Since the Lisbon Strategy set out to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world, competitiveness has become one of the political priorities of the Union. The Union seeks to adapt the European economy through structural change, relocation of industrial activity to emerging economies, redeployment of jobs and resources to new industrial sectors and the risk of a process of deindustrialisation.

A directive is an EU legislative act which requires Member States to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result. They are binding in Member States, but leave them the choice of the form and method they adopt to realise the Community objectives within the framework of their internal legal order. It can be distinguished from regulations which are selfexecuting and do not require any implementing measures. Directives normally leave Member States with a certain amount of margin as to the exact rules to be adopted.

European Institutions: The European institutions are the political bodies that build a united Europe.

• European Parliament

• Council of the European Union

• European Commission

• Court of Justice

• Court of Auditors.

Eurovignette and Internalisation of external costs: The internalisation of external costs is a main priority of the transport policy at EU level. Charging HGVs according to the «polluter pays» principle is one of the main policy options in an effort to reduce the negative impacts of transport on the environment. In parallel, the need to optimise the use of infrastructure, reduce congestion and increase the efficiency of the transport system can be met by the «user pays» and “polluter pays” principles. In this context, the European Commission 
proposed a Directive on road infrastructure charging. The proposal foresees the application of charges on HGVs that are proportional to the damage they generate in terms of pollution, noise and congestion. The Commission’s proposal establishes the methodology to be followed for the estimation of external cost charges as well as the areas of their application.

First reading: 
This is the first stage after the Commission proposes a text, which means that the European Parliament and the Council work on finding their initial positions for the rest of the procedure or, if there is consent or huge pressure, both institutions may already agree at first reading. However, both institutions normally have all their options open at this stage.

Green Paper: 
Green Papers are documents published by the European Commission to stimulate discussion on given topics at European level. They invite the relevant parties to participate in a public consultation process and debate on the basis of the proposals they put forward. Green Papers may give rise to legislative developments that are then outlined in White Papers.

Internalisation of external costs: The European Commission has been studying the so-called «internalisation of external costs» for transport for a number of years. This policy, which would require additional costs to be paid by all transport end-users, is also known as «the polluter pays» or «the end-user pays the full cost including social costs». Social costs are deemed to be costs imposed on society relating to, among others, accidents, congestion, noise, air pollution and climate change.

Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards tackling the problem of climate change. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialised countries have undertaken to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases by at least 5% during the period 2008–2012 compared with 1990 levels. In 2002 the EU ratified the Kyoto Protocol. In 2007 the EU undertook unilaterally to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

Lisbon Strategy: The Lisbon Strategy was an action and development plan for the EU between 2000 and 2010 to make the EU «the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion» by 2010. It was set out by the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000 and by 2010 most of its goals were not achieved.

Rapporteur: The MEP responsible for preparing the opinion of the EP on a specific issue (an EP report).

Regulation: This is an EU legislative act that is binding in all its parts and is directly and immediately applicable and enforceable as law in all Member States simultaneously and in the same way as a national instrument, without any further action on the part of the national authorities. Regulations can be distinguished from directives which, at least in principle, need to be transposed into national law.

Report (EP): Under the co-decision procedure, a Parliamentary report prepares the Parliament’s position. Drawn up by an MEP chosen from within the competent Parliamentary committee (the “rapporteur”), it contains suggested amendments and a statement of reasons explaining the proposed amendments.

Subsidiarity: It is presently known as a fundamental principle of European Union law. According to this principle, the EU may only act (i.e. make laws) where action of individual countries is insufficient. It is intended to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made as to whether action at Community level is justified in the light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level.

Shadow rapporteurs: MEPs that monitor a dossier for political groups other than that of the rapporteur.

White Paper: White Papers are documents containing proposals for Community action in a specific area. In some cases they follow a Green Paper published to launch a consultation process at European level. When a White Paper is favourably received by the Council, it can lead to an action programme for the Union in the area concerned. An example is the White Paper on the Future of Transport Policy.