The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union comprising 28 member states. The European Union was established under the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) formed by six countries in 1957.
the Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland
the United Kingdom.
Politics and Administration
The administrative set-up of the EU is unique and globally unparalleled: The countries that make up the EU remain independent sovereign nations but they pool their sovereignty in order to gain strength and influence none of them could have on their own. This pooling sovereignty means, in practice, that the member states delegate some of their decision-making powers to shared supranational institutions, so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. Generally speaking, the European Union has three core governing institutions:
- The European Parliament, representing the EU’s citizens and directly elected by them;
- The Council of the European Union, which represents the individual member states;
- The European Commission, which represents the interests of the Union as a whole.
This ‘institutional triangle’ produces the policies and laws that apply throughout the EU. In principle, it is the Commission that proposes new laws, but it is the Parliament and Council that adopt them. The Commission and the member states then implement them, and the Commission ensures that the laws are properly taken on board. Other important EU institutions include:
- European Central Bank – in charge of managing the regional monetary policies
- Court of Justice of the European Union – arbiter in disputes about European law
- European Court of Auditors – handling the financing of the EU
From the political perspective, the EU boasts a so-called Common Foreign and Security Policy. It primarily deals with security and defense considerations, but also includes external trade and commercial policy as well as foreign aid.
The EU is the largest economy in the world with an annual GDP of 11.9 trillion Euro in 2009 which is 26% of world GDP. Furthermore, it is the largest exporter, the largest importer of goods and services, and the biggest trading bloc with 37% of global trade. Investment-wise, the EU is setting records again: 35% of global outward FDI come from the EU, which makes it the world’s largest investor, and at the same time the EU attracts 30% of global inward FDI, which awards it the status as the world’s prime investment destination.
The EU's population is highly urbanised, with some 75% of inhabitants (and growing, projected to be 90% in 7 states by 2020) living in urban areas. Furthermore, the EU’s giant population represents the world’s most lucrative consumer market, adding on to its strategic market value.
The EU has established two core institutions which are the secret behind its unparalleled economic attractiveness: A single market and a growing monetary union. First of all, all 27 member countries form a single market across the entire. The founders of the EU shared a coherent economic policy view, with “the Treaty of Rome calling for a single internal market with no obstacles to trade and strong competition, as well as for multilateral liberalisation.” Ever since, the EU’s trade policy has been based on two pillars: Multilateral liberalisation and regional integration. The centralised decision-making process in foreign trade affairs enhances the economic attractiveness of the European Union. Beyond this, 17 of the EU member states are simultaneously part of the Eurozone, the monetary union of the EU. They use a common currency, the Euro, and have streamlined their monetary policies.
The EU’s total trade with Malaysia amounted to US$38.1 billion in 2010. Exports increased by 6.7% to US$16.8 billion while imports rose 11.2% to US$21.3 billion. Malaysia moved up to become the EU’s 14th largest import source (2009: 16th position) and the 26th export destination (2009: 27th position).
The EU contributed RM 122.85 Billion (10.5%) to Malaysia's total trade, an increase of 10.8%, thus making the EU Malaysias fourth largest trading partner. The top 5 EU trading partners were Germany (31.5%) The Nederland's (19.2%) France (10.9%) The United Kingdom (UK) (10.6%) and Italy (6.5%).
EU and Malaysia is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement.
Malaysia in EU
Malaysia is officially represented in the European Union by Malaysian Embassies in 19 EU member states. This includes Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Denmark in EU
Denmark joined the European Union in 1973, while the Faeroe Islands and Greenland currently are not part of the EU, but remain as associated Members. A large number of areas have greatly benefited from EU membership, both in terms of commerce and social activities.
Denmark has retained 4 (3 Remains, as of July 2012) areas in which it choose not to join the EU common set of legislation.
The Edinburgh Agreement or Edinburgh Decision is a December 1992 agreement reached at a European Council meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, that granted Denmark four exceptions to the Maastricht Treaty so that it could be ratified by Denmark.
This was necessary because, without all member states of the European Union ratifying it, it could not come into effect.
Denmark had first rejected the Maastricht treaty, but with the addition of the Edinburgh Agreement, ratified the treaty in a 1993 referendum. The member states that already ratified the Maastricht Treaty, did not have to do so again.
The provisions of Part Two of the Treaty establishing the European Community relating to citizenship of the Union give nationals of the Member States additional rights and protection as specified in that Part. They do not in any way take the place of national citizenship. The question whether an individual possesses the nationality of a Member State will be settled solely by reference to the national law of the Member State concerned.
With the adoption of a similar clause applying to all member states in the Amsterdam Treaty, this opt-out is now de facto meaningless.
Economic and Monetary Union
The Protocol on certain provisions relating to Denmark attached to the Treaty establishing the European Community gives Denmark the right to notify the Council of the European Communities of its position concerning participation in the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union. Denmark has given notification that it will not participate in the third stage. This notification will take effect upon the coming into effect of this decision.
As a consequence, Denmark will not participate in the single currency, will not be bound by the rules concerning economic policy which apply only to the Member States participating in the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union, and will retain its existing powers in the field of monetary policy according to its national laws and regulations, including powers of the National Bank of Denmark in the field of monetary policy.
Denmark will participate fully in the second stage of Economic and Monetary Union and will continue to participate in exchange-rate cooperation within the EMS.
Note: The benefit of this exception is also debatable. Some other EU members have opted out of the common currency without an agreed exception. The United Kingdom has its own exception, but Sweden for instance does not.
The Heads of State and Government note that, in response to the invitation from the Western European Union (WEU), Denmark has become an observer to that organisation. They also note that nothing in the Treaty on European Union commits Denmark to become a member of the WEU. Accordingly, Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and the implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of closer cooperation between Member States in this area.
Justice and Home Affairs
Denmark will participate fully in cooperation on Justice and Home Affairs on the basis of the provisions of title VI of the Treaty on European Union.
Greenland and the EU
Greenland originally joined the EU with Denmark in 1973, but opted out in 1985, in a dispute over fishing rights.
Greenland is the only Danish territory that is included in the list of OCTs (Overseas Countries and Territories) associated to the Community. Its capital is Nuuk. Greenland has a population of 56 376 inhabitants. Greenland’s economy is highly dependent on payments from Denmark and on fishing and fish exports, to the EU.
The EU and Greenland entered into a special free trade agreement.
Faroe Islands and the EU
The Faroe Islands are party to an agreement between the EU, the Government of Denmark and the Home Government of the Faroe Islands.
The EU and the Faeroe Islands entered into a free trade agreement in 1997.
"Free trade must be a tool to generate prosperity, stability and development. When supported by the right rules and institutions, free trade delivers win-win outcomes. When part of a wider set of measures, it is a potent lever promoting European values abroad, like sustainable development and human rights. In addition, the openness of our own market fosters innovation and creativity at home and is the best way to ensure, thanks to our weight in global trade, similar openness abroad."
– Karel De Gucht (EU Trade Commissioner)