Guides

Reference

Elections (Wales)

The Assembly is made up of 60 Assembly Members (known as AMs), elected by the Additional Member System, a form of proportional representation. Elections are normally held every four years on the first Thursday in May. Anyone who can stand for election to the House of Commons may stand for election to the Welsh Assembly....Read More

European Union

The European Union is a supranational and international organisation that brings together 27 member states under a common system of law, established by a series of treaties. The member states are as follows: Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,...Read More

EU Enlargement

The EU agreed to begin proceedings to admit a large number of new member states from Eastern and Central Europe in 1997, and the accession process began in 1998. Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia joined the EU on May 1st 2004. Whilst the EU had...Read More

European Monetary Union

Economic and monetary union (EMU) was a goal for the EU proclaimed as far back as the 1960s, but one which was not pursued with much vigour or success until the late 1980s, when the Single European Act added a chapter to the treaties formally setting the EU on the road to EMU. Not only...Read More

EU Economic Policies

The principal objective of the EU – when first constituted as the EEC – was to make war in Europe impossible not only by developing a common system of law, but also by making the member states' economies completely interdependent. This has been pursued by the creation of a single market and subsequently the establishment...Read More

EU Legislative Processes

The EU's legislative process is more complex than that which operates at Westminster – this reflects the institutional arrangement, the international character of the EU and the extent of diversity that must be accommodated in the EU's actions, and the shifting basis of the EU's 'constitution' (the treaties). For a proposal to become law, the...Read More

Elections (Europe)

By Jonathan Moore The Election The European elections this year represent the largest trans-national elections in history. From the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) 736 MEPs will be elected by an electorate of more than 500 million over a period of three days between June 4-7. In the UK, elections are traditionally...Read More

EU Law

There are three sources of law within the EU legal system: 'Primary legislation' – the treaties and agreements of similar status 'Secondary legislation' – laws made under the powers established by the treaties Case law – the accumulated body of legal decisions built up by the European courts Together, this body of jurisprudence constitutes the...Read More

European parliament

The European parliament (EP) is the world’s largest multinational parliamentary body, representing over 456 million citizens. It was originally constituted as the assembly of the ECSC, adopting the title ‘European parliament’ in 1962. As well as exercising an increasingly important legislative and supervisory role, the EP functions as the primary source of democratic authority and...Read More

European Courts

There are two European courts, which have the task of interpreting and enforcing EU law: the European Court of Justice and the European Court of the First Instance. Both are based in Luxembourg. These bodies should not be confused with the European Court of Human Rights, which is an arm of the Council of Europe,...Read More

European Commission

The European Commission was created by the 1967 Merger Treaty, replacing the 'High Authorities' that administered the ECSC, EURATOM and the early EEC. The European Commission is sometimes called the civil service of the EU, but it is also sometimes called the government of the EU. This seemingly paradoxical situation stems from the unusual position...Read More

European Council

The European Council brings together the heads of government of the member states and the Commission at least twice a year, and typically four times a year (twice per Presidency). As such, each meeting of the European Council is often referred to as a 'Summit' or simply 'Council' – in conjunction with the name of...Read More

Early Day Motions

Early Day Motions (universally known in Parliament as 'EDMs') are best thought of as petitions put forward by MPs on specific subjects. They are printed in the official report and other MPs are invited to add their names in support. Technically, EDMs call for the topic to be debated at the earliest time but the...Read More

European Parliament

The European Parliament is the world's largest multinational parliamentary body, representing over 490 million citizens. It was originally constituted as the Assembly of the ECSC, adopting the title 'European Parliament' in 1962. As well as exercising an increasingly important legislative and supervisory role, the EP functions as the primary source of democratic authority and legitimacy...Read More

Elections

The Commons is made up of 646 elected members of Parliament, known as MPs. They are elected by the first-past-the-post system, which is also known as the plural majority system. Elections must be held at least every five years but the actual date is set by the sitting Prime Minister who asks the monarch to...Read More

European Commission

The European Commission was created by the 1967 Merger Treaty, replacing the 'High Authorities' that administered the ECSC, EURATOM and the early EEC. The European Commission is sometimes called the civil service of the EU, but it is also sometimes called the government of the EU. This seemingly paradoxical situation stems from the unusual position...Read More

Executive (Scotland)

The Scottish Executive (or cabinet) is made up of the first minister, the two law officers (the lord advocate and the solicitor general) and other Scottish ministers. The party or coalition of parties with the majority of seats in the parliament forms the executive. The first minister is elected by MSPs and is normally the...Read More

Elections (Scotland)

The parliament is made up of 129 elected MSPs, elected by the additional member system, a form of proportional representation. Elections are normally held every four years on the first Thursday in May. Anyone who can stand for election to the House of Commons may stand for election to the parliament. Peers may also stand....Read More

Expenditure

Government spending is controlled by the Treasury, which must account for all expenditure by departments. Treasury Ministers and officials must approve all policies that would require expenditure and, as such, play a role in the formulation and implementation of all substantive government policy. The majority of spending by departments is agreed in negotiations between the...Read More