GUIDELINES AND POLICIES

General Information

The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It covers an area of 4,324,782 km2, with an estimated population of over 508 million. The EU operates through a system of supranational institutions and intergovernmental-negotiated decisions by the member states. The institutions are: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the Court of Auditors. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.

Area

4.325 million km² (8.4 times larger than Thailand)

Population

508,191,116 (January 2015)

Official languages

23 Languages

Capital

Brussels (Belgium)

Currency

Euro (Eurozone is a monetary union of 19 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states which have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.)

(GDP at current price, PPPs

$18.124 trillion (2014)

Employment rate

Continually rising from 66.6% in 2000 to 70.3% in 2008 and then declining to 68.6% in 2011 because of an economic crisis.

Unemployment rate

9.6% (April 2015)

Major trading partners

USA, China, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Japan, India and Brazil

Major imported products

Petroleum/crude oil, Petroleum products, Telecommunication devices, computers and  Office equipment and supplies

Major exported products

Automobiles, Machineries, Industry, Industrial equipments, Electrical devices, Medical Products and Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals and Scientific instruments

Important natural resources

Iron, coal, petroleum, natural gas , copper, lead , zinc and uranium

Europe Day

9 May 1950

President of the European Council

Donald Tusk (Poland)  

President of European Parliament

Martin Schulz (Germany)

President of the european commission

Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg)

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Federica Mogherini (Italy)

Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January – June 2016)

Mark Rutte (Prime Minister of the Netherlands)

 

Governance

The European Union has seven institutions: the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors. Competencies in scrutinising and amending legislation are divided between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union while executive tasks are carried out by the European Commission and in a limited capacity by the European Council (not to be confused with the aforementioned Council of the European Union). The monetary policy of the eurozone is governed by the European Central Bank. The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU budget is scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors. There are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the EU or operate in a specific area.

 

European Council

The European Council gives direction to the EU, and convenes at least four times a year. It comprises the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state; either its head of state or head of government. The European Council has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority". It is actively involved in the negotiation of the treaty changes and defines the EU's policy agenda and strategies.

The European Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes between member states and the institutions, and to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies. It acts externally as a "collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for example, international agreements and treaties). 

On 19 November 2009, Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as the first permanent President of the European Council. On 1 December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force and he assumed office. Ensuring the external representation of the EU, driving consensus and settling divergences among members are tasks for the President both during the convocations of the European Council and in the time periods between them. The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organization independent from the EU.

 

European Commission

The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. The Commission is also seen as the motor of European integration. It operates as a cabinet government, with 28 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.

One of the 28 is the Commission President (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) appointed by the European Council. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who is ex-officio Vice-President of the Commission and is chosen by the European Council too. The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers) in agreement with the nominated President. The 28 Commissioners as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.

 

European Parliament

The European Parliament forms one half of the EU's legislature (the other half is the Council of the European Union). The 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years on the basis of proportional representation. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats and is divided into sub-national constituencies where this does not affect the proportional nature of the voting system. 

The Parliament and the Council of the European Union pass legislation jointly in nearly all areas under the ordinary legislative procedure. This also applies to the EU budget. Finally, the Commission is accountable to Parliament, requiring its approval to take office, having to report back to it and subject to motions of censure from it. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The EP President and Vice-Presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years. 

 

European External Action Service 

The European External Action Service (EEAS), also known as European Action Service (EAS), is a European Union (EU) department that was established following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It was formally launched on 1 December 2010 and serves as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the EU, implementing the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and other areas of the EU's external representation. The EEAS is under the authority of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), a post also created by the Treaty of Lisbon, whom it assists.

The EEAS manages the EU's response to crises, has intelligence capabilities and cooperates with the Commission in areas which it shares competence with. However, although the High Representative and the EEAS can propose and implement policy, it will not make it as that role is left to the Foreign Affairs Council which the High Representative chairs. 

The EEAS is unique and independent from other EU institutions, formed by merger of the external relation departments of the Council and the European Commission, sitting outside those institutions and it also has its own independent budget.

 

Thai and EU relations

  • Thailand places importance on its relations with the EU because of the EU's strong economy and its large market. With around 500 million inhabitants, the EU is the world's most powerful consumer region. 
  • The EU sees Thailand as a significant partner in South East Asia, especially in the area of politics and security. 

Thailand wishes to emphasize its commitment to democracy and free trade. It aims to be the EU's main regional partner in expanding commerce, investing in tourism and exchanging technology and innovations for competitiveness.