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  • What is the The European Court of Justice (ECJ)?

    The ECJ insures that EU legislation is interpreted and enacted in the same way in each member state, that everyone is equal in the eye of EU law in each member state. The ECJ fulfills these duties and interprets EU law at the request of national courts from within the EU.

    The Court is located in Luxembourg and consists of one judge from each member state. There judges are assisted by nine Advocates-General. The ECJ is divided into two separate courts so it able to process the thousands of cases that it receives each year. Additionally, a separate Civil Service Tribunal, consisting of seven judges, adjudicates in disputes between the EU and its civil servants.

    The ECJ gives the courts of member states binding ‘preliminary rulings’ and handles infringement, annulment and failure to act proceedings. The General Court handles cases that are put forth by member states, institutions, companies and individuals inside the EU.

    For further information.
  • What is The Commision?

    The European Commission acts as the EU’s executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation, policies and setting up plans of action. The Commission is responsible for executing the decisions of the EP and for the day-to day running of the EU . The Commission is independent from governments of member states and its main role is to protect the overall interests of the EU.

    The Commission is located in Brussels (Belgium) and consists of one Commissioner from each member state. The Commissioners are appointed by the member states and the EP, to lead the Commission and make decisions.

    The word “Commission” has two meanings. On one hand, it refers to the Commissioners themselves.  On the other hand, it refers to the institution itself and its entire staff. The Commission is the EU’s representative in all matters, except matters regarding foreign and security policy.

    For further information.

  • What is the Council of the European Union?

    All EU countries are represented by one minister each in the Council. There they discuss EU issues, they are integral in every decision making process and pass legislation with the EP. The ministers can legally commit their governments to follow the Council‘s decisions.

    The configuration of the council depends on the subjects on the agenda. If, for example, the Council is to discuss environmental issues, the meeting will be attended by the environment minister from each EU Member State and is known as the ‘Environment Council’; likewise, for the ‘Economic and Financial Affairs Council’ or the ‘Competitiveness Council’, and so on.

    The Council is located in Brussels (Belgium) and Luxembourg and has five main roles:
    1.    Pass legislation jointly with the EP.
    2.     Coordinate member state policies, e.g. economic policy.
    3.    Formulating a common foreign and security policy for the EU, based on the policies of the EC.
    4.    Signing international agreements between the EU and other nations or international institutions
    5.    Approving the EU budget, in cooperation with the EP.

    For further information.

  • What is the European Council?

    The European Council (EC) is cooperative platform for national leaders (presidents and/or prime ministers) of EU countries, the president of the EC and the president of the EU Commission. This is the EU‘s supreme political authority and the EC‘s meetings are called summits.

    The EC is located in Brussels (Belgium) and its main role is to define the EU‘s policy agenda, strategies and priorities in unison, while securing the Union‘s further development.

    The EC does not have legislative powers but in the end of each summit, conclusions are published. The conclusions detail important messages, decisions and instructions to be adhered to.

    For further information.

  • What is the European Parliament?

    The European Parliament (EP) is the legislative arm of the EU and consists of 751 members of parliament (MEP). MEPs are directly elected by EU citizens to protect their interests. Seats at the EP are assigned on the basis of proportional representation between member nations.

    The EP is mainly located in Strasbourg (France), but operates in a different capacity in two other cities; Brussels (Belgium) and Luxembourg. Plenary sessions take place in Strassbourg 12 times a year. Additional plenary sessions and committee meetings are held in Brussels.

    The EP‘s main roles are 1) to pass legislation jointly with the Council of the European Union 2) monitor and uphold democratic procedure in all EU institutions and 3) oversee the EU budget, again with the Council.

    For further information.

  • Who holds office of the Parliament and what are the governing bodies?

    The President of Parliament, elected from among the 751 Members for a two and a half years, represents it to the outside world, chairs plenary sessions and oversees all of Parliament's work. Fourteen Vice-Presidents share this workload.

    A committee or delegation chair guides the proceedings of that body. A coordinator is the leading representative of his or her political group in a committee, while a rapporteur is an MEP chosen to pilot a specific resolution or piece of legislation through Parliament.

    Responsibility for Parliament's internal management lies with different bodies: political decisions are taken by the Conference of Presidents, made up of Parliament's President and the political group leaders; financial, organisational and administrative matters are dealt with by the Bureau, composed of the President and the Vice-Presidents; administrative and financial concerns of Members are the responsibility of the College of Quaestors (a body of five MEPs elected by the House).

    For more information:
    Organisation and work of Parliament
  • Are the 2014 elections different? Why?

    As the European Union seeks to pull through the economic crisis and EU leaders reflect on what direction to take in future, these are the most important European elections to date.

    They not only allow voters to pass judgment on EU leaders' efforts to tackle the eurozone crisis and to express their views on plans for closer economic and political integration; they are also the first elections since the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 gave the European Parliament a number of important new powers.

    One major new development introduced by the Treaty is that, when the EU member states nominate the next president of the European Commission to succeed José Manuel Barroso in autumn 2014, they will - for the first time - have to take account of the European election results. The new Parliament must endorse this candidate: it 'elects' the Commission president, in the words of the Treaty. This means voters now have a clear say in who takes over at the helm of EU government.

    Of the 13 European political parties, five have nominated a candidate to succeed the current Commission President. The EPP has nominated Jean-Claude Juncker, former Luxembourg prime minister and former Eurogroup president, the PES candidate is Martin Schulz, current president of the European Parliament, the Liberals and Democrats have opted for Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and current Liberal group leader in the EP, the Greens have nominated a duo of current MEPs, French José Bové and German Ska Keller, while the European Left have put forward Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek SYRIZA party.

    The new political majority that emerges from the elections will also shape European legislation over the next five years in areas from the single market to civil liberties. The Parliament - the only directly elected EU institution - is now a linchpin of the European decision-making system and has an equal say with national governments on nearly all EU laws.
  • Has a single group held an overall majority in the European Parliament?

    No, never in Parliament's history has a single group held an overall majority of Members. So, in order to pass EU legislation and approve the budget, the political groups represented in the European Parliament must forge a workable majority through negotiation and compromise. Give-and-take among the groups is thus essential, although the larger the group, the more clout it has.

    Group discipline in the EP is less strict than in some national parliaments: members of the same group sometimes vote on different (often national or regional) lines. However, as in national parliaments, the commonest political divides are left-right in nature. It is on European election day that voters will decide the balance of power between the groups.

    Most of the current groups in the EP are affiliated to a pan-European political party and these parties are expected to put forward candidates for the post of Commission President.
  • Are the MEPs grouped by nationality or by political affiliation?

    The MEPs are grouped by political affiliation, not by nationality.

    Debate, controversy and conflict are the lifeblood of any democratically elected body. The European Parliament - made up of politicians with sometimes sharply differing views - is no exception.

    To harness this wide range of opinion and nationalities into a workable system, MEPs have always operated through transnational ‘political groups’, each made up of members from different countries but with similar political convictions. Cooperating closely with Members from other countries who broadly share their political views is the most effective way for MEPs to achieve their goals at European level.

    There are currently seven groups in the EP, ranging across the political spectrum and representing over 160 national parties.

    The groups are of central importance in the work of Parliament. They are the key players in building voting majorities on legislation, the budget and other issues. They set the parliamentary agenda and play the decisive role in choosing Parliament's President and other leading office-holders.
  • How many MEPs will be elected?

    There have been 766 Members of the European Parliament since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 but this number is being scaled down at the 2014 elections to 751 and will stay at that level in future. These MEPs will represent over 500 million citizens in 28 member states.

    The seats are allocated among the various states, by the EU treaties, on the basis of 'degressive proportionality', meaning countries with larger populations have more seats than smaller ones but the latter have more seats than strict proportionality would imply.
  • When is election day?

    Each member state has its own electoral laws and each one decides on what day its citizens will go to the polls during the four-day election period from 22 to 25 May 2014. British voters will turn out on 22 May to elect their 73 MEPs and Bulgarian voters will vote their candidates on 25 May, to give an example. The results from all 28 states will be announced on the evening of Sunday 25 May.

    For more information on the elections in the member states, click here.
  • Is it true that the term negotiations can be misleading?

    In the DG Enlargement brochure Understanding Enlargement it says: "the term negotiations can be misleading. Accession negotiations focus on the conditions and timing of the candidate’s adoption, implementation and application of EU rules." Is this correct?

    The short answer is that the phrase correctly describes the basic requirement of the EU, that countries that apply for membership to the Union do so based on the rationale that they plan on adopting all of the EU acquis as it stands at the time of the application. The European Union is unique as its member states have delegated a part of their sovereignty to its supranational institutions. For this reason, accession negotiations with the European Union are similarly unique. That being said, the accession process does entail real negotiations. No member state has the capacity to implement the whole set of EU rules in one go, both due to administrational and political issues, and there is therefore a need to negotiate. The states that have applied for membership have all joined the negotiation process on different premises. Some have asked for special solutions and those solutions have been in various issue areas. Therefore, negations have differed depending on each applicant country.

    In a longer answer, the European Union is a cooperative platform for European countries that have agreed through the years to work together on specific issues, in a specific manner, in the belief that together they can work better on these issues than separately. The Common Fisheries Policy can be taken as an example – one need only look at a map of the North Sea or the Baltic Sea to see that one can achieve better results by joint fisheries management in these regions. All decisions to work together in a new field or area have a long run-up and a final decision is only obtained when governments of all member states and the European Parliament have reached an agreement. Such a process can take many months or even years. Little by little these decisions (laws and regulations) pile up - big and small, easy and difficult - and now they have become a 100.000 page body of laws. There is no enthusiasm to tamper with this agreement each time a new state becomes a member of the Union. For that reason, the condition has been made that a state which applies for membership applies to join the European Union as it is at that given moment.

    Are there any negotiations and on what?

    Yes, real negotiations do take place because, as mentioned earlier, no state has the capacity to take over the whole EU regulatory framework in one go, and this runs aground both on administrative capability and no less on politically sensitive issues. Just as the member states went through a long, and often difficult, negotiations to reach consensus on cooperation, e.g. in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, customs and space science, the new states need time, flexibility and yes, in exceptional cases, special arrangements to be able to join the Union.

    As previously mentioned, the brochure in question correctly describes the basic requirement of the European Union of countries applying for membership, which is that they do so on the grounds that they intend to adapt all EU legislation, and then they negotiate with the EU on how this will be done. Nonetheless, the countries that have applied for membership through the years have done so for different reasons and wishes to negotiate for special arrangements have varied accordingly.
    In light of previous enlargements of the EU, it can be said that it is not possible to negotiate a permanent exemption from the basic issues and fundamental values of the Union (such as the common market, respect for human rights and the rule of law). However, examples can be found of inventive smaller solutions that meet the needs and requirements of the applicant state e.g. fishing off the coast of Malta. Finally, it should be considered that all the countries that have applied for EU membership, and completed negotiations on accession, have confirmed their satisfaction with the outcome of the agreement by ratifying it and joining the EU - with the exception of Norway, which has twice rejected membership in a referendum.

    Therefore it can be said that even though the information brochure from DG Enlargement is indeed informative, it is neither a legal basis of the accession negotiations nor does the text in question fully reflect the process and outcome of the negotiations of new member states. In the Lisbon Treaty, the Treaty on European Union (article 49) it is stated that the admission of a country to the Union and the necessary adjustments to the Treaties are the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State: "The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State."

    Further information on the accession negotiations.

  • What is the Treaty on Stability?

    The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union is an intergovernmental treaty which was signed by all EU
    Member States except the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom in March 2012 and entered into force on 1 January 2013 in all Member States which completed the ratification process.

    It is not an EU treaty, but an intergovernmental treaty and the intention is to bring it into EU law eventually. It is designed to foster budgetary discipline, strengthen the coordination of economic policies and to improve the governance of the euro area. At present 17 EU countries use the euro as their currency.
  • What is the difference between the EU and the EEA?

    The EU is neither a federation of states such as the USA, nor an international institution such as the United Nations. EU member states are independent, soveriegn states who have decided to share a part of their sovereignty in specific areas – so that decisions in the relevant fields are taken on the basis of a majority vote of the member states.

    The EEA-agreement applies to the 28 EU states as well as the three EFTA-stats (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein). It extends the EU’s inner market to include Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. In reality this means that products, people, service, and capital can flow freely between these countries. The agreement does not extend to the fishing industry, agriculture, foreign policy and security policies, judiciary collaboration, or the coordination of business policy vis a vis third states, and the currency collaboration.

    To ensure that the same rules apply in the inner market, the EEA Agreement also includes the common EU regulations on competition and government funding of companies. Unlike EU memberstates, the EEA countries of Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein, do not have a direct say in the rules and regulations they must adopt according to the agreement. The agreement also includes collaboration in the field of research, technical development, eduation, information, communication, social rights, consumer issues, innovation, and civil defence.
  • Why was the European Union originally created?

    The European Union was originally created with the aim of ending frequent and bloody wars between neighboring countries in Europe, which culminated with the Second World War. The Schuman declaration which proposed the establishment of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), marked the beginning of what is now the European Union. The declaration proposed the creation of a common market in coal and steel between European countries in an effort to make the idea of a war between them impossible, since coal and steel were the key resources required for war. A common market with these raw materials would make the countries economically and politically integrated, they would work together as equals and cooperate within shared institutions. The vision became a reality and on the 18th of April 1951, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands created the ECSC with the Treaty of Paris. 

    By signing the Treaty of Rome, on 25th March 1957 these six states further decided to create the European Economic Community (EEC), and to create a common market.

    The name 'European Union' officially replaced 'European Community' in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty.

    Find out more

  • Is loss of national sovereignty and identity a consequence of joining the EU?

    EU Member states are independent, sovereign states who have decided to share a part of their sovereignty in specific areas – so that decisions in the relevant fields are taken on the basis of a majority vote of the member states.

    Through active participation in decision-making and negotiation at the European level, Member States increase their international reputation and political power which in practice means stronger rather than weaker national sovereignty. None of the Member States, from France and Italy to Poland and Slovakia, have lost their specific national features, tradition and customs by joining the EU.

    Past experience has shown that individual states are still recognised in the European Union. In fact, EU membership has helped them to further protect and promote their national identities and tradition, language, customs, natural beauties, gastronomy, cultural attractions and events in the European Union and beyond.

  • Is there an increase or decrease in unemployment when a country joins the EU?

    The question of increase or decrease in unemployment is a complex question not linked directly to national or EU policies alone. However, studies in all of the new Member States before and after their accession to the EU in 2004 have shown that economic growth accelerated after accession and had a positive impact on the growth of investments, which also reflected in their labour markets and consequently in their citizens' living standard. However, as the global financial crisis has hit all EU Member States on a lower or higher scale, unemployment has increased in all Member States.

  • Does the EU have an EU Army?

    No. However, EU Member States do have a Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) where due consideration is taken towards the policy of each Member State.
    EU Member States can make available civilian and military resources to the Union for the implementation of its Common Security and Defence operations, such as humanitarian and rescue tasks, peace-keeping tasks, crisis management, and surveillance of cease-fires.

    All decisions regarding such activities are made through unanimous vote of all the member states in the European Council, and participation in such operation is on a voluntary basis.
  • Can "small" EU states, both in geographical size and population, affect decision-making in the EU?

    It is often said that "small" states should accept the decisions and authority of the "big" states in the EU. However, in the Council, which represents national interests in the European Union, each country affects the final decision on European regulations. Although the number of votes per each country depends on the population size, qualified majority voting favours "small" states - they have more votes with respect to their population size.

    Germany, with 82 million people, has 29 votes in the Council (1 voice per 2,830,000 inhabitants), while Malta has three votes with a population of 416,000 (1 voice per 138.000 inhabitants).

    To adopt a decision by qualified majority, votes by at least one half of all the Member States representing at least 62% of EU population and 74% of all votes (258 out of 345) are necessary. Therefore, regardless of population, the vote of every Member State counts and affects the decision making process and changes in European law.

  • Does the EU take over control of natural resources when a country joins the EU?

    The short answer is no. The Lissabon Treaty includes some new items regarding energy, and is the first treaty to include a special clause on the EU’s energy. It strengthens the EU’s policy in Energy matters and formally defines the EU member states authority in regards of energy resources.

    Joining the EU does not mean that a member state loses sovereign rights over its energy resources, as it says in the treaty that: “...measures shall not affect a Member State’s right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy  sources and the general structure of its energy supply.”

  • What is Nordic agriculture and what agricultural regions within the EU fall under that definition?

    Finland and Sweden have negotiated specifically for Nordic Aid Schemes, which apply to rural agricultural areas that are worse suited for agriculture than areas to the south. By entering the EU, member states become part of the Common Agriculture Policy which is in charge of subsidies and grants to farmers and agriculture within the EU. By negotiating for Nordic Aid Schemes, Sweden and Finland are allowed to grant additional long-term national aid to ensure that agricultural activity is maintained in the northern regions.
  • How is rural development fostered in the EU?

    In the European Union, rural development is not directly associated with agricultural
    production, but it is one of the EU priorities because more than half of the EU population lives in rural areas that occupy more than 91% of the European territory. . For rural development, between 2007 and 2013 €96.3 billion (about 20% of funds allocated for Common Agricultural Policy) have been allocated through European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

    Although rural development is partially financed from national budgets, many countries could not finance competitiveness development, environment protection, life quality improvement and fostering business opportunities in rural areas by themselves.

  • How can European citizens affect the decision making process in the EU?

    At the moment there are three possibilities: public consultations, petitions to the European Parliament, and the Citizen’s Initiative.  

    -When the European Commission is working on a new political initiative, or revising legislation, it usually opens public consultations on the issue. It means that private and legal persons, as well as organisations interested in the subject or who have a professional opinion, can help in creating a draft document before the European Commission sends it to the Council and the European Parliament for further discussion and adoption.

    -EU citizens can send a petition to the European Parliament about the subject that directly affects them. Enterprises, organisations and associations with their headquarters in the EU also have the right to address a petition to the European Parliament. Only petitions related to EU policies can be sent to the European Parliament. The European Parliament Petition Board meets once a month to decide if they will accept the case and what the next steps are.

    -The European Citizens’ Initiative is a new way for EU citizens to influence the policy of the union. By initiating a project and collecting signatures from at least 7 out of 28 Member states, Citizens can petition to the Commission to submit a draft legislation. This opens a way for ordinary citizens to directly influence the EU’s policies.

  • Do the European institutions replace national ones, like the Member States’ Parliaments and Governments, in the EU Member States?

    No. A Member State’s government remains an executive body and its parliament continues to be the national legislator.

    The national government leads its nation vis a vis the European Union and continues to provide guidelines and define national priorities and interests to be advocated and negotiated in Brussels. National parliaments do not vanish but are given power of direct impact on decision-making. Namely, all proposals of EU legislation must be transmitted to national parliaments, which may within eight weeks issue their reasoned opinions on the proposal. If a sufficient number of national parliaments raise an objection, the proposal may be amended or withdrawn. This allows the parliaments to control the EU in matters that can be better resolved at the national, regional or local level.

  • “Who does what” when it comes to EU consumer affairs?

    -The European Commission proposes legislation
    -National experts and authorities discuss these proposals
    -The European parliament and Council decide on them
    -EU countries implement EU legislation and make sure authorities, producers and businesses respect the rules
    -Consumer organisations speak on behalf of consumers at EU and national levels
    -Industry and business must comply with EU rules throughout production, processing and distribution
    -Independent agencies give scientific advice assessing the risks of food, feed, animal health, drugs and health threats
    -Scientific committees give independent advice on consumer safety, public health and the environment for non-food products
  • Where can I turn to if my rights as a consumer are violated?

    European consumers can seek advice at the European Consumer Centre (ECC), which is run by the Consumer Association of Iceland. At least one European consumer Centre should be operated in every EU as well as in Norway and Iceland. Their role is to assist consumers by giving them information on their rights within the EEA member states and promote the resolution of disputes. ECC in Iceland ( attends to various tasks and e.g. to advise and assist consumers resolute first stages of dispute regarding cross-border purchases from traders in another EEA-country.

    In addition to this, individuals or companies can have assistance in the resolution of problems arising because the rules on the inner marked are not being enforced correctly within the EEA area at Solvit.
  • How is Iceland connected to the EU consumer policy?

    Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which is an open common market of 31 European states. The EEA agreement gives Iceland access to various products and services and great opportunities to purchase goods at competitive prices.

    Consumer affairs and coordination of rules regarding trade practices are an important part of the EEA agreement, since these issues directly affect the quality of life of the citizens and the competitiveness of the member states. Through the EEA agreement the parties commit to abiding by the laws and regulations ensuring minimum rights and safety in business, for all involved, when buying and selling goods and services.
  • How does the EU ensure food safety?

    EU food safety legislation guarantees consumers a high level of protection for all food products sold in the EU, at all stages of production and distribution. It controls food hygiene, animal health and welfare, plant health and risk of food contamination. Its primary aim is to ensure that all consumers have access to safe, high quality and affordable food. EU legislation also ensures that reliable information on content and contents of nutrition are accessible to consumers.  

  • How does the EU ensure the rights of travellers?

    Freedom of movement is one of the most important individual freedoms for EU citizens. When traveling many things can go wrong and consumers must be covered in case of difficulties. All passengers travelling in Europe enjoy a minimum set of rights, whatever the mode of transport. This includes the right to information, assistance and compensation measures if cancellation or long delays occur. Disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility also benefit from EU legislation on passenger rights.
  • How does the EU ensure consumers’ rights?

    Misleading advertising and unfair commercial practices are banned in the EU. This means no hidden costs, no tricks, no false claims, no misleading information and no advertising targeted at children.
    When shopping online consumers have the right to cancel a contract within 7 working days with no consequences or penalties and this period of grace will be 14 days in 2014. EU rules give legal protection for consumers if they should buy faulty goods or products that are different to those advertised. All products bought are covered by a 2 year guarantee.

    EU consumer protection also applies to financial services. In this area a high degree of transparency and clear and comprehensive information on competing financial products are demanded.
  • How does the EU ensure the safety of products?

    Under EU rules, only products that are safe can be placed on the EU market. EU rules require the ‘CE’ conformity mark to be used on many categories of products. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product has been checked against essential EU safety criteria and that it satisfies all relevant requirements. Examples of products under strict surveillance regarding safety are toys and cosmetics.

    If a product is detected that can be hazardous to the health or safety of consumers in any of the member states, the Commission is notified immediately through the Rapid alert system (RAPEX). This ensures the rapid dissemination of information throughout all of Europe and appropriate measures to be taken. This applies only to non-food products.

    The EU regularly supports information campaigns and gathers information on consumer opinions and problems.

  • What are the basic principles in EU’s consumer policy?

    EU’s consumer policy ensures certain rights to consumers as well as providing protection and support within the European Economic Area.

    The main guidelines of EU consumer policy are:
    -A single,basic set of rules that applies to all consumer products and services, across the EU;
    -A level playing field for businesses and a prohibit unfair commercial practices;
    -Access to low-cost, fast and easy dispute resolution mechanisms;
    -A reduction in health and safety risks across Europe thanks to more efficient cooperation and market surveillance;
    -Information, advice and support on consumer issues;
    -Protection for vulnerable customers – such as children or the elderly – from being exploited or misled;
    -Consumers assisted in making choices based on clear, correct and consistent information.

    The EU is constantly seeking ways to improve the rights of consumers, not only by improving laws, but also by other means such as supporting EU consumer associations and consumer centres in the Member States.
  • Why are consumer affairs important within the EU?

    The European Union’s (EU) Internal Market is one of the fundamental aspects of EU cooperation as well as being one of the largest retail markets in the world with about 500 million consumers that can purchase goods and services across all EU Member States in addition to Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The Internal Market offers each consumer within the EU choice, flexibility, quality and the best value for money at each given time.

    With their choices, consumers participate in driving innovation, efficiency, and growth.
  • Why has the European Commission applied to be a part of ESA’s lawsuit against Iceland in the Icesave-case?

    European Commission has just recently submitted to the EFTA Court an application to allow it to intervene in writing in support of the position of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA)'s as regards the obligations of a State resulting from the Directive 94/19/EC on deposit guarantee schemes.    

    By taking this step, the Commission supports the need for clarity regarding Iceland's obligations in the area of financial services, as well as clarity and consistency of EU and EEA law and the legal obligations for EFTA States or EU Member States. Such clarity is important in order to maintain confidence in the EU rules on deposit guarantee schemes, the internal market and ultimately European financial stability.   
    The actual case in front of the EFTA court has no direct link to Iceland's EU application, but concerns a separate legal process. However, more generally, Iceland's capacity to apply the financial services acquis, including the Deposit Guarantee Directive, will be carefully assessed during the EU accession negotiations.

  • How many official languages are there in the EU?

    There are 24 official languages in the European Union. They are: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and Swedish.

    Aside from these 24 official languages, the EU is home to more than 60 indigenous regional or minority languages, spoken by around 40 million people. They include Catalan, Basque, Frisian, Saami, Welsh and Yiddish.

    For a samples of all the official EU  languages click here

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  • Who are the EU Commissioners and how are they chosen?

    There are 28 Commissioners, one from each EU country, and they are appointed every five years. The European Council nominates a candidate to be President of the Commission, who must be approved by a majority of members of the European Parliament (EP). If the MEPs reject the candidate, the Council has one month to put forward another candidate. The president-elect chooses the Commissioners (and their policy area) from candidates put forward by the EU countries. The list of Commissioners is then submitted for approval by qualified majority, first to the Council of Ministers, then to the European Parliament. If the EP approves, the new Commission is officially appointed by the Council. 

    The current Commission's term of office runs until 2019. The President of the Commission is Jean-Claude Junker from Luxembourg. 

    Further information about the current Commissioners click here

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