Religion in EU

The EU has no formal connection to any religion. The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”. Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity or a god, or both, in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped.

Christians in the European Union are divided among members of Catholicism (both Roman and Eastern Rite), numerous Protestant denominations (Anglicans, Lutherans, and Reformed forming the bulk of this category), and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million, and an estimated Jewish population of over a million. The other world religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism are also represented in the EU population.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/illustrations/religione-ges%C3%B9-battesimo-fede-1976784/

According to new polls about religiosity in the European Union in 2015 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union. Catholics are the largest Christian group, accounting for 45.3% of the EU population, while Protestants make up 11.1%, Eastern Orthodox make up 9.6%, and other Christians make up 5.6%.

Affiliation% of EU population
Christian71.6
Catholic45.3
Protestant11.1
Eastern Orthodox9.6
Other Christian5.6
Muslim1.8
Other faiths2.6
Irreligious24
Non-believer/Agnostic13.6
Atheist10.4
Wikipedia, Religious affiliation in the European Union (2015)


Eurostat’s Eurobarometer opinion polls showed in 2005 that 52% of EU citizens believed in a god, 27% in “some sort of spirit or life force”, and 18% had no form of belief.

Many countries have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years. The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were Estonia (16%) and the Czech Republic (19%).The most religious countries were Malta (95%, predominantly Roman Catholic) as well as Cyprus and Romania (both predominantly Orthodox) each with about 90% of citizens professing a belief in their respective god.

Across the EU, belief was higher among women, older people, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 or 16, and those “positioning themselves on the right of the political scale”.

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Religion (10.01.2020)

Foreign relations

Foreign policy co-operation between member states dates from the establishment of the Community in 1957, when member states negotiated as a bloc in international trade negotiations under the EU’s common commercial policy. Steps for a more wide-ranging co-ordination in foreign relations began in 1970 with the establishment of European Political Cooperation which created an informal consultation process between member states with the aim of forming common foreign policies. In 1987 the European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.

The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU’s own interests and those of the international community as a whole, including the furtherance of international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq.

The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department that has been officially implemented and operational since 1 December 2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Foreign_relations (23.12.2019)

Home affairs and Migration

Since the creation of the EU in 1993, it has developed its competencies in the area of justice and home affairs; initially at an intergovernmental level and later by supranationalism. Accordingly, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition, family law, asylum law, and criminal justice. Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties. In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/discriminazione-fico-paura-mondo-4731780/

The Union has also established agencies to co-ordinate police, prosecutorial and immigrations controls across the member states: Europol for co-operation of police forces, Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors, and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities. The EU also operates the Schengen Information System which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. This co-operation had to particularly be developed with the advent of open borders through the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border crime.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Legal_system_and_Justice (23.12.2019)

Legal system and Justice

The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties. These are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants. The EU has legal personality, with the right to sign agreements and international treaties.

Under the principle of supremacy, national courts are required to enforce the treaties that their member states have ratified, and thus the laws enacted under them, even if doing so requires them to ignore conflicting national law, and (within limits) even constitutional provisions.

The direct effect and supremacy doctrines were not explicitly set out the European Treaties but were developed by the Court of Justice itself over the 1960s, apparently under the influence of its then most influential judge, Frenchman Robert Lecourt.

Courts of Justice

The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it by the courts of member states. Because of the doctrines of direct effect and supremacy, many judgments of the Court of Justice are automatically applicable within the internal legal orders of the member states.

Photo: https://www.needpix.com/photo/download/1128823/justice-right-legal-lawyer-word-letters-law-free-pictures-free-photos

The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU’s courts, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service. Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.

Fundamental rights

The treaties declare that the EU itself is “founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities … in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU’s legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the Court of Justice and derived from the “constitutional traditions common to the member states.” The Court of Justice has long recognised fundamental rights and has, on occasion, invalidated EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to those fundamental rights.

Signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership previously, the EU itself could not accede to the Convention as it is neither a state nor had the competence to accede. The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR have changed this: the former binds the EU to accede to the Convention while the latter formally permits it.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/illustrations/destra-diritti-umani-umano-le-mani-597133/

The EU is independent from the Council of Europe and they share purpose and ideas especially on rule of law, human rights and democracy. Further European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, the source of law of Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by Council of Europe. The EU also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Legal_system_and_Justice (23.12.2019)

Transport

Safe, sustainable and connected transport

EU transport policy helps keep the European economy moving by developing a modern infrastructure network that makes journeys quicker and safer, while promoting sustainable and digital solutions.

Transport is a cornerstone of European integration and is vital for fulfilling the free movement of individuals, services and goods. Transport is also a major contributor to the economy, representing more than 9% of EU gross value added (the contribution to the economy). Transport services alone accounted for around €664 billion in gross value added in 2016 and they employ around 11 million people.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/piano-viaggio-esplorare-scopri-841441/

The implementation of sustainable and innovative means of transport plays an important role in the EU’s energy and climate objectives. As our societies become ever more mobile, EU policy supports transport systems to meet the major challenges:

* congestion: which affects both road and air traffic

* sustainability: transport still depends on oil for most of its energy needs, which is environmentally and economically untenable

* air quality: by 2050, the EU must cut transport emissions by 60% compared with 1990 levels, and continue to reduce vehicle pollution

* infrastructure: the quality of transport infrastructure is uneven across the EU

* competition: the EU’s transport sector faces growing competition from fast-developing transport markets in other regions

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/transport_en (23.12.2019)

Trade

Towards open and fair world-wide trade

The European Union is one of the most outward-oriented economies in the world. It is also the world’s largest single market area. Free trade among its members was one of the EU’s founding principles, and it is committed to opening up world trade as well.

From 1999 to 2010, EU foreign trade doubled and now accounts for over 30% of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP). The EU is responsible for the trade policy of the member countries and negotiates agreements for them. Speaking as one voice, the EU carries more weight in international trade negotiations than each individual member would.

The EU actively engages with countries or regional groupings to negotiate trade agreements. These agreements grant mutually-beneficial access to the markets of both the EU and the countries concerned. EU companies can grow their business, and can also more easily import the raw materials they use to make their products.

Each agreement is unique and can include tariff reductions, rules on matters such as intellectual property or sustainable development, or clauses on human rights. The EU also gets input from the public, businesses, and non-government bodies when negotiating trade agreements or rules.

The EU supports and defends EU industry and business by working to remove trade barriers so that European exporters gain fair conditions and access to other markets. At the same time, the EU supports foreign companies with practical information on how to access the EU market.

The EU also works with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help set global trade rules and remove obstacles to trade between WTO members.

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/trade_en (23.12.2019)

Taxation

Towards fair, efficient and growth-friendly taxes

The EU does not have a direct role in collecting taxes or setting tax rates. The amount of tax each citizen pays is decided by their national government, along with how the collected taxes are spent.

Photo: https://www.piqsels.com/en/public-domain-photo-jrxaf

The EU does however, oversee national tax rules in some areas; particularly in relation to EU business and consumer policies, to ensure:

  • the free flow of goods, services and capital around the EU (in the single market)
  • businesses in one country don’t have an unfair advantage over competitors in another
  • taxes don’t discriminate against consumers, workers or businesses from other EU countries

The single market allows goods and services to be traded freely across borders within the EU. To make this easier for businesses – and avoid competitive distortions between them – EU countries have agreed to align their rules for taxing goods and services. Certain areas benefit from specific agreements, such as value added tax (VAT) or taxes on energy products and electricity, tobacco and alcohol.

Photo: https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-xpfmd

The EU also works with EU countries on the coordination of economic policies and corporate and income taxes. The aim is to make them fair, efficient and growth-friendly. This is important to ensure clarity on the taxes paid by people who move to another EU country, or businesses that invest across borders. This coordination also helps to prevent tax evasion and avoidance.

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/taxation_en (23.12.2019)

Single market

A single internal market without borders

The EU aims to enable EU citizens to study, live, shop, work and retire in any EU country and enjoy products from all over Europe. To do this, it ensures free movement of goods, services, capital and persons in a single EU internal market. By removing technical, legal and bureaucratic barriers, the EU also allows citizens to trade and do business freely.

Photo: pixabay.com

The EU is also building a capital markets union, to make it easier for small businesses to raise money and to make Europe a more attractive place to invest. In addition, the digital single market will digitalise the EU’s single market freedoms, with EU-wide rules for telecommunications services, copyright and data protection.

However, some barriers within the single market remain, and the EU is working to further harmonise:

fragmented national tax systems

* separate national markets for financial services, energy and transport

* varied e-commerce rules, standards and practices between EU countries

* complicated rules on the recognition of vocational qualifications

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/single-market_en (23.12.2019)

Research & innovation

Leading innovation through EU research

Investing in research and innovation is investing in Europe’s future. It helps us to compete globally and preserve our unique social model. It improves the daily lives of millions of people here in Europe and around the world, helping to solve some of our biggest societal challenges.

EU support for research and innovation adds value by encouraging cooperation between research teams across countries and disciplines that is vital in making breakthrough discoveries.

Photo of Pete Linforth in Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/it/illustrations/innovazione-idea-ispirazione-4556696/)

Through its multiannual research and innovation framework programmes, the EU provides funding to:

* strengthen the EU’s position in science

* strengthen industrial innovation, including investment in key technologies, greater access to capital and support for small businesses

* address major social concerns, such as climate change, sustainable transport and renewable energy

* ensure technological breakthroughs are developed into viable products with real commercial potential – by building partnerships with industry and governments

* step up international cooperation on research & innovation

Photo of Pete Linforth in Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/it/photos/idea-innovazione-business-4095184/)

EU research and innovation activities are managed, through a number of departments, agencies and bodies, and results, knowledge and data are shared through:

* Project databases

* Publications, tools and data

* The EU research and innovation magazine

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/research-innovation_en (23.12.2019)

Regional policy

Regional investment and solidarity

The EU invests locally through its regional policy. Addressed to all EU regions and cities, it contains measures to boost economic growth and jobs and improve quality of life through strategic investment. Thanks to this active form of EU solidarity, people in less developed regions can seize the opportunities raised by the largest market in the world.

By The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cpmr/34331506234)

EU regional policy works to make a difference in 5 key areas:

* investing in people by supporting access to employment, education and social inclusion opportunities

* supporting the development of small and medium size businesses

* strengthening research & innovation through investment and research-related jobs

* improving the environment through major investment projects

* modernising transport and energy production to fight against climate change, with a focus on renewable energy and innovative transport infrastructure

While overall policy is set at the EU level, day-to-day management of the funds is the responsibility of a joint collaboration of the European Commission with national, regional and local authorities.

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/regional-policy_en (23.12.2019)