The European Union

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					The European Union
• The evolution of the European Union (EU)
  from a regional economic agreement among
  six neighboring states in 1951 to today's
  supranational organization of 27 countries
  across the European continent stands as an
  unprecedented phenomenon in the annals of
• Dynastic unions for territorial consolidation
  were long the norm in Europe. On a few
  occasions even country-level unions were
  arranged - the Polish-Lithuanian
  Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian
  Empire were examples - but for such a large
  number of nation-states to cede some of their
  sovereignty to an overarching entity is truly
• Although the EU is not a federation in the
  strict sense, it is far more than a free-trade
  association such as ASEAN, NAFTA, or
  Mercosur, and it has many of the attributes
  associated with independent nations: its own
  flag, anthem, founding date, and currency, as
  well as an incipient common foreign and
  security policy in its dealings with other
• Following the two devastating World Wars of
  the first half of the 20th century, a number of
  European leaders in the late 1940s became
  convinced that the only way to establish a
  lasting peace was to unite the two chief
  belligerent nations - France and Germany -
  both economically and politically.
• In 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert
  SCHUMAN proposed an eventual union of all
  Europe, the first step of which would be the
  integration of the coal and steel industries of
  Western Europe. The following year the
  European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
  was set up when six members, Belgium,
  France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and
  the Netherlands, signed the Treaty of Paris.
• The ECSC was so successful that within a few
  years the decision was made to integrate
  other parts of the countries' economies. In
  1957, the Treaties of Rome created the
  European Economic Community (EEC) and the
  European Atomic Energy Community
  (Euratom), and the six member states
  undertook to eliminate trade barriers among
  themselves by forming a common market.
• In 1967, the institutions of all three
  communities were formally merged into the
  European Community (EC), creating a single
  Commission, a single Council of Ministers, and
  the European Parliament. Members of the
  European Parliament were initially selected by
  national parliaments, but in 1979 the first
  direct elections were undertaken and they
  have been held every five years since.
• In 1973, the first enlargement of the EC took
  place with the addition of Denmark, Ireland,
  and the United Kingdom. The 1980s saw
  further membership expansion with Greece
  joining in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in
• The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht laid the basis
  for further forms of cooperation in foreign and
  defense policy, in judicial and internal affairs,
  and in the creation of an economic and
  monetary union - including a common
  currency. This further integration created the
  European Union (EU). In 1995, Austria,
  Finland, and Sweden joined the EU, raising the
  membership total to 15.
• A new currency, the euro, was launched in
  world money markets on 1 January 1999; it
  became the unit of exchange for all of the EU
  states except the United Kingdom, Sweden,
  and Denmark. In 2002, citizens of the 12 euro-
  area countries began using the euro
  banknotes and coins.
• Today, 17 EU countries use the Euro:

  Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland,
  France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
  Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands,
  Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain
• Ten new countries joined the EU in 2004 -
  Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
  Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and
  Slovenia - and in 2007 Bulgaria and Romania
  joined, bringing the current membership to
• In order to ensure that the EU can continue to
  function efficiently with an expanded
  membership, the Treaty of Nice (in force as of
  1 February 2003) set forth rules streamlining
  the size and procedures of EU institutions. An
  effort to establish an EU constitution, begun in
  October 2004, failed to attain unanimous
• A new effort, undertaken in June 2007, calls
  for the creation of an Intergovernmental
  Conference to form a political agreement,
  known as the Reform Treaty, which is to serve
  as a constitution. Unlike the constitution,
  however, the Reform Treaty would amend
  existing treaties rather than replace them.
          General information
• Capital: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg
  (France), Luxembourg
• the Council of the European Union meets in
  Brussels, Belgium, the European Parliament
  meets in Brussels and Strasbourg, France, and
  the Court of Justice of the European
  Communities meets in Luxembourg
          General information
• conventional long form: European Union
  abbreviation: EU
• Population: 491,018,683 (July 2008 est.)
• Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant,
  Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish
          General information
• Independence: 7 February 1992 (Maastricht
  Treaty signed establishing the EU); 1
  November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered
  into force)
• National holiday: 7 February 1992 (Maastricht
  Treaty signed establishing the EU); 1
  November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered
  into force)
• The EU's population is 7.3% of the world total,
  yet the EU covers just 3% of the earth's land,
  amounting to a population density of
  114 /km² (300 /sq mi) (2006) making the EU
  one of the most densely populated regions of
  the world.
• One third of EU citizens live in cities of over a
  million people, rising to 80% living in urban
  areas generally. The EU is home to more
  global cities than any other region in the
  world. It contains 16 cities with populations of
  over one million.
• The EU is a secular body, with no formal
  connections to any religion and no mention of
  religion in any current or proposed treaty.
  Discussion over the draft texts of the
  European Constitution and later the Treaty of
  Lisbon included proposals to mention
  Christianity and/or God in the preamble of the
  text, but the idea faced opposition and was
• Emphasis on Christianity stems from this being
  the dominant religion in Europe, and thus of the
  EU. It divides between Roman Catholicism, a wide
  range of Protestant churches (especially in
  northern Europe) and Eastern Orthodox (in south
  eastern Europe).
• Other religions such as Islam and Judaism are
  also represented in the EU population. The EU
  had an estimated Muslim population of 16
  million in 2006, and an estimated Jewish
  population of over a million.
              Member states
• 27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,
  Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
  Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
  Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
  Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,
  Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
• candidate countries: Croatia, FYR of
  Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Turkey
             Member states
• Canary Islands (Spain), Azores and Madeira
  (Portugal), French Guiana, Guadeloupe,
  Martinique, and Reunion (France) are
  sometimes listed separately even though they
  are legally a part of Spain, Portugal, and
           Executive branch
• chief of union: President of the European
  Commission Jose Manuel DURAO BARROSO
  (since 22 November 2004)
• cabinet: European Commission (composed of
  27 members, one from each member country;
  each commissioner responsible for one or
  more policy areas)
            Executive branch
• the European Council brings together heads of
  state and government and the president of
  the European Commission and meets at least
  four times a year; its aim is to provide the
  impetus for the major political issues relating
  to European integration and to issue general
  policy guidelines
            Legislative branch
• two legislative bodies consisting of the Council
  of the European Union and the European
              Judicial branch
• Court of Justice of the European Communities
  (ensures that the treaties are interpreted and
  applied uniformly throughout the EU; resolve
  constitutional issues among the EU
  institutions) - 27 justices (one from each
  member state) appointed for a six-year term
• Internally, the EU is attempting to lower trade
  barriers, adopt a common currency, and move
  toward convergence of living standards.
  Internationally, the EU aims to bolster
  Europe's trade position and its political and
  economic power.
• Because of the great differences in per capita
  income among member states (from $7,000 to
  $69,000) and historic national animosities, the
  EU faces difficulties in devising and enforcing
  common policies.
            Energy resources
• The European Union has large coal, oil, and
  natural gas reserves. There are six oil
  producers in the European Union, although
  most oil production happens in the North Sea
  oilfields. The United Kingdom by far is the
  largest producer (Russia and Norway are not
  included as they are not members of the
  European Union), however Denmark,
  Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands all
  produce oil.
             Energy resources
• The EU currently imports 82% of its oil and 57%
  of its gas, making it the world's leading importer
  of these fuels. In 2007, member states legally
  bound the EU to use 20% renewable energy and
  cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 20%
  from 1990 levels, by 2020. In 2020, one-tenth of
  all cars and trucks in EU 27 are agreed to be
  running on biofuels. This is considered to be one
  of the most ambitious moves by large
  industrialized regions to fight global warming.
• The European Union is the largest exporter in
  the world and the second largest importer.
  Internal trade between the member states is
  aided by the removal of barriers to trade such
  as tarrifs and border controls. In the eurozone,
  trade is helped by not having any currency
  differences to deal with.
• The agricultural sector is supported by subsidies
  from the European Union in the form of the
  Common Agricultural Policy [CAP]. (The aim of
  the CAP is to provide farmers with a reasonable
  standard of living and consumers with quality
  food at fair prices). This currently represents 50%
  of the EU's total spending. This agricultural sector
  subsidy is criticized as a form of protectionism,
  inhibiting trade, and damaging developing
• The European Union is a major tourist
  destination, both from outside of the Union
  and inside of it. Internal tourism is made more
  convenient for the citizens of some EU
  member states by the Schengen treaty and
  the Euro. The Schengen treaty is a part of EU
  law which allows for common EU immigration
  policies and border system.
• Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English,
  Estonian, Finnish, French, Gaelic, German,
  Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian,
  Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian,
  Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish
• German, the major language of Germany,
  Austria, and Switzerland, is the most widely
  spoken mother tongue - over 19% of the EU
  population; English is the most widely spoken
  language - about 49% of the EU population is
  conversant with it (2007)
• euro, British pound, Bulgarian lev, Czech
  koruna, Danish krone, Estonian kroon,
  Hungarian forint, Latvian lat, Lithuanian litas,
  Polish zloty, Romanian leu, Slovak koruna,
  Swedish krona
• Panorama of the EU:
• Eurojargon:
• European countries:
• The history of the European Union:
• Key facts and figures