe, supported by an entrepreneurial culture open to information technology, and ensure that the information society is socially inclusive.

To achieve these aims, the Commission adopted the eEurope 2002 action plan in May 2000, intended to stimulate a cheaper, faster, secure Internet, promote human and financial investment and stimulate the use of the Internet. Its successor, the eEurope 2005 action plan, focuses on the deployment of broadband access at competitive prices, network security and better use of information technology by public bodies through e-government.

EFTA - see European Free Trade Area

EIB - see European Investment Bank


The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, is a voluntary initiative designed to improve companies' environmental performance. Its aim is to recognise and reward organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance.

EMU - see Economic and monetary union


Enlargement refers to the expansion of the EU to take in new Member States. Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are due to join the EU in May 2004. Bulgaria and Romania hope to join in 2007, while EU leaders will make a decision in December 2004 about whether to begin formal accession negotiations with Turkey. Croatia has also recently applied for EU membership.


Equal is a Community Initiative providing for the development of new practices to fight against discrimination and inequalities of every kind in access to the labour market. It is financed by the European Social Fund. (See also Community Initiatives; Structural Funds.)


Aimed at the higher education sector, the Erasmus programme helps fund student and lecturer exchanges, curriculum development projects and the development of a European educational credit transfer system.

ERA - see European Research Area

ERDF - see European Regional Development Fund

EESC - see European Economic and Social Committee

ESDP - ee European security and defence policy and European spatial development policy

ESF - see European Social Fund

EAGGF - European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund

This fund finances the Common Agricultural Policy. The Guidance section finances price support measures, while the Guarantee Section grants subsidies for modernisation of farming and rural development measures. (See also Structural Funds.)

European Commission

The European Commission is effectively the EU's civil service. It has powers of initiative, implementation, management and control. It is the guardian of the Treaties and the embodiment of the interests of the Community. It is composed of 20 Commissioners (two each from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom and one each from all the other countries), including a President and two Vice Presidents. It is appointed for a five year term by the Council, subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament, to which it is answerable. The Commissioners are assisted by an administration made up of Directorates General and specialised departments.

Negotiations are taking place during the current intergovernmental conference over the future composition of the Commission. The convention responsible for drawing up a draft Treaty has suggested having a Commission made up of 15 full Commissioners and 15 Deputies who would not have voting rights, though a system where each Member State has at least one Commissioner seems more likely to be approved.

European Community - see European Union -

European Convention on Human Rights

A European Convention on Human Rights, signed under the aegis of the Council of Europe in 1950, established an unprecedented system of international protection for human rights, offering individuals the possibility of applying to the courts for the enforcement of their rights. The Convention, which has been ratified by all EU Member States, established a number of supervisory bodies based in Strasbourg, including the European Court of Human Rights.

European Council

The European Council, often called a European Summit and not to be confused with the Council of Europe or the Council of the European Union, is the term used to describe the regular meetings of the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States. It meets at least twice a year at the end of each Presidency, and generally also in the spring and autumn. The President of the European Commission also attends as a full member. It defines general policy guidelines and gives the European Union the impetus it needs to develop further.

European Court of Auditors

The European Court of Auditors, based in Luxembourg, checks EU revenue and expenditure for legality and regularity and ensures that financial management is sound. It reports any irregularities to the European Parliament and the Council, and its audit responsibilities have been extended to Community funds managed by outside bodies and by the European Investment Bank.

European Court of Human Rights - see Council of Europe

European Economic and Social Committee

Now known the EESC (rather than ECOSOC or ESC), the European Economic and Social Committee represents the interests of the various economic and social groups. It consists of 222 members falling into three categories: employers, workers and representatives of particular types of activity, such as farmers, consumer organisations and environmental groups. Members are appointed by the Council for four years. It is consulted before legislation is adopted concerning the internal market, education, consumer protection, environment, regional development and social affairs, employment policy, public health and equal opportunities.

EEA - European Economic Area

Set up in 1994, the European Economic Area allows its three members, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, to take part in the single market, but without taking on the responsibilities of EU membership of the EU. They have the right to be consulted by the Commission during the formulation of EU legislation but no right to a say in the decision making.

European Employment Strategy

The European Employment Strategy is built around four priorities: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equal opportunities. Each year, the Member States draw up National Action Plans (NAPs) on employment implementing these broad policy guidelines. The NAPs are analysed by the Commission and the Council, and the results, presented in a Joint Employment Report, serve as a basis for reprioritising and making recommendations to Member States in respect of their employment policies.

EFTA - European Free Trade Area

Set up in 1960 as an alternative to the then European Economic Community, the European Free Trade Area allows its members to enjoy free trade. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are members of EFTA, as are the EU Member States, however membership does not impose all of the obligations or benefits of being in the EU on the four non-EU members.

EIB - European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is the Community's financial institution, providing long term financing for economically, technically, environmentally and financially viable projects.

EIF - European Investment Fund

European Parliament

Since 1979 the European Parliament has been elected by direct universal suffrage. The distribution of its 626 seats among the Member States is roughly according to their population size. It considers the Commission's proposals, in conjunction with the Council. It also has power over the EU's activities through its confirmation of the appointment of the Commission (and the right to censure it) and through the written and oral questions it can put to the Commission and the Council. It shares budgetary powers with the Council in voting on the annual budget and overseeing its implementation.

The Nice Treaty limits the future number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to a maximum of 732, with effect from the June 2004 elections.

European Regional Development Fund The largest of the Structural Funds, the European Regional Development Fund grants financial assistance for development projects with the overall aim of reducing imbalances between the regions of Europe and thereby promoting economic and social cohesion. (See also Structural Funds.) European Research Area The European Research Area brings together all of the Community's resources to better coordinate research and innovation activities at the level of both the Member States and the European Union, so avoiding previous shortcomings, such as fragmentation of activities, isolation of national research systems, disparity of regulatory and administrative frameworks, and low levels of investment in knowledge. It makes it possible to share data, compare results, carry out multi-disciplinary studies, transfer and protect new scientific knowledge and gain access to centres of excellence and state of the art equipment.

European security and defence policy The European security and defence policy includes the eventual framing of a common defence policy which might in time lead to a common defence. Established in 1999, the ESDP aims to allow the EU to develop its civilian and military capacities for crisis management and conflict prevention at international level, thus helping to maintain peace and international security, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Its tasks relate to humanitarian and rescue operations, peacekeeping operations and the use of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking operations. In addition to these civilian and military crisis management operations, the ESDP includes a conflict prevention component. The ESDP does not involve the creation of a European army.

European Social Fund This fund is the main financial instrument of Community social policy, providing assistance for vocational training, retraining and job creation schemes. Three quarters of it goes towards combating youth unemployment. (See also Structural Funds.)

European spatial development policy The aim of the European Spatial Development Policy is to improve coordination of national policies in this field, based on three key principles: • development of a balanced and polycentric urban system and a new relationship between cities and their surrounds; • equal access to knowledge infrastructures; and • sustainable development of nature and cultural assets.

European Union A term often used interchangeably with European Community. The EU came about in 1993 with ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, otherwise known as the Treaty on European Union. The Treaty states that the EU is made up of the European Communities plus intergovernmental agreement on justice and home affairs and a common foreign and security policy. The latter are therefore in addition to the European Communities and, strictly speaking, use of the term EU should be applied to these 'new' areas only.

European Union agencies These are public authorities set up under European law to carry out a specific technical, scientific or administrative task. The first agencies were set up in the 1970s but most of them started work in 1994 or 1995. The most recent agencies are the European Food Safety Authority (January 2002), the European Maritime Safety Agency (August 2002) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (September 2002).

Europol Europol provides a structure for developing police cooperation between Member States in preventing and combating serious forms of international organised crime. It initially confined its efforts to the fight against drugs, but its terms of reference were gradually extended to other serious crimes, such as clandestine immigration networks, trafficking in stolen vehicles, human trafficking, child pornography, counterfeiting currency and falsification of other means of payment, trafficking in radioactive and nuclear substances, terrorism and money laundering.


FIFG See Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance.

Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance As one of the Structural Funds, the FIFG aims to increase the competitiveness of structures and businesses in the fishing industry. (See also Structural Funds.)

Financial perspective The financial perspective forms the framework for Community expenditure over a period of several years. It is the product of an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and indicates the maximum volume and the composition of the foreseeable Community expenditure. It is adjusted annually by the Commission to take account of prices and the development of Community Gross National Product. The financial perspective is not a multiannual budget, since the annual budgetary procedure remains essential to determine the actual amount of expenditure and the breakdown between the different budget headings. The current financial perspective establishes the reference framework for a period of seven years (2000-06).

Framework legislation This is generally a statement of aims and principles within a specified policy area. They rarely have binding legislative force in themselves, instead they set policy parameters to be followed up by more specific legislation, possibly several acts on detailed aspects of the general policy area covered by the framework act.

Framework programme A framework programme sets out the broad aims to be achieved, allowing individual calls to apply for funding to set out more clearly how these aims can be achieved.


GATS The World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services. Governments are currently in negotiations aimed at further liberalising the services market globally.

Governance A term coined by the Commission when it launched a debate in July 2001 on how the EU is run. Its aim is to adopt new governmental systems to bring the EU closer to ordinary people, make it more effective, reinforce democracy in Europe and consolidate the legitimacy of the institutions.

Green Paper Commission Green Papers are documents intended to stimulate debate and launch a process of consultation at European level on a particular topic. These consultations may then lead to the publication of a White Paper, translating the conclusions of the debate into practical proposals for Community action.


High Representative for the common foreign and security policy The High Representative for the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) assists the Presidency of the Union in matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. The holder of the post is also known as Mr/Ms CFSP. The High Representative aims to allow the Union to express itself with greater visibility and coherence on the international stage by giving it a more recognisable face and voice. The current intergovernmental conference is likely to conclude in agreeing to combine the role with that of External relations Commissioner.


ICZM - see Integrated Coastal Zone Management

IGC - Intergovernmental conference

This term is used to describe negotiations between the Member States' governments with a view to amending the Treaties. Intergovernmental conferences play a major part in European integration, since institutional changes must always be the outcome of such negotiations. The final decisions are taken by the Heads of State and Government at a European Council.

Innovative actions

To improve the quality of regional development strategies, the EU provides support for experimentation by local and regional authorities. If the initial experimental phase is successful, the project may receive further assistance from the main Funds. The budget for innovative actions represents 0.5% of the Structural Funds, ie about E1 billion. (See also Structural Funds.)

Internal market

A trading area governed by the same basic rules, enabling the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. This concept is referred to as the four freedoms.


Interreg III is a Community Initiative promoting cross border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation. It is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). (See also Community Initiatives; Structural Funds.)


Available to the countries applying for EU membership, this provides part financing for transport infrastructure projects to interconnect national networks in those countries with each other and with trans-European networks, as well as environmental projects. (See also PHARE.)



Leader + is a Community Initiative promoting the socio-economic development of rural areas. It is funded by the European Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund. (See also Community Initiatives; Structural Funds.)

Legal instruments

Strictly speaking, Community law consists of the founding Treaties (primary legislation) and the provisions of instruments enacted by the Community institutions by virtue of them (secondary legislation). The latter refers to Decisions, Directives, Opinions, Recommendations and Regulations. (See also decisions; Directives; Opinions; Recommendations; Regulations.)

Leonardo da Vinci

This is the main European programme for vocational training.


Managing authority

In the context of the Structural Funds, this means any public authority or body at national, regional or local level designated by the Member State to manage assistance from the Structural Funds.


MEDA is the principal EU programme for implementing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership with the countries of the Middle East.


Term often used in connection with funding programmes covering several years.



Sometimes known as auto-decommitment, the 'n+2' rule requires Structural Funds allocated in one year to be spent by the second year after allocation. If they are not spent, they are returned to the EU's coffers. The aim is to encourage maximum use of funds with a programme.

NAP - National Action Plan

National Action Plans are the basic tool of the so called open method of coordination. The Member States regularly draw up National Action Plans (on employment, social inclusion) implementing pre-established broad policy guidelines, which are analysed by the Commission and the Council. The results, presented in a Joint Report, serve as a basis for reprioritising and making recommendations to Member States in respect of their policies in the field under consideration.


The nomenclature of territorial units for statistics was created by Eurostat, the EU statistical office, in order to create a single and coherent structure for the management of the Structural Funds. Currently there are three NUTS levels:

  • NUTS 1 covers 78 larger regions, such as the German Länder, Scotland and Wales;
  • NUTS 2 covers 210 smaller regions, such as the Austrian Länder and Dutch provinces; and
  • NUTS 3 covers 1,093 smaller units, such as the French departments and Italian provinces.

Eligibility for Objective 1 funding is principally defined with reference to NUTS level 2, whereas eligibility for Objective 2 funding refers to NUTS level 3. (See also Objectives 1,2,3; Structural Funds.)


Objectives 1, 2 and 3

NEEDS UPDATE! The Structural Funds assign regional aid according to three Objectives:

  • Objective 1 helps regions whose development is lagging behind, where the Gross Domestic Product per head is less than 75% of the EU average. Attention is focused on basic infrastructures, developing human resources, investing in research and innovation, and the information society;
  • Objective 2 helps regions to overcome economic and social problems. Eligibility depends both on national and European population ceilings (18% of the EU's population) and on specific socio-economic criteria: areas undergoing economic change in industry and the service sector, declining rural areas, urban areas in difficulty and depressed areas dependent on fisheries; and
  • Objective 3 helps educational, training and employment policies and systems to adapt and modernise. All regions outside Objective 1 are eligible.

Occupied field

An occupied field is an area where the EU has the power to introduce legislation although it may not yet have done so. This often dissuades Member States from introducing national legislation, as EU law has primacy.

Official Journal

The 'Official Journal' is a daily publication split into three parts, which cover legislation (in its L series), communications (C series) and invitations to tender (S series). All EU legal acts are published in the 'Official Journal'.


Known by the French acronym OLAF, the European Anti-fraud Office is responsible for combating fraud against the EU budget.

Open method of coordination

This is a means of encouraging cooperation and exchange of good practice, by agreeing common targets and guidelines for Member States. In the case of employment and social inclusion policies, this has been delivered through National Action Plans, drafted by each Member State and subject to peer review on the basis of a Joint Report prepared by the European Commission. (See also National Action Plans.)

Operational programme

In the context of the Structural Funds, this refers to a document approved by the Commission to implement a Community Support Framework, comprising a consistent set of priorities and multiannual measures, which may be implemented by one or more Structural Fund or other financial instruments. See also Community Support Network; Structural Funds.


There are three types of Opinion:

  • a statement by one of the EU institutions expressing a comment on a proposed course of action;
  • specifically, the term given for a report issued by the Committee of the Regions; and
  • a decision of the Court of Justice.

A Supplementary Opinion is the report of a service committee in the Committee of the Regions or European Parliament, offering a perspective to add to the view of the lead committee.

Own resources

Since 1978, the Community budget has been entirely financed by own resources. These are transfers paid by the Member States to the Community budget to cover the financing of expenditure by the European Union. The combined total of all own resources may not exceed 1.27% of the aggregate Gross National Product (GNP) of the Member States. There are currently four elements: a proportion of Member States' GNP (totalling 43% of the 2002 budget), the VAT resource (38.3%), customs duties (14.8%) and agricultural duties (1.8%).


Paying authority

In the context of the Structural Funds, this means the body, at Member State, regional or local level, designated by the Member State to handle applications and receive payments from the Commission. Payment appropriations

Part of the annual budget, payment appropriations refer to the spending for the current year. They differ from commitment appropriations, which are payments covering several years as part of a multiannual programme.


The PHARE programme was launched in 1989 to help the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to rebuild their economies. It is the main financial instrument for the pre-accession strategy. (See Enlargement; ISPA; SAPARD.)


The three so called pillars of the EU Treaty are:

  • first pillar - the Community dimension, comprising the arrangements set out in the EC, ECSC and Euratom Treaties, ie. EU citizenship, Community policies, economic and monetary union, etc;
  • second pillar -common foreign and security policy;
  • third pillar - police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The Amsterdam Treaty has transferred some of the fields covered by the old third pillar to the first pillar (free movement of persons), which has the effect of bringing these fields out of the intergovernmental method and into the Community method of decision taking. (See also Communitisation.)

Plenary session

In the European Parliament, Committee of the Regions and Economic and Social Committee, the reports and Opinions of their committees must be approved at a full sitting of the institution, at which point further amendments can be made.

Presidency of the Union

Each Member State takes it in turn to hold the Presidency of the Union for six months, allowing it to influence policy directions through its work programme, but obliging it to seek agreement and compromise in the Council. The UK will next take the Presidency in the second half of 2005.


One of the Structural Funds' principles which results in multiannual development programmes. (See also Structural Funds.)


The principle by which a Community act should not go beyond what is necessary to achieve an objective set out in the Treaty.


A protocol is annexed to a Treaty. It is usually a list of detailed provisions on matters mentioned in the Treaty and has legal force.


The proximity principle is sometimes used as an alternative to subsidiarity, which is meant to ensure that decisions are taken as close to the citizen as possible. However, in practice, it has simply regulated relations between the EU and its Member States without reference to local or regional government, although many EU laws and policies are ultimately implemented at the local level. Users of the term 'proximity' consider that this word better encapsulates the original meaning, if not the intention, of subsidiarity. (See also Governance; Subsidiarity.)


Qualified majority

A qualified majority is the number of votes required in the Council for a decision to be adopted. At present, the threshold for a qualified majority is set at 62 votes out of 87. Member States' votes are weighted on the basis of their population and corrected in favour of less populated countries as follows: France, Germany, Italy and the UK have ten votes each; Spain has eight; Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal have five each; Austria and Sweden have four each; Denmark, Finland and Ireland have three each; and Luxembourg has two. After the Nice Treaty enters into force in November 2004, a qualified majority will be deemed to have been reached when a decision receives a set number of votes (which will change as new countries join) and is agreed by a majority of Member States. A Member State may request that a qualified majority should represent at least 62% of the total EU population. If this is not the case, the decision is not adopted. Plans to abandon the qualified majority voting system are under discussion at the intergovernmental conference.



Famously, in 1984 the UK negotiated an abatement to its contributions to the Community budget.

Recasting of legislation

The recasting of legislation means the adoption, when an amendment is made to a basic instrument, of a new legal instrument which incorporates the amendment into the basic instrument, but repeals and replaces the latter. Unlike formal consolidation, it involves changes of substance. It also gives a comprehensive overview of an area of legislation.


A non-binding declaration, which has no force in law and is mainly used to assist the interpretation of other acts.


A Regulation is binding in its entirety, and is directly applicable in all Member States. It is different from a Directive in that it does not require implementing national legislation. A Regulation must be based on a Treaty Article and may be issued by either the Council of Ministers or the European Commission.

Right of initiative

So that it can play its role as guardian of the Treaties and defender of the general interest, the Commission has the right of initiative. This empowers and requires it to make proposals on the matters contained in the Treaty, either because the Treaty expressly so provides or because the Commission considers it necessary.

The Council takes decisions only on a proposal from the Commission, so that there is a coherent framework for all initiatives. The Council and the European Parliament may ask the Commission to put forward a proposal if they consider it necessary.


An increasingly popular piece of jargon, used to mean a plan made up of stages.



Known by the acronym SAPARD, this Support for Pre-accession measures for Agriculture and Rural Development, helps countries applying for EU membership to prepare for the Common Agricultural Policy and other measures related to agricultural structures and rural development. (See also Enlargement; ISPA; PHARE.)


A popular EU tool for rating the performances of different Member States in implementing policy. It is usually used in attempts to name countries and thereby shame them into applying particular legislation.

Services of general interest

Services of General Interest are services that are subject to specific public service obligations. They include non-market services (eg compulsory education, social protection), obligations of the state (eg security and justice) and services of general economic interest (eg energy and communications).

Services of general economic interest

Services of general economic interest are commercial services of general economic utility, on which the public authorities therefore impose specific public service obligations. Transport, energy and communications services are prime examples.

Shared competence

This is where the EU's responsibilities and scope of authority are shared with the Member States, including transport, energy, agriculture and consumer protection. The Member States exercise their competence when the EU has not exercised its competence or has decided to stop doing so.

Single European sky

A single management system for air travel within the EU.

Single market - see Internal Market.


NEEDS UPDATE! The acronym for small and medium sized enterprise. Small enterprises have less than 50 employees and turnovers of less than E10 million, while medium ones have less than 250 employees and turnovers of less than E50 million.

Social chapter

Often confused with the Social charter (see above), the social chapter became the Social Protocol attached to the Maastricht Treaty. The UK famously opted out of it at the time.

Social Charter

All the Member States, except the UK, adopted the Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, commonly known as the Social Charter, in 1989 in the form of a declaration. It is seen as a political instrument containing moral obligations guaranteeing respect for certain social rights. These relate primarily to the labour market, vocational training, equal opportunities and the working environment.

Social dialogue

Social dialogue is the term used to describe a joint consultation procedure involving the social partners at European level (see below). It involves discussion, joint action and sometimes negotiations between the European social partners, and discussions between the social partners and the EU institutions on the future development of Community action and on the content of any social policy proposals.

Social partners

The Commission is required to consult various social partners when it wants to submit proposals in this field. This occurs via the three main organisations: the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Union of Industries of the European Community (UNICE) and the European Centre for Public Enterprise (CEEP). (See also Social dialogue.)

Stabilisation and Association Agreement

A series of agreements with individual Balkan countries, aimed at creating a free trade area and encouraging reforms designed to achieve the adoption of EU standards. They are regarded s the first step towards applying for EU membership.

State aid

State aid is business support. EU law states that any government aid which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain businesses or goods is deemed incompatible with the single market. The European Commission and the Court of Justice have placed a very broad interpretation on the concept of aid as regards the body granting it, to include national, regional or local government, a body over which the government directly or indirectly exerts an influence to a private company or a public corporation. The ban applies to a wide range of aid measures, whether direct (grants) or indirect (such as measures that relieve an enterprise of financial charges) and regardless of their basis or purpose. However, the Treaty provides for a number of exemptions for aid that is compatible with the single market and for aid that may be compatible under certain conditions.

Structural Funds

The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are intended to narrow the gaps in development among the regions and Member States of the European Union. They represent 35% of the Community budget, and are therefore the second largest budget item (after the Common Agricultural Policy).

There are four Structural Funds:

  • the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) provides support for the creation of infrastructure, productive job creating investment, mainly for businesses, and local development projects;
  • the European Social Fund (ESF) contributes to the integration into working life of the unemployed and disadvantaged sections of the population, mainly by funding training measures;
  • the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund