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The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 510 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture , fisheries , and regional development . Within the Schengen Area , passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency .

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris
Paris
and 1957 Treaty of Rome . The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities , were the Inner Six ; Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands
Netherlands
and West Germany
Germany
. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom enacted the result of a membership referendum in June 2016 and is currently negotiating its withdrawal . The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union
European Union
in 1993 and introduced European citizenship . The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon , came into force in 2009.

The European Union
European Union
provides more foreign aid than any other economic union. Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2016 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 16.477 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 22.2% of global nominal GDP and 16.9% when measured in terms of purchasing power parity . Additionally, 27 out of 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index , according to the United Nations Development Programme . In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize . Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy , the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence . The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations , the World Trade Organization , the G7 , and the G20
G20
. Because of its global influence, the European Union
European Union
has been described as an emerging superpower .

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 Background * 1.2 Preliminary (1945–57) * 1.3 Treaty of Rome (1957–92) * 1.4 Maastricht Treaty (1992–2007) * 1.5 Lisbon
Lisbon
Treaty (2007–present) * 1.6 Structural evolution

* 2 Geography

* 2.1 Environment

* 3 Demographics

* 3.1 Population * 3.2 Urbanisation * 3.3 Languages * 3.4 Religion * 3.5 Education and science * 3.6 Health care

* 4 Politics

* 4.1 Member states

* 4.2 Institutions

* 4.2.1 Relation to the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
* 4.2.2 Relations between the EU and its electorate

* 4.3 Constitutional nature

* 4.4 Governance

* 4.4.1 European Parliament * 4.4.2 European Council * 4.4.3 Council of the European Union
Council of the European Union
* 4.4.4 European Commission
European Commission

* 4.5 Budget * 4.6 Competences

* 5 Legal system

* 5.1 Courts of Justice * 5.2 Fundamental rights * 5.3 Acts * 5.4 Area of freedom, security and justice

* 6 Foreign relations

* 6.1 Military * 6.2 Humanitarian aid

* 7 Economy

* 7.1 Internal market * 7.2 Monetary union * 7.3 Energy * 7.4 Infrastructure * 7.5 Agriculture * 7.6 Competition

* 8 Culture

* 8.1 Sport * 8.2 Symbols * 8.3 Media

* 9 See also * 10 Notes

* 11 References

* 11.1 Sources

* 12 Further reading * 13 External links

HISTORY

Main articles: History of the European Union and History of Europe
History of Europe

BACKGROUND

Main article: Ideas of European unity before 1945

“ A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood ... A day will come when we shall see ... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas.

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
, International Peace Congress , 1849. ”

Colosseum
Colosseum
, built during the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, 72–80 AD

During the centuries following the fall of Rome
Rome
in 476, several European States viewed themselves as translatio imperii of the defunct Latin Empire : the Frankish Empire (481–843) and the Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) were attempts to resurrect Rome
Rome
in the West. The Russian Tsardom , and ultimately the Empire (1547–1917), declared Moscow to be Third Rome and inheritor of the Eastern tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The gap between Greek East and Latin West had already been widened by the political scission of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the 4th century and the Great Schism of 1054 ; and would be eventually widened again by the Iron Curtain (1945-91).

Pan-European political thought truly emerged during the 19th century, inspired by the liberal ideas of the French and American Revolutions and the demise of Napoléon\'s Empire (1804-15). In the decades following the outcomes of the Congress of Vienna , ideals of European unity flourished across the continent, especially in the writings of Wojciech Jastrzębowski , Giuseppe Mazzini or Theodore de Korwin Szymanowski . The term United States of Europe (French : États-Unis d'Europe) was famously used at that time by Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
during a speech at the International Peace Congress held in Paris
Paris
in 1849.

In 1920, advocating the creation of a European economic union , British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established (...) to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union." One of the first to imagine of a modern political union of the continent was Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi , who wrote the Pan-Europa manifesto in 1923 and founded the Pan-Europa Movement . His ideas influenced his contemporaries, among which then Prime Minister of France
France
Aristide Briand . In 8 September 1929, the later gave a famous speech in favour of a European Union
European Union
before the assembly of the League of Nations , ancestor of the United Nations .

PRELIMINARY (1945–57)

Play media Robert Schuman proposing the Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950

After World War II
World War II
, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent. In a speech delivered on 19 September 1946 at the University of Zürich , Switzerland, Winston Churchill postulated the emerging of a United States of Europe during the 20th century. The 1948 Hague Congress was a pivotal moment in European federal history, as it led to the creation of the European Movement International and of the College of Europe , where Europe's future leaders would live and study together. 1952 saw the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community , which was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe." The supporters of the Community included Alcide De Gasperi , Jean Monnet , Robert Schuman , and Paul-Henri Spaak . These men and others are officially credited as the Founding fathers of the European Union .

TREATY OF ROME (1957–92)

The continental territories of the member states of the European Union ( European Communities pre-1993), coloured in order of accession.

In 1957, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands
Netherlands
and West Germany
Germany
signed the Treaty of Rome , which created the European Economic Community (EEC) and established a customs union . They also signed another pact creating the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for co-operation in developing nuclear energy . Both treaties came into force in 1958.

The EEC and Euratom were created separately from the ECSC, although they shared the same courts and the Common Assembly. The EEC was headed by Walter Hallstein ( Hallstein Commission ) and Euratom was headed by Louis Armand ( Armand Commission ) and then Étienne Hirsch . Euratom was to integrate sectors in nuclear energy while the EEC would develop a customs union among members.

During the 1960s, tensions began to show, with France
France
seeking to limit supranational power. Nevertheless, in 1965 an agreement was reached and on 1 July 1967 the Merger Treaty created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities . Jean Rey presided over the first merged Commission ( Rey Commission ). In 1989, the Iron Curtain fell, enabling the union to expand further ( Berlin
Berlin
Wall pictured).

In 1973, the Communities were enlarged to include Denmark
Denmark
(including Greenland
Greenland
, which later left the Communities in 1985, following a dispute over fishing rights), Ireland
Ireland
, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
. Norway
Norway
had negotiated to join at the same time, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum . In 1979, the first direct elections to the European Parliament were held. This was marked by a special international friendly football match at Wembley Stadium between two teams called "The Three" and "The Six" which finished 2-0 to "The Three".

Greece
Greece
joined in 1981, Portugal
Portugal
and Spain
Spain
following in 1986. In 1985, the Schengen Agreement paved the way for the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states and some non-member states. In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the EEC and the Single European Act was signed.

In 1990, after the fall of the Eastern Bloc , the former East Germany became part of the Communities as part of a reunified Germany
Germany
. A close fiscal integration with the introduction of the euro was not matched by institutional oversight making things more troubling. Attempts to solve the problems and to make the EU more efficient and coherent had limited success. With further enlargement planned to include the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus
Cyprus
and Malta
Malta
, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the EU were agreed upon in June 1993. The expansion of the EU introduced a new level of complexity and discord.

MAASTRICHT TREATY (1992–2007)

The euro was introduced in 2002, replacing 12 national currencies. Seven countries have since joined.

The European Union
European Union
was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty —whose main architects were Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl
and François Mitterrand —came into force on 1 November 1993. The treaty also gave the name European Community to the EEC, even if it was referred as such before the treaty. In 1995, Austria
Austria
, Finland
Finland
, and Sweden joined the EU.

In 2002, euro banknotes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Since then, the eurozone has increased to encompass 19 countries. The euro currency became the second largest reserve currency in the world. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when Cyprus
Cyprus
, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
, Estonia
Estonia
, Hungary
Hungary
, Latvia
Latvia
, Lithuania
Lithuania
, Malta
Malta
, Poland
Poland
, Slovakia
Slovakia
and Slovenia joined the Union.

LISBON TREATY (2007–PRESENT)

In 2009, the Lisbon
Lisbon
Treaty entered into force.

In 2007, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Romania
Romania
became EU members. The same year, Slovenia
Slovenia
adopted the euro, followed in 2008 by Cyprus
Cyprus
and Malta
Malta
, by Slovakia
Slovakia
in 2009, by Estonia
Estonia
in 2011, by Latvia
Latvia
in 2014 and by Lithuania
Lithuania
in 2015.

On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon
Lisbon
Treaty entered into force and reformed many aspects of the EU. In particular, it changed the legal structure of the European Union, merging the EU three pillars system into a single legal entity provisioned with a legal personality , created a permanent President of the European Council , the first of which was Herman Van Rompuy , and strengthened the position of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy . EU representatives receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012

In 2012, the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize for having "contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe." In 2013, Croatia
Croatia
became the 28th EU member.

From the beginning of the 2010s, the cohesion of the European Union has been tested by several issues, including a debt crisis in some of the Eurozone
Eurozone
countries , increasing migration from the Middle East and the United Kingdom\'s withdrawal from the EU . A referendum in the UK on its membership of the European Union
European Union
was held on 23 June 2016, with 51.9% of participants voting to leave. This is referred to in common parlance throughout Europe as Brexit, a portmanteau of "Britain" and "exit". The UK formally notified the European Council of its decision to leave on 29 March 2017 initiating the formal withdrawal procedure for leaving the EU, committing the UK to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

STRUCTURAL EVOLUTION

Main article: Treaties of the European Union

The following timeline illustrates the integration that has led to the formation of the present union, in terms of structural development driven by international treaties:

Signed: In force: Document : 1948 1948 Brussels Treaty 1951 1952 Paris Treaty 1954 1955 Modified Brussels Treaty 1957 1958 Rome Treaty & EURATOM 1965 1967 Merger Treaty 1975 1976 Council Agreement on TREVI
TREVI
1986 1987 Single European Act (founded Schengen) (implemented Schengen) (amended: EURATOM, ECSC, and EEC to transform it into EC)+ (founded: JHA+CFSP) (amended: EURATOM, ECSC, EC to also contain Schengen, and TEU where PJCC replaced JHA) (amended with focus on institutional changes: EURATOM, ECSC, EC and TEU) (abolished the 3 pillars and WEU by amending: EURATOM, EC=>TFEU, and TEU) (founded EU as an overall legal unit with Charter of Fundamental Rights , and reformed governance structures ">Three pillars of the European Union:

European Communities (with a single Commission ">European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002

European Union
European Union
(EU)

European Economic Community (EEC)

European Community (EC)

Schengen Rules

Terrorism, Radicalism, Extremism and Violence Internationally (TREVI) Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)

European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

Western Union Defence Organization (WUDO) Western European Union (WEU)

Treaty terminated in 2011

* v * t * e

GEOGRAPHY

Main article: Geography of the European Union Biogeographic regions of the continental European Union, according to Köppen .

The EU's member states cover an area of 4,423,147 square kilometres (1,707,787 sq mi). The EU's highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps
Alps
, 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level . The lowest points in the EU are Lammefjorden , Denmark
Denmark
and Zuidplaspolder , Netherlands
Netherlands
, at 7 m (23 ft) below sea level.

The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. The 65,993 km (41,006 mi) coastline dominates the European climate (Natural Park of Penyal d\'Ifac , Spain
Spain
). Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest peak in the EU.

Including the overseas territories of France
France
which are located outside the continent of Europe, but which are members of the union, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic (North-East Europe) to tropical ( French Guiana
French Guiana
), rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the population lives in areas with a temperate maritime climate (North-Western Europe and Central Europe), a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Northern Balkans
Balkans
and Central Europe).

The EU's population is highly urbanised, with some 75% of inhabitants living in urban areas as of 2006. Cities are largely spread out across the EU, although with a large grouping in and around the Benelux .

ENVIRONMENT

Further information: European Commissioner for the Environment and European Climate Change Programme Bison in Białowieża Forest

In 1957, when the EEC was founded, it had no environmental policy. Over the past 50 years, an increasingly dense network of legislation has been created, extending to all areas of environmental protection, including air pollution, water quality, waste management, nature conservation, and the control of chemicals, industrial hazards and biotechnology. According to the Institute for European Environmental Policy , environmental law comprises over 500 Directives, Regulations and Decisions, making environmental policy a core area of European politics.

European policy-makers originally increased the EU's capacity to act on environmental issues by defining it as a trade problem. Trade barriers and competitive distortions in the Common Market could emerge due to the different environmental standards in each member state. In subsequent years, the environment became a formal policy area, with its own policy actors, principles and procedures. The legal basis for EU environmental policy was established with the introduction of the Single European Act in 1987. A black stork , a protected species under Regulation (EC) No. 338/97

Initially, EU environmental policy focused on Europe. More recently, the EU has demonstrated leadership in global environmental governance, e.g. the role of the EU in securing the ratification and coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol despite opposition from the United States . This international dimension is reflected in the EU's Sixth Environmental Action Programme, which recognises that its objectives can only be achieved if key international agreements are actively supported and properly implemented both at EU level and worldwide. The Lisbon
Lisbon
Treaty further strengthened the leadership ambitions. EU law has played a significant role in improving habitat and species protection in Europe, as well as contributing to improvements in air and water quality and waste management.

Mitigating climate change is one of the top priorities of EU environmental policy. In 2007, member states agreed that, in future, 20% of the energy used across the EU must be renewable , and carbon dioxide emissions have to be lower in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels. The EU has adopted an emissions trading system to incorporate carbon emissions into the economy. The European Green Capital is an annual award given to cities that focuses on the environment, energy efficiency and quality of life in urban areas to create smart city .

DEMOGRAPHICS

Main article: Demographics of the European Union

POPULATION

EU population density in 2014 See also: Ageing of Europe

As of 1 January 2016, the population of the European Union
European Union
is about 510.1 million people (6.9% of the world population). In 2015, 5.1 million children were born in the EU-28, corresponding to a birth rate of 10 per 1,000, which is 8 births below the world average. For comparison, the EU-28 birth rate had stood at 10.6 in 2000, 12.8 in 1985 and 16.3 in 1970. Its population growth rate was positive at an estimated 0.23% in 2016.

In 2010, 47.3 million people who lived in the EU were born outside their resident country. This corresponds to 9.4% of the total EU population. Of these, 31.4 million (6.3%) were born outside the EU and 16.0 million (3.2%) were born in another EU member state. The largest absolute numbers of people born outside the EU were in Germany
Germany
(6.4 million), France
France
(5.1 million), the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(4.7 million), Spain
Spain
(4.1 million), Italy
Italy
(3.2 million), and the Netherlands
Netherlands
(1.4 million).

URBANISATION

See also: List of cities in the European Union
European Union
by population within city limits

The EU contains about 40 urban areas with populations of over one million, including the three megacities (cities with a population of over 10 million) of London
London
, Paris
Paris
, and the Rhine-Ruhr . In addition to large agglomerations , the EU also includes several densely populated polycentric urbanised regions that have no single core but have emerged from the connection of several cities and now encompass a large metropolis . The largest of these polycentric metropolis include Rhine-Ruhr with approximately 11.5 million inhabitants ( Cologne
Cologne
, Dortmund
Dortmund
, Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
et al.), Randstad with approx. 7 million ( Amsterdam
Amsterdam
, Rotterdam
Rotterdam
, The Hague , Utrecht
Utrecht
et al.), Frankfurt Rhine-Main with approx. 5.8 million ( Frankfurt
Frankfurt
, Wiesbaden et al.), the Flemish Diamond with approx. 5.5 million ( Antwerp
Antwerp
, Brussels
Brussels
, Leuven
Leuven
, Ghent
Ghent
et al.), and Øresund with approx. 3.7 million ( Copenhagen
Copenhagen
, Malmö ).

* v * t * e

Largest population centres of the European Union
European Union
by metropolitan area Eurostat
Eurostat
2015: Functional Urban Zones

RANK CITY NAME MEMBER STATE POP. RANK CITY NAME MEMBER STATE POP.

London
London

Paris
Paris
1 LONDON United Kingdom
United Kingdom
12,098,850 11 GREATER MANCHESTER BUILT-UP AREA United Kingdom
United Kingdom
3,280,051

Madrid
Madrid

Milan
Milan

2 PARIS France
France
11,926,122 12 HAMBURG Germany
Germany
3,201,905

3 MADRID Spain
Spain
6,643,994 13 WARSAW Poland
Poland
3,100,844

4 MILAN Italy
Italy
5,097,548 14 WEST MIDLANDS CONURBATION United Kingdom
United Kingdom
3,026,581

5 BERLIN Germany
Germany
5,066,361 15 BUDAPEST Hungary
Hungary
2,927,944

6 RUHR Germany
Germany
5,054,634 16 LISBON Portugal
Portugal
2,810,668

7 BARCELONA Spain
Spain
4,913,865 17 MUNICH Germany
Germany
2,804,001

8 ROME Italy
Italy
4,415,586 18 STUTTGART Germany
Germany
2,694,009

9 ATHENS Greece
Greece
3,828,434 19 BRUSSELS Belgium
Belgium
2,607,961

10 NAPLES Italy
Italy
3,421,906 20 FRANKFURT Germany
Germany
2,606,836

LANGUAGES

Main article: Languages of the European Union

LANGUAGE NATIVE SPEAKERS TOTAL

English 13% 51%

German 16% 27%

French 13% 24%

Italian 12% 16%

Spanish 8% 15%

Polish 8% 9%

Romanian 5% 5%

Dutch 4% 5%

Greek 3% 4%

Hungarian 3% 3%

Portuguese 2% 3%

Czech 2% 3%

Swedish 2% 3%

Bulgarian 2% 2%

Slovak 1% 2%

Danish 1% 1%

Finnish 1% 1%

Lithuanian 1% 1%

Croatian 1% 1%

.