What the EU has done to improve Europeans' daily lives.
The big day has finally arrived. The house has been scrubbed and decorated. The whole family is here. Mum and dad have finally been able to take some time off. And they're out in the kitchen, making sure that everything is just right. Dinner's bubbling away on the stove, and the kids are tearing into their presents while grandma and grandpa – fresh in from Spain for the event – look on fondly.
You wouldn't know it, but the EU helps make happy, festive scenes like this possible. Cleaning products have become safer to use and less harmful to the environment thanks to the new legislation on chemical substances. Better food labelling means mum and dad know exactly what they're serving up for the family. And they can relax and let the children play because the EU makes sure that toys sold in Europe are safe. But that's not all. Thanks to EU efforts, temporary workers now enjoy paid leave, just like permanent staff. And people with reduced mobility travelling by plane enjoy the same comfort as everyone else.
In the living room, the TV news is on. Financial crisis, armed conflicts, natural disasters, climate change – wherever the news has been in 2008, so has the EU.
It moved to assist victims of humanitarian disasters and sent observers to monitor elections and the peace process in Georgia.
Over the last few months, the European institutions have worked tirelessly with the Member States to find coordinated solutions to the financial crisis. Now more than ever, the euro has demonstrated its stabilising effect on our countries' economies. In November, the Commission proposed a €200bn economic recovery plan to protect workers, households and companies.
The plan includes increasing investment in green technologies (in sectors such as energy, transport and construction), cementing the EU's position at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change.