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European glossary of European Commission

You will find here all the keywords and definitions related to European affairs

Find all European Funds

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  • ABSORPTION CAPACITY

    This usually means the ability of a country or organization to receive aid and use it effectively. Developing countries often lack this capacity. For example, a country may receive enough money to enable all its children to attend primary school - but owing to a lack of teachers, lack of schools or a poor administrative system, it is impossible to spend this money in the short term. Work must first be done to train teachers, build schools and improve the efficiency of the system - thus raising the country's 'absorptive capacity'.

  • ACCESSION PARTNERSHIP

    Accession Partnerships, as part of the reinforced pre-accession strategy, make up the framework of the pre-accession process for each candidate country. They set out: * key priority areas in which candidate countries need to make progress, i.e. priorities identified in the European Commission’s opinion on applications for European Union membership; * financial support under a single framework. Accession Partnerships may be revised according to the progress achieved by candidate countries and on the development of new situations.

  • ACCOMPANYING MEASURES

    Actions supported by the RTD Framework Programmes to contribute to the implementation of a specific programme, with a view to enabling them to achieve or define their strategic objectives. They will also contribute to the preparation of future activities.

  • ACQUIS COMMUNAUTAIRE

    Set of laws and engagements that define the Member States as the European Union. Candidate countries must accept and integrate this acquis communautaire before acceding to the European Union.

  • ACRONYM

    A short name for ptoject of programme, often asked for in an application form for a call for a proposal which is another name for your project to make it more distinguishable.

  • ADDITIONALITY

    It is one of the Structural Funds' four principles which were strengthened by the revised regulations adopted in July 1993. It means that Community assistance complements the contributions of the Member States rather than reducing them. Except for special reasons, the Member States must maintain public spending on each Objective at no less than the level reached in the preceding period.

  • AGENCIES

    EU bodies having a distinct legal personality, and to whom budget implementing powers may be delegated under strict conditions. They are subject to a distinct discharge from the discharge authority. Executive agencies are created by a commission decision to implement all or part of a community programme directly from the EC budget.

  • AGENDA 2000

    Document relative to enlargement, the reform of common policies and the financial frame of the EU from 31 December 1999. The Commission’s opinions regarding the accession candidatures are attached to this document, as the set of questions that will raise to the EU in the early 21st century.

  • APPLICANT ORGANISATION (THE APPLICANT)

    Any legal person, private, public or semi-public, submitting a project. The applicant organisation becomes the contracting organization if the proposal is accepted and the grant agreement is signed.

  • ARTICLE 169

    Article of the European treaty for RTD programmes jointly undertaken by several Member States. In implementing the multiannual framework programme FP7 the Community may make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States, including participation in the structures created for the execution of those programmes.

  • ASEAN

    Association of South-East Asian Nations. It is a economic, political and cultural organisation created in 1967 whose members are 10 South-East Asian countries: Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines Singapore Thailand Brunei (1984) Vietnam (1995) Laos (1997) Myanmar (1997) Cambodia (1999)

  • ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT

    An association agreement is a bilateral agreement between the European Union and a third country. In the context of accession to the European Union, it serves as the basis for implementation of the accession process.

  • ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT FOR SPECIFIC PROGRAMMES

    Agreement concluded between the European Union and a third country, which associates it to specific programmes of the Framework Programme. Not to be confused with those which Associate Third countries to the EU in order for them to accede to the European Union.

  • AUDIT CERTIFICAT

  • BENCHMARKING

    This means measuring how well one country, business, industry, etc. is performing compared to other countries, businesses, industries, and so on. The 'benchmark' is the standard by which performance will be judged. Benchmarking is one of the techniques used in the 'Lisbon process'

  • BENEFICIARY

    A moral person or entity, whether private, public or semi-public, that is responsible by the signature of the grant agreement (contract) for the coordination and management of the project, including the dispatch of the funds. The beneficiary is the one who receives the grant (cf Europeaid) and who reports directly to the Commission. FP7 The beneficiary designs every participating organisation to the FP7 project, member of a consortium. Among the beneficiaries, the coordinator represents the whole consortium towards the Commission.

  • BEST PRACTICES

    One way of improving policies in the EU is for governments to look at what is going on in other EU countries and to see what works best. They can then adopt this 'best practice', adapting it to their own national and local circumstances. The concept is a real trend in European proposal writing but we advice not to abuse of this term.

  • BUDGET LINE

    Reference that is attributed to an action programme. A budgetary line has the same significance than the programme.

  • CALL FOR PROPOSAL (call for projects, call for applications)

    The European Commission issues a publication in which it describes the aims and priorities for funding required for project. The publication indicates clearly the priorities funded on a precise budget. See all calls for proposal for all European funding programmesCall for proposal It is only possible to submit a project proposal in reply to a call for proposals published by the EC in the Official Journal and on the Internet. Specific application files are published for each call and include the necessary documents to prepare a proposal. The Call text indicates very precise expiry dates that must be respected.

  • CALL FOR TENDER

    They concern the financing of public works, supplies or services. See all European tenders Public European tenders

  • CANDIDATE COUNTRY

    This means a country that has applied to join the European Union and whose application has been officially accepted. At present there are three candidate countries: Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia. Before a candidate country can join the EU it must meet the 'Copenhagen criteria' (see before).

  • CAP REFORM

    The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was first introduced in 1962, to ensure that Europe had secure food supplies at affordable prices. But it became a victim of its own success, generating unwanted surpluses of some products such as beef, barley, milk and wine. Also, the subsidies paid to European farmers were distorting world trade. So the European Commission began reviewing the CAP in 1999. The EU agreed further reforms in 2003, with the emphasis on high-quality farm produce and animal-friendly farming practices that respect the environment and preserve the countryside. The EU plans to cut back on direct subsidies to farmers, so as to redress the balance between EU agricultural markets and those of the developing world.

  • CARDS

    (Programme closed since 2006, but some tenders can still be published) The programme of Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) makes up the single framework of assistance for the Western Balkan countries aimed at supporting their participation in the stabilisation and association process. Community assistance is conditional upon respect for democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights, including the rights of minorities, and the implementation of reforms. CARDS programme assistance for the Western Balkan countries with candidate country status is limited to programmes and projects with a regional dimension. The CARDS programme is replaced by the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) since 2007.

  • CHECK LIST

    Document attached to the application form of a call for proposals. It mentions the various documents needed.

  • CIS

    Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union.

  • CIVIL DIALOGUE

    This means consulting civil society when the European Commission is drawing up its policies and proposals for legislation. It is a broader concept than 'social dialogue'.

  • CIVIL SOCIETY

    Collective name for all kinds of organizations and associations that are not part of government but that represent professions, interest groups or sections of society. It includes (for example) trade unions, employers' associations, environmental lobbies and groups representing women, farmers, people with disabilities and so on. Since these organizations have a lot of expertise in particular areas and are involved in implementing and monitoring European Union policies, the EU regularly consults civil society and wants it to become more involved in European policymaking.

  • CO- DECISION

    Introduced by the treaty of Maastricht, in 1992, it is based on the principle of equality. Parliament shares legislative power equally with the Council on texts proposed by the European Commission. The Parliament and the Council are thus dependent one of the other.

  • COHESION

    This means (literally) 'sticking together'. The jargon term 'promoting social cohesion' means the EU tries to make sure that everyone has a place in society – for example by tackling poverty, unemployment and discrimination. The EU budget includes money known as the 'Cohesion Fund' which is used to finance projects that help the EU 'stick together'. For example, it finances new road and rail links that help disadvantaged regions take a full part in the EU economy.

  • COHESION FUND

    The Cohesion Fund part-finances action in the fields of the environment and transport infrastructure of common interest with a view to promoting economic and social cohesion and solidarity between Member States. It is a complement to structural funds. Eligibility is restricted to Member States whose per capita gross national product (GNP) is less than 90% of the Community average

  • COMITOLOGY

    This is more correctly known as "committee procedure". It describes a process in which the Commission, when implementing EU law, has to consult special advisory committees made up of experts from the EU countries. Relations between the Commission and the committees are based on models set out in a Council Decision (the "Comitology Decision") adopted on 28 June 1999. This gives Parliament the right to monitor the implementation of legislative instruments adopted under the codecision procedure. Parliament can object to measures proposed by the Commission, or sometimes the Council, which it considers to be ultra vires. The following categories of committee can be distinguished, according to how they operate: * Advisory committees: they give their opinions to the Commission, which must take account of them. This procedure is generally used when the matters under discussion are not very sensitive politically * Management committees: if the measures adopted by the Commission are not in accordance with the committee's opinion, the Commission must refer them to the Council, which may take a different decision. This procedure is used e.g. for measures for managing the common agricultural policy, fisheries and the main Community programmes * Regulatory committees: if the measures envisaged by the Commission are not in accordance with the committee's opinion, the Commission must refer them to the Council and inform the European Parliament. If the Council opposes the Commission's proposal, the Commission must re-examine it. It may submit an amended proposal or a new proposal or may re-submit the same proposal. This procedure is used e.g. for measures relating to protection of the health or safety of persons, animals and plants and measures amending non-essential provisions of the basic legislative instruments. The Council Decision of 28 June 1999 replaced that of 13 July 1987, simplifying the system and taking account of the new codecision procedure. The committee system is made more open to scrutiny by Parliament and the general public. Committee documents are more readily accessible to the citizen and are recorded in a public register. With the computerisation of decision-making procedures, the aim is for the full texts of non-confidential documents transmitted to Parliament to be posted on the Internet.

  • COMMUNITY BRIDGE

    This is a procedure for transferring certain matters from the third 'pillar' of the EU to the first 'pillar' so that they can be dealt with using the Community method. Any decision to use the bridge has to be taken by the Council, unanimously, and then ratified by each Member State. Community/communities: see 'European Communities'.

  • COMMUNITY BUDGET

    All the benefits and expenses of the European Union.

  • COMMUNITY INITIATIVE (CI)

    NB: was not extended after 2006 These are programmes aiming at complementing the structural funds interventions. 4 CI were implemented for 2000-2006: INTERREG III, whose aimed was to promote transborder, transnational and interregional cooperation; LEADER+ that aimed at the promotion of rural development; EQUAL, for the development of anti-discrimination practices on the labour market; URBAN II, whose aimed is to economically revitalize towns and suburban areas.

  • COMMUNITY METHOD

    This is the EU's usual method of decision-making, in which the Commission makes a proposal to the Council and Parliament who then debate it, propose amendments and eventually adopt it as EU law. In the process, they will often consult other bodies such as the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

  • COMPETENCIES

    This is eurojargon for 'powers and responsibilities'. It is often used in political discussions about what powers and responsibilities should be given to EU institutions and what should be left to national, regional and local authorities.

  • COMPETENT AUTHORITY

    This usually means the government department or other body responsible for dealing with a particular issue. It is 'competent' in the sense of having the legal power and responsibility

  • COMPETITIVENESS AND INNOVATION PROGRAMME (CIP)

    New framework programme for 2007-2013 that aims at encouraging the competitiveness of European enterprises and to enhance innovation in all industrial areas, especially for a better take-up and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and to help to develop the information society. It will also promote the increased use of renewable energies and energy efficiency. With small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as its main target, the programme will support innovation activities (including eco-innovation), provide better access to finance and deliver business support services in the regions.

  • CONSORTIUM

    Group of partners, coming from the public or private sector, who associate themselves to develop a project that is financed by the European Commission.

  • CONSORTIUM AGREEMENT

    Contract established between the partners of a cross-border project, which regulates propriety-linked problems including the exploitation of research results, and specifies elements relative to the validity of the standard contract with the Commission. It defines the relationships between the different participants and their level of responsibility regarding the project. It does not repeat the content of the contract, nor disapproves it, but it completes and clarifies details which are specific to the considered consortium, and namely upon technical, commercial, organisational, financial and juridical dispositions. It is an option; the Commission does not interfere in this process.

  • CONSTITUTION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

    At present, the EU is founded on four basic treaties that lay down the rules by which it has to operate. These treaties are big and complex, and EU leaders intend to replace them with a single, shorter, simpler document spelling out the EU's purposes and aims and stating clearly who does what. This new document (technically known as the 'constitutional Treaty') will be rather similar to the constitution of a country - even though the EU is not, and does not aim to be, a single country. The text of this new EU Constitution was agreed in June 2004 and signed by all the member state governments in October 2004. It had to came into force in 2006, but it was not ratified by all the Member States. in 2007, this Constitution has been replaced by the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. This text should be ratified by all Member States before that it will come into force in 2009.

  • CONTRACTING ORGANISATION (THE BENEFICIARY)

    Any legal person, private, public or semi-public, liable under the grant agreement and responsible for the day-to-day co-ordination and management of the project, including the distribution of the Community funds allocated to this project. The contracting organisation is liable to the Commission.

  • CONTRACTOR

    Executor of a contract established with the European Commission. The Commission considers this person as the project manager.

  • COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    This type of agreement does not have the consequences of the association agreement. Its sole aim is to promote close economic cooperation with some countries or regions such as the Maghreb and Machrek regions.

  • COORDINATION ACTION

    Type of project support and funding scheme in the framework programme for research. each funding scheme defines a different contract.

  • COPENHAGEN CRITERIA

    In June 1993, EU leaders meeting in Copenhagen set three criteria that any candidate country (see above) must meet before it can join the European Union. First, it must have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities. Second, it must have a functioning market economy. Third, it must take on board all the acquis (see above) and support the various aims of the European Union. In addition, it must have a public administration capable of applying and managing EU laws in practice. The EU reserves the right to decide when a candidate country has met these criteria and when the EU is ready to accept the new member.

  • CORDIS

    European information service devoted to European research and development.

  • COUNCIL

    There are three different European bodies with the word 'council' in their names: The European Council This is the meeting of heads of State and government (i.e. presidents and/or prime ministers) of all the EU countries, plus the President of the European Commission. The European Council meets, in principle, four times a year to agree overall EU policy and to review progress. It is the highest-level policy-making body in the European Union, which is why its meetings are often called “summits”. The Council of the European Union Formerly known as the Council of Ministers, this institution consists of government ministers from all the EU countries. The Council meets regularly to take detailed decisions and to pass European laws. The Council of Europe This is not an EU institution. It is an intergovernmental organization based in Strasbourg and it aims (amongst other things) to protect human rights, to promote Europe's cultural diversity and to combat social problems such as xenophobia and intolerance. The Council of Europe was set up in 1949 and one of its early achievements was to draw up the European Convention on Human Rights. To enable citizens to exercise their rights under that Convention it set up the European Court of Human Rights.

  • CROSS-BORDER CO-OPERATION

    Cross-border co-operation (CBC) under the Phare programme aims to encourage economic convergence through integration and thus to prevent the creation of economically less favoured peripheral zones. It concerns the management of the candidate countries' border regions with neighbouring countries.

  • CROSS-BORDER PARTNERSHIP

    Partnership between several actors of different states with at least one common borderline.

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