Three pillars of the European Union: Wikis

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History of the European Union
EU enlargement between 1958 and 2007
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Between 1993 and 2009, the European Union (EU) legally consisted of three pillars. This structure was introduced with the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993, and was eventually abandoned on 1 December 2009 with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, when the EU obtained a consolidated legal personality.

  1. The European Communities pillar handled economic, social and environmental policies. It was the only pillar with a legal personality, consisting of the European Community (EC), the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC, until its expiry in 2002), and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).
  2. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar took care of foreign policy and military matters.
  3. Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC) brought together co-operation in the fight against crime. This pillar was originally named Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).

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European Union
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European Communities Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
European Community (EC):
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC, until 2002):
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM):
Foreign policy:
Security policy:
First pillar Second pillar Third pillar

Within each pillar, a different balance was struck between the supranational and intergovernmental principles.

Supranationalism was strongest in the first pillar. Its function generally corresponded at first to the three European Communities (European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), European Economic Community (EEC) and Euratom) whose organisational structure had already been unified in 1965-67 through the Merger Treaty. Later, through the Treaty of Maastricht the word "Economic" was removed from the EEC, so it became simply the EC. Then with the Treaty of Amsterdam additional areas would be transferred from the third pillar to the first. In 2002, the ECSC (which had a life time of 50 years) ceased to exist because the treaty which established it, the Treaty of Paris, had expired.

In the CFSP and PJCC pillars the powers of the European Parliament, the Commission and European Court of Justice with respect to the Council were significantly limited, without however being altogether eliminated. The balance struck in the first pillar was frequently referred to as the "community method", since it was that used by the European Community.

History

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Origin

The pillar structure had its historical origins in the negotiations leading up to the Maastricht treaty. It was desired to add powers to the Community in the areas of foreign policy, security and defence policy, asylum and immigration policy, criminal co-operation, and judicial co-operation.

However, some member-states opposed the addition of these powers to the Community on the grounds that they were too sensitive to national sovereignty for the community method to be used, and that these matters were better handled intergovernmentally. To the extent that at that time the Community dealt with these matters at all, they were being handled intergovernmentally, principally in European Political Cooperation (EPC).

As a result, these additional matters were not included in the European Community; but were tacked on externally to the European Community in the form of two additional 'pillars'. The first additional pillar (Common Foreign and Security Policy, CFSP) dealt with foreign policy, security and defence issues, while the second additional pillar (JHA, Justice and Home Affairs), dealt with the remainder.

Recent amendments in the treaty of Amsterdam and the treaty of Nice made the additional pillars increasingly supranational. Most important among these were the transfer of policy on asylum, migration and judicial co-operation in civil matters to the Community pillar, effected by the Amsterdam treaty. Thus the third pillar was renamed Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters, or PJCC. The term Justice and Home Affairs was still used to cover both the third pillar and the transferred areas.

Signed
In force
Treaty
1948
1948
Brussels
1951
1952
Paris
1954
1955
Paris Agr.
1957
1958
Rome
1965
1967
Merger
1986
1987
Single Act
1992
1993
Maastricht
1997
1999
Amsterdam
2001
2003
Nice
2007
2009
Lisbon
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European Communities Three pillars of the European Union
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
      Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    
                   

Abolition

In a speech before the Nice Conference, Joschka Fischer, then Foreign Minister of Germany, called for a simplification of the European Union. One of these core ideas was to abolish the pillar structure, and replace it with a merged legal personality for the Union. This idea was included in the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009.

In the Lisbon Treaty the distribution of competences in various policy areas between Member States and the Union:

Exclusive competence Shared competence Supporting competence
The Union has exclusive competence to make directives and conclude international agreements when provided for in a Union legislative act. Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so. The Union can carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement Member States' actions.
  • the customs union
  • the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market
  • monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro
  • the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy
  • common commercial (trade) policy
  • the internal market
  • social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • economic, social and territorial cohesion
  • agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources
  • environment
  • consumer protection
  • transport
  • trans-European networks
  • energy
  • the area of freedom, security and justice
  • common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • the protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection (disaster prevention)
  • administrative cooperation

See also

External links


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