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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)

The term Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) refers to negotiations between the governments of Member States which are intended to amend the treaties. The conferences play a major part in European integration, to the extent that any institutional change must always be the outcome of such negotiations. These conferences are convened, on the initiative of a Member State or the Commission, by the Council of Ministers, voting by a simple majority (after consulting the European Parliament and, if appropriate, the Commission).

The preparatory work is entrusted to a group comprising one representative of each of the governments of the Member States and, as a matter of custom, a representative of the Commission. The European Parliament is closely involved with all this work by means of observers and exchanges of views with the President of Parliament. This group reports to the General Affairs Council on a regular basis. The final decisions are taken at a European Council by the heads of state and government.

Intergovernmental method

The intergovernmental method designates the institutional operating method of the second and third pillars. This is characterised by the following main elements:

  • right of initiative of the Commission, either shared with the Member States or limited to certain specific fields;
  • general use of the unanimous voting in the Council;
  • consultative role of the European Parliament;
  • limited role of the Court of Justice.

Internal Market, Common Market

The Internal market is one of the basic elements of the European Union. It is the result of the Treaty of Rome which provided for the establishment of a "Common Market"? based on the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital.

Like European construction in the broad sense, the idea of unifying the markets is part of an objective of economic and political integration. The treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) provides that action by the Community should incorporate "a system ensuring that competition in the Internal Market is not distorted"? and "the approximation of the laws of Member States to the extent required for the functioning of the Common Market"?. In addition, so-called accompanying policies, such as the protection of the environment and the social policy, play key roles in the functioning of the Internal Market.


ISPA(Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession) denotes financial assistance intended for the new members and applicant countries from Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) within the context of preparing for accession and a transitional period thereafter. ISPA facilitates the inclusion of the existing system of Community rights and obligations in the fields of the environment and transport.

This page was last modified on : 29-12-2004

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