What are the differences between organizations like the EU, EC, EMU, NATO, and the UN?
EU (European Union) – The EU is an organization composed of 15 (soon to be 25) Western European Countries working together to promote political, economic, and social cooperation of its member nations. The current EU members include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. EU headquarters in Europe are currently located in Brussels, Belgium but rumor has it they may possibly be transferred to Berlin in the near future. The addition of possible future members like Eastern states (ie Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, etc.) and even Turkey have been hotly debated issues. Ideally, the EU has agreed to sign up 10 new members by the end of 2002, but due to the massive financial implications of absorbing additional members the process a source of massive debate. Certain factors involved like the necessary agricultural and farm aid for the poorer recipients like Poland could easily strain or worse yet, even overwhelm the EU’s current budget. Also with the the rise of complicated anti-immigration issues and the resultant fallout stirred up by xenophobic leaders like France’s Jean Marie Le Pen, Austria’s Jorg Haider, Italy’s Umberto Bossi, the Netheraland’s late Pim Fortuyn, and the Danish People’s Party the matter of EU expansion has been further antagonized. The bottom line is simple: who knows if the ship has sailed or not for other future countries desiring entry? At present the EU headquarters are located in Brussels. To access their official site visit www.europa.eu.int
The principle EU committees are
- The European Commission –Purpose: to uphold the larger interests of the Union as a whole. It is composed of 20 members each elected for 5 year terms. Two members each are selected from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK and one from all other member states. To access their website visit: www.europa.eu.int/comm.
Their mailing address is:
Rue de la Loi 200
Telephone: (322) 299 1111
- The European Parliament -Purpose: to uphold the essential democratic principle of the people with its representatives elected by those peoples. It is composed of 626 members currently each elected for 5 years. Of the 626 current members: 99 are from Germany; 87 are from France, Italy, and the UK; 64 are from Spain; 31 from the Netherlands; 25 are from Portugal, Belgium, and Greece; 22 are from Sweden; 21 from Austria; 16 from Denmark and Finland; 15 from Ireland; and 6 from Luxembourg. Meetings are held in both Brussels and Strasbourg. www.europarl.eu.int
Correspondence mail should be addressed to:
General Secretariat of the European Parliament
Telephone: (352) 43001
- The European Council –Purpose: to uphold the interests of each national government represented within the Council. Members are composed of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States plus the President of the EC, supported by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and a Member of the EC. Meetings take place twice a year in Brussels or in the country who is the current President. To access their website visit: www.ue.eu.int/en/summ.htmTheir mailing address is:
Rue de la Loi 175
Telephone: (322) 285 6111 or Fax: (322) 285 7397 or 7381
EC (European Community) – The EC was the earliest precursor of the EU which originally took its roots from the Council of Europe’s formation back in 1949. The Council subsequently created the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958, and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1958.
These three institutions were ultimately merged in 1967 to form what is now known as the EC (European Community). It was initially composed of 6 member nations of France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
EMU/European Monetary Unit (more popularly known as the Euro) – The Euro is a single, unified monetary currency created for the 12 participating nations of the EU, namely Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Other countries also using the Euro are Monaco, the Vatican, San Marino, and Andorra. The Euro has a sub-unit consisting of 100 centimes which equal 1 Euro. There are 7 paper notes with both sides exactly the same in all 12 countries. These bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50,100, 200, and 500 Euros respectively, increasing in size as the value gets larger. As for the coins, there are 8 pieces consisting of alternatively silver and gold colored 1 and 2 Euro coins, gold colored coins of 50, 20, and 10 centimes, and copper colored coins of 5, 2, and 1 centimes each. Each coin shares the EMU community face on one side, and a national face specific to each country on the other. Incidentally, collectors have been trying to snap up the Vatican’s edition of the euro which was minted with Pope John Paul II portrait on one side. One of the already discovered problems with this new currency involves the Thai 10-baht coin with that of the 2 Euro coins. Apparently they are identical in size and weight and have begun popping up in vending machines across Europe, thus prompting the EU to unsuccessfully solicit the government of Thailand to possibly change its shape, size, and weight. The symbol for the euro is X and the ECB headquarters are located in Frankfurt, Germany. See www.europa.eu.int/euro
Their address for visitors is:
D-60311 Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
Telephone Switchboard: (+49) 69 13440
Fax: (+49) 69 1344 6000
Email: [email protected]
Their address is for mailings is:
Postfach 16 03 19
D-60066 Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) – NATO is a formal military alliance consisting of the US and Canada in conjunction with 17 other European Countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom). It was originally formed in 1949 amidst the height of the “Cold War” and was initially established to create a suitable deterrent force against possible nuclear attack by the Soviet Union upon the non-communist nations of Western Europe. Also its secondary purpose is to maintain the internal peace among the Western European nations who happened to be former enemies during or before World War I and II. As a member, each nation agrees to treat an armed attack against another member as an attack upon itself. Interestingly enough in 1955, the Soviet Union and communist nations of Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania) reacted by forming their own military alliance to oppose NATO called the Warsaw Pact. Visit www.nato.int for more info.
NATO headquarters in Europe are located in Brussels:
Address: Boulevard Leopold III, 1110 Brussels, Belgium. Email: [email protected]
UN (United Nations) – The UN was established on October 24, 1945 by 51 countries to preserve peace through international cooperation and collective security. It currently has 189 member countries with only the Vatican now maintaining what is called non-member observer status. As of March 3, 2002 even the notoriously neutral Swiss people finally passed a vote to join the UN by a narrowly won majority referendum. Each member receives one vote in the General Assembly. The 6 official languages spoken at the UN are: English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Mandarin. The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, with the five nations of the USA, UK, France, China, and the Russian Federation maintaining what is called permanent member status. The UN also has 30 affiliated organizations known collectively as the UN system.
Visitor tours are available in over 17 languages at the Geneva building, but security is very, very tight and admittance is not allowed without a passport which is held by the security office while inside.
Incidentally, ask your guide about what is being done to adapt the charter to resolving internal or civil conflicts/wars that involving only one country (not two), thus lying outside their jurisdiction. Past examples of how the UN has been helpless to forcibly interfere with the internal sovereignty of nations include fighting in Kosovo within Yugoslavia, Chiapas within Mexico, Chechyna in the Russian Federation, Zimbabwe, Rhwanda, etc.
At present the current UN Secretary-General is Kofi Annan of Ghana, reappointed for his second 5 year term. See: www.un.org for more info or visit the United Nations Office while in Geneva:
Palais des Nations
14, avenue de la Paix
CH 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: (022) 917 48 96 or (022) 917 00 32
Fax: (022) 917 00 32
Email: [email protected]
Open Daily in July and August: 10-17pm
Open Daily in April, May, June, September, & October: 10-12pm and 14-16pm
Rest of Year open from Monday to Friday: 10-12pm and 14-16pm
Note: Don’t forget to bring your official passport or EU identity card for entry