The European Union (EU) is a new type of federation of countries comprised of 28 European countries pursuant to the founding treaty, and its origins go back to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) founded in 1952. Through five subsequent enlargements, the number of member states increased from the original six to 28 to expand into a region with a population of 500 million. The European Union has achieved unification and integration in areas such as taxation and customs, economic policies, markets, and currency (Euro).
|Surface Area||4.290 million km²
(11 times that of Japan)
|Population||582.0 million (Eurostat; est.)|
|Population density||118/km² (2017)|
|Percentage of urban population||74% of the population lives in cities of more than 5,000 inhabitants
|GDP||USD 16220.4 billion
(2015: IMF World Economic Outlook)
|GDP per capita||USD 37,852
(2015: IMF World Economic Outlook)
|GDP growth rate (real)||0.2% (2013), 1.4% (2014), 2.0% (2015)
1.8% (2016), 1.9% (2017) (2016.5: EU)
(Information Updated: March 2017)
Source: Web page of Delegation of the European Union to Japan
The EU has unique legislative, judicial, and administrative organs (see table on the right) for the purpose of achieving its objectives.
Table:Overview of EU's Organizational Structure
|European Council (EU Summit)||The supreme political authority of the EU that steers the EU politically and set the direction of its policies. Permanent chairperson (President of the European Council) was created under the Lisbon Treaty.|
|Council of the European Union (Consilium)||Comprised of representatives from member states, it engages in legislative matters together with the European Council. It also serves as the only decision-making authority within the EU regarding common diplomatic and security policies and within the police and judicial association.|
|European Council||Comprised of 785 members appointed by direct election, the Council participates in the legislation procedures, together with the Consilium, as a representative of the European public, while exercising democratic control over the EU's activities.|
|European Commission||As the administrative authority of the EU, it implements the EU's policies. As the only EU authority with the right to submit legislative bills, the Commission engages in the legislation of the EU's laws.|
|European Court of Justice||It serves the role of ensuring correct interpretation and implementation of the fundamental treaties of the EU.|
The EU engages in policy areas where acting in concert as the EU is in the benefit of member states, such as economy, social matters, regulations, and finance. The EU's policy departments are located within the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, with the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy handling regional policies.
|Administrative Area||Authority||Web Site|
|Delegation of the European Union to Japan||http://www.euinjapan.jp/en/|
|Regional policies||Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy||http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm|
|Cooperation, studies, etc.
on spatial policies
|ESPON, European Spatial Planning Observation Network||http://www.espon.eu/|
With 41% of the populations and 48% of the GDP of the EU are concentrated in a centrally located region surrounded by North Yorkshire, Franche-Comté, Hamburg, and Milan, the Preamble of the Treaty of Rome of 1957 already calls for balanced development through the correction of of regional disparities. By 2004, the per capita GDP of higher ranking regions accounting for approximately 10% of the GDP amounted to as much as five times that of the lower ranking regions accounting for 10% of the population.
The framework of the EU's current Cohesion Policy dates back to the Single European Act of 1986. The concept having been inherited by the Maastricht Treaty (1993), regional policies were enhanced as the number of member states increased and have come to account for approximately one third of the EU's total budget. The expansion of the Union in 2004 to include the former Eastern Europe having resulted in an increase in regional disparities, the EU is developing various measures as it transfers its emphasis on the relevant regions.
Although spatial planning does not fall within the scope of the EU's authority, there have been such moves as the formulation of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) through unofficial governmental cooperation. Since spatial development was placed in the charge of the EU as a result of the inclusion of Territorial Cohesion in the Treaty of Lisbon, which went into effect in 2009, the EU is endeavoring to promote its authority to coordinate various spatial policies, as well as to facilitate cooperation among the parties responsible for land use and development planning. In recent years, strategies for multilateral areas have been considered that covers Baltic Sea coastal area, Danube River area, etc.
The objectives of EU's regional policies are aimed at achieving balanced development, social, economic and territorial cohesion, while aggressively implementing measures relating to growth and employment, countermeasures for climate change and energy issues and reduction of poverty and social exclusion, which are the objectives of the Europe 2020.
|Goals||Category of regions||Allocated fund||Funds||Purpose|
|Investment in growth and jobs||less developed regions: GDP per capita is less than 75% of the average of 27 EU countries||182.17 billion euros||ERDF
|Support for the most less-developed regions to catch up|
|transition regions: GDP per capita is 75% up to less than 90% of 27 EU countries||35.38 billion euros||Support for the regions which are recently becoming competitive but still need targeted encouragement|
|more developed regions: GDP per capita is more than 90% of 27 EU countries||54.35 billion euros||Promotion of improving international competitiveness in knowledge economy or making transition to low-carbon economy|
|European Territorial Cooperation||96.23 billion euros||ERDF||Promotion of multilateral and inter-regional cooperation over the borders|
In the Treaty of Lisbon that went into effect in December 2009, territorial cohesion was incorporated into the provisions together with economic and social cohesion.
The Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion (2008) states that territorial cohesion signifies enabling the population to take full advantage of the territorial characteristics by guaranteeing the harmonious development of the EU's diverse territories and is a means of converting this diversity into an asset that contributes to the sustainable development of the EU overall. However, the definition of the term "territorial cohesion," the role to be played by the EU, the forms of territorial cooperation, manners of coordinating territorial policies with sectoral and national policies, manners of participation in the design and implementation of policies, and the development of indices are specified subjects for future discussions and are still being debated.
(Information Updated: March 2015)