KNOW MORE ABOUT EUROPEAN UNION & SCHENGEN STATES.
Berlaymont, the Commission's seat in Brussels
Member states of the European Union
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 and United Kingdom
The European Union is composed of 27 independent sovereign countries which are known as member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
There are three official candidate countries, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey; the western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia are officially recognised as potential candidates. Kosovo has been granted similar status.
To join the EU, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. These require a stable democracy which respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country's fulfillment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council. The current framework does not specify how a country could exit the Union (although Greenland withdrew in 1985), but the proposed Treaty of Lisbon contains a formal procedure for withdrawing.
Four Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU have partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are a part of the single market through the European Economic Area, and Switzerland has similar ties through bilateral treaties. The relationships of the European microstates Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City include the use of the euro and other co-operation.
SCHENGEN STATES WITHIN EUROPEAN UNION
France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed on 14 June 1985 to sign an agreement on the gradual abolition of checks at the common borders. This became known as the Schengen Agreement, after the name of the town in Luxembourg where it was signed.
The Schengen Convention was signed in June 1990 and came into effect in March 1995. By that time, other EU Member States (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) had joined the initial signatories of this inter-governmental agreement signed outside the EU framework.
The Schengen Convention abolished the checks at internal borders of the signatory States and created a single external frontier, where checks for all the Schengen signatories were to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules.
The Schengen Convention is designed to take into account the interests of all the States that have signed up to it. Accordingly, this freedom of movement without being submitted to checks at internal borders was accompanied by so-called compensatory measures. These measures involve setting a common visa regime, improving coordination between the police, customs and the judiciary and taking additional steps to combat problems such as terrorism and organised crime.
The harmonised EU external border controls are defined in Article 6 of the Schengen Convention. They are further specified in the common manual on external borders, a set of operational instructions on the conditions for entering the territory of the signatories States and detailed procedures and rules for carrying out checks. A complex information system known as the Schengen information system (SIS) was set up to exchange data on certain categories of people and lost or stolen goods.
Which EU Member States are now signed up to the Schengen Convention?
As of March 2001, 13 EU Member States are signed up to the Schengen Agreement. They are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Sweden.
Ireland and the United Kingdom never signed up to the Schengen Convention and have thus not ended border controls with other EU Member States, although they will participate, in the future, in those aspects of Schengen that entail cooperation between police forces and the judiciary. For this reason, EU citizens, as well as third-country nationals, still have to show their passports when travelling between the UK or Ireland and the rest of the EU (although not between Ireland and the UK, which together with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man constitute a common travel area for which passports are not needed).
Although Denmark has signed the Schengen Agreement, it can choose within the EU framework whether or not to apply any new decision taken under the agreement. In addition, an association agreement has been concluded with Iceland and Norway, two countries which apply the Schengen provisions completely. In July 2002, negotiations began in view of associating Switzerland, which wants to participate in the Schengen acquis.
How does the Schengen Convention fit into the EUs legal and institutional framework?
A protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam incorporates the developments brought about by Schengen into the European Unions legal and institutional framework. The Schengen area now comes under the scrutiny of the European Parliament and of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, ensuring democratic parliamentary control and giving citizens accessible legal remedies when their rights are challenged (Court of Justice and/or national courts depending on the area of law), although the competence of the Court of Justice in this area is partially limited.
One of the Councils most important tasks in incorporating the Schengen provisions was to determine which measures taken by the signatory states formed a genuine acquis, i.e. a body of law which has to be applied by all Member States applying the Schengen provisions and which countries seeking EU membership must adopt into their own national legislation. A list of the elements which make up the acquis, setting out the corresponding legal basis for each in the Treaties (EC Treaty or the Treaty on European Union) was adopted on 20 May 1999.
On 21st December 2007 Poland, together with 8 other new EU Member States, joined the Schengen area – a territory with no checks at internal borders formed by 24 States. These States apply uniform rules concerning entry and short stays in their territories.
To enter the Schengen territory third-country nationals must be in possession of a valid travel document and a visa if it is required. They also have to meet the following conditions:
* they justify the purpose and conditions of the intended stay and prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence, both for the period of the intended stay and for the return to their country of origin or transit to a third State into which they are certain to be admitted, or are in a position to acquire such means lawfully
* no alert has been issued for them for the purposes of refusing entry
* they are not considered to be a threat to public policy, national security or the international relations of any of the Schengen States.
After undergoing the single check at the external border it is possible to move freely within the Schengen territory. On 30th March 2008 checks at the new Schengen States’ airports will also be abolished.
Schengen States issue the following types of uniform visas which entitle the holder to enter and stay in the Schengen territory:
* airport transit visa (A) – valid only for airport transit, does not entitle the holder to leave the transit zone of the airport
* transit visa (B) – valid for transit through the Schengen territory for a period not exceeding 5 days
* short-stay visa (C) – valid for stays of no more than 90 days per period of 180 days
Apart from uniform visas, Schengen States issue national long-stay visas (D) and residence permits which are valid only for the territory of the issuing State.
Long-stay national visas entitle their holders to one visa-free transit of maximum 5 days through the Schengen territory in order to reach the territory of the Schengen country which issued the visa, unless they fail to fulfil the entry conditions (see above) or they are on the national list of alerts of the Schengen country through the territory of which they seek to transit. Any next transit through the territories of Schengen States, irrespective of its destination, is possible only with a transit visa.
Holders of residence permits issued by one of the Schengen States are allowed to travel within the Schengen area during a maximum 3-month period.
Visas and residence permits issued by Poland after 21st December 2007
On 21st December 2007 Poland started issuing uniform visas (A, B, C) valid for the entire Schengen territory. Poland continues issuing long-stay D visas and residence permits, valid only for Poland.
Holders of Polish D visas (issued before 21st December 2007 as well as after that date) will be entitled to one visa-free transit of maximum 5 days through the Schengen territory in order to reach the territory of Poland, unless they fail to fulfil the entry conditions (see above) or they are on the national list of alerts of the Schengen country through the territory of which they seek to transit. In order to travel back to the country of origin and generally in case of any next transit through the territories of Schengen States, holders of Polish D visa need a transit visa.
Holders of Polish residence permits are allowed to enter the Schengen territory and stay there for a period not exceeding 90 days.
Polish short-stay visas issued before 21st December 2007 have not been converted into Schengen visas automatically. They remain valid for the period indicated in the visa, but their holders are entitled to enter and stay only in Poland. Until 30th June 2008 such visas also entitle their holders to transit through Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Entry conditions for third-country nationals under visa obligation
Third-country nationals are allowed to enter and stay in Poland, if they are in a possession of one of the following titles:
* uniform short-stay Schengen visa (C)
* Polish long-stay national visa (D)
* C or D visa issued by Poland before 21st December 2007, provided it is still valid
* Polish residence permit
* residence permit issued by another Schengen State
The following titles are valid only for the purpose of transit:
* uniform airport transit Schengen visa (A) – only for airport transit
* uniform transit Schengen visa (B)
* A or B visa issued by Poland before 21st December 2007, provided it is still valid
* D visa issued by another Schengen State – once only, in order to reach the territory of the Schengen State which issued the D visa
* C visa issued before 21st December 2007 by one of the Member States that joined the EU in 2004, provided it is still valid (such visas entitle to transit through the territory of the above-mentioned Schengen countries until 30th June 2008)
* residence permit issued by Switzerland or Liechtenstein
José Manuel Barroso was born in Lisbon on 23 March 1956. After graduating in law from the University of Lisbon, he moved to Geneva where he completed a Diploma in European Studies at the European University Institute, University of Geneva, and a Master's degree in Political Science from the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Geneva, earning an honours in both.
He embarked on an academic career, working successively as a teaching assistant at the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon, int the Department of Political Science, University of Geneva, and as a visiting professor at the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.). In 1995, he became Head of the International Relations Department of Lusíada University, Lisbon. In 1979, he founded the University Association for European Studies.
His political career began in 1980 when he joined the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He was named President of the party in 1999 and re-elected three times. During the same period, he served as Vice President of the European People's Party. In April 2002, he was elected Prime Minister of Portugal. He remained in office until July 2004 when he became President-designate of the European Commission.
José Manuel Barroso was awarded honorary degrees by Roger Williams University, Rhode Island (2005), Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (2006), University of Genoa, Italy (2006), University of Kobe (2006) and Sapienza University of Rome (2007). He was also declared "European of the year 2006" by the magazine European Voice. He is the author of numerous publications on political science, international relations and the European Union, including "Le système politique portugais face à l'intégration européenne", Lisbon and Lausanne, 1983; "Uma Certa Ideia de Europa", 1999; "Mudar de Modelo", 2002 and "Reformar: Dois Anos de Governo", 2004.
He is married to Margarida Sousa Uva. The couple have three children: Luís, Guilherme and Francisco. SOURCE :Click OFM-TV Europe news.
EU ROLES AND POWERS
What is the President's role? Who appoints him? For how long does his term last?
Find the answers to these questions and more below.
Who appoints the President of the Commission?
The President of the Commission is appointed by the governments of the Member States, and then approved by the European Parliament. This dual legitimacy gives the President political authority, which he exercises in a variety of ways.
What are the tasks of the President?
The President must try to provide forward movement for the European Union and to give a sense of direction both to his fellow Commissioners and, more broadly, to the Commission as a whole. This role was strengthened by the Amsterdam Treaty: 'The Commission shall work under the political guidance of its President' (Article 219). He calls and chairs meetings of the Members of the Commission, and can assign responsibility for specific activities to them or set up working groups. Lastly, he represents the Commission. In this capacity, he takes part in meetings of the European Council and of the Group of seven leading industrialised countries and Russia (G8), as well as in the major debates of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the European Union. So, although the work of the Commission is based on the principle of collective responsibility, the President is much more than a first among equals.
How long does the President's term last?
The President of the Commission serves a five-year term. The Maastricht Treaty brought the terms of office of the European Parliament and the Commission into close alignment: Colleges serve a five-year term and take up office six months after European Parliament elections, which are held on a fixed basis in the June of years ending in four and nine.
How are the other Members of the Commission appointed?
The President appoints his fellow Commissioners in agreement with the governments of the Member States. He entrusts each of them with particular policy responsibilities. After a series of individual hearings before Parliamentary committees, the candidate-Commissioners are subject as a body to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. The President and the other Members of the Commission are then appointed by the Council.
How many Commissioners are there?
Since the enlargement of the European Union on 1 January 2007, the College counts 27 Commissioners. They are each in charge of particular policy areas and meet collectively as the College of Commissioners. Before the last enlargement of the EU, the larger countries had two Commissioners and the remaining countries each had one. For practical reasons, each country now has only one Commissioner.
Can the President ask a Commissioner to resign?
Yes. The Treaty of Nice gives the President, among other things, the power to reallocate responsibilities to Members of the Commission during its term of office or to ask them to resign.
What is the task of the Secretariat General?
The Secretariat General is responsible for the practical organisation of the Commission's work and of its relations with the other institutions, as well as for coordination between the various Commission departments.
The members of the Barroso Commission ( 2004 - 2009 )
José Manuel Barroso
Swedish Vice President
Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy
German Vice President
Enterprise and Industry
French Vice President
Justice, Freedom and Security
previously in charge of transport:
Estonian Vice President
Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Italy Vice President
Replaced Franco Frattini
on 9 May 2008
Economic and Monetary Affairs
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Science and Research
Education, Training, Culture and Youth
Development and Humanitarian Aid
Taxation and Customs Union
Mariann Fischer Boel
Agriculture and Rural Development
External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Internal Market and
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Replaced Markos Kyprianou
on 10 April 2008
Commissioners who have handed over their portfolio before the end of the Commission's term of office:
Italian Vice President
Justice, Freedom and Security
This group does not have any discussions yet.