Fahnen der EU-Mitgliedsländer wehen am Eingang zum Europaparlament in Strassburg

4.3.2019

Glossary

Brexit

The term “Brexit“ is made up of “Britain” and “exit“ and designates the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the United Kingdom leaves the EU, it will be the first member state to do so. This is why the consequences for Great Britain as well as for the EU are still unclear. (As of: February 2019)

Brexit Referendum

Referendum among British citizens whether Britain should remain in the EU or leave it. On 23 June 2016, a narrow majority voted for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Budget

The budget determines how much money the EU may spend on which purposes. The EU’s budget is established by the European Commission and is then jointly adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Commissioner

In the EU the members of the European Commission are referred to as commissioners. Each commissioner has their own field of political duty. Each member state has one commissioner. In order to do their job, the commissioners may fall back on the Directorate’s General employees who report directly to the commissioners.

Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union is composed of all national ministers with their specific remits. These ministers meet in different compositions according to the particular political subject at issue. The Council of the European Union can change and pass laws together with the European Parliament. Additionally, the Council of the European Union is responsible for the development of the foreign and security policy as well as for making agreements between the EU and other states.

Council of Ministers

The Council of the European Union is sometimes referred to as the Council of Ministers because it is composed of the national ministers with their specific remit.

Democratic deficit

Keyword critics use to describe the EU’s deficient democratic legitimacy. The European Parliament is the only organ of the EU that is directly elected by EU citizens; it is often criticised that the Parliament’s powers are insufficient to legitimate the EU as a whole as democratic.

Directive

Directives are legal acts of the EU which are not immediately binding – as opposed to regulations. Directives merely state an aim which should be achieved within a certain period of time. The national governments of the member states may decide individually how they want to achieve this aim.

Directorate General

Directorates General are administrative entities of the European Commission. Each Directorate General is responsible for a particular political field of duty. The employees of the Directorates General are subordinate to the commissioners.

European Commission

The European Commission is composed of 27 commissioners (as of February 2019). Each of the (currently) 28 member states has one commissioner. The commissioners are proposed by their respective national governments every five years. It is the European Commission’s task to make sure that the resolutions of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are actually implemented by national governments. The Commission is the only organ holding the right to propose new legislation (right to initiate legislation).

European Council

The European Council is composed of the heads of state and government of all member states as well as the president of the European Commission and the European Parliament. It is its task to set the EU’s political objectives. The European Council cannot pass laws.

European Elections

Direct universal suffrage taking place every five years in which all EU citizens may vote representatives for their state to European Parliament. It is a universal, free, direct suffrage and a secret ballot, taking place in all member states on four consecutive days. The electoral procedure varies according to national traditions. Proportional representation applies for all member states.

European Parliament

The European Parliament is the only EU organ that is directly elected by all citizens eligible to vote. Together with the Council of the European Union the Ministers of Parliament vote on legislation proposed by the European Commission. The law can only be passed if both organs give their consent. Additionally, the Parliament controls the European Commission’s activities and decides, together with the Council of the European Union, about the budget of the EU.

European Union

The European Union (short: EU) is a political and economic union of 28 (after Great Britain’s withdrawal from the EU only 27) European states. The EU has supranational as well as intergovernmental approaches. It can pass laws for their member states and has their own political institutions.

Fraction / Parliamentary group

A parliamentary group is a group of ministers with similar objectives. The seating arrangement in the European Parliament does not conform to the ministers’ nationalities, but to those fractions or parliamentary groups. Information on the different fractions can be found online.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat is concerned with the Parliament’s administration. It supports the Parliament’s work by organising and interpreting its meetings. In addition, the General Secretariat’s employees provide the ministers with their expertise and knowledge.

Gross Domestic Product

By means of the gross domestic product, which is a statistical operand, one can depict, measure and compare a countries’ economic power.

Guardian of the Treaties

The European Commission is sometimes referred to as the “Guardian of the Treaties”, due to the fact that it is the Commission’s responsibility to make sure that the resolutions of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are implemented by national governments. In case a member state fails to abide by the EU’s laws, the European Commission may admonish those states or impose fines.

Intergovernmentalism

Intergovernmentalism (lat. inter, „between“, and French gouverner, „govern“) designates the principle of cooperation between governments within an international organisation according to law of nations, European law and political science.

List of Candidates

List of candidates of an individual EU member state willing to become ministers of the European Parliament. The lists are created by political parties and can usually be entirely elected.

Lobbyism

Lobbyism refers to the circumstance that advocacy groups influence political decisions. Many organisations, foundations, and environmental organisations, etc., employ lobbyists to network with ministers and commissioners. Based on these relationships they try to influence European politics in in their employer’s interest. Politicians often fall back on lobbyists to get advice on certain issues.

Member States

All states that are part of an organisation or union. In this case all members of the European Union are concerned.

Minister

Ministers are members of a parliament. It is their task to represent the member states’ citizens and take decisions in the interest of EU citizens. In the EU, the number of representatives a member state may delegate depends on the state’s population size. Small member states are allowed to delegate more representatives in relation to the number of representatives a big member state may delegate.

Ministers with specific remits

National Ministers presiding over a ministry with specific political tasks (e.g. a Ministry of Health). Additionally, all national ministers with specific remits of the EU member states sit in the Council of the European Union.

Petition

Citizens of all member states may address requests, appeals or pleas, so-called petitions to the European Parliament. A petition can be submitted by individuals or groups. It can be done : http:online.

Proportional Representation

Election procedure which makes voters choose between lists of candidates. These lists have been created by political parties in advance. Usually, the whole list is elected, not a singular candidate. The number of votes a political party receives, determines how many candidates of the list will be representing the party as ministers in Parliament. This procedure is used in the European Elections.

Recommendation

According to EU law, a recommendation is not binding. It is a means the EU can use to submit proposals and give hints to national governments and authorities, for example about how to achieve a directive’s goal.

Regulation

Regulations are legal acts of the EU which are legally binding for all member states, as soon as they are adopted. They have to be implemented the way the EU determined it. National legislation concerning a certain policy area is substituted by a regulation if the same area is concerned.

Right of Initiate

The right of initiative refers to the European Commission’s sole right to initiate legislation. It proposes draft legislation and the European Parliament as well as the Council of the European Union have to discuss the draft and agree upon it.

Summit

A summit is an official meeting of leading politicians. In the EU it is a meeting of the European Council, that is the heads of state and government of all member states as well as the presidents of the European Commission and of the European Parliament.

Supranationalism

An international organisation or union is called supranational because its member states gave up a certain part of their political self-determination in favour of the union. This is the reason why the EU legislation is legally binding for its member states.

Treaty of Lisbon

Treaty, adopted in 2009 that aimed at making the EU more transparent and more democratic. Amongst other the European Parliament was given more rights by the Treaty of Lisbon. Since then, the Parliament is put on par with the Council of the European Union concerning the ordinary legislative procedure.