The Union’s external role Citizen’s rights and freedoms

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Equality between Member States

The Treaty specifically recognises the equality of Member States and their distinctive national identities. This principle is reflected, for example, in the new arrangements for appointments to the Commission.

Until 2004, the largest Member States nominated two members of the Commission, while the smaller Member States each nominated one member. When ten member states joined the Union in 2004, the large Member States “surrendered” the right to appoint a second member of the Commission. This still left the Union with a Commission that was widely regarded as too large and unwieldy.

As already indicated, the new treaty will limit the number of Commissioners to two-thirds the number of Member States (e.g. with 27 countries, there would be 18 Commissioners). Commission membership will rotate between nationals of the Member States on a strictly equal basis.

The Union’s external role Citizen’s rights and freedoms

4. Citizen’s rights and freedoms

The Reform Treaty raises the protection of the rights of Europe’s citizens to a new level.

The Treaty makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally-binding on the Union’s institutions and on the Member States when they are implementing EU law.

The Charter sets out the rights enjoyed by EU citizens. It draws its inspiration from the EU treaties, from
international human rights law and from the Constitutions of the Member States.

The Treaty will allow the Union to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Human Rights Convention, and the European Court of Human Rights which oversees it, are the foundation stones of human rights protection in Europe.

The EU’s power and their limits

3. The EU’s powers and their limits

I. The nature and competences of the Union

The Reform Treaty highlights the unique relationship that exists between the Union and the Member States and
defines the scope and limits of the Union’s powers more clearly than before.

The Union will not become a state. It will retain its intergovernmental character.

The Treaty makes it clear that the Union only has those powers that have been conferred upon it by the Member
States as indicated in the EU Treaties. All other powers remain with the Member States. In other words, the EU
does not have any power in its own right, but derives its powers from the Member States.

“… competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States.”
Art 1.5 Reform Treaty

The Union is also required to respect the principle of subsidiarity which means that decisions should, if possible, be taken at local, regional or national level. As already mentioned, National Parliaments are given the role of overseeing the application of this vital EU principle.

The Treaty also requires that action by the Union may not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the

The Treaty sets out three categories of EU competence:

  • exclusive competence where the Union has the sole right to act (for example, monetary policy for the euro);
  • areas where competence is shared between the Union and the Member States (for example, agriculture and energy policy);
  • and areas in which the Union may only take supporting
    or coordinating action (for example, sport, culture and education).

II. Future amendments to the EU Treaties

Under the Reform Treaty, there are a number of ways in which future changes can be made to the EU Treaties.

The ordinary procedure involves the holding of an inter- Governmental Conference to agree any Treaty changes. (This is sometimes preceded by a Convention, in the case of major amendments to the Treaties.)

There is also a simplified procedure for Treaty changes that do not alter the Union’s powers. This procedure requires a unanimous decision by the European Council.

The Treaty makes it clear that, in both of these cases, the proposed changes would have to be ratified in accordance
with the constitutional requirements of each Member State.

III. Moving areas to majority voting

There is also provision in the Treaty for moving some policy areas from unanimity to majority voting in the Council or European Council or for extending the powers of the European Parliament to “co-decide” matters with the Council.
In these cases, any national parliament could block such a move. It would also require a unanimous decision of the European Council (with each national Government having a veto) and the consent of the European Parliament. This provides a very effective “double lock”. No new powers may be conferred on the Union under this provision. The Treaty specifically states that this arrangement does not apply to matters with military or defence implications.

“ The European Council

The EU Institutions and how they will be affected by the Reform Treaty

2. The EU Institutions and how they will be affected by the Reform Treaty

The European Union works through a number of EU institutions. These are:

  • the European Council
  • the Council of Ministers,
  • the European Commission,
  • the European Parliament,
  • the Court of Justice,
  • the European Central Bank and
  • the European Court of Auditors.

The Reform Treaty introduces a number of changes designed to make these bodies function more effectively. The EU institutions and how they will be affected by the Reform Treaty:

I. European Council

The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, assisted by Foreign
Ministers, together with its President and the President of the European Commission. It is responsible for major policy decisions.

At present, the role of the European Council is loosely defined and is it chaired by the Head of State or Government of the country holding the rotating six-month Presidency of the European Union.

Under the Reform Treaty, the role of the European Council is defined and becomes a full EU institution.

The President of the European Council will be elected for a renewable two and a half year term. The election will be by a qualified majority of the members of the European Council. The President of the European Council can be removed by the same procedure.

The main task of the President of the European Council, which is not a decision-making role, will be to prepare the Council’s work, ensure continuity and seek consensus within the Council.

II. The Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers consists of representatives of the EU’s member governments. Under the Reform Treaty, the Council will continue to share law-making power with the European Parliament and will maintain its central role in the foreign and security policy area, and in coordinating economic policies.

The main change is that new voting arrangements will come into effect from 2014. These are designed to make the work of the Council of Ministers more efficient.

The new system requires that proposals will normally need to have the support of a majority (55%) of EU Member States representing at least 65% of the EU’s population.

The new Treaty will make this system of qualified majority voting the norm when decisions are being taken by the Union, except where the EU Treaties require a different procedure (e.g. a unanimous vote).

Important policy areas for Ireland such as taxation and defence will continue to require a unanimous vote.

The Treaty also changes the arrangements for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. At present the Presidency, or chair, of the Council changes every six months. In the future, the Presidency will be provided by a team of three Member States working together over an 18-month period. This is designed to increase the coherence and efficiency of the Presidency.

One of the three Member States in each team will chair all meetings of the Council of Ministers, except those concerned with Foreign Affairs, for a six-month period with …


1.Increased Democratic controls

A key section of the Reform Treaty is devoted to setting out the values and democratic principles on which the
EU is based. It specifies that the Union is founded on “representative democracy” and makes it clear that “every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union.”

The Treaty will:

  1. Provide National Parliaments with a new and wider role in EU affairs;
  2. Develop the role of the European Parliament;
  3. Introduce a Citizens’ Initiative.

1. The role of National Parliaments

The Reform Treaty will give the National Parliaments of EU Member States a direct input into European legislation. All proposals for EU legislation will be sent directly to National Parliaments. The Parliaments will have the right to offer “reasoned opinions.”

If a sufficient number of National Parliaments object to a particular proposal, it can either be amended or withdrawn. This “yellow card procedure” is designed to give National Parliaments an important role in ensuring that the Union does not exceed its authority by involving itself in matters which can best be dealt with at national, regional or local level.

The Treaty also gives any National Parliament a right to veto any move to allow issues still requiring a unanimous decision of the European Council or the Council of Ministers to be decided by a majority vote.

“National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union: through being informed by the institutions of the Union and having draft legislative acts of the Union forwarded to them in accordance with the Protocol on the role of National Parliaments in the European Union.”
Art 1.12 Reform Treaty

National Parliaments are given the power to ensure that the principle of Subsidiarity is respected by the Unions, Institutions and in its laws. The principle of Subsidiarity provides that decisions should, as far as possible, be taken at local, regional or national level.

II. The role of the European Parliament

The European Parliament is elected every five years to represent the people of the EU’s member countries. Its
role is defined by the EU Treaties.

“The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.”
Art 1.12 Reform Treaty

Under the Reform Treaty, its membership will be capped at 751. Seats will be distributed in such a way that smaller
countries will get more seats than their population would warrant. No country can have fewer than 6 MEPs or more than 96 MEPs. From June 2009, Ireland will be entitled to 12 MEPs.

The Treaty increases the number of areas in which the European Parliament will share the task of lawmaking with the Council of Ministers through a process known as co-decision. The Parliament’s budgetary role will also be strengthened. When the Parliament was first established, its involvement in EU decision-making was very limited. The Reform Treaty will ensure that it is centrally involved in virtually all areas in which the Union legislates.

Top Massage Chair for Back Pain Relief: Lower And Upper [2019]

Back and neck pains can make your life difficult. All those people who have gone through this pain can understand how miserable it feels with your neck and back aching.

A good zero gravity massage chair can work wonders to offer a complete back and neck relief from pains. Many of the manufacturers provide massage chairs focused on providing comfortable massage therapies for your neck, shoulder and back muscles.

These chairs include soothing heat therapies and are designed with the full reclining option to place your body in a comfortable, relaxing position. These chairs not only fit your body well but are made to match your interior décor too.

Top Massage Chair for Lower Back Pain Sufferers (Criteria)

lower backImagine how you would feel if you have immense back pain and your massage therapist is not available.

Think of the time when you are completely stressed out and need something to relax your body after a tiring day of work at home or office.

There are times when you wake up in the morning and find a stressing painful neck ache. How great it would be to have something to relieve your pain and relax right at your home.

Here are some tips that could help you:

Get yourself quality massage chair that fits your body structure and shape well. Below is the good resource I stumble upon when searching  for best zero gravity massage chair topic. Test to see if your body can be placed comfortably over this chair.

tipsMany of the chairs are now offered with adjustable features and body scanning technology so the chair can analyze your spinal back structure and can position your body in a relaxing position for complete body massage.

Massage Intensity: Before getting a massage chair, check the intensity/ strength of the massage. Many chains now offer vigorous and energetic movements, and some may offer less intense. Depending upon your needs choose one that is most appropriate one for you.

Preset Massage Programs for back and neck: Massage chairs now offer preset programs designed to cater to various problem areas of your body with tight, aching muscles. With so many variable options, check if the massage chair has specific programs designed for back and neck pain relief.

Having a specific massage program for your aching problem areas would be beneficial.

Zero Gravity: Many of the manufacturers offer a full reclining zero gravity massage chairs that can swing up and down for complete body massage. These massage chairs are comfortable ones if you have back and neck pain. Some good chairs are not zero-gravity chairs, Inada Dreamwave massage chair is an example of expensive but not zero gravity chair.

With these chairs, you will not be feeling to be affected by gravity, and thus your body will be placed in a state of complete relaxation. Reclining position with legs elevated may prove suitable for specific problems of the back.

Varied Massage Techniques: For neck and back pain suffering people, it is best to have …