[OLD] Introduction to the European Union

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    Introduction to the European Union

    I. Introduction to the Region

    The European Union is a politics, economics, and military role-playing region. We are set in the modern day and work (more or less) in real time, although summits, conferences, etc. are generally assumed to take place in the day or two after they've started (so your head of government isn't stuck in a foreign country for a month waiting for your inactive summit partner to reply!). As a free region, members have the final say in their affairs; nothing, so far, is mandatory, allowing every possibility to be open - from an insane dictator armed with nuclear weapons to a peace-loving democratic superpower, in economical and political terms. That said, the region does promote freedom, democracy, and human rights, and governments that break the terms of the Constitution (please read at some point, sooner rather than later) may be sued for doing so before the European Court of Justice (more on which later). The region is governed by a supreme legislative branch, the European Council, and an elected executive branch, the European Commission.

    II. Legislative Branch - The European Council

    The European Council is the region's legislative authority, and consists of one representative from each member-state that has a plot on the map (more on which later). Each Councillor, no matter how old or new their nation is to the RP, has an equal voice and equal powers - any Councillor (except those of puppet nations, who can't vote) may propose Bills, debate them, propose amendments to them, and ultimately vote on them. The Council may pass a Bill by a 55% majority, or a 75% supermajority, depending on its nature - if passed, a Bill becomes an Act and thus becomes part of European law. The Council may also debate and vote on amendments to existing European laws, proposals to repeal existing European laws, non-binding statements expressing a certain opinion, and impeachments of the Council Speaker, members of the European Commission, or members of the European Court of Justice. The Speaker of the European Council presides over Council proceedings, but is otherwise equal to his peers. He serves an eighteen month term, with no term limits. Currently, the Speaker is Cllr. John Walters of Halsberg, whose office is responsible for keeping records and statistics of Council activities.

    III. Executive Branch - The European Commission

    The European Commission is the region's executive authority, and consists of three elected members, each responsible for a specific office. Commissioners are bound by the Constitution to represent the European Union as a whole, not their home nation, and each player may have only one Commissioner at a time, and may only serve for two consecutive terms. The Premier Commissioner is elected every four months by the European Council, according to the alternative vote system. The winning candidate then nominates candidates for the Offices of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs, subject to a hearing and approval by the European Council. The Commission is currently vacant due to elections, but the most previous Commission was led by Premier Commissioner Anja Emerett from Inquista, who presided over Foreign Affairs Commissioner Eric Hitchens of Inimicus, Internal Affairs Commissioner Richard Dawson of Aalen, Economics Commissioner Thomas Ericsson of Fremet, and Defence Commissioner Marie Solomon from Halsberg. This was the 21st European Commission - you can see the institution's history below (click to make larger). Note that the next Commission will be the first to have three offices - from its inception until this autumn, the Commission had five members.

    IV. Judicial Authority - European Court of Justice

    The European Court of Justice is the supreme judicial authority of the European Union. It too consists of five elected members, elected in the same manner as the Commission at the same time as the Commission (every four months); and likewise, its members are bound by the Constitution to represent the European Union as a whole, not their home nation. However, they are also non-partisan. The head judge of the ECoJ (as it's generally called) is the Chief Justice, who presides over four other Justices. The role of the ECoJ is to enforce the Consitution, a role which includes deciding whether European or national laws, or the actions of the European Commission, national or local governments, or individuals, are in line with the Constitution. If the ECoJ finds that an EU institution, nation, local government, or individual has broken the Constitution, then it has the legal power to issue sanctions until they stop doing so, and can also issue suitable punishments. The current Chief Justice is Ine Kelander from the Duxburian Union, whose Court also features Justices Brenda Hale from the United Kingdom, Miroslav Valera from Sitanova, Charles Dance from Aalen, and Alan Abela Wadge from New Sarai.

    V. Political Groups

    Political Groups are alliances of like-minded Councillors, established in 2016 as a replacement for Europarties, which were pan-European political parties. They exist as a laboratory for like-minded Councillors to come up with ideas for Council legislation, and can also endorse candidates in Commission elections. Managed by the Speaker's Office in the European Council, any three Councillors can found a Political Group, provided they can give it a name and explain the group's common ideological basis. Councillors cannot be members of more than one Political Group at a time, and Political Groups that fall below three members lose their recognition and are thus effectively abolished. Councillors do not need to join a Political Group, and most Councillors at present are non-inscrits, which is Europolis-speak for 'independents'.

    There are currently two Political Groups in the European Council - the European Progressive Alliance (EPA), which caters to pro-European progressives; and the European Liberals (EL), which caters to pro-national sovereignty centrists.

    VI. Diplomacy, War, and Fun!

    There’s a whole diplomatic stage outside of the Europolis institutions. Member states in the EU talk to and about each other, make deals with each other, wage war against each other, and even have fun with each other. As a start, you can set up your own embassy system and apply for embassies in other countries – although it is important to point out that you’re assumed to have diplomatic relations with other member states anyway, unless stated otherwise. You can use embassies to post short ‘open letters’ to other member states.

    You can also set up a thread for certain ministries of your government (but don’t go overboard!) in the Government Offices forum, and from there you can post official government statements about other countries (or, indeed, your own). Likewise, you can use your news thread(s) in the European News Consortium (more on which later) to have your country’s government officials or newspaper columnists comment on other countries (or, again, your own).

    Perhaps the most common way countries converse in the EU is through summits. These go in the Politics & Incidents forum. Most involve just two countries, but some can have many more. They’re usually arranged by private message – simply ask another player if they want to hold a summit, and when they’d be free to do it – and can take as long as necessary. As said before, we’re flexible with our RP timescales. It’s also worth noting that summits can often simply peter out due to a lack of interest from one or more players – if nobody posts for a couple of weeks, simply assume that the summit is finished.

    What can you achieve with summits? Many nations make trade and investment deals, such as free trade agreements. You can find details of some existing multinational economic relationships in the World Stock Exchange (more on which, again, later).

    You can also make defence pacts, alliances, or military co-operation arrangements. However, first of all, you must check out the war system and fill out a war list for your country – please do this as soon as possible after getting a plot on the map. Until you do this, your country won’t be considered as having any military at all. Should diplomatic tensions escalate to the point that you end up at war with another country (the RP for which should go in the Warzone forum), please bear the following things in mind – war must be realistic, and war must not be god-moded (i.e., you don’t control what happens to other countries and their militaries). If you think another country is god-moding or RPing war unrealistically, let one of the admins know.

    Finally, the lighter side of international relations. The EU has many regular events in the Culture & Sport forum where countries can get together and compete against each other, or simply showcase the best their cultures have to offer. These include Eurovoice (our answer to Eurovision), the UEFA football tournament, and Skate Inquista. Many of these events and RPs, especially cultural or sporting events and multinational summits or parties, will be open for everyone, including you, to sign up to - such events are a great way to get involved in the region and to RP with a whole host of veteran players.

    With all these things, from summits to embassy threads to war RPs, it's a good idea to look at existing examples to get an idea of what is good (and therefore, more fun) RP. Ask the admins if you'd like them to point out any specific examples to you.

    VII. Internal RP

    You can also develop your own country’s politics, economy, military, culture, and more. The most common way of roleplaying your nation’s internal affairs is by creating a news outlet (or you can have more than one – but again, don’t go overboard) in the European News Consortium forum. There you can post simple news reports, more in-depth reports, news with a particular slant or writing style, or opinion pieces from your country’s punditry. You can write on any subject, and any aspect of your country, that would be seen in a normal news outlet.

    If you want to actually roleplay events ‘as they happen’, rather than through the mouth of a journalist, you’ve a range of options depending on what, exactly, the RP is. Cultural and sporting events, such as a national sporting competition or an art gallery, go, unsurprisingly, in the Culture & Sport forum. If you want to create a company that can then trade or deal with other companies, both within your country and abroad, or even a stock exchange, then the World Stock Exchange is for you. Military exercises, meanwhile, would go in the Warzone. Everything else, from elections to terrorist attacks to political intrigue, can be found in the Politics & Incidents forum. If ever you’re unsure as to which forum to put an RP, you can either ask someone or just go ahead – if you’re in the wrong forum, one of the admins will soon enough move it to the right place for you.

    The opportunities really are endless – and as ever, it’s a good idea to look at some existing examples to see what is good internal RP. But try to follow these basic points:

    1. Be realistic, but don’t confuse ‘realistic’ for boring, uneventful, and super-serious. You absolutely can have fun, humour, and a touch of the absurd in a realistic RP – look at Donald Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or Leicester City! The real world is full of absurdly funny things, and the same goes for the EU. As with all things, though, don’t go overboard.
    2. Your country is not just an extension of your own personality. Obviously that’s a part of it, but a well-RPed country should be more than that. It should have characters who disagree with each other and with you, and they shouldn’t just be caricatures of everything you disagree with.
    3. Stories should make sense. RPs are more fun to write – and read – when they make sense. This especially applies to the ending – nobody likes a rushed ending that either makes no sense at all, or is just a cop-out (“it was all a dream!”).
    4. Characters should actually resemble real people. Real people have motives, characteristics (some big, some minor), and flaws (again, some big, some minor – and some people are a lot more flawed than others!). But at the same time, they’re not entirely predictable.
    5. Have fun! That, after all, is the whole point of RPing and the whole point of this community. If you’re losing interest in an RP, you’re probably best off either taking a break from it until you regain interest in it, or just bringing it to a quicker end than you’d originally planned (but not too quick - see No. 3).

    VIII. Economics

    We're currently in the process of setting up a proper economics system, which will provide statistics and serve as the basis for economic RP. In the meantime, just don't be unrealistic and you'll probably be fine.

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    RP Practice and Forum Etiquette: How to Avoid Annoying Your Fellow Players

    I. IC and OOC Part I - The Basics

    The European Union is a role-playing community, and therefore we have a separation between things that are in-character (IC), and things that are out-of-character (OOC). Most forums, and all the ones in which roleplaying takes place, are IC; although the European Union Information*, Maintenance, and Chamber of Loose Lips fora are OOC. Some threads in the IC forums will be OOC, and will be marked as such in the title, like in this one, and you should otherwise assume that the thread is IC. If you wish to make an out-of-character comment in an IC thread (and please do so sparingly and only if your comment is relevant to the thread - jumping into a summit thread between two other nations and making an OOC comment like "LOL" is just spam and a surefire way to annoy your fellow players), please put it in double brackets and start it with "OOC:", so that everybody else knows that you're posting out-of-character. Like thus:

    ((OOC: Do you want me to reply now or should I wait for everyone else to post first?))

    You can also (again, sparingly and when relevant) put OOC comments in otherwise IC posts, using the same formula:

    ((OOC: Sorry I didn't post earlier, I've been busy with RL work the last few days.))

    Cardinal Unctious entered the conference hall and greeted his fellow guests before sitting down and pouring himself a glass of water.

    *Although it does contain (important) IC information, such as the Constitution and the Territory Selection spreadsheet.

    II. IC and OOC Part II - What Exists in the RP?

    The EU, as mentioned earlier, is a modern-tech region. That means that, essentially, all the things that have been invented in real life (RL for short) have also been invented in the RP. And the reverse is also true, so no, your country can't run on cheaply available energy from nuclear fusion, or be populated by sentient dragons/people with three eyes, or have dragon/three-eyed fish as its national delicacy. You can, however, roleplay innovations that would be reasonable in the real world today, provided you RP it extensively, justifying the innovation. You can't just make a news post, out of the blue, announcing that your country's scientists have suddenly invented a way of generating cheaply available energy from nuclear fusion.

    We don't necessarily explain how the things that have been invented actually got invented, since, for example, though the light-bulb exists in the RP, Thomas Edison doesn't (necessarily). Neither, of course, does the United States or any other real-world nation or entity**, although you can refer to them as part of your nation's history (so Angleter, for instance, was founded in part by Hungarian crusaders in the 13th century, even though - at the time of writing - no Hungary or equivalent exists in the RP). You can, however, claim real-world personalities as your own by bringing them into the RP - so, for example, when Angleter entered Cher Lloyd into EuroVoice (she didn't win), she became part of the RP as an Angleteric character.

    We use some statistics from NationStates (NS for short), but we don't strictly abide by all of them. RP population, for example, is 5% of NS population until that reaches 400 million, and then 0.5% from then on. So if your NS population is 600 million, then your RP population is 21 million, since 5% of 400 million is 20 million, and 0.5% of the remaining 200 million is 1 million. Some NS statistics are also used to determine your country's RP economic statistics and how many industrial credits you have in the war system; but you don't have to stick to your NS nation's information in the overview, its budget, its civil rights/political freedoms/arms manufacturing/social conservatism/whatever stats. The WA Delegacy is acknowledged in the RP as existing (as is the World Assembly, as are other regions), but they have no effect on the RP - they're just there. NS issues are also not part of the RP, nor is anything on the NS Regional Message Board, nor is anything on the NS forums, nor are NS telegrams, nor is anything in your NS factbooks or anything on any other website you may operate. The only factbook that your fellow players will consider is your factbook in National Information, and players shouldn't have to go trawling through the Internet to find out basic and/or important information about the country they're RPing with.

    Sometimes, of course, one comes across matters that are both part of NS and relevant to the RP, such as recruitment. Generally we tend to put that sort of thing in RP terminology, so 'recruitment telegrams' become 'invitations to join the EU', and suchlike. are just ignored, and anything on the RMB (or in NS factbooks) is not part of the RP.

    **Unless, of course, a nation called the United States and modelled on the RL United States is being played in the RP.

    III. IC and OOC Part III - It's Nothing Personal

    Sometimes, the RP can get a little heated. Countries may strongly disagree in the European Council, candidates for the Commission may clash in debates, a country may sue another in the ECoJ, or countries may have diplomatic disagreements that may lead to sanctions or even war. Most of the time the RP is friendly, but in these circumstances it is important to remember the separation between IC and OOC. When Country A, played by Jim, acts belligerently or unfairly towards Country B, played by Jane; then Jane shouldn't necessarily take that as a personal insult from Jim. Indeed, Jim and Jane should be able to remain good OOC friends while their IC countries tear lumps out of each other. If pretty much the entire region condemns your country for a certain reason, it's almost always not because all the other players just hate you personally. In fact, we're actually quite a nice bunch of people. Usually if something like that happens, it's because you've RPed your country as making a catastrophic diplomatic misstep (and you won't be the first player to do so), and every other player is having their country respond as a normal country would.

    Of course, if you genuinely suspect that another player is bullying you personally in some way, be sure to report it to one of the admins. We do not tolerate flaming, trolling, or cyber-bullying in any form.

    Since countries in this RP are supposed to interact with each other as normal countries would, it's not impossible that you'll end up getting your country into a major RP - an important summit, a diplomatic crisis, a war, etc. - just around the time your RL commitments mean that you won't be able to devote the amount of time and effort necessary to such an RP. If this happens to you, say so. People are generally understanding and will usually respond by delaying the RP until you can fully participate, or simply toning it down so it doesn't require so much of your attention. People will, however, get annoyed if you just disappear without warning (or good reason) or just participate half-heartedly in something they're putting mountains of effort into.

    IV. Editing

    The edit function, in IC forums, exists primarily for rephrasing, correcting typos, and quickly adding anything you may have forgotten to include in your post. It is emphatically not for changing the substance of your posts, especially if people have already responded to it. That leads to threads that make no sense, since players have responded to something that’s no longer there or has been substantially changed, and is a surefire way to annoy those players.

    This also applies to Council legislation, when you originally propose it. Even if an amendment passes, it is important not to edit your original post, since otherwise the original wording of the bill will be lost, and we’ll have no idea what the successful amendments were amending. An updated form of the bill will usually be posted by the Speaker or a substitute at the end of the amendment voting stage.

    There’s no need to be quite so strict with OOC posts, but it’s still good practice not to edit your posts so that the comments below you either make no sense or end up looking like they’re saying something completely different to their original meaning.

    As regards deleting posts, please only do this if the post is of no value (posted by accident in the wrong thread or forum, an RP aborted after the first post, spam, etc.), and if nobody has responded to it (except for OOC notes that you’ve posted in the wrong thread or whatever). Also, if you’re switching to a new nation or, sadly, leaving the EU, please do not delete your account. It makes the historical record of your posts a lot harder to piece together.

    V. Spam

    Spam belongs in the Chamber of Loose Lips forum and nowhere else. And even then, please try to make it the slightest bit interesting or fun for other players. Random spam anywhere else, especially in the middle of an IC thread, is only going to annoy people.

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    If you still have any questions or queries, don't hesitate to post them in the Any Questions thread, or alternatively, just message one of the admins.