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Glossary of Terms for International Business webpages

Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACSH)
A tripartite (employers, workers and governments) committee that advises the European Commission on matters to do with occupational health and safety. It was set up by a decision of the Council (2003/C218/01).
Common position
A formal agreement by the Council of the European Union on its views on a legislative proposal (compare with general approach).
Council of the European Union (or just Council)
One of the institutions of the European Union, the Council is a body of 28 people who are Ministers in the member states. It is responsible for making European Union law (usually with the European Parliament) and for approving the budget. The Council operates in different ‘configurations’, depending on the subject-matter under discussion, such as agriculture, employment, finance or transport. The Council’s business is prepared by a number of working parties of officials from the member states.
Delegated Act
A type of tertiary European Union legislation, normally made by the European Commission under the authority of a legislative act of the Council and European Parliament. A delegated act may amend the non-essential elements of the parent act (compare with implementing act).
Directive
A type of secondary European Union legislation that is phrased as an instruction to member states. It sets the goals that must be achieved, but allows some latitude in how they are to be achieved. Directives must normally be transposed (see transposition).
European Parliament
One of the institutions of the European Union, the Parliament is a body of 751 people directly elected by the citizens of the EU’s member states. It is responsible for making European Union law (with the Council of the European Union), ratifying the appointment of the European Commission and approving the EU budget. It operates through a system of committees, but also votes in a plenary session once a month.
First reading deal
A term in the ordinary legislative procedure describing an agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on a proposal at the first stage of the process.
General approach
A term used to describe a broad political agreement reached on a legislative proposal in a Council working party. It does not form an official part of the ordinary legislative procedure and to that extent it is an informal agreement (compare with common position).
ILO convention
A legally binding agreement between countries that are members of the ILO on standards in a given subject. Countries may choose to ratify such conventions, and become bound by them, or not.
ILO recommendation
An agreement between countries that are members of the ILO on standards in a given subject. Recommendations do not have the binding force of a convention.
Implementation
The processes of ensuring that European Union law is applied in the member states. It consists of transposition (see below) and enforcement, which means making sure that people comply with the law.
Implementing Act
A type of tertiary European Union legislation, normally made by the European Commission under the authority of a legislative act of the Council and European Parliament. An implementing act may not amend the parent act (compare with delegated act). Such an act is required by article 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union when uniform implementing conditions for a directive are required. The introduction of implementing acts is controlled by a Regulation. Implementing acts are subject either to the ‘advisory’ or ‘examination’ procedures. Health and safety directives normally involve the examination procedure, under which there is a vote by representatives of the member states under QMV (see below) to either approve or reject the Commission’s proposal.
Ordinary legislative procedure
The process by which the European Parliament and the Council come to an agreement about the majority of European Commission proposals for a new European Union law. It was formerly called ‘co-decision’. It involves up to two ‘readings’ of the proposal by the European Parliament and by the Council, followed by conciliation if no agreement has been reached after both institutions have read the proposal twice.
QMV
Qualified majority voting. A process of voting used in the Council and its working parties that allocates a different number of votes to member states broadly depending on their population. Under the QMV process, a measure passes when a ‘qualified majority’ of member state votes are in favour, as opposed to a ‘simple majority’, which would mean 15 member states in favour. A consequence of this is that a measure can be blocked by a minority of states getting together (called a ‘blocking minority’), not necessarily by having to get the support of 14 other member states. On the other hand, having QMV means that the objections of one or more member states can be overruled by a qualified majority of the rest if there are not enough votes amongst the objectors to form a blocking minority.
Regulation
A type of secondary European Union legislation that is directly applicable in all member states without further action, though it may need to have ancillary legislation in member states, for example to provide for its enforcement.
Second reading deal
A term in the ordinary legislative procedure describing an agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on a proposal at the middle stage of the process.
Social partner agreement (SPA)
A legally binding agreement between the social partners (i.e., employers and workers) under article 155 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. SPAs are either ‘autonomous’ and implemented by the social partners themselves, or (at the request of the social partners) by means of a Council decision.
Special legislative procedure
A legislative procedure specially set out in the treaties by which the Council and the European Parliament agree a new European Union law. It may involve the Council consulting the European Parliament, or any other process except the ordinary legislative procedure.
Transposition
The process of converting a European Union law (usually a directive) into national law, for example, by making domestic regulations.
Treaty
A legally binding agreement between countries, e.g. the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which are the primary legislation of the European Union.
Updated 2013-09-12