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Social Affairs
Which, in your opinions, is the most important proposal, the EU Commission presented, on Social Affairs?
  • 10 days paternity leave
  • 4 months of parental leave per parent
  • 5 days Carer's leave
  • Flexible working arrangements
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  • The EU's response to the
    One of our student interns produced this well-written article about the ongoi...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The importance of labour
    This article, written by a student at the University of Malta, passionately c...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Strengthened EU-Swiss Re
    The EU enjoys very close relations with Switzerland in every sense: culturall...
    29 December 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • A boost for the European
    The European Commission is stepping up its efforts to develop a strong space ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU increasing support fo
    The EU has announced that it shall implement new aid programmes in the Latin ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes EU c
    Delivering on the Security Union: Commission proposes EU certification system...
    07 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • VAT Gap: Nearly €160 bil
    A staggering €159.5 billion in Value Added Tax revenues were lost across the ...
    06 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Variable attitudes towar
    Performance-related pay and employee reward systems in Europe are often uneve...
    01 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes 2018
    The Commission is also seeking to highlight the role of Europe's cultural her...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU's 2017 budget: Parlia
    The EU's budget for next year will be decided over the coming months. Startin...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes fish
    The European Commission today tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities in...
    29 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Towards better social st
    The Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on new, integrated ways to...
    24 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
EU Enlargement and getting on with neighbours  

Uniting a Continent


The European Union is open to any European country that fulfils the democratic, political and economic criteria for membership. Enlargements have increased the EU’s membership from six to 27 countries. Croatia is set to become the 28th member state of the European Union. Enlargement of the EU has helped strengthen and stabilise democracy and security in Europe and increase the continent’s potential for trade and economic growth.


Admitting a new member requires the unanimous approval of all member states and the EU must assess its capacity to absorb the new entrant/s. Turkey applied to join the EU in 1987. Given Turkey’s geographical location and political history, the EU hesitated for a long time before accepting its application. Some EU countries have expressed doubts as to whether Turkey will or should be allowed to join and propose instead a ‘privileged partnership’ but Turkey rejects this idea.


How large can the EU become?


The western Balkan countries are also turning to the EU to speed up their economic reconstruction and consolidate their democratic institutions. Potential candidates are the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, Iceland and Kosovo. Despite fulfilling the EU accession conditions, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not members of the EU because public opinion in those countries is currently against joining.


By the end of this decade, EU membership could grow from 27 to 35 countries. This however might also require changes in the way the EU works. During the negotiation period candidate countries normally receive EU ‘accession partnership’ aid to help them catch up economically.


Public opinion among EU countries is more or less divided over the question of the EU’s final frontiers. If geographical criteria alone were applied, taking no account of democratic values, the EU could end up with 47 member states including Russia. Russia’s membership however would clearly create unacceptable imbalances in the EU, both politically and geographically.


Membership conditions

  1. Lisbon Treaty: Any European state may apply to become a member of the European Union provided it respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

  2. Copenhagen criteria: Lays down 3 criteria they should fulfil so as to become members:

  • Stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
  • A functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.
  • The ability to take on the obligations of membership, including support for the aims of the Union.


Geographical frontiers and Neighbourhood policy


Stability and security are an issue in the neighbouring regions that border with the EU members regions Action for example was needed to tackle emerging threats to security such as illegal immigration, the disruption of energy supplies, cross-border crime and terrorism. So the EU developed a new European Neighbourhood policy (ENP), governing relations with its neighbours to the east and to the south.


Almost all these countries have bilateral ‘partnership and cooperation’ agreements or association agreements with the EU, under which they are committed to common values. On its part the EU offers financial, technical and economic assistance, easier access to visas, etc…


  • The EU's response to the...
    One of our student interns produced this well-written article about the ongoi...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • The importance of labour...
    This article, written by a student at the University of Malta, passionately c...
    20 February 2017
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Strengthened EU-Swiss Re...
    The EU enjoys very close relations with Switzerland in every sense: culturall...
    29 December 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • A boost for the European...
    The European Commission is stepping up its efforts to develop a strong space ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU increasing support fo...
    The EU has announced that it shall implement new aid programmes in the Latin ...
    26 October 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes EU c...
    Delivering on the Security Union: Commission proposes EU certification system...
    07 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • VAT Gap: Nearly €160 bil...
    A staggering €159.5 billion in Value Added Tax revenues were lost across the ...
    06 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Variable attitudes towar...
    Performance-related pay and employee reward systems in Europe are often uneve...
    01 September 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes 2018...
    The Commission is also seeking to highlight the role of Europe's cultural her...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • EU's 2017 budget: Parlia...
    The EU's budget for next year will be decided over the coming months. Startin...
    30 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Commission proposes fish...
    The European Commission today tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities in...
    29 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
  • Towards better social st...
    The Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on new, integrated ways to...
    24 August 2016
    read more...
    Europe Direct Valletta
Valletta
The EUROPE DIRECT network is one of the Commission’s main tools to offer information to citizens at local level and to gather citizens` feedback for the European Institutions. EDICs are a direct entry point to the Union for the citizens, offering general EU information, referring to specialised information sources, raising awareness and promoting debate.
read more...
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