In response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and deliberate destabilisation of a neighbouring sovereign country, the EU has imposed restrictive measures against the Russian Federation.
Fast facts, background information, progress and more in depth information on main EU issues
The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1% in June 2013, stable compared with May. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.9%, down from 11.0% in May.
The European Commission has proposed to complete the legal framework for Europe-wide patent protection by updating EU rules on the jurisdiction of courts and recognition of judgements.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has presented a proposal to reform the EU Solidarity Fund. The plans will make the fund more responsive and simpler to use with clearer criteria as to who can benefit.
Fraud affecting the EU budget increased slightly in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the Commission's annual report on the "Protection of the EU's Financial Interests". On the expenditure side, in total, €315 million in EU funds were affected by fraud, or 0.25% of the expenditure budget.
The European Commission has presented a Communication which contains an Action Plan to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of Europe’s defence and security sector. The Communication foresees measures to strengthen the internal market for defence, to promote a more competitive defence industry and to foster synergies between civil and military research.
The Regulation on interchange fees, combined with the revised Payment Services Directive, will introduce maximum levels of interchange fees for transactions based on consumer debit and credit cards and ban surcharges on these types of cards.
Protection of consumer rights still varies greatly between EU countries. Only 35% of Europeans are confident buying online from sellers in other EU countries and seven out of ten consumers do not know what do to when they receive products that they did not order.
EU foreign affairs ministers discussed the situation in Somalia and the preparations for an international conference on Somalia.
The European Commission is taking action to improve Union-wide prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office.
Euro area annual inflation was 1.6% in June 2013, up from 1.4% in May. A year earlier the rate was 2.4%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in June 2013.
As regards agriculture, there was a public debate on the state of play on the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform package. Concerning fisheries issues, ministers reached an agreement for a full general approach on a proposal for the European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) within the framework of the common fisheries policy (CFP) reform package.
The consultation asks stakeholders, citizens, businesses, NGOs and public authorities for ideas on immediate action to reduce food waste and more generally on how to ensure our food system is using resources efficiently.
A new study presented by the European Commission finds that the establishment of maritime zones, including Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), in the Mediterranean would benefit the EU's Blue Growth and wider sustainability agendas.
The European Commission launches a new strategy, 'European higher education in the world', aiming to ensure European graduates gain the international skills they need to work anywhere in the world and that Europe remains the most attractive destination for international students.
The European Commission, EU Member States and European industry will invest more than €22 billion over the next seven years in innovation for sectors that deliver high quality jobs.
The mechanism would complement the Single Supervisory Mechanism which, once operational in late 2014, will see the European Central Bank (ECB) directly supervise banks in the euro area and in other Member States which decide to join the Banking Union.
The Ecofin Council concluded this year's coordination of economic and fiscal policies during the European Semester.
The Commission has set out plans to ease custom formalities for ships – reducing red tape, cutting delays in ports and making the sector more competitive.
Croatia was welcomed as the 28th member state in another eventful plenary, while Lithuania replaced Ireland at the helm of the European Union. Parliament voted in favour of Latvia joining the eurozone, gave the green light to a political deal on the EU's long-term budget and selected Emily O'Reilly as the first woman to be EU ombudsman.
The Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.50%, 1.00% and 0.00% respectively.
Cyber criminals will face tougher penalties in the EU, under new rules adopted by Parliament. The draft directive, already informally agreed with member states, also aims to facilitate prevention and to boost police and judicial cooperation in this field. In the event of a cyber attack, EU countries will have to respond to urgent requests for help within eight hours.
Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an "in-depth inquiry" into the US surveillance programmes, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year, says a resolution passed by the full House. Parliament's President and political group leaders formally confirmed the launch of the inquiry. MEPs also call for more protection for whistleblowers.
Parliament endorsed the outcome of its negotiations with the Council on the EU's long-run budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020.
The EU's ability to cope with serious cross-border health threats such as coronavirus, the 2011 E. Coli epidemic or the 2009 H1N1 flu will be strengthened by legislation. The text introduces an early warning system, facilitates joint buying of vaccines and will make it possible to declare an EU-wide emergency in the event of a crisis.
Small investors should be better protected against investment funds that take excessive or unnecessary risks with their money, thanks to a draft law approved by a show of hands. The law clarifies who is liable for mismanagement of funds and tailors fund managers' remuneration rules to encourage them to take reasonable risks and a long-run view.
Parliament called on for updated rules on vehicle checks that improve road safety to extend regular inspections to motorbikes and to some trailers and caravans, making roadside checks on commercial vehicles more efficient and risk-based and streamlining the rules on vehicle documents.
The European Commission has published the first study to weigh up the success of the EU's two macro-regional strategies and to provide recommendations for the future.
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1% in May 2013, up from 12.0% in April. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.9%, stable compared with the previous month. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with May 2012, when they were 11.3% and 10.4% respectively.
On the 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the EU after a decade of carrying out all the reforms needed to bring it into line with EU laws and standards.