European Union Government 2010

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European Union Government 2010

Page last updated on January 15, 2010

Union name:
conventional long form: European Union
abbreviation: EU

Political structure:
a hybrid intergovernmental and supranational organization

name: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg (France), Luxembourg
geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: the Council of the European Union meets in Brussels, Belgium; the European Parliament meets in Brussels and Strasbourg, France; the Court of Justice of the European Communities meets in Luxembourg

Member states:
27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK; note - candidate countries: Croatia, Macedonia, Turkey

7 February 1992 (Maastricht Treaty signed establishing the EU); 1 November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered into force)

National holiday:
Europe Day 9 May (1950); note - a Union-wide holiday, the day that Robert SCHUMAN proposed the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community to achieve an organized Europe

note: based on a series of treaties: the Treaty of Paris, which set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951; the Treaties of Rome, which set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1957; the Single European Act in 1986; the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht) in 1992; the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997; and the Treaty of Nice in 2003; note - a new draft Constitutional Treaty, signed on 29 October 2004 in Rome, gave member states two years for ratification either by parliamentary vote or national referendum before it was scheduled to take effect on 1 November 2006; defeat in French and Dutch referenda in May-June 2005 dealt a severe setback to the ratification process; in June 2007, the European Council agreed on a clear and concise mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference to form a political agreement and put it into legal form; this agreement, known as the Reform Treaty, would have served as a constitution and was presented to the European Council in October 2007 for individual country ratification; it was rejected by Irish voters in June 2008, again stalling the ratification process; the Reform Treaty, more recently known as the Treaty of Lisbon, was again circulated for ratification, and by November 2009 was approved by all 27 countries; it came into effect on 1 December 2009

Legal system:
comparable to the legal systems of member states; first supranational law system

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of union: President of the European Commission Jose Manuel BARROSO (since 2004)
cabinet: European Commission (composed of 27 members, one from each member country; each commissioner responsible for one or more policy areas) (For more information visit the  Opens in New Window)
elections: the president of the European Commission is designated by member governments and is confirmed by the European Parliament; working from member state recommendations, the Commission president then assembles a "college" of Commission members; the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a five-year term; the next confirmation process will likely be held in January 2010
note: the European Council brings together heads of state and government and the president of the European Commission and meets at least four times a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the major political issues relating to European integration and to issue general policy guidelines; leaders of the EU member states appointed then Belgian Prime Minister Herman VAN ROMPUY to be the first full-time president of the European Council in November 2009; he took office on 1 December 2009 and will serve a two-and-one-half year term, renewable once; his core responsibilities include chairing the four summits each year and providing continuity beyond the rotating, six-month presidencies of the Council of the EU

Legislative branch:
two legislative bodies consisting of the Council of the European Union (27 member-state ministers having 345 votes; the number of votes is roughly proportional to member-states' population) and the European Parliament (736 seats; seats allocated among member states in proportion to population; members elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term); note - the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU; leaders of the EU member states appointed UK Baroness Catherine Ashton to be the first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Ashton took office on 1 December 2009; her concurrent appointment as Vice President of the European Commission - both of which are subject to confirmation by the European Parliament - endows her position with the policymaking influence of the Council of the EU and the budgetary influence of the European Commission
elections: last held 4-7 June 2009 (next to be held in June 2014)
election results: percent of vote - EPP 35.9%, PES 21.9%, ALDE 10.9%, Greens/EFA 7.2%, UEN 4.8%, GUE/NGL 4.3%, IND/DEM 2.4%, others 12.6%; seats by party - EPP 266, PES 161, ALDE 80, Greens/EFA 53, UEN 35, GUE/NGL 32, IND/DEM 18, others 93

Judicial branch:
Court of Justice of the European Communities (ensures that the treaties are interpreted and applied uniformly throughout the EU; resolve constitutional issues among the EU institutions) - 27 justices (one from each member state) appointed for a six-year term; note - for the sake of efficiency, the court can sit with 13 justices known as the "Grand Chamber"; Court of First Instance - 27 justices appointed for a six-year term

Political parties and leaders:
Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left or GUE/NGL [Lothar BISKY]; Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group or EFD [Nigel FARAGE and Francesco SPERONI]; European Conservatives and Reformists Group or ECR [Michael KAMINSKI]; Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or ALDE [Guy VERHOFSTADT]; Group of the European People's Party or EPP [Joseph DAUL]; Group of Greens/European Free Alliance or Greens/EFA [Rebecca HARMS and Daniel COHN-BENDIT]; Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament or S&D [Martin SCHULZ]

International organization participation:
European Union: ARF (dialogue member), ASEAN (dialogue member), G-20, IDA, OAS (observer), PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), UN (observer)
European Council: Australian Group, CBSS, CERN, FAO, EBRD, G-10, IEA, LAIA, NSG (observer), OECD, UNRWA (observer), WCO, WTO, ZC (observer)
European Central Bank: BIS
European Investment Bank: EBRD, WADB (nonregional member)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Angelos PANGRATIS
chancery: 2300 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 862-9500
FAX: [1] (202) 429-1766

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Christopher MURRAY
embassy: 13 Zinnerstraat/Rue Zinner, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: same as above
telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 508-2063

Flag description:
blue field with 12 five-pointed gold stars arranged in a circle in the center, representing the union of the peoples of Europe; the number of stars is fixed

NOTE: The information regarding European Union on this page is re-published from the 2010 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of European Union Government 2010 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about European Union Government 2010 should be addressed to the CIA.

This page was last modified 09-Feb-10
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