European Union

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European Union
“EU” redirects here. For other uses, see EU (disam- erating a GDP bigger than any other economic union or
country.[24] Additionally, 26 out of 28 EU countries have
a very high Human Development Index, according to the
In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace
The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic UNDP.
union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.[12][13] The EU operates through a system of supranational institutions and intergovernmentalnegotiated decisions by the member states.[14][15] The institutions are: the European Commission, the Council of 1 History
the European Union, the European Council, the Court
of Justice of the European Union, the European Central
Bank, the European Court of Auditors, and the European Main articles: History of the European Union and
Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every History of Europe
five years by EU citizens.
The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and
Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic
Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in
1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the 1.1
community 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. The Maastricht Treaty
established the European Union under its current name in
1993 and introduced European citizenship.[16] The latest
major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU,
the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.


The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states.
Within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been
abolished.[17] EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital,[18] enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade,[19] agriculture,[20] fisheries, and
regional development.[21]
The monetary union was established in 1999 and came
into full force in 2002. It is currently composed of
19 member states that use the euro as their legal tender. 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 WTO, the G8, and the G-20.

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

After World War II, European integration was eyed as
an escape from the extreme nationalism that had devastated the continent.[26] 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.[27] 1952 saw the creation of
the European Coal and Steel Community, which was declared to be “a first step in the federation of Europe.”.[28]
The supporters of the Community included Alcide De
Gasperi, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, and Paul-Henri

With a combined population of over 500 million
inhabitants,[22] or 7.3% of the world population,[23] the
EU in 2014 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 18.495 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24% of global nominal GDP and 17% when
measured in terms of purchasing power parity. As of
2014 the EU has the largest economy in the world, gen-




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


In 1989, the Iron Curtain fell, enabling the union to expand further (Berlin Wall pictured).



Treaty of Rome and growth

In 1990, after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, the former
East Germany became part of the Community as part of a
reunited Germany.[40] With further enlargement planned
for former communist states, Cyprus, and Malta, the
Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the
EU were agreed upon in June 1993.

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 1.3

Maastricht Treaty and after

The EEC and Euratom were created separately from
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.[30][31]
Through 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.[32][33] Jean Rey presided over
The euro was introduced in 2002, replacing 12 national currenthe first merged Commission (Rey Commission).[34]
In 1973, the Communities enlarged to include Denmark
(including Greenland, which later left the Community in
1985, following a dispute over fishing rights), Ireland, and
the United Kingdom.[35] Norway had negotiated to join at
the same time, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum. In 1979, the first direct, democratic
elections to the European Parliament were held.[36]
Greece joined in 1981; Portugal and Spain in 1986.[37]
In 1985, the Schengen Agreement led the way toward
the creation of open borders without passport controls
between most member states and some non-member
states.[38] In 1986, the European flag began to be used
by the Community[39] and the Single European Act was

cies. 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.[16] 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. 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.[41]

2 Geography

Main article: Geography of the European Union

2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force.

The 65,993 km (41,006 mi) coastline dominates the
European climate (Cyprus).

On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became
EU members. In the same year, Slovenia adopted the
euro,[41] followed in 2008 by Cyprus and Malta, by
Slovakia in 2009, by Estonia in 2011, by Latvia in 2014
and by Lithuania in 2015. In June 2009, the European
Parliament elections were held, leading to the second Barroso Commission, and by July, Iceland formally applied Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest peak in the union.
for EU membership, but has since suspended negotiations.
The EU’s member states cover an area of 4,423,147
On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into square kilometres (1,707,787 sq mi).[lower-alpha 3] The
force and reformed many aspects of the EU. In particu- EU’s highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps,
lar, it changed the legal structure of the European Union, 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level.[48] The lowmerging the EU three pillars system into a single legal est point(s) in the EU is Lammefjorden, Denmark and
entity provisioned with a legal personality, created a per- Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands, at 7 m (23 ft) below sea
manent President of the European Council, the first of level.[49] The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU
which was Herman Van Rompuy, and strengthened the are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres
High Representative, Catherine Ashton.[42]
(41,006 mi) long.
In 2012 the Union received the Nobel Peace Prize Including the overseas territories of France which are
for having “contributed to the advancement of peace located outside the continent of Europe, but which are
and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in members of the union, the EU experiences most types
Europe.”[43][44] On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th of climate from Arctic (North-East Europe) to tropiEU member.[45][46][47]
cal (French Guyana), 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).[50]
The EU’s population is highly urbanised, with some 75%
of inhabitants (and growing, projected to be 90% in seven
member states by 2020) living in urban areas. Cities are
largely spread out across the EU, although with a large
Main article: Treaties of the European Union
grouping in and around the Benelux. An increasing percentage of this is due to low density urban sprawl which
The following timeline illustrates the integration that has is extending into natural areas. In some cases, this urled to the formation of the present union, in terms of ban growth has been due to the influx of EU funds into a
structural development driven by international treaties:


Structural evolution




Member states

Main article: Member state of the European Union


negotiations: “This designation is without prejudice to
positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244
and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of

The following 28 sovereign states (of which the map only Four countries forming the European Free Trade Assoshows territories situated in and around Europe) consti- ciation (EFTA) (that are not EU members) have partly
tute the union:[52]
committed to the EU’s economy and regulations: IceThrough successive enlargements, the Union has grown land, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are a part of
from the six founding states—Belgium, France, West the single market through the European Economic Area,
which has similar ties through bilateral
Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands—to and Switzerland,
relationships of the European mithe current 28. Countries accede to the union by becrostates,
San Marino, and the Vatican
coming party to the founding treaties, thereby subjecting
and other areas of cothemselves to the privileges and obligations of EU mem[63]
bership. This entails a partial delegation of sovereignty to
the institutions in return for representation within those
institutions, a practice often referred to as “pooling of


Further information: European Commissioner for the
Environment and European Climate Change Programme
In 1957, when the EU was founded, it had no envi-

Map of the European Union in the world with overseas countries
and territories and outermost regions.

To become a member, a country must meet the
Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 meeting of the
European Council in Copenhagen. These require a stable
democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law;
a functioning market economy; and the acceptance of the
obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country’s fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.[56] No member state has
ever left the Union, although Greenland (an autonomous
province of Denmark) withdrew in 1985.[57] The Lisbon
Treaty now contains a clause providing for a member to
leave the EU.[58]
There are six countries which are recognized as
candidates for membership:
Albania, Iceland,
Macedonia,[lower-alpha 5] Montenegro, Serbia, and
Turkey.[59] However, on 13 June 2013, Iceland’s Foreign
Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, informed the European Commission that the newly elected government
intended to “put negotiations on hold”.[60] Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Kosovo are officially recognised as
potential candidates,[59] but have not submitted membership applications. Due to the lack of recognition by five
of the 28 EU member states, the European Commission
refers only to “Kosovo*", with an asterisked footnote
containing the text agreed to by the Belgrade–Pristina

Viru Bog in Lahemaa National Park in Estonia, a protected habitat under the Habitats Directive

ronmental policy, no environmental bureaucracy, and no
environmental laws.[64] Today, the EU has some of the
most progressive environmental policies of any state in
the world. The environmental policy of the EU has therefore developed in remarkable fashion in the past four
decades. An increasingly dense network of legislation
has emerged, which now extends to all areas of environmental protection, including: air pollution control, water protection, waste management, nature conservation,
and the control of chemicals, biotechnology and other
industrial risks.[65] The Institute for European Environmental Policy estimates the body of EU environmental
law amounts to well over 500 Directives, Regulations and
Decisions.[66] Environmental policy has thus become a
core area of European politics.
Such dynamic developments are surprising in light of the
legal and institutional conditions which existed in the late
1950s and 60s.[67] Acting without any legislative authority, European policy-makers initially increased the EU’s

capacity to act by defining environmental policy as a trade
problem. The most important reason for the introduction of a common environmental policy was the fear that
trade barriers and competitive distortions in the Common
Market could emerge due to the different environmental
standards.[68] However, in the course of time, EU environmental policy emerged as a formal policy area, with
its own policy actors, policy principles and procedures.
The legal basis of EU environmental policy was not more
explicitly established until the introduction of the Single
European Act in 1987.[66]

ning on renewable energy such as biofuels. This is considered to be one of the most ambitious moves of an important industrialised region to fight climate change.[71] The
EU adopted an emissions trading system to incorporate
carbon emissions into the economy.[72]
The European Green Capital is an annual award that is
given to cities that focuses on the environment, energy
efficiency and quality of life in urban areas to create smart

3 Politics
Main article: Politics of the European Union
The EU operates within those competencies conferred
National Parliaments

A black stork, an Annex A protected species under Regulation
(EC) No. 338/97

One of the top priorities of EU environmental policy
is combatting climate change. In 2007, member states
agreed that the EU is to use 20% renewable energy in the
future and that it has to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels.[70] This
includes measures that in 2020, 10% of the overall fuel
quantity used by cars and trucks in EU 27 should be run-

Heads of
state / government

Central Bank

European Court
of Auditors

European Court
of Justice

of Ministers








Enfranchised people (according to the electoral laws of each country)
Legislative branch

elects / appoints / decides on 1: Elections are every 5 years. The right to vote may be different depending on the country

Executive branch


Judicial branch

Initially, EU environmental policy was rather introspective. More recently, however, the Union has demonstrated a growing leadership in global environmental governance. The role of the EU in securing the ratification
and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in the face of
US opposition is an example in this regard. This international dimension is reflected in the EU’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme, which recognises that its
strategic objectives can only be achieved if a series of
key international environmental agreements are actively
supported and properly implemented both at an EU level
and worldwide. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty
further strengthens the EU’s global environmental leadership ambitions.[69] The vast body of EU environmental
law which now exists has played a vital role in improving habitat and species protection in Europe as well as
contributed to improvements in air and water quality and
waste management.[66] However, significant challenges
remain, both to meet existing EU targets and aspirations
and to agree new targets and actions that will further improve the environment and the quality of life in Europe
and beyond.

National Governments


2: State chamber. Convenes in varying composition depending on the policy area.
Each country is represented by one member per department
3: Each country is represented by one member
4: The European Central Bank is composed of representatives of the national central banks.
Its Board is elected by the European Council on the proposal of the Council of Ministers

Political system of the European Union

on it by the treaties and according to the principle of
subsidiarity (which dictates that action by the EU should
only be taken where an objective cannot be sufficiently
achieved by the member states alone). Laws made by the
EU institutions are passed in a variety of forms. Generally speaking, they can be classified into two groups:
those which come into force without the necessity for national implementation measures and those which specifically require national implementation measures.[73]

3.1 Constitutional nature
Further information: Treaties of the European Union
The classification of the European Union in terms of international or constitutional law has been much debated,
often in the light of the degree of integration that is perceived, desired, or expected. Historically, at least, the
EU is an international organisation, and by some criteria,
it could be classified as a confederation; but it also has
many attributes of a federation, so some would classify
it as a (de facto) federation of states.[74][75][76] For this
reason, the organisation has, in the past, been termed sui
generis (incomparable, one of a kind), though it is also
argued that this designation is no longer true.[77][78]



The organisation itself has traditionally used the terms
“community”, and later “union”. The difficulties of classification involve the difference between national law
(where the subjects of the law include natural persons
and corporations) and international law (where the subjects include sovereign states and international organisations); they can also be seen in the light of differing European and American constitutional traditions.[77] Especially in terms of the European constitutional tradition,
the term federation is equated with a sovereign federal
state in international law; so the EU cannot be called a
federal state or federation—at least, not without qualification. Though not, strictly, a federation, it is more than
a free-trade association.[79] It is, however, described as
being based on a federal model or federal in nature. Walter Hallstein, in the original German edition of Europe
in the Making called it “an unfinished federal state”.[80]
The German Constitutional Court refers to the European
Union as an association of sovereign states and affirms that
making the EU a federation would require replacement of
the German constitution.[81] Others claim that it will not
develop into a federal state but has reached maturity as
an international organisation.[82]
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk



“supreme political authority”.[83] It is actively involved in
Main articles: Institutions of the European Union and the negotiation of the treaty changes and defines the EU’s
Legislature of the European Union
policy agenda and strategies.
The European Union has seven institutions: the European
Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the
European Commission, the European Council, the
European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors. Competencies in scrutinising and amending legislation are divided between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union while executive tasks are carried out by the European Commission and in a limited capacity by the European Council (not to be confused with the aforementioned Council of the European
Union). The monetary policy of the eurozone is governed
by the European Central Bank. The interpretation and the
application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the
Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU budget
is scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors. There
are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the
EU or operate in a specific area.

The European Council uses its leadership role to sort out
disputes between member states and the institutions, and
to resolve political crises and disagreements over controversial issues and policies. It acts externally as a “collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for
example, international agreements and treaties).[84]
On 19 November 2009, Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as the first permanent President of the European
Council. On 1 December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon
entered into force and he assumed office. Ensuring the
external representation of the EU,[85] driving consensus
and settling divergences among members are tasks for the
President both during the convocations of the European
Council and in the time periods between them. The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of
Europe, an international organisation independent from
the EU.

3.2.2 European Commission

European Council

The European Council gives direction to the EU, and convenes at least four times a year. It comprises the President
of the European Council, the President of the European
Commission and one representative per member state; either its head of state or head of government. The European Council has been described by some as the Union’s

The European Commission acts as the EU’s executive
arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the
day-to-day running of the EU. The Commission is also
seen as the motor of European integration. It operates as
a cabinet government, with 28 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though
Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the



The European Parliament forms one half of the EU’s legislature (the other half is the Council of the European
Union). The 751 Members of the European Parliament
(MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five
years on the basis of proportional representation. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality.
Each country has a set number of seats and is divided into
sub-national constituencies where this does not affect the
proportional nature of the voting system.[87]
The Parliament and the Council of the European Union
pass legislation jointly in nearly all areas under the
ordinary legislative procedure. This also applies to the
EU budget. Finally, the Commission is accountable to
Parliament, requiring its approval to take office, having to
report back to it and subject to motions of censure from
it. The President of the European Parliament carries out
the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The EP President and Vice-Presidents are elected
by MEPs every two and a half years.[88]
3.2.4 Council of the European Union

The Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker

EU as a whole rather than their home state.

The Council of the European Union (also called the
“Council”[89] and sometimes referred to as the “Council of Ministers”)[90] forms the other half of the EU’s
legislature. It consists of a government minister from
each member state and meets in different compositions
depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different configurations, it is considered to be
one single body.[91] In addition to its legislative functions,
the Council also exercises executive functions in relations
to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

One of the 28 is the Commission President (currently
Jean-Claude Juncker) appointed by the European Council. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who is ex-officio VicePresident of the Commission and is chosen by the European Council too.[86] The other 26 Commissioners are
3.3 Budget
subsequently appointed by the Council of the European
Union (also known as the Council of Ministers) in agreeMain article: Budget of the European Union
ment with the nominated President. The 28 Commissioners as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by
the European Parliament.


European Parliament

The 2011 EU budget (€141.9 bn. in total; commitment

The hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Cohesion and competitiveness for growth and employment (45%)
Citizenship, freedom, security and justice (1%)



The EU as a global partner (6%)
Rural development (11%)
Direct aids and market related expenditures (31%)
Administration (6%)

That a particular policy area falls into a certain category of competence is not necessarily indicative of
what legislative procedure is used for enacting legislation
within that policy area. Different legislative procedures
are used within the same category of competence, and
The EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for even with the same policy area.
the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007– The distribution of competences in various policy areas
2013,[93] representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27’s between Member States and the Union is divided in the
GNI forecast for the respective periods. By compari- following three categories:
son, the United Kingdom’s expenditure for 2004 was estimated to be €759 billion, and France was estimated to
have spent €801 billion. In 1960, the budget of the then 4 Legal system
European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP.[94]
In the 2010 budget of €141.5 billion, the largest sin- Further information: European Union law, Treaties of the
gle expenditure item is "cohesion & competitiveness" European Union and Charter of Fundamental Rights of
with around 45% of the total budget.[95] Next comes the European Union
"agriculture" with approximately 31% of the total.[95] The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first es"Rural development, environment and fisheries" takes up
around 11%.[95] "Administration" accounts for around
6%.[95] The "EU as a global partner" and "citizenship,
freedom, security and justice" bring up the rear with approximately 6% and 1% respectively.[95]
The Court of Auditors aims to ensure that the budget
of the European Union has been properly accounted for.
The court provides an audit report for each financial year
to the Council and the European Parliament. The Parliament uses this to decide whether to approve the Commission’s handling of the budget. The Court also gives
opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti- The Court of Justice, seated in Luxembourg.
fraud actions.[96]
The Court of Auditors is legally obliged to provide the
Parliament and the Council with “a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions”.[97] The
Court has refused to do so every year since 1993, qualifying their report of the Union’s accounts every year
since then.[98] In their report on 2009 the auditors found
that five areas of Union expenditure, agriculture and the
cohesion fund, were materially affected by error.[99] The
European Commission estimated that the financial impact of irregularities was €1,863 million.[100]



EU member states retain all powers not explicitly handed
to the European Union. In some areas the EU enjoys
exclusive competence. These are areas in which member states have renounced any capacity to enact legislation. In other areas the EU and its member states share
the competence to legislate. While both can legislate,
member states can only legislate to the extent to which
the EU has not. In other policy areas the EU can only
co-ordinate, support and supplement member state action
but cannot enact legislation with the aim of harmonising
national laws.[101]

tablished the European Community and the EU, and then
made amendments to those founding treaties.[102] These
are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and
establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to
implement those goals. These legal powers include the
ability to enact legislation[lower-alpha 6] which can directly
affect all member states and their inhabitants.[lower-alpha 7]
The EU has legal personality, with the right to sign agreements and international treaties.[103]
Under the principle of supremacy, national courts are required to enforce the treaties that their member states
have ratified, and thus the laws enacted under them,
even if doing so requires them to ignore conflicting
national law, and (within limits) even constitutional
provisions.[lower-alpha 8]

4.1 Courts of Justice
The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court
of Justice of the European Union—consists of three
courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court, and the
European Union Civil Service Tribunal. Together they
interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU.[104]
The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by
member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it



by the courts of member states.[105] The General Court
mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU’s courts,[106] and the European
Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[107] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the
Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[108]


Fundamental rights

Although, the EU is independent from Council of Europe, they share purpose and ideas especially on rule of
law, human rights and democracy. Further European
Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, the source of law of Charter of Fundamental Rights
are created by Council of Europe. The EU also promoted
human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes
the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU

4.3 Acts

The awarding ceremony of the 1990 Sakharov Prize awarded to
Aung San Suu Kyi (here by Martin Schulz) inside the Parliament’s
Strasbourg hemicycle, in 2013.

The main legal acts of the EU come in three forms:
regulations, directives, and decisions. Regulations become law in all member states the moment they come
into force, without the requirement for any implementing
measures,[lower-alpha 12] and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions.[lower-alpha 6] Directives require
member states to achieve a certain result while leaving
them discretion as to how to achieve the result. The details of how they are to be implemented are left to member states.[lower-alpha 13] When the time limit for implementing directives passes, they may, under certain conditions, have direct effect in national law against member

The treaties declare that the EU itself is “founded on the
values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy,
equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities ...
in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women
and men prevail.”[109]

Decisions offer an alternative to the two above modes of
legislation. They are legal acts which only apply to specified individuals, companies or a particular member state.
They are most often used in competition law, or on rulings
on State Aid, but are also frequently used for procedural
or administrative matters within the institutions. Regulations, directives, and decisions are of equal legal value
and apply without any formal hierarchy.[113]

In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter
of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against
which the EU’s legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by
the Court of Justice and derived from the “constitutional traditions common to the member states.”[110] The
Court of Justice has long recognised fundamental rights
and has, on occasion, invalidated EU legislation based
on its failure to adhere to those fundamental rights.[111]
The Charter of Fundamental Rights was drawn up in
2000. Although originally not legally binding the Charter was frequently cited by the EU’s courts as encapsulating rights which the courts had long recognised as
the fundamental principles of EU law. Although signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
is a condition for EU membership,[lower-alpha 9] previously,
the EU itself could not accede to the Convention as it
is neither a state[lower-alpha 10] nor had the competence to
accede.[lower-alpha 11] The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14
to the ECHR have changed this: the former binds the EU
to accede to the Convention while the latter formally permits it.

5 Area of freedom, security and
Further information: Area of freedom, security and justice
Since the creation of the EU in 1993, it has developed
its competencies in the area of freedom, security and
justice, initially at an intergovernmental level and later
by supranationalism. To this end, agencies have been
established that co-ordinate associated actions: Europol
for co-operation of police forces,[114] Eurojust for cooperation between prosecutors,[115] and Frontex for cooperation between border control authorities.[116] The EU
also operates the Schengen Information System[17] which
provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. This co-operation had to particularly
be developed with the advent of open borders through
the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border
Furthermore, the Union has legislated in areas such




The borders inside the Schengen Area between Germany and

as extradition,[117] family law,[118] asylum law,[119] and
criminal justice.[120] Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the
treaties.[lower-alpha 14] In more recent years, these have been
supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimina- The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and
tion based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.
orientation.[lower-alpha 15] By virtue of these powers, the
EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in
the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.[lower-alpha 16]


Foreign relations

Main articles: Foreign relations of the European Union,
Common Foreign and Security Policy and European External Action Service
Foreign policy co-operation between member states
dates from the establishment of the Community in 1957,
when member states negotiated as a bloc in international
trade negotiations under the Common Commercial policy.[121] Steps for a more wide ranging co-ordination in
foreign relations began in 1970 with the establishment
of European Political Cooperation which created an informal consultation process between member states with
the aim of forming common foreign policies. It was not,
however, until 1987 when European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign
and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.[122]

The EU participates in all G8 and G20 summits. (G20 summit in

The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within
the EU is the High Representative of the Union for
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Federica
Mogherini) who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign
policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these
fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department[125] that has been
officially implemented and operational since 1 December
2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry
into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.[126] The EEAS will
serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the
European Union.[127]

The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU’s
own interests and those of the international community
as a whole, including the furtherance of international cooperation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the
rule of law.[123] The CFSP requires unanimity among
the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on
any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues Besides the emerging international policy of the Eurotreated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, pean Union, the international influence of the EU is also
felt through enlargement. The perceived benefits of besuch as those which occurred over the war in Iraq.[124]


Humanitarian aid


coming a member of the EU act as an incentive for both
political and economic reform in states wishing to fulfil
the EU’s accession criteria, and are considered an important factor contributing to the reform of European formerly Communist countries.[128] This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as
"soft power", as opposed to military “hard power”.[129]



Main article: Military of the European Union
The European Union does not have one unified milAn A400M military transport aircraft built by Airbus Group SE
(societas Europaea; Latin: European company)

were made to increase the EU’s military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. After much
discussion, the most concrete result was the EU Battlegroups initiative, each of which is planned to be able to
deploy quickly about 1500 personnel.[137]

NATO Summit 2006 in Riga, Latvia.

EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions
from middle and northern Africa to the western Balkans
and western Asia.[138] EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European
Defence Agency, European Union Satellite Centre and
the European Union Military Staff.[139] In an EU consisting of 28 members, substantial security and defence cooperation is increasingly relying on co-operation of the
great powers.[140]

itary. The predecessors of the European Union were
not devised as a strong military alliance because NATO
was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes.[130] 22 EU members are members of
NATO[131] while the remaining member states follow
policies of neutrality.[132] The Western European Union,
a military alliance with a mutual defence clause, was disbanded in 2010 as its role had been transferred to the 6.2 Humanitarian aid
According to the Stockholm International Peace Re- Further information: ECHO (European Commission)
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and
search Institute (SIPRI), France spent more than €44 billion ($59bn) on defence in 2010, placing it third in the
world after the US and China, while the United Kingdom
spent almost £38 billion ($58bn), the fourth largest.[134]
Together, France and the United Kingdom account for
45 per cent of Europe’s defence budget, 50 per cent of its
military capacity and 70 per cent of all spending in military research and development.[135] Britain and France
are also officially recognised nuclear weapon states and
are the only two European nations to hold permanent seats
on the United Nations Security Council. In 2000, the
United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany accounted
for 97% of the total military research budget of the then
15 EU member states.[136]
Following the Kosovo War in 1999, the European Council agreed that “the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the
means to decide to use them, and the readiness to do so, in
order to respond to international crises without prejudice
to actions by NATO”. To that end, a number of efforts

Collectively, the EU is the largest contributor of foreign aid in the
world. [141] [142]

Civil Protection department, or “ECHO”, provides
humanitarian aid from the EU to developing countries.
In 2012, its budget amounted to €874 million, 51% of



the budget went to Africa and 20% to Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific, and 20% to the Middle
East and Mediterranean.[143]
Humanitarian aid is financed directly by the budget (70%)
as part of the financial instruments for external action
and also by the European Development Fund (30%).[144]
The EU’s external action financing is divided into 'geographic' instruments and 'thematic' instruments.[144]
The 'geographic' instruments provide aid through the
Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI, €16.9 billion, 2007–2013), which must spend 95% of its budget on overseas development assistance (ODA), and from
the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
(ENPI), which contains some relevant programmes.[144]
The European Development Fund (EDF, €22.7 bn,
2008–2013) is made up of voluntary contributions by
member states, but there is pressure to merge the EDF
into the budget-financed instruments to encourage increased contributions to match the 0.7% target and allow
the European Parliament greater oversight.[144]
However, five countries have reached the 0.7% target:
Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark and
the United Kingdom.[145][146] In 2011, EU aid was 0.42%
of the EU’s GNI making it the world’s most generous aid
GDP (in PPS) per inhabitant by NUTS 2 regions in 2009.
donor.[147] The previous Commissioner for Aid, Louis
Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly,
to greater effect, and on humanitarian principles.[148]
to €69,800 (about US$15,700 to US$97,000).[154] The
difference between the richest and poorest regions (271
NUTS-2 regions of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units
7 Economy
for Statistics) ranged, in 2009, from 27% of the EU27
average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to
Main articles: Economy of the European Union and 332% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom. On the high end, Inner London has €78,000 PPP
Regional policy of the European Union
The five largest economies in the world according to the per capita, Luxembourg €62,500, and Bruxelles-Cap
€52,500, while the poorest regions, are Severozapaden
IMF by GDP in 2011.[149]
with €6,400 PPP per capita, Nord-Est with €6,900 PPP
per capita, Severen tsentralen with €6,900 and Yuzhen
The EU has established a single market across the ter- tsentralen with €7,200.[154]
ritory of all its members. 19 member states have also
joined a monetary union known as the eurozone, which Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds are supporting the
uses the Euro as a single currency.[150] In 2012, the EU development of underdeveloped regions of the EU. Such
had a combined GDP of 16.073 trillions international regions are primarily located in the states of central and
Several funds provide emerdollars, a 20% share of the global gross domestic product southern Europe.
members to transform
(in terms of purchasing power parity).
According to
EU’s standard (Phare,
Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2012, the EU owns
to the former USSR
the largest net wealth in the world; it is estimated to equal
30% of the $223 trillion global wealth.
has now become part of the worldwide EuropeAid proOf the top 500 largest corporations measured by rev- gramme. EU research and technological framework proenue (Fortune Global 500 in 2010), 161 have their head- grammes sponsor research conducted by consortia from
quarters in the EU.[152] In 2007, unemployment in the all EU members to work towards a single European ReEU stood at 7%[153] while investment was at 21.4% of search Area.[157]
GDP, inflation at 2.2%, and current account balance at
−0.9% of GDP (i.e., slightly more import than export). In
2012, unemployment in the EU stood, per August 2012, 7.1 Internal market
at 11.4%[153]
There is a significant variance for GDP (PPP) per capita Main article: Internal market
within individual EU states, these range from €11,300 Two of the original core objectives of the European Eco-



qualifications of other states.[160]
The free movement of services and of establishment allows self-employed persons to move between member
states to provide services on a temporary or permanent
basis. While services account for 60–70% of GDP, legislation in the area is not as developed as in other areas.
This lacuna has been addressed by the recently passed
Directive on services in the internal market which aims to
liberalise the cross border provision of services.[161] According to the Treaty the provision of services is a residual freedom that only applies if no other freedom is being

7.2 Competition
Further information: European Union competition law
and European Commissioner for Competition

A standardised passport design, displaying the name of the member state, the national arms and the words “European Union”
given in their official language(s). (Irish model)

nomic Community were the development of a common
market, subsequently renamed the single market, and a
customs union between its member states. The single
market involves the free circulation of goods, capital,
people, and services within the EU,[150] and the customs
union involves the application of a common external tariff on all goods entering the market. Once goods have
been admitted into the market they cannot be subjected
to customs duties, discriminatory taxes or import quotas,
as they travel internally. The non-EU member states of
Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland participate in the single market but not in the customs union.[61]
Half the trade in the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU.[158]

The EU operates a competition policy intended to
ensure undistorted competition within the single
market.[lower-alpha 17] The Commission as the competition
regulator for the single market is responsible for antitrust
issues, approving mergers, breaking up cartels, working
for economic liberalisation and preventing state aid.[162]
The Competition Commissioner, currently Joaquín Almunia, is one of the most powerful positions in the Commission, notable for the ability to affect the commercial interests of trans-national corporations.[163] For example, in 2001 the Commission for the first time prevented a merger between two companies based in the
United States (GE and Honeywell) which had already
been approved by their national authority.[164] Another
high-profile case against Microsoft, resulted in the Commission fining Microsoft over €777 million following
nine years of legal action.[165]

7.3 Monetary union
Main articles: Eurozone and Economic and Monetary
Union of the European Union
The creation of a European single currency became an
official objective of the European Economic Community
in 1969. In 1992, after having negotiated the structure
and procedures of a currency union, the member states
signed the Maastricht Treaty and were legally bound to
fulfill the agreed-on rules including the convergence criteria if they wanted to join the monetary union. The states
wanting to participate had first to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Free movement of capital is intended to permit movement of investments such as property purchases and buying of shares between countries.[159] Until the drive towards economic and monetary union the development of
the capital provisions had been slow. Post-Maastricht
there has been a rapidly developing corpus of ECJ judgements regarding this initially neglected freedom. The free
movement of capital is unique insofar as it is granted In 1999 the currency union started, first as an accounting
equally to non-member states.
currency with eleven member states joining. In 2002, the
The free movement of persons means that EU citizens can currency was fully put into place, when euro notes and
move freely between member states to live, work, study coins were issued and national currencies began to phase
or retire in another country. This required the lowering of out in the eurozone, which by then consisted of 12 memadministrative formalities and recognition of professional ber states. The eurozone (constituted by the EU member


and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European
Securities and Markets Authority. To complement this
framework, there is also a European Systemic Risk Board
under the responsibility of the ECB. The aim of this financial control system is to ensure the economic stability
of the EU.[170]
To prevent the joining states from getting into financial
trouble or crisis after entering the monetary union, they
were obliged in the Maastricht treaty to fulfill important
financial obligations and procedures, especially to show
budgetary discipline and a high degree of sustainable economic convergence, as well as to avoid excessive government deficits and limit the government debt to a sustainable level.
Some states joined the euro but violated these rules and
contracts to an extent that they slid into a debt crisis
and had to be financially supported with emergency rescue funds. These states were Greece, Ireland, Portugal,
Cyprus and Spain.
Even though the Maastricht treaty forbids eurozone states
to assume the debts of other states (“bailout”), various
emergency rescue funds had been created by the members to support the debt crisis states to meet their financial obligations and buy time for reforms that those states
can gain back their competitiveness.

7.4 Energy
The seat of the Central Bank in Frankfurt. 19 of the 28 member
states of the union have adopted the euro as their legal tender.

Main article: Energy policy of the European Union

states which have adopted the euro) has since grown to 19
countries, the most recent being Lithuania which joined
on 1 January 2015. Denmark, the United Kingdom, and
Sweden decided not to join the euro.[166][lower-alpha 18]
Since its launch the euro has become the second reserve
currency in the world with a quarter of foreign exchanges
reserves being in euro.[167] The euro, and the monetary
policies of those who have adopted it in agreement with
the EU, are under the control of the European Central
Bank (ECB).[168]
The ECB is the central bank for the eurozone, and thus
controls monetary policy in that area with an agenda to
maintain price stability. It is at the centre of the European
System of Central Banks, which comprehends all EU national central banks and is controlled by its General Council, consisting of the President of the ECB, who is appointed by the European Council, the Vice-President of
the ECB, and the governors of the national central banks
of all 28 EU member states.[169]

Consumed energy (2012)[171]

Renewable (dom. prod.) (7%)
Nuclear[lower-alpha 19] (dom. prod.) (13%)
Coal and lignite (dom. prod.) (10%)
Gas (dom. prod.) (9%)
Gas (import) (14%)
Oil (dom. prod.) (6%)
Oil (import) (33%)
The European System of Financial Supervision is an Other (dom. prod.) (1%)
institutional architecture of the EU’s framework of fi- Other (import) (7%)
nancial supervision composed by three authorities: the
European Banking Authority, the European Insurance In 2006, the EU-27 had a gross inland energy consump-



tion of 1,825 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe).[172]
Around 46% of the energy consumed was produced
within the member states while 54% was imported.[172]
In these statistics, nuclear energy is treated as primary
energy produced in the EU, regardless of the source of
the uranium, of which less than 3% is produced in the

the Öresund Bridge, the Brenner Base Tunnel and the
Strait of Messina Bridge. In 2001 it was estimated that
by 2010 the network would cover: 75,200 kilometres
(46,700 mi) of roads; 78,000 kilometres (48,000 mi) of
railways; 330 airports; 270 maritime harbours; and 210
internal harbours.[178][179]

The developing European transport policies will increase
the pressure on the environment in many regions by the
increased transport network. In the pre-2004 EU members, the major problem in transport deals with congestion and pollution. After the recent enlargement, the new
states that joined since 2004 added the problem of solving
accessibility to the transport agenda.[180] The Polish road
network in particular was in poor condition: at Poland’s
The EU has five key points in its energy policy: increase accession to the EU, a number of roads needed to be upA4 autostrada, requiring approxcompetition in the internal market, encourage investment graded, particularly the
and boost interconnections between electricity grids; diversify energy resources with better systems to respond The Galileo positioning system is another EU infrasto a crisis; establish a new treaty framework for energy tructure project. Galileo is a proposed Satellite navigaco-operation with Russia while improving relations with tion system, to be built by the EU and launched by the
energy-rich states in Central Asia[175] and North Africa; European Space Agency (ESA), and is to be operational
use existing energy supplies more efficiently while in- by 2012. The Galileo project was launched partly to recreasing renewable energy commercialisation; and finally duce the EU’s dependency on the US-operated Global Poincrease funding for new energy technologies.[174]
sitioning System, but also to give more complete global
and allow for far greater accuracy, given the
The EU currently imports 82% of its oil, 57% of its nataged
of the GPS system.[183] It has been criticised
ural gas[176] and 97.48% of its uranium[173] demands.
of reThere are concerns that Europe’s dependence on Russian by some due to costs, delays, and their perception[184]
dundancy given the existence of the GPS system.
energy is endangering the Union and its member countries. The EU is attempting to diversify its energy supply.[177]
The EU has had legislative power in the area of energy
policy for most of its existence; this has its roots in the
original European Coal and Steel Community. The introduction of a mandatory and comprehensive European
energy policy was approved at the meeting of the European Council in October 2005, and the first draft policy
was published in January 2007.[174]

7.6 Agriculture



Main article: Common Agricultural Policy
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the

Further information: European Commissioner for Transport, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship and European Investment Bank
The EU is working to improve cross-border infras-

Vineyards in Romania; EU farms are supported by the CAP, the
largest budgetary expenditure.

oldest policies of the European Community, and was one
of its core aims.[185] The policy has the objectives of increasing agricultural production, providing certainty in
food supplies, ensuring a high quality of life for farmtructure within the EU, for example through the Trans- ers, stabilising markets, and ensuring reasonable prices
European Networks (TEN). Projects under TEN include for consumers.[lower-alpha 20] It was, until recently, operated
the Channel Tunnel, LGV Est, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, by a system of subsidies and market intervention. Until
The Öresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden is part of the
Trans-European Networks.



the 1990s, the policy accounted for over 60% of the then Rhine-Ruhr having approximately 11.5 million inhabiEuropean Community's annual budget, and still accounts tants (Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf et al.), Randstad
for around 34%.[186]
approx. 7 million (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague,
The policy’s price controls and market interventions led Utrecht et al.), Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Reto considerable overproduction, resulting in so-called but- gion approx. 5.8 million (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden et
ter mountains and wine lakes. These were intervention al.), the Flemish Diamond approx. 5.5 million (urstores of products bought up by the Community to main- ban area in between Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven and
tain minimum price levels. To dispose of surplus stores, Ghent), Katowice and its Upper Silesian metropolitan
area approx. 5.3 million and the Øresund Region apthey were often sold on the world market at prices considmillion (Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö,
erably below Community guaranteed prices, or farmers prox. 3.7[191]
were offered subsidies (amounting to the difference between the Community and world prices) to export their In 2010, 47.3 million people lived in the EU, who were
products outside the Community. This system has been born outside their resident country. This corresponds to
criticised for under-cutting farmers outside Europe, es- 9.4% of the total EU population. Of these, 31.4 million
pecially those in the developing world.[187]
(6.3%) were born outside the EU and 16.0 million (3.2%)
The overproduction has also been criticised for en- were born in another EU member state. The largest abcouraging environmentally unfriendly intensive farming solute numbers of people born outside the EU were in
methods.[187] Supporters of CAP say that the economic Germany (6.4 million), France (5.1 million), the United
Italy (3.2 milsupport which it gives to farmers provides them with a Kingdom (4.7 million), Spain (4.1 million),
reasonable standard of living, in what would otherwise
be an economically unviable way of life. However, the
(in thousands)
EU’s small farmers receive only 8% of CAP’s available Vital statistics in recent years
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the CAP has been subject to a series of reforms. Initially, these reforms included the introduction of set-aside in 1988, where a proportion of farm land was deliberately withdrawn from
production, milk quotas (by the McSharry reforms in
1992) and, more recently, the 'de-coupling' (or disassociation) of the money farmers receive from the EU and the
amount they produce (by the Fischler reforms in 2004).
Agriculture expenditure will move away from subsidy
payments linked to specific produce, toward direct payments based on farm size. This is intended to allow the
market to dictate production levels, while maintaining
agricultural income levels.[185] One of these reforms entailed the abolition of the EU’s sugar regime, which previously divided the sugar market between member states
and certain African-Caribbean nations with a privileged
relationship with the EU.[154]

8.1 Languages
Main article: Languages of the European Union
Among the many languages and dialects used in
the EU, it has 24 official and working languages:
Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English,
Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian,
Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish,
Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and
Swedish.[198][199] Important documents, such as legislation, are translated into every official language.

The European Parliament provides translation into all
languages for documents and its plenary sessions.[200]
Some institutions use only a handful of languages as internal working languages.[201] Catalan, Galician, Basque,
Scottish Gaelic and Welsh are not official languages of
the EU but have semi-official status in that official trans8 Demographics
lations of the treaties are made into them and citizens of
the EU have the right to correspond with the institutions
Main articles: Demographics of the European Union and using them.
Largest population centres in the European Union
Language policy is the responsibility of member states,
but EU institutions promote the learning of other
[lower-alpha 21][202]
English is the most spoken
As of 1 January 2015, the population of the EU is about languages.
spoken by 51% of the EU
508.2 million people.
population when counting both native and non-native
The EU contains 16 cities with populations of over one speakers.[203] German is the most widely spoken mother
million, the largest being London.
tongue (about 88.7 million people in 2006). 56% of EU
Besides many large cities, the EU also includes several citizens are able to engage in a conversation in a language
densely populated regions that have no single core but other than their mother tongue.[204] Most official lanhave emerged from the connection of several cites and guages of the EU belong to the Indo-European language
now encompass large metropolitan areas. The largest are family, except Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian, which


Education and science

belong to the Uralic language family, and Maltese, which
is a Semitic language. Most EU official languages are
written in the Latin alphabet except Bulgarian, written in
Cyrillic, and Greek, written in the Greek alphabet.[205]
With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on
1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script
of the European Union, following the Latin and Greek
Besides the 24 official languages, there are about 150
regional and minority languages, spoken by up to 50 million people.[205] Of these, only the Spanish regional languages (Catalan, Galician, and Basque), Scottish Gaelic,
and Welsh[207] can be used by citizens in communication with the main European institutions.[208] Although
EU programmes can support regional and minority languages, the protection of linguistic rights is a matter for
the individual member states. The European Charter
for Regional or Minority Languages ratified by most EU
states provides general guidelines that states can follow to
protect their linguistic heritage.

The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of
Europe”.[210] Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included
proposals to mention Christianity or God, or both, in the
preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and
was dropped.[211]
Christians in the EU are divided among members of
Catholicism (both Roman and Eastern Rite), numerous Protestant denominations, and the Eastern Orthodox
Church. In 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million,[212] and an estimated Jewish population of over a million.[213] The other world religions of
Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism are also represented in
the EU population.

According to new polls about Religiosity in the European Union in 2012 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the
largest religion in the European Union accounting 72%
for EU population.[209] Catholics are the largest Christian
The European Day of Languages is held annually on 26 group in EU, accounting for 48% EU citizens, while
September and is aimed at encouraging language learning
Protestants make up 12%, and Eastern Orthodox make
across Europe.
up 8%, and other Christians account for 4% of the EU



Self described religion in the European Union (2012)[209]
Catholic (48%)
Protestant (12%)
Orthodox (8%)
Other Christian (4%)
Non believer/Agnostic (16%)
Atheist (7%)
Muslim (2%)
Other religion/None stated (3%)
The EU is a secular body with no formal connection to
any religion. The Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the “status under national law of churches and religious associations”
as well as that of “philosophical and non-confessional

Eurostat's Eurobarometer opinion polls showed in 2005
that 52% of EU citizens believed in a God, 27% in
“some sort of spirit or life force”, and 18% had no form
of belief.[215] Many countries have experienced falling
church attendance and membership in recent years.[216]
The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were Estonia (16%) and the Czech Republic
(19%).[215] The most religious countries are Malta (95%,
predominantly Roman Catholic) as well as Cyprus and
Romania (both predominantly Orthodox) each with about
90% of the citizens professing a belief in God. Across the
EU, belief was higher among women, increased with age,
those with religious upbringing, those who left school at
15 or 16, and those “positioning themselves on the right
of the political scale (57%).”[215]

8.3 Education and science
Main articles: Educational policies and initiatives of the
European Union and Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development
Basic education is an area where the EU’s role is limited to supporting national governments. In higher education, the policy was developed in the 1980s in programmes supporting exchanges and mobility. The most
visible of these has been the Erasmus Programme, a university exchange programme which began in 1987. In its
first 20 years, it has supported international exchange opportunities for well over 1.5 million university and college
students and has become a symbol of European student



European Health Insurance Card.
(French version pictured)

Directorate-General for Health and Consumers seeks to
align national laws on the protection of people’s health,
on the consumers’ rights, on the safety of food and other
Erasmus Programme logo, representing the humanist Desiderius
Erasmus of Rotterdam.

There are now similar programmes for school pupils and
teachers, for trainees in vocational education and training, and for adult learners in the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013. These programmes are designed
to encourage a wider knowledge of other countries and
to spread good practices in the education and training
fields across the EU.[218][219] Through its support of the
Bologna Process, the EU is supporting comparable standards and compatible degrees across Europe.
Scientific development is facilitated through the EU’s
Framework Programmes, the first of which started in
1984. The aims of EU policy in this area are to
co-ordinate and stimulate research. The independent
European Research Council allocates EU funds to European or national research projects.[220] EU research and
technological framework programmes deal in a number
of areas, for example energy where it aims to develop a
diverse mix of renewable energy for the environment and
to reduce dependence on imported fuels.[221]

Health care in the EU is provided through a wide range
of different systems run at the national level. The systems
are primarily publicly funded through taxation (universal
health care). Private funding for health care may represent personal contributions towards meeting the nontaxpayer refunded portion of health care or may reflect
totally private (non-subsidised) health care either paid out
of pocket or met by some form of personal or employer
funded insurance.
All EU and many other European countries offer their citizens a free European Health Insurance Card which, on a
reciprocal basis, provides insurance for emergency medical treatment insurance when visiting other participating European countries.[225] A directive on cross-border
healthcare aims at promoting co-operation on health care
between member states and facilitating access to safe
and high-quality cross-border healthcare for European

9 Culture

Health care

Main articles: Culture of Europe, Western culture and
Further information: Healthcare in Europe
Cultural policies of the European Union
Although the EU has no major competences in the field
of health care, Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the European Union affirms that “A high level
of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities”. All the member states have either publicly sponsored and regulated universal health care or publicly provided universal health care. The European Commission's




9.2 Symbols
Main article: Symbols of Europe

Acropolis and Colosseum, symbols of the GraecoRoman world
Cultural co-operation between member states has been
a concern of the EU since its inclusion as a community
competency in the Maastricht Treaty.[229] Actions taken
in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000
7-year programme,[229] the European Cultural Month
event,[230] the MEDIA Programme,[231] orchestras such
as the European Union Youth Orchestra[232] and the
European Capital of Culture programme – where one or
more cities in the EU are selected for one year to assist
the cultural development of that city.[233]



Main articles: Sport policies of the European Union and
Sport in Europe
Sport is mainly the responsibility of an individual member states or other international organisations rather than
that of the EU. However, there are some EU policies that
have had an impact on sport, such as the free movement
of workers which was at the core of the Bosman ruling,
which prohibited national football leagues from imposing
quotas on foreign players with European citizenship.[234]
The Treaty of Lisbon requires any application of economic rules to take into account the specific nature of
sport and its structures based on voluntary activity.[235]
This followed lobbying by governing organisations such
as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due
to objections over the applications of free market principles to sport which led to an increasing gap between rich
and poor clubs.[236] The EU does fund a programme for
Israeli, Jordanian, Irish, and British football coaches, as
part of the Football 4 Peace project.[237]

Clockwise from top left: The European flag seen at
the occasion of the 2004 enlargement; the reliquary
bust of Charlemagne (c. 1350); Europa and the bull,
depicted as the personification of Europe in a 1700 map
by Fredericus de Wit.
The flag of the union consists of a circle of 12 golden
stars on a blue field. The blue represents the west, while
the number and position of the stars represent completeness and unity, respectively.[238] Originally designed in
1955 for the Council of Europe, the flag was adopted
by the European Communities, the predecessors of the
present union, in 1986. United in Diversity was adopted
as the motto of the union in the year 2000, having been
selected from proposals submitted by school pupils.[239]
Since 1985, the flag day of the union has been Europe
Day, on 9 May, i.e. the date of the 1950 Schuman declaration. The anthem of the union is an instrumental ver-



sion of the prelude to the Ode to Joy, the 4th movement
of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony. The anthem
was adopted by European Community leaders in 1985
and has since been played on official occasions.[240]
Besides naming the continent, the Greek mythological
figure of Europa has frequently been employed as a
personification of Europe. Known from the myth in
which Zeus seduces her in the guise of a white bull, Europa has also been referred to in relation to the present
union. Statues of Europa and the bull decorate several of
the Union’s institutions, and a portrait of her is seen on
the 2013 series of Euro banknotes. The bull is for its part
depicted on all residence permit cards.[241]

are not part of the Union. For more information see
Special member state territories and the European Union.
[4] On October 3, 1990, the constituent states of the former
German Democratic Republic acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany, automatically becoming part of the
[5] Referred to by the EU as the “former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia”.
[6] See Article 288 (ex Article 249 TEC) of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union, on
[7] According to the principle of Direct Effect first invoked
in the Court of Justice’s decision in Van Gend en Loos v
Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen, Eur-Lex (European Court of Justice 1963). See: Craig and de Búrca,
ch. 5.

Charles the Great, also known as Charlemagne (Latin:
Carolus Magnus), established an empire that represented
the most expansive European unification since the Roman era, and thereby founded what became the French [8] According to the principle of Supremacy as established
by the ECJ in Case 6/64, Falminio Costa v. ENEL [1964]
and German monarchies.[242][242][243][244][245] Known as
ECR 585. See Craig and de Búrca, ch. 7. See also:
Pater Europae («Father of Europe»),[242][246] he enjoyed
Factortame litigation: Factortame Ltd. v. Secretary of
an important afterlife in European culture. The present
State for Transport (No. 2) [1991] 1 AC 603, Solange
symbolic relevance of Charlemagne pertains to his emII (Re Wuensche Handelsgesellschaft, BVerfG decision of
bodiment of Franco-German relations, on which Euro22 October 1986 [1987] 3 CMLR 225,265) and Frontini
pean integration relies. The Commission has named
v. Ministero delle Finanze [1974] 2 CMLR 372; Raoul
one of its central buildings in Brussels after CharleGeorge Nicolo [1990] 1 CMLR 173.
magne, and the German city of Aachen has since 1949
awarded the Charlemagne Prize to champions of Euro- [9] It is effectively treated as one of the Copenhagen criteria, It should be noted that this is a political
pean unification.[247] Since 2008, the organisers of this
and not a legal requirement for membership.
prize, in conjunction with the European Parliament, have
awarded the Charlemagne Youth Prize in recognition of [10] The European Convention on Human Rights was previsimilar efforts by young people.[248]
ously only open to members of the Council of Europe
(Article 59.1 of the Convention), and even now only states
Religious symbols of Europe and its integration include
may become member of the Council of Europe (Article 4
Saint Benedict, who in 1964 was named patron saint of
of the Statute of the Council of Europe).
Europe by Pope Paul VI, and Saint Hedwig, who in 1997
was canonised as patron saint of European unification by [11] Opinion (2/92) of the European Court of Justice on “Accession by the Community to the European Convention
Pope John Paul II.[249][250]


See also

• Outline of the European Union

• European Union – Wikipedia book

for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms” 1996 E.C.R. I-1759 (in French), ruled that the
European Community did not have the competence to accede to the ECHR.
[12] See: Case 34/73, Variola v. Amministrazione delle Finanze [1973] ECR 981.
[13] To do otherwise would require the drafting of legislation
which would have to cope with the frequently divergent
legal systems and administrative systems of all of the now
28 member states. See Craig and de Búrca, p. 115
[14] See Articles 157 (ex Article 141) of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union, on



[1] Not including overseas territories
[2] .eu is representative of the whole of the EU; member states
also have their own TLDs.
[3] This figure includes the extra-European territories of
member states which are part of the European Union and
excludes the European territories of member states which

[15] See Article 2(7) of the Amsterdam Treaty on
[16] Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (OJ L 180, 19
July 2000, p. 22–26); Council Directive 2000/78/EC of
27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for
equal treatment in employment and occupation (OJ L 303,
2 Dec 2000, p. 16–22).


[17] Article 3(1)(g) of the Treaty of Rome
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[10] “Distribution of family income – Gini index”. The World
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[21] See Articles 165 and 166 (ex Articles 149 and 150) of
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[14] “European Union”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved
3 July 2013. international organisation comprising 28 European countries and governing common economic, social, and security policies ...


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Further reading

• Jordan, A.J. and Adelle, C. (eds) Environmental
Policy in the European Union: Contexts, Actors and
Policy Dynamics (3e). Earthscan: London and Sterling, VA.
• Kaiser, Wolfram. Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union (2007)
• McCormick, John (2007). The European Union:
Politics and Policies. Westview Press. ISBN 9780-8133-4202-3.
• Pinder, John, and Simon Usherwood. The European
Union: A Very Short Introduction (2008) excerpt and
text search
• Rifkin, Jeremy (2004). The European Dream: How
Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the
American Dream. Jeremy P. Tarcher. ISBN 978-158542-345-3.
• Smith, Charles (2007). International Trade and
Globalisation (3rd ed.). Stocksfield: Anforme.
ISBN 1-905504-10-1.
• Staab, Andreas. The European Union Explained: Institutions, Actors, Global Impact (2008) excerpt and
text search
• Steiner, Josephine; Woods, Lorna; Twigg-Flesner,
Christian (2006). EU Law (9th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-927959-3.
• Yesilada, Birol A. and David M. Wood. The Emerging European Union (5th ed. 2009)
• Piris, Jean-Claude (2010). Lisbon Treaty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 448. ISBN

14 External links

• Bindi, Federiga, ed. The Foreign Policy of the European Union: Assessing Europe’s Role in the World Official
(Brookings Institution Press; 2010). The E.U.'s
• EUROPA—official web portal
foreign-policy mechanisms and foreign relations, including with its neighbours.
• Institutions
• Bomberg, Elizabeth, Peterson, John, and Richard
• European Council
Corbett, eds. The European Union: How Does it
Work? (3rd ed) (2012, Oxford University Press).
• European Commission
ISBN 978-0-19-957080-5 and ISBN 0-19-9570809.
• Council

• European Parliament
• European Central Bank
• Court of Justice of the European Union
• Court of Auditors
• Agencies
• EUR-Lex—EU Laws
Archives of the European Union


Overviews and data
• Eurostat—European Union Statistics Explained
• Datasets related to the EU on CKAN
• CIA World Factbook: European Union entry at The
World Factbook
• British Pathé—Online newsreel archive of the 20th
• Search EU Financial Sanctions List
• The European Union: Questions and Answers
Congressional Research Service
• Works by European Union at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about European Union at Internet
News and interviews
• Der Spiegel interview with Helmut Schmidt and
Valery Giscard d'Estaing
Educational resources
• European Studies Hub—interactive learning tools
and resources to help students and researchers better understand and engage with the European Union
and its politics.
• Tupy, Marian L. (2008). “European Union”. In
David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia
of Economics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Library of
Economics and Liberty. ISBN 978-0-86597-665-8.
OCLC 237794267.





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