The European Union acts in a wide range of policy areas — economic, social, regulatory and financial — where its action is beneficial to the Member States. These include:
o solidarity policies (also known as cohesion policies) in regional, agricultural and social affairs;
o Innovation policies, which bring state-of-the-art technologies to fields such as environmental protection, research and development (R&D) and energy.
The Union funds these policies through an annual budget of more than €120 billion, which is largely paid for by the Member states. It represents a small proportion of the EU’s collective wealth (a maximum of 1.24 % of the combined gross national income of all Member states).
The European Union (EU) is not a federation like the United States. Nor is it simply an organisation for co-operation between governments, like the United Nations. It is, in fact, unique. The countries that make up the EU its ‘Member States’ remain independent sovereign nations but they pool their sovereignty in order to gain a strength and world influence none of them could have on their own.
Pooling sovereignty means, in practice, that the Member states delegate some of their decision-making powers to shared institutions they have created, so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.