The European Union’s Role in Social and Environmental Policy by RG

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The European Union’s Role in Social and Environmental Policy
BTEC Business

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• Many areas of life have a regional as well as national focus • The environment and social policy are two such areas • International agreements on the environment, e.g. Kyoto Protocol • There is greater importance because of the EU’s enlargement
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Why should the EU get involved?

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EU Enlargement
• Growth of the EU on 1st May 2004 from 15 to 25 member states • Protection of individuals, consumers and businesses is needed • More on Biz/ed at:
http://www.bized.ac.uk/current/research/2003_04/010 304.htm

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Any Examples?
• If one member state’s environment becomes degraded, it affects other member states, e.g. pollution from the seas or air • What about social policy? Why does this need a European focus?

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Social Policy
If one member state has fewer employment rights than others, then: • workers are unfairly treated • firms in other states are at a cost disadvantage • the EU economy suffers
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What does the EU do about this?
• Identifies areas requiring EU action • Gathers information and debates • Reaches agreement amongst member states

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What then?
• It issues a ‘Directive’ or an instruction to member states’ governments to take action • The member states make law to enforce the EU’s Directive • The EU reports on progress made

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Is that it?
• No! The whole process depends on detailed negotiation and debate at EU level • The European Council of member states reach an agreement • Member states may receive special exemptions
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What next?
• Go to the ‘Activity’ to find out more about EU involvement in these two areas • You’ll be looking at the drive in Europe to recycle greater quantities of waste • And the fight for lower working hours in the UK
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