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You've heard of the European Union, but what about the European Commission?
Or the European Council?
Or what about the European Parliament?
Yes, the EU is a complex system.
So complicated that even former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, reportedly once
asked “Who do I call, if I want to call Europe?”
As the name suggests, the European Union is a political and economic union of 28 European countries.
The genesis of the EU can be traced to the aftermath of the two world wars, which were
responsible for millions of deaths and a devastated European economy.
In 1958, six founding countries, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg
and the Netherlands, came together to form the European Economic Community.
The idea was that with increased economic cooperation, they would be less likely
to be drawn into a conflict.
What started as a purely economic partnership has evolved over the past 60 years into other
policy areas too. These include security, climate, and foreign relations.
To represent this broader remit, the European Economic Community became
the European Union in 1993.
So, how does the EU work?
Well, one big thing to note is that there is no single leader of the European Union.
Instead, its responsibilities are spread across seven institutions, but we're going to focus
on the three main ones: The European Commission,
the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Let's start with the European Commission.
This is the engine room of the EU - the executive body that proposes new laws.
Every member state has its own commissioner but they're supposed to be politically independent,
bound by a promise to represent the interests of the EU before their home countries.
Each commissioner is in charge of a specific portfolio - similar to a government's cabinet of ministers.
This institution is based in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
Now, the European Parliament.
It is based here in Brussels but also in the French city of Strasbourg, where its members
meet 12 times per year. This is where lawmakers vote on laws.
Presently, it has 751 Members of the European Parliament, or MEPs, from 28 member states.
However, with the U.K.'s departure from the EU, that number is set to come down to 705.
Importantly, this is the only European institution that directly represents EU citizens.
Every five years, citizens elect their representatives to the European Parliament.
Finally, let's look at the Council of the European Union.
It's made of ministers from the different EU member states.
Ministers with similar roles, whether it be overseeing finance, education or defense,
meet regularly to discuss, amend and adopt laws.
The Council of the European Union, together with the European Parliament, are the
main decision-making bodies of the EU.
But don't confuse the Council of the European Union with the European Council.
The leaders of the EU also meet in this building for quarterly summits.
Discussions here often happen at the highest level, which is why you'll see heads of
state like the chancellor of Germany and president of France meeting up in Brussels.
Other important European bodies include the European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors
and the European Central Bank.
Based in Luxembourg, the ECJ ensures European law is interpreted and applied in the same
way across the EU. Kind of like the U.S. Supreme Court.
Also in Luxembourg is the Court of Auditors.
It acts like the union's CFO, responsible for looking after the Community budget.
And then there is the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, which sets monetary policy in the eurozone.
Yes, that's right. The eurozone, not the EU.
This is another important distinction.
Currently, only 19 of the 28 EU member states form the eurozone, while the remaining nine
are still using their own national currencies.
The EU is a complex political arrangement.
Critics say it will not survive due to the many differences of opinion between and within each country.
And with tens of thousands of people across dozens of nationalities working for the EU,
its institutions have also been criticized for its bureaucracies and complexities, saying
it makes it hard to get things done.
At the same time, this arrangement has lasted more than 60 years and has so far achieved
its main aim: avoiding war between the neighboring countries.
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歐盟是做什麼的?是歐洲的風紀股長嗎? (What is the EU? | CNBC Explains)

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April Lu 發佈於 2019 年 3 月 29 日    Silvia W. 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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