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 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 and West Germany . Over the following decades many new members joined them while at the same time integration of economic, cultural, judicial and so forth would then deepen the relationships distinct European entity. 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 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 accumulated a higher portion of GDP as a form of 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 . Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower .
* 1 History
* 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 * 4.2.2 Relations between the EU and its electorate
* 4.3 Constitutional nature
* 4.4 Governance
* 4.5 Budget * 4.6 Competences
* 5 Legal system
* 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 Cultural policy * 8.2 Sport * 8.3 Symbols * 8.4 Media
* 9 See also * 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 11.1 Sources
* 12 Further reading * 13 External links
Play media Robert Schuman proposing the Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950.
After World War II , European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent. 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 and West 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 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 Wall pictured).
In 1973, the Communities were enlarged to include Denmark (including Greenland , which later left the Communities in 1985, following a dispute over fishing rights), Ireland , and the United Kingdom . 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.
Greece joined in 1981, Portugal and 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 . 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 and 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 was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty —whose main architects were 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 , 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 , the Czech Republic , Estonia , Hungary , Latvia , Lithuania , Malta , Poland , Slovakia and Slovenia joined the Union.
LISBON TREATY (2007–PRESENT)
In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force.
In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania became EU members. The same year, Slovenia adopted the euro, followed in 2008 by Cyprus and Malta , by Slovakia in 2009, by Estonia in 2011, by Latvia in 2014 and by Lithuania in 2015.
On 1 December 2009, the 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 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 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 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_. 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, slating the UK to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
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 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 bill of 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 (EU)
European Community (EC)
Terrorism, Radicalism, Extremism and Violence Internationally (TREVI) Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
_Treaty terminated in 2011_
* v * t * e
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 , 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level . The lowest points in the EU are Lammefjorden , Denmark and Zuidplaspolder , 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.
Including the overseas territories of 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 ), 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 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 .
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 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 .
Main article: Demographics of the European Union
E.U. population density in 2014. See also: Ageing of Europe
As of 1 January 2016, the population of the European Union is about 510.1 million people (6.9% of the world population). Considered as a country, the European Union would have the third largest population after China and India . 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 is positive at 0.25%.
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 (6.4 million), France (5.1 million), the United Kingdom (4.7 million), Spain (4.1 million), Italy (3.2 million), and the Netherlands (1.4 million).
See also: List of cities in the European Union by population within city limits
The EU contains about 40 urban areas with populations of over one million. 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 , Dortmund , Düsseldorf et al.), Randstad with approx. 7 million ( Amsterdam , Rotterdam , The Hague , Utrecht et al.), Frankfurt Rhine-Main with approx. 5.8 million ( Frankfurt , Wiesbaden et al.), the Flemish Diamond with approx. 5.5 million ( Antwerp , Brussels , Leuven , Ghent et al.), Upper Silesia with approx. 5.3 million ( Katowice , Ostrava ) and Øresund with approx. 3.7 million ( Copenhagen , Malmö ).
* v * t * e
RANK CITY NAME MEMBER STATE POP. RANK CITY NAME MEMBER STATE POP.
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%
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* EUROPA—official web portal * Institutions