Monday, July 13, 2009
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community.
The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, ensuring the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. A common currency, the euro, has been adopted by sixteen member states constituting the Eurozone. The EU has developed a limited role in foreign policy, having representation at the WTO, G8 summits, and at the UN. It enacts legislation in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport controls between many member states which form part of the Schengen Area. Twenty-one EU countries are members of NATO.
The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Since then the union has grown in size through the accession of new countries, and new policy areas have been added to the remit of the EU's institutions.
Political centres Brussels:
European Council: Fredrik Reinfeldt
Parliament: Jerzy Buzek (EPP)
EU Council: Sweden
Commission: José Manuel Barroso (EPP)
Official languages: 23
Member States 27
Motto: United in diversity
Anthem: Ode to Joy