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Council of the European Union
The treaty expands the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers by replacing unanimity as the standard voting procedure in almost every policy area. A qualified majority is reached when at least 55% of all member countries, of whom 65% of EU citizens are represented, vote in favour of a proposal. When the Council of Ministers is not acting on a proposal of the Commission, or High Representative, the necessary majority of all member countries is increased to 72% while the population requirement remains the same. To block legislation at least 4 countries (representing more than 35% of EU population) have to be against the proposal. The weights of the individual countries are based on their population only, not on the votes (as were under the Nice Treaty).
The current Nice treaty voting rules that include a majority of countries (50% / 67%), voting weights (74%) and population (62%) will remain in place until 2014. Between 2014 and 2017 a transitional phase will take place where the new qualified majority voting rules apply, but where the old Nice treaty voting weights can be applied when a member state wishes so. Also from 2014 a new version of the 1994 "Ioannina Compromise" will take effect, which allows small minorities of EU states to call for re-examination of EU decisions they do not like.
The treaty instructs that legislative procedural meetings (that include debate and voting) in the Council of Ministers will be held in public (televised).
The Council of Ministers will have an 18-month rotating Presidency shared by a trio of Member States, with the purpose of providing more continuity. Three successive presidencies forming a 'triple presidency' will work together over a one and a half year period. The exception will be the Council's Foreign Affairs configuration, which will be chaired by the newly created post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The European Council will officially gain the status of an EU institution, thus being separated from the Council of Ministers. It will continue to be comprised of the heads of a state or a government of the Union's member states along with the (nonvoting) President of the European Commission.
A President of the European Council will be appointed for a two and a half year term in a qualified majority vote of the European Council. A President could be reappointed once, and besides, be removed by the same voting procedure. Unlike the post of President of the European Commission, the appointment of the President of the European Council does not have to reflect the composition of the European Parliament. The President's work will largely be administrative, as he or she will be responsible for coordinating the work of the European Council, hosting its meetings and reporting its activities to the European Parliament after each meeting and at the beginning and end of his or her term. Additionally, the President will provide external representation to the Union.
Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council will have a greater say over police and justice planning, foreign policy and constitutional matters, including: the composition of the Parliament and Commission; matters relating to the rotating presidency; the suspension of membership rights; changing the voting systems in the treaties bridging clauses; and nominating the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The High Representative, along with the new post of President, are the only formal changes in composition. Furthermore, under the emergency break procedure, a state may refer contentious legislation from the Council of Ministers to the European Council if it is outvoted in the Council of Ministers, notwithstanding that it may still be outvoted in the European Council.
Legal Personality and Pillar Consolidation
Under the existing treaties, the EU comprises a system of three legal pillars, of which only the European Community pillar has its own legal personality. When the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, the pillar system will be abolished, and the European Union will be a consolidated body with a legal personality. Furthermore, the Treaty on European Union will state that ‘The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community.’ Hence, the existing names of EU bodies will have the word ‘Community’ removed (e.g. the de facto title ‘European Commission’ will become official, replacing its treaty name of ‘Commission of the European Communities’.)
President of the European Council
The European Constitution, drafted by the European Convention, outlined the "President of the European Council" which would replace the role of the Council Presidency in the European Council. The Constitution was rejected by voters during ratification but the changes to the European Council, including the position of President, was retained in the Treaty of Lisbon.
The first President is expected to "set the job description" for future office holders as there is no clear idea of how the post would evolve. One body of thought is the President would stick to the administrative role as outlined by the treaty, a standard bearer who would simply chair meetings and ensure the smooth running of the body and its policies. This would attract semi-retired leaders seeking a fitting climax to their career and would leave most work to the civil service rather than wield power within the institutions. However another opinion would see a more pro-active President within the Union and speaking for it abroad. This post would hence be quickly fashioned into a de facto "President of Europe" and, unlike the first model, would be seen on the world stage as speaking for the EU. Persons connected to this position would be more charismatic leaders.
The European Commission
Pre-reading task. Read the words. Mind the stress. A):
΄implement сo΄mmissioner ,nomi΄nee
΄designate a΄ccountable ,dele΄gation
΄qualified pro΄cedure pro΄vided
΄clarify i΄nitiative pro΄posal
΄justify co΄mmited co΄llective
΄deadline co΄mmunicate po΄litically
΄origin re΄sign in΄fringement
B) Complete the word building table.
1. Check to see if you know the meanings of these key words for discussion:
2. Read and translate the text.
The European Commission
The European Commission is independent of national governments. Its job is to represent and uphold the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for the new European laws, which it presents to the European Parliament and the Council.
It is also the EU’s executive arm – in other words, it is responsible for implementing the decisions of Parliament and the Council. That means managing the day-to-day business of the EU: implementing its policies, running its programmes and spending its funds.
The term ‘Commission’ is used in two senses. First, it refers to the team of men and women – one from each EU country – appointed to run the institution and take its decisions. Secondly, the term ‘Commission’ refers to the institution itself and its staff. Informally the appointed Members of the Commission are known as ‘commissioners.’ They have all held political positions in their countries of origin and many have been government ministers, but as Members of the Commission they are committed to acting in the interests of the Union as a whole and not taking instructions from their national governments.
A new Commission is appointed every five years, within six months of the elections to the European Parliament. The procedure is as follows:
- The member state governments agree together on who to designate as the new Commission President.
- The commission President-designate is then approved by Parliament.
- The commission President-designate, in discussion with the Member State governments, chooses the other members of the Commission.
- The Council adopts the list of nominees by qualified majority and communicates it to the European Parliament for approval.
- Parliament then interviews nominee and votes its opinion on the whole team.
- Following Parliament’s code of approval, the new Commission is formally appointed by the Council, acting by qualified majority.
The Commission remains politically accountable to Parliament, which has the power to dismiss the whole Commission by adopting a motion of censure. Individual members must resign if asked to do so by the President, provided the other commissioners approve.
The Commission attends all the sessions of Parliament, where it must clarify and justify its policies. It also replies regularly to written and oral questions posed by MEPs. The seat of the Commission is in Brussels (Belgium), but it also has offices in Luxembourg [΄lΛks(ə)mbə:g], representations in all EU countries and delegations in many cities around the world.
The European Commission has four main roles:
1. Proposing new legislation. The Commission has the right of initiative. In other words, the Commission alone is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation. These proposals must aim to defend the interests of the Union and its citizens, not those of specific countries or industries.
2. Implementing EU policies and the budget. As the European Union’s executive body, the Commission is responsible for managing and implementing the EU budget. Most of the actual spending is done by national and local authorities, but the commission is responsible for supervising it – under the watchful eye of the Court of Auditors. Both institutions aim to ensure good financial management. The Commission also has to manage the policies adopted by Parliament and the Council, such as the Common Agricultural Policies.
3. Enforcing European law. The Commission acts as ‘guardian’ of the Treaties. This means that the Commission, together with the Court of Justice, is responsible for making sure EU law is properly applied in all the member states. If it finds that an EU country is not applying an EU law, and therefore not meeting its legal obligations, the Commission takes steps to put the situation right. First it launches a process called the ‘infringement procedure.’ This involves sending the government an official letter, saying why the Commission considers this country is infringing EU law and setting its deadline for sending the Commission a detailed reply. If the procedure fails to put things right, the Commission must then refer the matter to the Court of Justice, which has the power to impose penalties.
4. Representing the EU on the international stage.The European Commission is an important mouthpiece for the European Union on the international stage. It enables the member states to speak ‘with one voice’ in international forums such as the World Trade Organization.
The Commission meets once a week usually on Wednesdays in Brussels. Each item on the agenda is presented by the commissioner responsible for that policy area, and the whole team takes a collective decision on it.
3. Give the Ukrainian equivalents to the following words and phrases.
to draft proposals; to manage the day-to-day business of the EU; to implements policies; to run programmes; to spend funds; President-designate; to adopt the list of nominees by qualified majority; interviews nominee; to dismiss the whole Commission; to adopt a motion of censure; replies to written and oral questions posed by MEPs; to have the right of initiative; to be responsible for drawing up proposals for legislation; under the watchful eye of the Court of Auditors; to apply laws in all the member states; to meet its legal obligations; infringement procedure; item on the agenda
4. Find the English equivalents to the following words and phrases.
втілення рішень Парламенту та Ради; розробляти пропозиції; займати політичну посаду в країні свого походження; зобов’язані діяти в інтересах Союзу в цілому; кого призначати новим президентом Комісії; повідомити про це Європейський Парламент; політично підзвітний парламенту; роз’яснити та виправдати свою політику; націлені захищати інтереси Союзу; керувати та виконувати бюджет; забезпечити добре керування фінансами; застосовувати право ЄС належним чином в усіх державах членах; приймати заходи для того, щоб виправити ситуацію; встановити кінцевий термін; відправити справу до Міжнародного суду; накладати покарання; рупор Європейського Союзу на міжнародній арені; Світова організація торгівлі
5. Match the definition in the right column to the word in the left.
6. Fill in the gaps with the suitable word.
1.proposal;2.infringement;3.the European Commission; 4. resign;5. launch; 6. mouthpiece; 7. accountable;8. qualified majority; 9. communicate;10. deadline;
1. You have a duty as a scientist to … your discovery to the world. 2. The committee rejected the … to reduce taxes. 3. This newspaper is just a Republican … . 4. Mr. Sharp is … as the next chairman of this committee. 5. The major service industries should be … to their customers. 6. We are going to … the campaign to restore law and order. 7. It would be hard to … this particular assertion by an appeal to facts. 8. Is he going to … from the chairmanship? 9. A supermajority (=a two-thirds majority) or a …. is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level or type of support which exceeds majority. 10. In a legal context, an …. refers to the violation of a law or a right. 11. Time limit or … in general depicts a narrow field of time that some sort of objective or task must be accomplished by. 12. In nearly all cases …. (the executive branch) has a monopoly on legislative initiative.
B: Fill in the appropriate proposition or adverb where necessary.
1. … you work more efficiently, you’ll get promoted. 2. He has become a mouthpiece … the company. 3. Refer … the dictionary when you don't know how to spell a word. 4. When the European Council is not acting … a proposal of the Commission, the qualified majority requires backing … two thirds (rather than a simple majority) … the member states. 5. The commission President-designate submitted the list of nominees … approval … the European Parliament. 6. Political accountability is the accountability … the government, civil servants and politicians … the public and … legislative bodies such as congress or parliament. 7. Has your lawyer drawn … the contract yet? 8. The Commission sends draft legislation … the Council … the European Union and European Parliament …. amendments and approval.
7. Decide if the following statements are true or false. Correct those, which are false. Use the text and your own knowledge.
1. The European Commission is the EU's legislative branch. 2. The European Commission is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. 3. It is intended to act in the interest of all the member states of the EU, because it consists of leaders of member states who reflect national interests. 4. The President of the Commission and all the other commissioners are nominated by the European Parliament. 5. Appointment of the Commission President, and also the Commission in its entirety, has to be confirmed by the Council. 6. The Parliament also has the power to reject or censure the Commission and the EU budget.
8. Answer the questions.
1. Is the European Commission dependent of national governments? 2. What is the job of the European Commission? 3. What does the executive arm mean? 4. In what senses is the term ‘Commission’ used? 5. What is the procedure of the election to the European Parliament? 6. Hoe can the Commission be dismissed? 7. What are the main roles of the Commission? 8. What body has the right of initiative? 9. What is the role of the European Commission as the European Union’s executive body? 10. What does the European Commission do as ‘guardian’ of the Treaties? 11. Why is the European Commission considered to be the mouthpiece for the European Union on the international stage?
9. Translate into English.
Європейська Комісія — унікальна інституція ЄС, що не має аналогів у національних системах урядування.
Європейську комісію часто представляють як виконавчий орган ЄС, хоч насправді вона має обмежені повноваження та можливості втілювати політику ЄС. Точніше роль Комісії відбиває неформальна назва «двигун європейської інтеграції». І не лише тому, що в рамках повноважень першого стовпа вона має майже виняткове право на законодавчу ініціативу, але також і через її історію, склад, культуру й радше європейський, ніж національний світогляд. Крім того, Комісія наглядає за тим, щоб не порушувались угоди, і традиційно захищає інтереси малих держав-членів.
Відповідно до записаного в угодах Комісія має:
Комісія складається з двадцяти семи незалежних членів (по одному від кожної країни-члена), разом з Президентом і п'ятьма віце-президентами. Комісію призначають на п'ятирічний термін за згодою країн-членів, рішення про її призначання ухвалює Європейський Парламент. Комісії допомагає в роботі адміністрація, до якої входять генеральні директорати та генеральний секретаріат.
10. Additional Text. Translate into English in writing.
The Commission of the European Communities will officially be renamed European Commission.
The Treaty of Lisbon stated that the size of the Commission will reduce from one per member state to one for two thirds of member states from 2014. This would have ended the arrangement which has existed since 1957 of having at least one Commission for each Member State at all times. However, the Treaty also provided that the European Council could unanimously decide to alter this number. Following the Irish referendum, the European Council decided in December 2008 to revert to one Commissioner per member state with effect from the date of entry into force of the Treaty.
The person holding the new post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will automatically also be a Vice-President of the Commission.
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