European Union acronyms, jargon and working practices

European Union acronyms, jargon and working practices

European Union (EU) acronyms and jargon is a terminology set that has developed as a form of shorthand, to quickly express a (formal) EU process, an (informal) institutional working practice, or an EU body, function or decision, and which is commonly understood among EU officials or external people who regularly deal with EU institutions.


The European Union institutions

European Parliament

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union, and is elected every five years by the people of Europe to represent their interests and to pass European laws. The present parliament, elected in June 2004, has 785 members the 27 EU countries. It shares this responsibility with the Council of the European Union, and the proposals for new laws come from the European Commission. Parliament and Council also share joint responsibility for approving the EU’s €100 billion annual budget. The Parliament has the power to dismiss the European Commission.

The main meetings of the Parliament are held in Strasbourg (France), others in Brussels (Belgium). The Parliament elects the European Ombudsman, who investigates citizens’ complaints about maladministration by the EU institutions.


The Conference of Community and European Affairs Committee was proposed by the French National Assembly and has met every 6 months since 1989. It consists of national parliaments bodies specialising in European Community affairs and 6 MEP's, and is headed by two Vice-Presidents responsible for relations with the national parliaments. It discusses the major topics of European Integration. COSAC is not a decision making body.


An advisory member of the Bureau of the European Parliament. The Parliament elects five Quaestors for a two and a half year term.


A quorum exists when at least one third of the Members of the Parliament are present in the chamber.

Standing Committee

The European Parliament has 23 standing committees:

  • AFET – Foreign Affairs
  • DEVE – Development
  • INTA – International Trade
  • BUDG – Budgets
  • CONT – Budgetary Control
  • ECON – Economic and Monetary Affairs
  • EMPL – Employment and Social Affairs
  • ENVI – Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
  • ITRE – Industry, Research and Energy
  • IMCO – Internal Market and Consumer Protection
  • TRAN – Transport and Tourism
  • REGI – Regional Development
  • AGRI – Agricultural and Rural Development
  • PECH – Fisheries
  • CULT – Culture and Education
  • JURI – Legal Affairs
  • LIBE – Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
  • AFCO – Constitutional Affairs
  • FEMM – Women's Rights and Gender Equiality
  • PETI – Petitions
  • DRIO – Human Rights
  • SEDE – Security and Defence
  • EQUI – Crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society

Since the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty, temporary Committees of Inquiry may also be set up by a vote of Parliament (e.g., on Climate Change, on transport, on BSE, Echelon, Human Genetics, Safety at Sea).


The Parliaments Scientific and Technological Options Assessment unit, whose work is carried out in partnership with external experts.

Tindemans report

A report written in 1975 by the former Belgian Prime Minister Leo Tindemans. Notably, the report contained proposals for direct elections to the European Parliament, the Monetary Union and the Common Foreign and Security policy.

Council of the European Union

The Council of Ministers comprises the representatives of each of the 27 member states at Ministerial level, chaired by the President. The work of the Council is prepared by the two Corepers – the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper II), and the Committee of Deputy Permanent Representatives (Coreper I). Their work is in turn prepared by various working groups, working parties and committees.

A Points

Also known as 'A Items', these are items of business and decisions which the Council of Ministers adopts without discussion because they have already been prepared by working groups, Coreper, and in some cases another Council. They may cover issues unrelated to the Council itself e.g. Health and Safety 'A' points can be passed by the Fisheries Council. This is because the Council is indivisible.

Accession Treaty

The Treaty of Accession 2003 was the agreement between the European Union and the ten countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia), concerning their accession into the EU. It was signed on 16 April 2003 and they became full member states on 1 May 2004 following the ratification procedures.

The Treaty of Accession 2005 was the agreement between the European Union and Bulgaria and Rumania concerning their accession into the EU. It was signed on 25 April 2005 and they became full member states on 1 January 2007 following the ratification procedures.


The Antici Group (named after its Italian founder) is made up of assistants to the Permanent Representatives and a Commission representative, a member of the Secretary-General's Private Office and a member of the Council Legal Service. The Group is responsible for deciding on the organization of Coreper II proceedings. The meeting, which usually takes place on the afternoon before Coreper, is chaired by the Presidency 'Antici'.

Members of Antici also take notes of the discussions by Heads of Government at European Councils.

Article 133 Committee

The "Article 133" committee was set up in the area of the Common Commercial Policy. After authorisation by the Council, the Commission is authorised to negotiate conclusions on trade policy with states or international organisations. During such negotiations, the Commission consults the "Article 133" committee.

Article 36 Committee

This committee was set up by Article 36 of the EU Treaty, and coordinates police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Additionally, it submits opinions to the Council and contributes to the preparation of Council work.

B Points

These are the agenda items which the Council will discuss. 'Starred B points' are ones where a vote may be taken. 'False B points' are agenda items which would otherwise be 'A points' except that one or more delegations wishes to make a statement in the meeting.


The Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development, and Stabilisation (CARDS) program is the EU's main instrument of financial assistance to the Western Balkans, and was created in 2000 by Council Regulation 2666/2000.

Copenhagen criteria

The Copenhagen criteria are the rules that define whether a country 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 accept the obligations and intent of the EU.

Dublin Convention

An inter-governmental agreement between Eu member states on asylum, obliging the country in which an asylum seeker arrives to handle the application of asylum on behalf of all other member states. The objective was to prevent asylum seekers from launching multiple asylum requests. The agreement was reached in 1990 but became binding only in 1997.


The Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) was introduced with the Maastricht Treaty as part of the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), and is a committee of senior representatives of member states' finance ministries and central banks, plus representatives of the ECB and the Commission. The EFC prepares the work of the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council, in particular regarding excessive deficit procedures and issues related to the euro. The EFC meets in different compositions according to subjects, and select issues are prepared for the EFC by the alternate members.


The Economic Policy Committee (EPC) was set up in 1974 and is made up of representatives of the Member States, the ECB and the Commission. The EPC contributes to the work of the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council as regards the coordination of Member State and Community economic policies. The EPC also provides the Commission and the Council with advice in this area, focusing particularly on structural reforms. The EPC features a number of sub-working groups on issues such as the economic consequences of ageing etc.


The Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council is composed of the Economics and Finance Ministers of the 27 European Union member states, as well as Budget Ministers when budgetary issues are discussed.

European Conference

The European Conference was the name of the meeting that brought together 10 countries aspiring to join the EU. It met for the first time in London on 12 March 1998, then in Luxembourg on 6 October 1998 and then finally in Brussels on 19 July 1999.

Fouchet Plan

The Fouchet Plan was drawn up by Christian Fouchet as Charles De Gaulle's unofficial spokesman for European affairs. The Fouchet Plan aimed at restructuring the European Community into a voluntary union of member states with a new headquarters in Paris, and by subjecting EU law to national law. The rejection of the Fouchet Plan by the other 5 member states had far-reaching consequences, such as the vetoing of the UK's entry into the EU, the "empty chair" crisis, and the "Luxembourg Compromise".

Helsinki six

The Helsinki European Council in December 1999 authorised accession negotiations with six candidate countries: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia. These countries are therefore known as the "Helsinki six".

Ioannina Compromise

An informal meeting of foreign ministers held in Ioannina, Greece, on 29 March 1994, which discussed Council decision making and the national veto. The Treaty of Nice has since put an end to what was agreed in the Ioannina compromise.


The Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) was created by the Berlin European Council of March 1999 for increasing pre-accession aid in the field of transport and environment to European Union accession candidate countries.

Luxembourg compromise

The Luxembourg compromise was a compromise (not recognised by the European Commission or the European Court of Justice) that extended the lifespan of the national veto beyond what was foreseen in the Treaty of Rome. It originated from the "empty chair crisis" instigated by President De Gaulle, and its effect was that Qualified Majority Voting was used far less often and Unanimity became the norm.

Luxembourg six

The Luxembourg European Council in December 1997 authorised accession negotiations with six candidate countries: Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. These countries are therefore known as the "Luxembourg six".

Merger Treaty

The Merger Treaty, signed in Brussels on 8 April 1965 and in force from 1 July 1967, provided for a single Commission and a single Council of the then three European Communities (European Coal and Steel Community, European Economic Community and Euratom).

Mertens Group

The Mertens Group fulfils the same role as Antici for Coreper I (Deputies). It was established in 1993.


The Poland and Hungary: Assistance for Restructuring their Economies (PHARE) programme was created in 1989 to assist Poland and Hungary in their preparations for joining the European Union.

Population Filter

For a decision taken by a qualified majority, any country can ask the Council to check that the countries in favour represent at least 62% of the total EU population.


The Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD) was established by the Berlin European Council in March 1999 to aid the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the areas of agricultural and rural development. It supplemented the PHARE program.

Schengen Agreement

The Schengen Agreement, dealing with cross-border legal arrangements and the abolition of systematic border controls among the participating countries, was created independently of the European Union. However, the Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the developments brought about by the agreement into the European Union framework, effectively making the agreement part of the EU.

European Commission

The European Commission is independent of national governments and its job is to represent and uphold the interests of the European Union as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws, which it presents to the European Parliament and the Council.

It is also the EU’s executive arm, responsible for implementing the decisions of Parliament and the Council, implementing its policies, running its programmes and spending its funds. Like the Parliament and Council, the European Commission was set up in the 1950s under the EU’s founding treaties.


African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), beneficiaries of the European Development Fund (EDF).

Agenda 2000

A framework presented by the European Commission (July 1997) for the development of the European Union and its policies (especially concerning enlargement and the financial framework) after the year 2000.

Acquis Communautaire

The body of Community law, as well as all acts adopted under the second and third pillars of the European Union and the common objectives laid down in the Treaties.


The Central Financing and Contracting Unit (CFCU) is a body setup in all enlargement candidate countries for the administration of budgets, tendering, contracts, payments, accounting and financial reporting of all procurement contracts for EU funded programmes. It is a body of the government of the candidate country, and not of the European Commission. However, the EC representation in the candidate country receives regular reports on its activities.

Checchini Report

In 1988, a study called "The Costs of Non-Europe" was commissioned to evaluate the gains achieved from creating the European Single Market, and since known as the "Checchini Report". Although its growth projections were too optimistic, it nevertheless predicted that the single market would be a great success.


The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was founded by the Treaty of Paris (1951). Its members were France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who pooled their steel and coal resources and create a common market for those products. It was the predecessor of the European Communities.

Élysée Treaty

The Élysée Treaty also known as the Treaty of Friendship, was concluded by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer in 1963, and established a process of reconciliation for ending the rivalry between France and Germany.


The European Development Fund is the main instrument for European Community aid for development cooperation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, as well as the Oversees Countries and Territories (OCT).

Europe Agreement

Europe Agreement is the common name of the Accession Agreement that implies prospects for EU membership.

de Larosière report

The de Larosière report, issued by a panel led by the former French central banker Jacques de Larosière, calls for an overhaul of Europes financial-regulation system. It proposes the creation of a regional supervisor, the European Systemic Risk Council, which would be led by the president of the European Central Bank and include central bankers from across Europe and some national regulators. The report was ordered by the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and was issued in February 2009.

Messina Conference

The Messina Conference was held in Messina, Italy, in 1955 and discussed the subject of a customs union. The conference entrusted Paul-Henri Spaak with the creation of a report that eventually led to the creation of 1957 Treaty of Rome.


Oversees Countries and Territories (OCT), beneficiaries of the European Development Fund (EDF).

Rome Treaty

The Treaty of Rome established the European Communities (EC), comprising the European Economic Community (EEC), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and was signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 by the six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It entered into force on 1 January 1958.

Safeguard Clause

A rapid reaction measure which can be invoked by a Member State whenever a new member state would fail to live up to its obligations in the areas of the internal market or justice and home affairs.

Single European Act (SEA)

The Single European Act (SEA) was the first major revision of the Treaty of Rome, and aimed at creating the Single European Market by 31 December 1992.

Stuttgart Declaration

The Stuttgart Declaration was the solemn declaration calling for the creation of the European Union and signed by the then 10 heads of state and governments on 19 June 1983.

Court of Justice of the European Union

The Court of Justice ensures that EU law is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries, and that the law is equal for everyone. For example, it provides a check on that national courts do not give different rulings on the same issue. The Court also ensures that EU member states and institutions do what the law requires them to do. The Court is located in Luxembourg and has one judge from each member country.

Bosmans case

In the Bosmans case (Case C-415/93, 15 December 1995), the Court ruled against the application of transfer rules between football clubs (in Eu member states) after the contract for the player has expired. The Court also ruled against quotas for non-nationals within football teams in EU member states.

Casagrande case

In the Casagrande case (Case 9/74, 3 July 1974), the Court ruled that discrimination against persons in the educational system was illegal. Prior to this ruling, education was not considered covered by the European Treaties.

Homestate regulation

Homestate regulation is a term used in EU law for cross-border selling or marketing of goods and services. The ruling states that even if a company sells goods or services into the market of another European country, the company is bound only by the laws of the country where it is based, and will thus not have to be aware of the national laws in all the EU member states.

Kupferberg case

In the Kupferberg case (Case 104/81, 26 October 1982), the Court ruled that free trade agreements are directly applicable in all EU member states, and therefore automatically have primacy over national law.

Marleasing case

In the Marleasing case (Case C-106/89, 13 November 1990, and C-91/92, 14 July 1994) the Court ruled that EU member states must interpret national legislation according to EU directives, even if the directives have not yet been incorporated into the legal code of the country.

Preliminary ruling

This is the procedure by which a national court, when in doubt about the interpretation or validity of an EU law, should (or must) ask the Court of Justice for advice.

European Court of Auditors


European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. The Ombudsman is completely independent and impartial. The current Ombudsman is Mr P. Nikiforos Diamandouros was elected by the European Parliament and has held office since 1 April 2003. The Parliament elected the first European Ombudsman in 1995.

European Data Protection Supervisor


Financial bodies

European Central Bank

See European Central Bank


The European Monetary System (EMS) was an arrangement established in 1979 under the Jenkins European Commission where most nations in the European Economic Community (EEC) linked their currencies to prevent large fluctuations relative to one another.

Werner Plan

At the European Summit in The Hague in 1969, the Heads of State and Government of the EC agreed to prepare a plan for the creation of an economic and monetary union. In October 1970 the Werner Report was presented, drawn up by a working group chaired by Luxembourg's President and Minister for the Treasury, Pierre Werner. However, for several reasons, the monetary union failed at this stage, mainly due to 1973 oil crisis.

European Investment Bank (and European Investment Fund)


Advisory bodies

European Economic and Social Committee


Committee of the Regions


Interinstitutional bodies

Office for Official Publications of the European Communities

The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (Publications Office) is the publishing house of the European Union (EU).


The Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union is published daily in more than 21 languages. The Publications Office also publishes a range of other titles, both on paper and electronically, on the activities and policies of the European Union.

European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is a recruitment office for the European Civil Service. It was created on 26 July 2002, beginning work in 2003, to organise open competitions for highly-skilled positions within EU institutions such as the European Commission, Parliament, Council.

European Administrative School

The European Administrative School (EAS) came into existence on 10 February 2005. Its aim is to promote cooperation between European Union institutions in the area of training, to support the spread of common values and harmonised professional practices, and to create synergies in the use of human and financial resources.

Decentralised bodies of the European Union (agencies)

Community agencies

A Community agency is a body governed by European public law; it is distinct from the Community Institutions (Council, Parliament, Commission, etc.) and has its own legal personality. It is set up by an act of secondary legislation in order to accomplish a very specific technical, scientific or managerial task, in the framework of the European Union’s “first pillar”.

At present, the European Community agencies are:

  • Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – previously EUMC

Common Foreign and Security Policy

Common Position

The legal instruments used by the Council for the CFSP are different from the legislative acts. Under the CFSP they consist of "common positions", "joint actions" and "common strategies".

Common Strategies

The legal instruments used by the Council for the CFSP are different from the legislative acts. Under the CFSP they consist of "common positions", "joint actions" and "common strategies".


The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formerly the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar of the European Union (EU). The CSDP is the successor of the ESDI under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.


The European Defence Community (EDC) was a plan proposed in 1950 by René Pleven, the French Prime Minister, in response to the American call for the rearmament of West Germany. The intention was to form a pan-European defence force as an alternative to Germany's proposed accession to NATO, meant to harness its military potential in case of conflict with the Soviet bloc. The EDC was to include West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries. A treaty was signed on 27 May 1952, but the plan never went into effect.




The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) was created by a Council Joint Action on 20 July 2001. It has the status of an autonomous agency that comes under the EU’s second "pillar" – the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Having an autonomous status and intellectual freedom, the EUISS does not represent or defend any particular national interest. Its aim is to help create a common European security culture, to enrich the strategic debate, and systematically to promote the interests of the Union.


The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is a department of military officials under the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EUMC gives military advice to the PSC and the high representative. It also oversees the European Union Military Staff. (Not to be confused with the former racism monitoring centre, also EUMC, now subsumed into the Fundamental Rights Agency.)


The European Union Military Staff (EUMS) is a department of the European Union, responsible for supervising operations within the realm of the Common Security and Defence Policy. It is directly attached to the private office of the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, currently Javier Solana, and is formally part of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.


The European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC) was founded in 1992 and incorporated as an agency into the European Union on 1 January 2002.

The Centre supports the decision–making of the European Union in the field of the CFSP, in particular of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) by providing analysis of satellite imagery and collateral data, aerial imagery, and other related services.

The European Union Satellite Centre is located in Torrejón de Ardoz, near Madrid, Spain.


The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) is composed of one representative at ministerial level from each Member State, and the Council members are politically accountable to their national parliaments.

Which Ministers attend each Council meeting varies according to the subject discussed, for example, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs attend in the configuration known as the General Affairs & External Relations Council to deal with external relations and general policy questions, while the Ministers responsible for economic and financial affairs meet as the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, and so on.

Joint Action

The legal instruments used by the Council for the CFSP are different from the legislative acts. Under the CFSP they consist of "common positions", "joint actions" and "common strategies".

Pleven Plan

The Pleven Plan was a plan proposed in 1950 by the French premier at the time, René Pleven, to create a supranational European Army as part of a European Defence Community.


A Political and Security Committee (PSC) monitors the international situation in the areas covered by the Common Foreign and Security Policy and contributes by delivering opinions to the Council of Ministers, either at its request or its own initiative, and also monitors the implementation of agreed policies. It is supported by the Political-Military Group (PMG)

Police and Judicial Cooperation in criminal matters



See Europol


Executive agencies

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Twinning is the secondment of experts from the European Union institutions to a member state. This is especially used in enlargement matters, in order to help the candidate member state to acquire the structures, human resources and management skills needed to implement the 'acquis communautaire'.

Yaoundé Convention

The Yaoundé Convention, and Association Agreement valid for 5 years, was signed in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1963, between the European Community and 17 African States and Madagascar.

Organisations that are NOT part of the European Union institutions, bodies or agencies

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) is not related to the European Union (EU). For the two EU institutions that go by similar names, see the Council of the European Union (known as "the Council") and the European Council. The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is the oldest international organisation working towards European integration, being founded in 1949. It has a particular emphasis on legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation.


The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a European trade bloc which was established on 3 May 1960 as an alternative for European states who were either unable to, or chose not to, join the then-European Economic Community (now the European Union). Today only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein remain members of EFTA (of which only Norway and Switzerland are founding members). Three of the EFTA countries are part of the European Union Internal Market through the Agreement on a European Economic Area (EEA), which took effect in 1994; the fourth, Switzerland, opted to conclude bilateral agreements with the EU.


The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections. The OSCE is an ad hoc organization under the United Nations Charter (Chap. VIII). The EU is not strictly speaking a member of the OCSE, although the Commission president Jacques Delors signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), which is the origin of the OCSE.

The Nordic Council

An advisory body to the Nordic parliaments and governments, established in 1953, dealing with economic, legislative, social, cultural, environmental and communication policies.

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