June 19, 2013

4 Minutes

European Commission, The Lisbon Treaty

Why Does the European Union Matter?

Hi, my name is András Baneth and I’m the co-founder and Director of the European Training Academy.

Today, I’m going to speak about a very interesting topic that is on the mind of so many people, especially in Brussels, which is ‘Why does the European Union matter?’.

And this is a key challenge that so many companies, diplomats and other stakeholders are actually trying to explain to their very own colleagues outside of Brussels: to tell them that Brussels and European affairs, and interest representation in European Affairs, is crucial to the success of their organization.

My explanation, or my take, on this issue of ‘why does the European Union matter’ is the following:

The European Union and the institutions in Brussels are responsible for 100s, if not 1000s, of pieces of legislation that affect the lives of 500 million EU citizens and even more (in an indirect manner, beyond Europe).

All of these laws, directives, regulations and other forms of legislation and decisions are enacted, decided in Brussels. And these pieces of legislation can cover a very, very wide range of topics starting from food labeling, from the very specific bottle of water that you have right in front of your desk, what sort of information can you read on it, all the way to trade issues covering the sport shoes that you have just bought for your son, up until crucial competition law cases such as the Google anti-trust case and many others involving Microsoft or companies in other fields.

These are topics that have a fundamental influence on private people, companies, diplomats, governments and others, and this is all decided in Brussels. The timeline, or the way this is done, is rather complex. There is no doubt about it. It’s very hard to explain how the system works and that is exactly what we do at the European Training Academy.

But going back to the initial topic of ‘why does the European Union matter?’: also because it is the largest single trading block in the world which is a crucial achievement of the European Union. The EU is larger, as a single market, than the United States, and the rules, regulations and political debates are centered in Brussels… obviously with very strong influence of the Member States and the EU level institutions.

On top of this, seeing what’s happening in Europe is many times centered in Brussels. You will see the heads of state and government or top level ministers discuss key issues in Brussels. So in many cases, it is a meeting place from where information, decisions, or at least “policy thinking” is distributed towards the Member States. So keeping an eye on Brussels is a good investment for every company, for every Member State, for every non-governmental organization (NGO) because knowing what’s happening in EU circles will sooner or later affect your organisation.

Thank you for watching this. This is András Baneth from the European Training Academy.

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