The European Council (referred to as a European Summit) is the highest political body of the European Union. It comprises the heads of state or government of the Union’s member states along with the President of the European Commission. Its meeting is chaired by the member from the member state currently holding presidency of the Council of the European Union.
While the Council has no formal executive or legislative powers, it is an institution that deals with major issues and any decisions made are “a major impetus in defining the general political guidelines of the European Union”. The Council EUROPEAN COUNCIL meets at least twice a year; usually in the Just Lipsius building, the quarters of the Council of the European Union of Brussels.
Essentially the European Council defines the EU’s policy agenda and has thus been considered to be the motor of European integration. Beyond the need to provide “impetus”, the Council has developed further roles; to “settle issues outstanding from discussions at a lower level”, to lead in foreign policy – acting externally as a “collective Head of State”, “formal ratification of important documents” and “involvement in the negotiation of the treaty changes”.
Because it is composed of national leaders EUROPEAN COUNCIL, the body brings together the executive power of the member states, having a great deal of influence outside the European Community: for example over foreign policy and police& justice. It also exercises more executive powers of the Council of the European Union such as the appointment of the president of the European Commission. Hence, the European Council has been described by some as the Union’s “supreme political authority”.
However, the body has been criticized for a lack of leadership, in part stemming from the weak structure of the body, meeting only 4 times a year for 2 days with no EUROPEAN COUNCIL staff and no legislative decisions made.
Officially the members of the Council consist of the heads of state or government of the Union plus the Commission President (non-voting). When meetings take place, the national foreign ministers usually attend with the leaders. Meeting can also include national ministers, other leading national positions (Prime Minister), Commissioners as required. The Secretary General of the Council (and his/her deputy) is also a regular attendee. The President of the European Parliament usually attends to give an opening speech outlining the European Parliament’s position before talks begin.
Task 1. Summarize EUROPEAN COUNCIL the whole information you have learned about the European Union. Speak about
Ø its historical background;
Ø its objectives;
Ø its main organs and their function;
Ø the number of member states.
Organize your report as if
Ø you are talking to the seventh form school children;
Ø you are making a presentation at the course “Actual Tendencies in the Modern World”.
Task 2. Search in the Internet or some other source for the information about the present Secretary General of the UNO and about the Resident Representative of the UNO in the Republic of Belarus (the family background, education, work experience) and present it to the group mates.
Task EUROPEAN COUNCIL 1. Get acquainted with the EU Membership Criteria. Discuss with your group mates the prospects for Belarus to join the European Union and if it is worth doing.
The Copenhagen criteria are the rules that define whether a nation is eligible to join the European Union. The criteria require that a state have the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, a functioning market economy, and that the state accepts the obligations and intent of the EU. These membership criteria were laid down at the June 1993 European Council in Copenhagen, Denmark, from which they take their name EUROPEAN COUNCIL.
The Copenhagen criteria are divided into three groups – geographic, political and economic.
Ø Geographic Criteria
The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht (Article 49) stated that any European country that respects the principles of the EU may apply to join.
Ø Political Criteria
Functional democratic governance requires that all citizens of the country should be able to participate, on an equal basis, in the political decision making at every single governing level. This also require free elections, the right to establish political parties without ant hindrance from the state, fair and equal access to a free press, free trade union organizations, etc.
· Rule of Law
The rule of law EUROPEAN COUNCIL implies that government authority may only be exercised in accordance with written laws, which were adopted through an established procedure.
· Human Rights
Human rights are those rights which every person holds because of his quality as a human being. It means that the right cannot be bestowed, granted, limited, bartered away, or sold away. The United Nations declaration of Human Rights is considered the most authoritative formulation of human rights.
· Respect for and Protection of Minorities
Members of national minorities should be able to maintain their distinctive culture and practices, including their language without suffering ant discrimination. It was EUROPEAN COUNCIL agreed to define a national minority as a distinctive group, that forms the historic population or a significant historic and current minority in a well-defined area, and that maintains stable and friendly relations with the state in which it lives.
Ø Economic Criteria
The economic criteria, broadly speaking, require that the candidate countries have a functioning market economy and that their companies have the capability to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.
Task 2. You know that Belarus was one of the 51 countries which signed the UN Charter in 1945. Our republic has always actively participated in various activities EUROPEAN COUNCIL of the UNO. In September 1992 the UNO resident representative started the work in the independent republic.
a) Search for the information on the activity of the United Nations office in the Republic of Belarus. Make a project on the implementation of the UN development programs in the country and present it to the group.
b) Search for the information about the initiatives of the Republic of Belarus on the international arena and present the results of your research to the group mates.
c) Make an interview with the employees of the UN office in the Republic of Belarus EUROPEAN COUNCIL and present it or its summary to the group mates.
d) In groups of 2 or 3 carry out an investigation on the cooperation of the Republic of Belarus and member states of the European Union in the humanitarian, cultural, educational and scientific spheres. Present the results of your investigation to the group.
Task 3. You are taking part in the meeting of the General Assembly. You need to make a report at the current session concerning the present situation in your country. What issues would you include in your report in order to attract the attention of the international community to your country EUROPEAN COUNCIL?
Task 4. You are an elected Secretary-General of the UN. Make a report listing the values which are of particular relevance to the new century.
Task 5. Organize a discussion on the ecological situation in Belarus:
a) The most ecologically favorable / unfavorable places in the republic;
b) The most beautiful places in Belarus should be under the aegis of the UNESCO.
c) Building the atomic station in Belarus – pros & contras.
Task 6. There is a youth organization called BelaMUN which in a way is a replica of the UNO. Young people from different countries meet regularly on a regional EUROPEAN COUNCIL level to discuss the actual problems of contemporary society. They issue their own newspaper. As a representative of the Belarusian delegation, write a 200 word article to the newspaper on one of the following topics:
Ø International youth volunteer projects in the Republic of Belarus.
Ø Participation of Belarusian students in the exchange programmes.
Ø “Work and Travel” project for the Belarusian students.
Ø Ecological tourism as the possibility to attract foreign visitors to Belarus.
Ø Elimination of the consequences of Chernobyl catastrophe as the opportunity to develop international cooperation.