What can Europe do for you?

The European Union system is the only one of its kind in the world. All European countries have agreed to pool some of their powers at a level transcending the national one.

The Member States themselves decide what powers they would like to exercise at European level. This is enshrined in the European treaties. The extent to which the European Union can take initiatives differs from one policy area to another.

There are three kinds of powers or fields of competence:

  • Exclusive competence
    The Member States can no longer take decisions alone in these policy areas. Examples are: trade policy, the customs union and monetary policy.
  • Shared competence
    The Member States are entitled to take initiatives themselves, provided the EU has not already done so. Examples are: the internal market, the area of freedom, security and justice, agriculture and fisheries, transport, ...
  • Supporting competence
    The Member States exercise the main powers in these areas but the EU is entitled to take supporting or coordinating measures. For example: education, youth policy, culture, public health, ...

When conducting its policies, the European Union is required to be as close to the citizen as possible. Policies are tackled at European level only when they cannot be handled more effectively at local, regional or national level. A good example of this is the sharp fall in the price of national and international mobile phone calls thanks to the enforcement of European-wide measures.

Read more about all the European Union's activities.


To find out more:

FPS for Foreign Affairs http://www.diplomatie.be
Belgian Government portal http://www.belgium.be
European Union http://www.europa.eu
European Union Council http://www.consilium.europa.eu
Authorities of Flanders http://www.vlaanderen.be
Walloon Region http://www.wallonie.be
French-speaking Community http://www.cfwb.be
Site concerning the international relations of the French-speaking Community in Wallonia and Brussels, the Walloon Region and the French-speaking Community Commission of the Brussels-Capital Region http://www.wbri.be
Brussels-Capital Region http://www.brussel.irisnet.be
German-speaking Community http://www.dglive.be
Flanders fits you http://www.flanders.be
Flanders – international department http://www.vlaanderen.be/internationaal