|The European institutions
|| The building of Europe.....
- There are many European
institutions : some of them are part of the European Union, others
are not and belong to another entity. here is a (partial) list.
- Read about the European budget
- See the European institutions
on the chart below.
- See French
institutions at a glance
- More to come.
USEFUL TIPS .. Do you speak European ? Some
European concepts are familiar to most people in Europe. Here
are some examples :
- CEE or EEC
(European Economic Union) = the relation between countries before
the Treaty of Maastricht 1992, now forming the UE or EU (European
- " Espace
Schengen " : this is the name for the countries which
have decided to adopt the same procedures and police controls
regarding the access to their territory for non-European foreigners
: therefore there is absolutely no police control between them
(France, Germany, Italy etc.. are in, U.K. is out
- " Eurocrate
" : a member of the bureaucracy in Brussels
- the "principe
de subsidiarité" means that can be taken at the
supra-national level only actions that cannot be taken more efficiently
at the national levels
- PAC ("Politique
Agricole Commune") : a financial system of compensation
to protect European farmers from the competition of lower prices
on the world market and maintain an active agriculture
- " Directive
" is an European law ; to be enforced, it must be transposed
(" transposée ") into each national legal system,
which can take time
- A "traité"
is a agreement between all European countries and carrying
out a major step in the building of Europe. For instance : Treaty
of Maastricht (1992, leading to the monetary union), Nice (2001,
entry of Eastern countries), Roma (1957, the common market),
Lisbonne (2007, new governance), etc...
- More to come
Why it is so difficult....
- Of course, the difficulties
of the building of Europe are deeply grounded in history
- the traditional rivalry between
France and England
- the two World Wars caused by
- Eastern countries feeling that
the West abandonned them to Russia
- UK's policy closely linked to US policy
- Spaniards still resent the French
for the Napoleonic wars !
- each country has its specific problems (separatism, its own foreign policy, etc..)
- and many more
- The building of Europe is NOT
the building of a federation (like the USA) : there is
no common decision to fight against an external power, no common
language, etc... The image of future Europe is not clear for
everybody and is certainly not the same for the different countries.
Typically (but national policies change too...), some countries
expect only a large homegeneous free trade zone (U.K., Denmark,
...), others expect a political power which could challenge the
USA or China (France, ...), Eastern countries want an economic
booster and a protection against Russia (with a little help from
the USA), etc...
- Europe and the US policy. The building of the European Union was supported by the USA as a way to ensure peace and more prosperity in Europe after two devastating world wars and also to resist soviet imperialism. But the Americans were worried about the potential threat of a more prosperous continent for American business if it became politically united and economically protectionist. This is why the USA persistently supported the admission of the UK, market-oriented and opposed to any form of federalism, in the European Union. When De Gaulle closed the door to Britain in 1963, the British were furious and the Americans as well. Today the US support of the admission of Turkey is not for the good of Europe and/or of Turkey but for the US global strategy.
- On most matters, resulting from
existing treaties, any decision requires unanimity between
the 27 countries : any of them can block anything.
- Nowadays, most of national legislation
(more than 2/3) comes, in fact, from European legislation. All
European countries must transpose European legislation into
their own national legislation and France does not deserve more
than a C- with a 12%+ backlog on European "directives"
(Italy : 10%, other countries < 6%). France is particularly
late on environmental
and agriculture-related issues.
- The number of official
languages (23 today) makes eveything more complicated !
- Still under construction...
Europe : an economical
power or a future confederation?
Europe and Turkey : For most Americans, what is the problem?
Turkey should be part the European Union, that's all. For Europeans,
it is not that simple.
- The facts :
- Turkey is a large country, with
a population of more than 60 million (comparable to the largest
European countries : Germany, France, UK and Italy) ; it is a
promising and fast-growing country
- economically, it is doing well and it is very close
- However :
- it is a 100%-Muslim country,
with a strong secular tradition
created by Atatürk (in the 1920s) and supported by the army
; as a member, it would carry a lot of weight in Europe : culturally,
is it in Europe ?
- geographically, Turkey, with
borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia, is NOT in Europe
but in the Middle-East
- historically, Turkey has been
for centuries a major threat to Europe, with the conquest and
occupation of the Balkans (until the 19th century), the last
attack being the siege of Vienna in 1683
- Europeans are deeply divided
about the admission of Turkey , both between them (the most favorable
being the closest to US foreign policy) and inside each country.
In France and in many other other countries, there is no doubt
that, if submitted to a referendum, the admission of Turkey would
- My personal opinion : by persistently pushing for the admission
of Turkey, successive US governments have acted in an extremely
irresponsible way, making Turkey frustrated and Europeans upset (including by Obama in Cairo in May 2009).
Turkey is a solid ally and a good economic partner, but culturally
and politically it is not a European country. What if the
European Union was pushing for Mexico to become a US state ?
DID YOU KNOW
THAT.....? For decades, France has been, by far, the most
irritating country in the life of the European Union (un-cooperative,
always alone against all the others, often threatening to step
out, ...), but now her position is seriously challenged by a
more recent member country, Poland (with Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Rep. as gifted rivals...).
Reasons for hope...
- What European peoples want to
build is still unclear but what the Thirteen American
Colonies wanted to build in 1776 was unclear too !
- The days of wars are over :
as a symbol of it, a first textbook of History common for
French and German junior and senior year High School students
was published in 2006
- The Erasmus
program is very succesful and for many young people Europe
does mean something.
- The whole Europe is now a free
trade region and a region without borders
- The common currency, the Euro,
is a success : more budgetary discipline (even for France...),
easier for foreign investors, ...
- More to come..
DID YOU KNOW
THAT.....? The French European deputies (78 out of 732
members of the European parliament) are not as active and influential
as they should (14th out of 15 for assiduity, 1,36 report per
deputy compared to 3,45 for German deputies) ; they are active
in the less powerful committees (Human Rights or Foreign Policy,
instead of Economic Committee). Unlike other countries whose
deputies join one of the two main European parliamentary groups
(PPE : Right of PSE : Left), they are divided into 8 different
minority groups. In a nutshell : they are very French....
nightmare of languages in Europe :
- 23 official languages
- 2,500 translators for the Commission (only) : total cost 302
million Euros (1,1 billion Euros for all European Institutions)
- the most spoken language within the European Union is English
51% (13% as native speakers, 38% as foreign langage), French
comes third with 26% (12% n.s., 14% f.l.) ; see detailed
- only 51% of the French speak a foreign language : an average
position between the best (Finland, Germany : almost 70%) and
the worst European countries (Ireland, UK : 35%) : see detailed
of the European Union (as of 2007)
|| composed of
|| sits in
European Council (Conseil Européen)
| heads of state and government
|| meets four times a year
|| chaired by a member state for
|| a purely political level
| European Commission (Commission
|| 27 members
|| proposes European policies
|| Jose Manuel Barroso (from Portugal)
|| the management of Europe
| Council of the European Union
(Conseil de l'Union Europeenne)
|| the ministers of the 27 governments
|| the ministers of the same
fields (finance, education, agriculture, transport, ) meet on
a regular basis to propose and coordinate European policies
|| most decisions require a unanimous
|| its General Secretary (Javier
Solana, from Spain) is in charge of the coordination of the European
|| Brussels and Luxembourg
|| the tool to facilitate the
implementation of European policies into each country
| European Parliament (Parlement
|| 785 delegates elected in member
|| the legislative power of the
|| the deputies join one the
transnational political groups (the most important are PPE :
center right christian democrats, PES : center left social democrats)
|| Josep Borell, (from Spain)
|| Brussels and Strasbourg
|| the legislative power
| The European Court of Justice
(Cour Européenne de Justice)
|| controls the implementation
of European laws
|| Vassillios Skouris (from Greece)
|| the European supreme court
| The European Central Bank (Banque
|| the regulator of the European
|| Jean-Claude Trichet (from France)
|| the European central bank
| Other entities, distinct
from the European Union
| Council of Europe (Conseil de l'Europe)
|| 42 countries including Russia
|| established 1949
|| strongly focused on the Rights of Man in
former Eastern countries
| Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme
|| established 1959
|| 18 members (the richest countries of the
|| established 1948
|| initially the organization in charge of
manging the funds of the Marschall Plan
|| coordination of European police forces
|| established 1995
| European Investment Bank (Banque Européenne
|| shareholders : the member states of the
|| finance infrastructure
|| Philippe Maestadt (from Belgium)
| NATO (OTAN)
|| includes non European countries : USA,
|| established 1949
| European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
|| shareholders : the member states of the
|| finance economic development and infranstructure
in former communist countries
|| established 1992
|| Jean Lemierre (from France)
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Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French.
Order her books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming
events, testimonials, etc..)
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