The Committee of the Regions (CoR) consistently works towards making government more accessible to the citizens. This consulting body of the European Union was formed in Maastricht in 1993 to strengthen a “Europe of the Regions”. The CoR provides statements on municipal and regional topics that are heard in town councils, commissions and the Parliament. The Committee’s headquarters are in Brussels.
German-French friendship is one of the great achievements in post-war times. People who think that enemies can never become friends will discover the opposite on both sides of the Rhine. For a long time now the tandem Paris-Berlin has been regarded as much more than the political driving force of Europe. A dense network of personal friendships, exchange programmes and joint initiatives connects the countries more closely than ever with each other.
The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) offers specialist expertise in the field of foreign relations. For more than 50 years the German foreign policy network has been publishing in-depth analyses and organizing top-flight discussion events on numerous topics surrounding international politics and the world regions.
To be the first to embrace the concept of the “nation”: this was the aim of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his colleagues when they founded the German National Foundation in 1993. Since then the foundation, which is based in Weimar, has been addressing issues surrounding Germany’s present and future. In addition to this, it promotes projects on the inner unity of Germany and Europe. Its patronage is assumed by each serving German President.
The once daring idea of a united Europe is reality today. Working together, the member states of the European Union (EU) secure peace, freedom and democracy. Its open internal market also makes the EU the largest trading power in the world.
One worker is injured about every five seconds in the European Union (EU). The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work makes people more aware of the dangers they face in the workplace. It links approximately 30 websites in the EU online.
The pacemaker of the EU: The European Commission suggests laws and measures to the Parliament and the Council of the European Union, checks their application and negotiates international agreements. Using the guide (“Wegweiser”) is the easiest way to find the work program, materials, services and contact persons.
The guardian of the euro: the main task of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt am Main is to maintain the stability of this currency. The ECB, which was first formed in 1998, is responsible for monetary policies in the euro currency area. It issues bank notes, keeps an eye on inflation and determines the prime rate. So that the ECB can makes its decisions without any interference from political bodies, the Treaty of Maastricht guarantees its independence.
In German, this government official is also known as an “Ombudsmann”, in Spanish “el defensor del pueblo europeo” – “defender of the European people”, and that is a good description of the function of the European ombudsman: derived from an old Viking word, ombudsman is used only in the context of government administration nowadays, denoting someone who receives and investigates complaints, reports findings and helps to achieve equitable settlements.
The Union law applies in all the EU member states and takes precedence over national law. It is the job of the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg and the court of original jurisdiction to provide for a uniform interpretation of the laws.
This office is the “financial conscience” of the Union: from its seat in Luxemburg, the European Audit Office (EuRH) makes sure that the revenues and expenditures of the EU institutions are legally and financially correct. The independent audit office works in close cooperation with the national audit offices, with the German Audit Office, for example.
The Economic and Social Committee of the European Union (EESC) works together with different lobby groups to come to a collective point of view. The members of the committee are representatives of European employers, employees and other interest groups, e.g. consumers or environmentalists.
The citizens of the European Union have been electing their spokespeople every five years since 1979. The European Parliament (EP) is the only organ of the European Union (EU) that is directly legitimated by elections. Together with the Council of Ministers, this body passes legislation and the budget, and it also checks all the EU executive organs. Administration headquarters are located in Brussels and Luxemburg, the meetings are held in Brussels and Strasbourg.
The European Parliament maintains contact points and information centers in all of the member states of the EU. The information office for Germany is located in Berlin and there is also a regional office in Munich. The information offices are in charge of a variety of different tasks in connection with current European politics. Among other things, they answer individual citizen’s questions, organize press conferences and publish brochures.
Music makes it possible to transcend borders: EUROPAMUSICALE, the non-profit European Cultural Foundation, promotes the exchange between different nations by staging concerts and festivals, from Belarus to Cyprus. Representatives from more than 30 countries work together on the board of trustees of the Munich-based foundation to plan EUROPAMUSICALE, the European Music Festival.
Ten states joined together to found the Council of Europe in1949, in 1950 the Council passed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Council of Europe promotes cooperation between the neighboring states and works towards democratic development and the rule of law on the Continent. Today, the institution, with its head offices in Strasbourg, has 47 member states – it is completely separate from the European Union.
Events focusing on European politics take place in Brussels, Strasburg and Luxemburg – as well as in Essen, Eberswalde or Eisenach. The European Events Program for Germany is a collection of all the important dates and events in the fields of politics, business, science and culture. The project is sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose shareholders are the member states, grants loans for projects in the EU as well as in third countries. Goals include the promotion of European integration, balanced growth throughout the EU and economic as well as social uniformity.
Central Command for combating crime in Europe: As the law enforcement agency of the European Union, Europol, the European Police Office, supports the national police forces and international organizations. With its headquarters located in The Hague, Netherlands, Europol first began its operations in 1994, as the Europol Drug Unit (EDU) – in 2002, its responsibilities were increased to cover all forms of serious international organized crime.
At what age do children in Estonia start school? How is the Belgian school system organized? Eurydice – an institutional network on the education system in Europe – provides all kinds of information on learning from kindergarten to university. The network was set up on the initiative of the European Commission in 1980 to promote greater cooperation among European neighbors in this sector.
Charlemagne lived in the 8th century and is regarded as the first unifier of Europe. Following World War II and the unprecedented devastation of Europe, an idea was born in the Frankish Emperor’s favourite residence: a citizens’ prize for distinguished service on behalf of Europe and European unification.
What’s new in European politics? Politikportal.EU delivers daily news reports and commentaries on everything that’s going on in the European Union (EU). This website bundles reports from German and international newspapers, press releases from official EU bodies, analyses conducted by EU initiatives and political blogs.
The Council of the European Union, also known as the European Council of Ministers, is the legislative organ of the Union. Each member state dispatches one representative on the ministerial level, who is authorized to act officially in the name of his/her government.
The Representation of the European Commission in Germany mediates between the European Commission in Brussels and the German public. From its locations in Berlin, Munich and Bonn, it communicates internally with Brussels and externally with citizens, the media, and the worlds of politics, business and science.