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European glossary of European Commission

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

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    The word 'perspective' here really means 'plan'. The EU has to plan its work well in advance and ensure that it has enough money to pay for what it wants to do. So its main institutions (Parliament, the Council and the Commission) have to agree in advance on the priorities for the next few years and come up with a spending plan which is called a 'financial perspective'. This financial perspective states the maximum amount the EU can spend, and what it can spend it on. In a world of rising costs, the purpose of the financial perspective is to keep EU expenditure under control.


    Council regulation (EC/Euratom) N° 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 describing the whole set of rules for the management of grants and services contracts on the general EC budget.


    In the years following the Second World War, people like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman dreamed of uniting the peoples of Europe in lasting peace and friendship. Over the following fifty years, as the EU was built, their dream became reality. That is why they are called the “founding fathers” of the European Union. Four freedoms:


    One of the great achievements of the EU has been to create a frontier-free area within which (1) people, (2) goods, (3) services and (4) money can all move around freely. This four-fold freedom of movement is sometimes called “the four freedoms”.

  • FP5/ FP6

    Fifth/ sixth Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration framework program.

  • FP7

    Seventh generation of the Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities.


    This means a group of countries that have removed barriers to trade between them – barriers such as import tariffs and quotas. Several free trade areas have been established around the world: Mercosur in South America, Nafta in North America and EFTA in Europe, for example. The European Union is also a free trade area, but it is much more than that because it is built on a process of economic and political integration, with joint decision-taking in many policy areas.


    Green Papers are Commission-published documents, which goal is to stimulate a discussion and to launch a consultation at the European level on a specific topic (social policy, single currency, telecommunications, etc.). The consultations sometimes lead to the publication of a White Paper in order to report the consequences of this discussion as concrete measures of the Community action.


    The Guide for Applicants is specific for each programme and for each call for proposals. It contains essential information which helps the candidate to prepare its proposal. For example, it contains the administrative sheets which should be completed.


    This may mean bringing national laws into line with one another, very often in order to remove national barriers that obstruct the free movement of workers, goods, services and capital. In other words, harmonisation means making sure that, on any particular issue for which the EU has responsibility, the rules laid down by the different EU countries impose similar obligations on citizens of all those countries and that they impose certain minimum obligations in each country. Harmonisation can also mean co-ordinating national technical rules so that products and services can be traded freely throughout the EU. Contrary to popular myth, this does not mean pointlessly standardising everything from the curvature of cucumbers to the colour of carrots. Often it simply means that EU countries recognise one another's safety rules.

  • ICT

    Information and communication technologies.


    It is a caracteristic that can be measured to evaluate the progression of a programme towards the completion of its objectives. There can be different kind of indicators. They can be qualitative indicators or quantitive ones. A distinction can also be made depending on the evolution of the programme: product indicators, results indicators and impact indicators


    Any approach, method ou tool developed and tried either for the first time or on a new territory, with a new target group, or in a new economic area, whose aim is to address an issue. Investment in innovation will usualy be justified by possibilities of mainstreaming.


    An agreement between a candidate country and one or more Member State administrations to transfer acquis-related skills and knowledge.


    To combat the deterioration of coastal areas, in September 2000 the Commission proposed a European strategy for the integrated management of these areas. The main aim of the proposal was to resolve the basic problems facing the coastline: the lack of information; inadequate local participation in projects being carried out in coastal areas; and, poor coordination among those responsible for spatial planning. As part of this strategy, which requires the participation of the Member States and all those concerned, the Commission undertook to bring Community policies into line with appropriate and coordinated management of coastal areas; to provide a network of services accessible to those responsible for management of the coast; to promote research into and promotion of coastal areas; and, to encourage initiatives at all administrative levels.


    This literally means 'between governments'. In the EU, some matters – such as security and defence issues – are decided purely by intergovernmental agreement (i.e. agreement between the governments of the EU countries), and not by the 'Community method'. (See below)These intergovernmental decisions are taken by ministers meeting in the Council of the European Union, or at the highest level by the prime ministers and/or presidents of the EU countries, meeting as the European Council.


    This means a conference at which the EU member states' governments come together to amend the European Union treaties. The IGC held in 2003 led to the signing, in 2004, of the EU Constitution.


    This Community Initiative covers three types of cooperation: cross-border, transnational and interregional.

  • IPA

    Candidate countries and potential candidate countries will be aided, for the period 2007-2013, by the single Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance. It will replace the current pre-accession assistance, i.e. the Phare, ISPA and SAPARD programmes, the specific pre-accession instrument for Turkey and the CARDS programme.

  • ISPA

    The Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) provided additional financial support for the accession process of the candidate countries since 1999 in the areas of transport and the environment. Its aim was to enhance economic and social cohesion. This pre-accession assistance was the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Regional Policy for the period 2000-2006 and was due to be replaced by the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA)since 2007.


    Joint actions are the result of close cooperation between various institutions or stakeholders (for example the EBI and Universities or the Commission, member states and foreign countries). They are used for transversal policies (R&D, education) or issues for which having a single level of action is not considered pertinent (AIDS).


    The JTIs only aim objectives that can't be reached by call for proposals. JTIs may become operational by setting up a Joint Undertaking under Article 171 of the Treaty to create a single, Europe-wide and industrially-driven R&and programme that will help EU industry to achieve world leadership.


    The "official mission" of the JRC is to: provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of EU policies. As a service of the European Commission, the JRC functions as a reference centre of science and technology for the Union. Close to the policy-making process, it serves the common interest of the Member States, while being independent of special interests, private or national.


    ""Liens Entre Actions pour le Développement de l’Economie Rurale" Former programme for rural development ended in 2006.


    The official text adopting a programme that must be considered as the political reason of being of a programme. Funding programmes must also be based on a financing decision. This reference to the EU budget is very often, written in the annual workprogramme, or “programme decision” or “regulation” or treaty.


    To compete with other major world players, the EU needs a modern efficient economy. Meeting in Lisbon in March 2000, the EU's political leaders set it a new goal: to become, within a decade, "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.” The EU's leaders also agreed on a detailed strategy for achieving this goal. The 'Lisbon strategy' covers such matters as research, education, training, Internet access and on-line business. It also covers reform of Europe's social protection systems, which must be made sustainable so that their benefits can be enjoyed by future generations. Every spring the European Council meets to review progress in implementing the Lisbon strategy. In March 2004, the European Council launched a process of revision, which was concretized one year later, in March 2005, by the adoption of a strategy of Lisbon revised and more centered on the growth and employment. The European Union set up a “new governorship” intended to improve the implementation of the strategy.


    These are five criteria that determine whether an EU country is ready to adopt the euro. They relate to: Price stability: The inflation rate should be no more than 1.5 percentage points above the rate for the three EU countries with the lowest inflation over the previous year; Budget deficit: This must generally be below 3% of gross domestic product (GDP); Debt: The national debt should not exceed 60% of GDP, but a country with a higher level of debt can still adopt the euro provided its debt level are falling steadily; Interest rates: The long-term rate should be no more than two percentage points above the rate in the three EU countries with the lowest inflation over the previous year; Exchange rate stability: The national currency's exchange rate should have stayed within certain pre-set margins of fluctuation for two years. These criteria were laid down in the Treaty of Maastricht – hence their name.


    It means any public or private authority or boday at national, regional or local level designated by the Member State, or the Member State when it is itself carrying out this function, to manage assistance from the Structural Funds. If the Member State designates a managing authority other than itself, it shall determine all the modalities of its relationship with the manging authority and of the latter's relationship with the Commission. If the Member State so decides, the managing authority may be the same body as the paying authority for the assistance concerned.


    Group of states forming the European Union, including the six founding states: Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands. Six phases of accession followed: - Denmark, Ireland and the United-Kingdom in 1973 - Greece in 1981 - Spain and Portugal in 1986 - Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995 - Eight Eastern European countries, Malta, Cyprus in May 2004 - Bulgaria and Romania in 2007

  • MEP

    Member of the European Parliament


    br>Company that consists of less than 10 employees and whose turnover amounts to 2 million euro.


    Draft-agreement that precedes the final signing of a contract.


    Programme that is established for several successive years. These programmes usually last 3 to 7 years.


    North America Free Trade Agreement. Created in 1994, it regroups the USA, Canada and Mexico in a free-trade area.


    Each country participating in Lifelong Learning programme or 7th Framework programme for research has appointed an organisation to promote and administer the various activities (sub-programmes) funded by the EU. This organisation is called National Agency or National Contact Point (NCP).


    A system of national contact points has been established for some European programmes in each of the Member States and in certain associated States, with the aim of providing assistance and guidance on issues related to these programmes

  • NCP

    National contact point organised in a network of national information centres about FP7.


    The head lines of the: ENP – European Neighbourhood Policy) have been published in 2003. This policy aims at establishing privileged links in very specific fields (security, safety, and well-being) with the Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libye, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian authorities) and the Eastern European countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaïdjan). Russia is linked to the EU in the specific chapter. In 2007 the ENPI financial instrument shall cover more neighbour countries.

  • NRSF - National Strategic reference Framework

    When programming the Structural funds interventions for the period 2007-2013, Member States have to present a National Strategic reference Framework which ensures that the interventions (ERDF and ESF) are in line with the Community Cohesion policy. This framework must define the way the national strategy contributes to the European economic and social cohesion policy. This reference document also presents the preparation of the Funds programming.

  • NUTS (Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units)

    The European Office of Statistics Eurostat has created the Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units to dispose of a single and coherent scheme of territorial distribution. NUTS I: zones of study relative to regional planning. NUTS II: regions and overseas regions. NUTS III: counties.


    Official publications of the European Union gathering the Council’s decisions related to the programmes, information on the next calls for proposals, the calls for proposals… It contains three sections: L (legislation), C (Information, notices and preparatory EU legislation) or S (supplement).

  • OLAF

    European Anti-fraud Office Established in 1999 as an independent investigation service within the Commission to investigate fraud damaging to the Community’s interests. Its tasks also include detection and monitoring of fraud in the customs field.


    In many policy areas (for example education and training, pensions and health care, immigration and asylum), EU governments set their own national policies rather than having an EU-wide policy laid down in law. However, it makes sense for governments to share information, adopt best practice (see above) and bring their national policies into line. This way of learning from one another is called the 'open method of coordination'.


    The grant is based on an analysis of the dimension of the activities of a European NGO or network, their scope, your annual work plan, its compatibility with the policy priorities, etc. rather than on individual projects.


    Document written by the States and Regions and proposed to the European Commission, in order to establish the action plan for national and regional economic and social development. The operational programmes dress a diagnosis of the situation and define Eu funds for each priority. Document on which the decision for regional funding is based.


    22 permanent and thematic work committees within the European Parliament in order to organize the work of this institution. The members of this institution are elected according to their political affiliation and of their expertise.


    All legal persons/entities participating in the submission of a project’s proposal. The partners of the project must sign a Partnership Declaration by which they agree to contribute to the implementation of the project, as described in the grant’s application.


    It means one or more national, regional or local authorities or bodies designated by the Member State for the purposes of drawing up and submitting payments applications and receiving payments from the Commission. The Member State shall determine all the modalities of its relationship with the paying authority and of the latter's relationship with the Commission.


    The Phare programme was launched in 1989 following the collapse of the communist regimes in central and eastern Europe. It wass intended to help these countries reconstruct their economies. Originally, it affected only Poland and Hungary but it has gradually been extended to cover thirteen central and eastern European countries today (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). Phare was the main financial instrument for the pre-accession strategy for the ten central and eastern European countries (CEECs) which have applied for membership of the European Union. Since 1994, Phare's tasks have been adapted to the priorities and needs of each CEEC. It has been replaced by IPA in the new 2007-2013 programmation.


    The European Union takes decisions in three separate 'domains' (policy areas), also known as the three 'pillars' of the EU. - The first pillar is the 'Community domain', covering most of the common policies, where decisions are taken by the 'Community method' – involving the Commission, Parliament and the Council. - The second pillar is the common foreign and security policy, where decisions are taken by the Council alone. - The third pillar is 'police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters', where – once again – the Council takes the decisions. Within the first pillar, the Council normally takes decisions by 'qualified majority' vote. In the other pillars, the Council decision has to be unanimous: it can therefore be blocked by the veto of any one country. If the Council so decides, it can use the 'Community bridge'to transfer certain matters from the third to the first pillar.

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