Effects of the decisions
The purpose of EU legislation is to improve the standard and quality of life and security of the citizens. At the same time, it seeks to harmonise the practices between member states. The European Union gives various decisions: regulations, directives, decisions and recommendations.
Here are some areas that are affected by the EU’s decisions and regulations:
The goal of the regional policy is to diminish structural differences between the various regions in the European Union. Regional policy concerns archipelagos, mountain areas, areas suffering from difficult climate conditions, etc. As part of the regional policy, many weaker areas receive aid and supportfrom different funds. The most important funds are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESR). Investment subsidies are also granted by the EU Solidarity Fund, the European Investment Bank and various programmes.
For example, the following developments are a result of regional policies:
- measures to support growth and employment
- mitigation of the disadvantages caused by long distances in outlying areas. (Aid to develop traffic conditions, data communications, etc. )
- Europe-wide transport networks (TEN-T)
- Europe-wide energy networks (TEN-E). (Self-sufficiency in energy production also supported. )
- combining road freight transport with short sea shipping, inland water transportation and rail services. (Marco Polo II Programme)
- consideration of environmental protection and climate change in regional development efforts.
- farm subsidies.
- Click herefor more information on regional policy.
Audio-visual and media
Radio broadcasting, television and cinema offer work for over one million people in the EU. Audiovisual media is the main source of information and entertainment for Europeans. Media services are regulated by directives.
The EU’s decisions in audiovisual matters
- support cultural diversity in Europe
- protect minors
- promote the diversity of media
- increase the production of European films and TV shows
- improve the availability and use of digital television and interactive media.
- Click here for more information on audiovisual and media policy.
The food safety policy of the European Union seeks to protect consumer health and interests. At the same time its goal is to guarantee the smooth operation of the internal market . Animal and plant health and welfare is monitored. Another goal is to ensure the safety and hygiene of foodstuffs in production and distribution. The EU sets standards and makes sure that they are followed.
Among other things, the decisions made by the EU affect:
- care and health of livestock(There are strict rules about veterinary check-ups and the animals’ living conditions. )Animal feed must be clean and safe. Transportation and slaughtering must be done properly. )
- health and cleanliness of cultivated plants (limitations on the use of fertilisers and pesticides)
- environmental protection in agriculture
- labelling of foodstuffs and food products
- food packaging and food container materials.
- Click here for more information on food safety.
Electricity and heat is needed every day. All countries need energy. However, there are a lot of problems related to energy production:climate change, dependence on energy imports, depletion of energy resources and high consumer price. The energy policy decisions made by the European Union seek to reduce energy consumption. The EU wants to develop safe and self-sufficient energy production. The decisions affect all forms of energy:fossil fuels such asoil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources such assolar power, wind power, biomass energy, geothermal heat, hydroelectric power, and tidal power. In particular, the energy saving objectives affect companies and the construction industry.
- Click here for more information on energy policy.
The European Union is the world’s leading provider of humanitarian aid. Aid is given in the form of financing, goods, services and technical assistance. Preparations are made for catastrophes and crises. The decisions determine the form and amount of aid given.
- Click here for more information on humanitarian aid.
Respect for human rights, human dignity and equality are fundamental values to all EU member states. They guide the Union’s actions inside and outside its borders. The EU seeks to respect these fundamental values in all decision making. By the decision of the European Union, these fundamental values have been transformed into the fundamental rights of EU citizens.
- Click here for more information on human rights.
The European Union is a common political project of many countries. At the same time, it is a legal organisation. It includes many institutions whose activities must be regulated and supervised. The EU’s joint decisions determine how the Union works. Together the member states decide what matters may be handled by the Union (meaning where it has competence). At the same time, decisions are made on the matters that the member states manage by themselves. The most important issues have been determined in the Treaties.
- Click here for more information on institutional affairs.
Everybody wants to be in good health. The European Union seeks to improve and develop health protection. National health policies are an exclusive competence belonging to the member states, and so the EU cannot determine them. The EU does not organise health care services in the member states, either. Together with the member states the EU seeks to develop the tools of public health and complement national policies. It also works together with countries and organisations outside the EU.
For example, the public health decisions made by the European Union:
- improve the general state of health of the population
- prevent diseases and widespread epidemics
- prevent threats to the health of Europeans
- promote health care and medical research
- increase cooperation between member states in the field of health.
- Click here for more information on public health policies.
Some decisions made
Many of the decisions made by the European Parliament affect our daily lives. Often we find this self-evident. Here are some examples of decisions made during the past few years.
Cheaper roaming charges
Earlier operators could charge higher rates from customer if they used their phones to access the Internet abroad. From July 2012, a maximum price will apply to data roaming, phone calls and text messages. The regulation is intended to prevent surprise bills. (Click here to read more in Finnish)
European Parliament proposes financial transaction tax
The European Parliament supports the adoption of the financial transaction tax. The amount of tax would be 0.1% on equities and bonds. The tax would be paid by all financial institutions that trade in securities issued in the tax area. The tax would also apply to Chinese financial institutions if they trade in the shares of the German company Siemens. The purpose of the resolution is to make evading the financial transaction tax more expensive than paying it. If the tax is not paid, legal ownership of the security is not transferred in reality. The member states will make their final decision after hearing the European Parliament. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)
Commission halves the target for the use of biofuels
The European Union’s goal used to be to increase the share of biofuels in transports to 10% by 2020. Now this goal has been adjusted andcut to five per cent (5%). Biofuel production has increased the price of wheat, soya, corn and rape. Rain forests have been cut to cultivate biofuels. The fields used for producing biofuels could have been used for growing large amounts of food in developing countries. The European Union hopes that household waste and algae would be used as a raw material for biofuels instead of food crops. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)
EU grants financing to find work for the unemployed
The EU’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) approved help to the unemployed in Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Germany and Denmark to improve their chances of finding work. These countries have lost of a lot of jobs in the car manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction and pharmaceutical sectors. The aid helps 8,000 people to find work. Unemployed workers are helped individually with looking for a job, re-training and setting up a business on a self-employed basis. The states apply for the financial aid directly from the EU. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)
Closer regulation of credit rating agencies
Credit rating agencies evaluate government finances. Financiers lend money to governments based on the rating given by the rating agency. It turned out during Europe’ financial crisis that the rating agencies had been evaluating the risks of certain countries randomly. This plunged the Greek economy into chaos when financiers increased interest rates unreasonably. The EU’s new decision limits the influence of credit rating agencies. Now they are required to act responsibly. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)
EU telecoms package takes effect across the Union
As a result of a new regulation, telephone subscribers may now change the operator and keep their old phone number. The idea is to make it easier to change the subscription and operator. In Finland, this has been possible for years. With the new regulation, this will apply in all EU member states. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)
New patent court to be established in Europe
The European Union has been trying to harmonise the patent system for a long time. Today a patent covering the whole European Union must be separately approved in each member state. This is very expensive. The EU would like to see that the patents were effective in all EU member states. The new unified patent system will offer a less expensive way of protecting inventions. The unified patent court will be able to decide on and review Europe patents alone. Every country would follow the same practice. As a result, several different claims could no longer be made in respect of a single patent. Most likely the new system will take effect in 2015. (Click here to read more about it in Finnish)