Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia) become the ‘European Capitals of Culture’ for 2012.
Denmark takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. A responsible, dynamic, green and safe Europe are the Presidency’s four priorities.
The European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations kicks off: the year will raise awareness of how Europeans live and remain healthy for longer — and the opportunities this represents.
MEPs elect German Socialist Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament.
Croatians vote 'yes' in an EU accession referendum, paving the way for the country to become the 28th member of the European Union on 1 July 2013.
At an informal summit of the European Council, a new treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the economic and monetary union is agreed by all EU countries with the exception of the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The treaty aims to strengthen fiscal discipline through automatic sanctions and stricter surveillance and, in particular, the 'balanced budget rule'.
A treaty to create a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is signed. Based in Luxembourg, this institution will support euro area countries when necessary to safeguard financial stability.
Economic relations are high on the agenda of the EU-China summit in Beijing.
Euro area finance ministers agree on the terms of a second programme to secure Greece's future in the euro area. The deal includes an understanding with private sector creditors on their Greek debts and enhanced surveillance.
The European Council grants candidate status to Serbia.
The European Council re-elects Herman Van Rompuy as its President. In the margins of this meeting, participating Member States sign the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU.
The European Parliament adopts legislation making trade in over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives safer and more transparent. Derivatives' trading is widely believed to have contributed to the global financial crisis.
The European Citizens' Initiative becomes a reality, enabling citizens to propose EU legislation on specific issues for the first time. One million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States can invite the European Commission to put forward proposals for legal acts in areas where it has the power to do so.
EU Justice Ministers adopt a new law to ensure defendants' right to information during criminal proceedings in other EU countries. Once it has entered into force, suspects of a criminal offence must be informed of their rights in a language they understand.
At a G8 meeting at Camp David in the USA, leaders of eight of the largest world economies agree to boost economic recovery and create confidence by putting public finances in order, whilst at the same time taking growth-boosting measures.
As part of the 'European Semester', the Commission adopts recommendations for each of the 27 EU countries, offering guidance on 2012-2013 national budgets and economic policies. The country-specific recommendations take account of each country’s economic situation and provide advice on stimulating economic growth and job creation. They are later adopted by the European Council.
The Council adopts a regulation ensuring that mobile phone users do not pay excessive prices for Union-wide roaming services when travelling within the EU.
The Council adopts EU-wide rules speeding up succession procedures in cross-border situations and making it easier and less costly for heirs, legatees and persons entitled to reserved shares to take possession of their respective parts of an estate.
During the European Council, EU leaders agree on measures to restore confidence in the economy, invest more in growth and establish a stronger union. The 'Compact for Growth and Jobs' will mobilise €120 billion for immediate investment.
Cyprus takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, pledging to work 'Towards a Better Europe'.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), is overwhelmingly rejected by the European Parliament, after the proposed treaty had provoked much public debate on the rights of internet users. This is the first time Parliament exercises its Lisbon Treaty power to reject an international trade agreement.
Improved rules on the collection and treatment of e-waste enter into force. The target set by the EU directive is that by 2016, 45 % of electronic equipment sold must, when no longer needed, be collected for possible re-use. Further stringent targets will follow in 2019.
In his annual State of the Union address, European Commission President Barroso makes a strong case for new direction and a new way of thinking for Europe. He proposes that the EU moves towards becoming a federation of nation states.
A new EU law on the rights of victims of crime is adopted . The directive sets out minimum rights for victims, wherever they are in the EU.
The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) enters into force. It is the central part of the so-called 'firewall' aimed at ensuring financial stability in the euro area.
The European Council meets to discuss the economy and growth, and agrees in principle to set up a common supervision of banks in the euro area.
The Commission publishes its Annual Growth Survey 2012. This kick-starts the annual 'European Semester' for economic policy coordination, which ensures that EU countries align their budgetary and economic plans for growth. Priorities include fiscal consolidation and restoring normal lending.
The European Union is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 at a ceremony in Oslo. The prize recognises the EU's contribution over six decades to the promotion of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.
At the European Council, EU leaders take the first step towards implementing a banking union with the decision, in principle, to create a 'single supervisory mechanism' (SSM), allowing the European Central Bank to supervise large euro area banks directly.