European Union

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"EU" redirects here. European Union_sentence_0

For other uses, see EU (disambiguation). European Union_sentence_1

European Union_table_infobox_0

European UnionEuropean Union_header_cell_0_0_0
CapitalEuropean Union_header_cell_0_1_0 Brussels (de facto)European Union_cell_0_1_1
Largest metropolisEuropean Union_header_cell_0_2_0 ParisEuropean Union_cell_0_2_1
Official languagesEuropean Union_header_cell_0_3_0 24 languagesEuropean Union_cell_0_3_1
Official scriptsEuropean Union_header_cell_0_4_0 European Union_cell_0_4_1
Religion (2015)European Union_header_cell_0_5_0 European Union_cell_0_5_1
Demonym(s)European Union_header_cell_0_6_0 EuropeanEuropean Union_cell_0_6_1
TypeEuropean Union_header_cell_0_7_0 Supranational unionEuropean Union_cell_0_7_1
Member statesEuropean Union_header_cell_0_8_0 27 statesEuropean Union_cell_0_8_1
GovernmentEuropean Union_header_cell_0_9_0 IntergovernmentalEuropean Union_cell_0_9_1
President of the CommissionEuropean Union_header_cell_0_10_0 Ursula von der LeyenEuropean Union_cell_0_10_1
President of the ParliamentEuropean Union_header_cell_0_11_0 David SassoliEuropean Union_cell_0_11_1
President of the European CouncilEuropean Union_header_cell_0_12_0 Charles MichelEuropean Union_cell_0_12_1
Presidency of the Council of the EUEuropean Union_header_cell_0_13_0 GermanyEuropean Union_cell_0_13_1
LegislatureEuropean Union_header_cell_0_14_0 Legislative procedureEuropean Union_cell_0_14_1
FormationEuropean Union_header_cell_0_15_0
Treaty of RomeEuropean Union_header_cell_0_16_0 1 January 1958European Union_cell_0_16_1
Single European ActEuropean Union_header_cell_0_17_0 1 July 1987European Union_cell_0_17_1
Treaty of MaastrichtEuropean Union_header_cell_0_18_0 1 November 1993European Union_cell_0_18_1
Treaty of LisbonEuropean Union_header_cell_0_19_0 1 December 2009European Union_cell_0_19_1
Last polity admittedEuropean Union_header_cell_0_20_0 1 July 2013 (Croatia)European Union_cell_0_20_1
Last polity withdrawnEuropean Union_header_cell_0_21_0 31 January 2020 (UK)European Union_cell_0_21_1
Area European Union_header_cell_0_22_0
TotalEuropean Union_header_cell_0_23_0 4,233,262 km (1,634,472 sq mi)European Union_cell_0_23_1
Water (%)European Union_header_cell_0_24_0 3.08European Union_cell_0_24_1
PopulationEuropean Union_header_cell_0_25_0
2020 estimateEuropean Union_header_cell_0_26_0 447,706,209European Union_cell_0_26_1
DensityEuropean Union_header_cell_0_27_0 106/km (274.5/sq mi)European Union_cell_0_27_1
GDP (PPP)European Union_header_cell_0_28_0 2019 estimateEuropean Union_cell_0_28_1
TotalEuropean Union_header_cell_0_29_0 $20.720 trillionEuropean Union_cell_0_29_1
Per capitaEuropean Union_header_cell_0_30_0 $46,640European Union_cell_0_30_1
GDP (nominal)European Union_header_cell_0_31_0 2019 estimateEuropean Union_cell_0_31_1
TotalEuropean Union_header_cell_0_32_0 $15.622 trillionEuropean Union_cell_0_32_1
Per capitaEuropean Union_header_cell_0_33_0 $34,960European Union_cell_0_33_1
Gini (2018)European Union_header_cell_0_34_0 30.9

mediumEuropean Union_cell_0_34_1

HDI (2018)European Union_header_cell_0_35_0 0.900

very high · 14thEuropean Union_cell_0_35_1

CurrencyEuropean Union_header_cell_0_36_0 Euro (EUR; ; in eurozone) and

10 othersEuropean Union_cell_0_36_1

Time zoneEuropean Union_header_cell_0_37_0 UTC to UTC+2 (WET, CET, EET)European Union_cell_0_37_1
Summer (DST)European Union_header_cell_0_38_0 UTC+1 to UTC+3 (WEST, CEST, EEST)European Union_cell_0_38_1
European Union_header_cell_0_39_0 (see also Summer Time in Europe)European Union_cell_0_39_1
Internet TLDEuropean Union_header_cell_0_40_0 .euEuropean Union_cell_0_40_1

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. European Union_sentence_2

Its members have a combined area of 4,233,255.3 km (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. European Union_sentence_3

The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. European Union_sentence_4

EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. European Union_sentence_5

Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. European Union_sentence_6

A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency. European Union_sentence_7

The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison). European Union_sentence_8

The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. European Union_sentence_9

The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. European Union_sentence_10

The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. European Union_sentence_11

The Communities and their successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. European Union_sentence_12

The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. European Union_sentence_13

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom became the first member state to leave the EU. European Union_sentence_14

Following a 2016 referendum, the UK signified its intention to leave and negotiated a withdrawal agreement. European Union_sentence_15

The UK is in a transitional phase until 31 December 2020, during which it remains subject to EU law and part of the EU single market and customs union. European Union_sentence_16

Before this, three territories of member states had left the EU or its forerunners, these being French Algeria (in 1962, upon independence), Greenland (in 1985, following a referendum) and Saint Barthélemy (in 2012). European Union_sentence_17

Containing some 5.8% of the world population in 2020, the EU (excluding the UK) had generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$15.5 trillion in 2019, constituting approximately 18% of global nominal GDP. European Union_sentence_18

Additionally, all EU countries have a very high Human Development Index according to the United Nations Development Programme. European Union_sentence_19

In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. European Union_sentence_20

Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the union has developed a role in external relations and defence. European Union_sentence_21

It maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. European Union_sentence_22

Due to its global influence, the European Union has been described by some scholars as an emerging superpower. European Union_sentence_23

In 2017, the EU emitted 9.1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. European Union_sentence_24

History European Union_section_0

Main article: History of the European Union European Union_sentence_25

Further information: Treaties of the European Union and European integration European Union_sentence_26

Since the end of World War II, sovereign European countries have entered into treaties and thereby co-operated and harmonised policies (or pooled sovereignty) in an increasing number of areas, in the so-called European integration project or the construction of Europe (French: la construction européenne). European Union_sentence_27

The following timeline outlines the legal inception of the European Union (EU)—the principal framework for this unification. European Union_sentence_28

The EU inherited many of its present responsibilities from, and the membership of the European Communities (EC), which were founded in the 1950s in the spirit of the Schuman Declaration. European Union_sentence_29

Background European Union_section_1

Main article: Ideas of European unity before 1945 European Union_sentence_30

During the centuries following the fall of Rome in 476, several European states viewed themselves as translatio imperii ("transfer of rule") of the defunct Roman Empire: the Frankish Empire (481–843) and the Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) were thereby attempts to resurrect Rome in the West. European Union_sentence_31

This political philosophy of a supra-national rule over the continent, similar to the example of the ancient Roman Empire, resulted in the early Middle Ages in the concept of a renovatio imperii ("restoration of the empire"), either in the forms of the Reichsidee ("imperial idea") or the religiously inspired Imperium Christianum ("christian empire"). European Union_sentence_32

Medieval Christendom and the political power of the Papacy are often cited as conducive to European integration and unity. European Union_sentence_33

In the oriental parts of the continent, the Russian Tsardom, and ultimately the Empire (1547–1917), declared Moscow to be Third Rome and inheritor of the Eastern tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. European Union_sentence_34

The gap between Greek East and Latin West had already been widened by the political scission of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the Great Schism of 1054, and would be eventually widened again by the Iron Curtain (1945–1991) before the enlargement of the European Union towards Eastern Europe since 2004 onward. European Union_sentence_35

Pan-European political thought truly emerged during the 19th century, inspired by the liberal ideas of the French and American Revolutions after the demise of Napoléon's Empire (1804–1815). European Union_sentence_36

In the decades following the outcomes of the Congress of Vienna, ideals of European unity flourished across the continent, especially in the writings of Wojciech Jastrzębowski (1799–1882) or Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872). European Union_sentence_37

The term United States of Europe (French: États-Unis d'Europe) was used at that time by Victor Hugo (1802–1885) during a speech at the International Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849: European Union_sentence_38

During the interwar period, the consciousness that national markets in Europe were interdependent though confrontational, along with the observation of a larger and growing US market on the other side of the ocean, nourished the urge for the economic integration of the continent. European Union_sentence_39

In 1920, advocating the creation of a European economic union, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established ... to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union." European Union_sentence_40

During the same decade, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, one of the first to imagine of a modern political union of Europe, founded the Pan-Europa Movement. European Union_sentence_41

His ideas influenced his contemporaries, among which then Prime Minister of France Aristide Briand. European Union_sentence_42

In 1929, the latter gave a speech in favour of a European Union before the assembly of the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations. European Union_sentence_43

In a radio address in March 1943, with war still raging, Britain's leader Sir Winston Churchill spoke warmly of "restoring the true greatness of Europe" once victory had been achieved, and mused on the post-war creation of a "Council of Europe" which would bring the European nations together to build peace. European Union_sentence_44

Preliminary (1945–1957) European Union_section_2

After World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated parts of the continent. European Union_sentence_45

In a speech delivered on 19 September 1946 at the University of Zürich, Switzerland, Winston Churchill went further and advocated the emergence of a United States of Europe. European Union_sentence_46

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. European Union_sentence_47

It also led directly to the founding of the Council of Europe in 1949, the first great effort to bring the nations of Europe together, initially ten of them. European Union_sentence_48

The Council focused primarily on values—human rights and democracy—rather than on economic or trade issues, and was always envisaged as a forum where sovereign governments could choose to work together, with no supra-national authority. European Union_sentence_49

It raised great hopes of further European integration, and there were fevered debates in the two years that followed as to how this could be achieved. European Union_sentence_50

But in 1952, disappointed at what they saw as the lack of progress within the Council of Europe, six nations decided to go further and created the European Coal and Steel Community, which was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe". European Union_sentence_51

This community helped to economically integrate and coordinate the large number of Marshall Plan funds from the United States. European Union_sentence_52

European leaders Alcide De Gasperi from Italy, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman from France, and Paul-Henri Spaak from Belgium understood that coal and steel were the two industries essential for waging war, and believed that by tying their national industries together, future war between their nations became much less likely. European Union_sentence_53

These men and others are officially credited as the founding fathers of the European Union. European Union_sentence_54

Treaty of Rome (1957–1992) European Union_section_3

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. European Union_sentence_55

They also signed another pact creating the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for co-operation in developing nuclear energy. European Union_sentence_56

Both treaties came into force in 1958. European Union_sentence_57

The EEC and Euratom were created separately from the ECSC and they shared the same courts and the Common Assembly. European Union_sentence_58

The EEC was headed by Walter Hallstein (Hallstein Commission) and Euratom was headed by Louis Armand (Armand Commission) and then Étienne Hirsch. European Union_sentence_59

Euratom was to integrate sectors in nuclear energy while the EEC would develop a customs union among members. European Union_sentence_60

During the 1960s, tensions began to show, with France seeking to limit supranational power. European Union_sentence_61

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. European Union_sentence_62

Jean Rey presided over the first merged Commission (Rey Commission). European Union_sentence_63

In 1973, the Communities were enlarged to include Denmark (including Greenland, which later left the Communities in 1985, following a dispute over fishing rights), Ireland, and the United Kingdom. European Union_sentence_64

Norway had negotiated to join at the same time, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum. European Union_sentence_65

In 1979, the first direct elections to the European Parliament were held. European Union_sentence_66

Greece joined in 1981, Portugal and Spain following in 1986. European Union_sentence_67

In 1985, the Schengen Agreement paved the way for the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states and some non-member states. European Union_sentence_68

In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the EEC and the Single European Act was signed. European Union_sentence_69

In 1990, after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, the former East Germany became part of the Communities as part of a reunified Germany. European Union_sentence_70

Maastricht Treaty (1992–2007) European Union_section_4

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. European Union_sentence_71

The treaty also gave the name European Community to the EEC, even if it was referred as such before the treaty. European Union_sentence_72

With further enlargement planned to include the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus and Malta, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the EU were agreed upon in June 1993. European Union_sentence_73

The expansion of the EU introduced a new level of complexity and discord. European Union_sentence_74

In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU. European Union_sentence_75

In 2002, euro banknotes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. European Union_sentence_76

Since then, the eurozone has increased to encompass 19 countries. European Union_sentence_77

The euro currency became the second largest reserve currency in the world. European Union_sentence_78

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. European Union_sentence_79

Lisbon Treaty (2007–present) European Union_section_5

In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania became EU members. European Union_sentence_80

Later that year, Slovenia adopted the euro, followed by Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014, and Lithuania in 2015. European Union_sentence_81

On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and reformed many aspects of the EU. European Union_sentence_82

In particular, it changed the legal structure of the European Union, merging the EU three pillars system into a single legal entity provisioned with a legal personality, created a permanent President of the European Council, the first of which was Herman Van Rompuy, and strengthened the position of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. European Union_sentence_83

In 2012, the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize for having "contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe." European Union_sentence_84

In 2013, Croatia became the 28th EU member. European Union_sentence_85

From the beginning of the 2010s, the cohesion of the European Union has been tested by several issues, including a debt crisis in some of the Eurozone countries, increasing migration from Africa and Asia, and the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU. European Union_sentence_86

A referendum in the UK on its membership of the European Union was held in 2016, with 51.9% of participants voting to leave. European Union_sentence_87

The UK formally notified the European Council of its decision to leave on 29 March 2017, initiating the formal withdrawal procedure for leaving the EU; following extensions to the process, the UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, though most areas of EU law will continue to apply to the UK for a transition period lasting until the end of 2020 at the earliest. European Union_sentence_88

Demographics European Union_section_6

Main article: Demographics of the European Union European Union_sentence_89

Population European Union_section_7

As of 1 February 2020, the population of the European Union was about 447 million people (5.8% of the world population). European Union_sentence_90

In 2015, 5.1 million children were born in the EU-28 corresponding to a birth rate of 10 per 1,000, which is 8 births below the world average. European Union_sentence_91

For comparison, the EU-28 birth rate had stood at 10.6 in 2000, 12.8 in 1985 and 16.3 in 1970. European Union_sentence_92

Its population growth rate was positive at an estimated 0.23% in 2016. European Union_sentence_93

In 2010, 47.3 million people who lived in the EU were born outside their resident country. European Union_sentence_94

This corresponds to 9.4% of the total EU population. European Union_sentence_95

Of these, 31.4 million (6.3%) were born outside the EU and 16.0 million (3.2%) were born in another EU member state. European Union_sentence_96

The largest absolute numbers of people born outside the EU were in Germany (6.4 million), France (5.1 million), the United Kingdom (4.7 million), Spain (4.1 million), Italy (3.2 million), and the Netherlands (1.4 million). European Union_sentence_97

In 2017, approximately 825,000 people acquired citizenship of a member state of the European Union. European Union_sentence_98

The largest groups were nationals of Morocco, Albania, India, Turkey and Pakistan. European Union_sentence_99

2.4 million immigrants from non-EU countries entered the EU in 2017. European Union_sentence_100

Urbanisation European Union_section_8

See also: List of cities in the European Union by population within city limits and list of urban areas in the European Union European Union_sentence_101

The EU contains about 40 urban areas with populations of over one million. European Union_sentence_102

The largest metropolitan area in the EU is Paris, followed by Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Rhine-Ruhr, Rome, and Milan, all with a metropolitan population of over 4 million. European Union_sentence_103

The EU also has numerous polycentric urbanised regions like Rhine-Ruhr (Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf et al. European Union_sentence_104

), Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht et al. European Union_sentence_105

), Frankfurt Rhine-Main (Frankfurt), the Flemish Diamond (Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven, Ghent et al.) European Union_sentence_106

and Upper Silesian area (Katowice, Ostrava et al. European Union_sentence_107

). European Union_sentence_108

Languages European Union_section_9

Main article: Languages of the European Union European Union_sentence_109

See also: Euro English European Union_sentence_110

European Union_table_general_1

Official languages by percentage of speakers (as of February 2020, based on 2012 survey)European Union_table_caption_1
LanguageEuropean Union_header_cell_1_0_0 Native speakersEuropean Union_header_cell_1_0_1 TotalEuropean Union_header_cell_1_0_2
GermanEuropean Union_header_cell_1_1_0 18%European Union_cell_1_1_1 32%European Union_cell_1_1_2
FrenchEuropean Union_header_cell_1_2_0 13%European Union_cell_1_2_1 26%European Union_cell_1_2_2
ItalianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_3_0 12%European Union_cell_1_3_1 16%European Union_cell_1_3_2
SpanishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_4_0 8%European Union_cell_1_4_1 15%European Union_cell_1_4_2
PolishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_5_0 8%European Union_cell_1_5_1 9%European Union_cell_1_5_2
RomanianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_6_0 5%European Union_cell_1_6_1 5%European Union_cell_1_6_2
DutchEuropean Union_header_cell_1_7_0 4%European Union_cell_1_7_1 5%European Union_cell_1_7_2
GreekEuropean Union_header_cell_1_8_0 3%European Union_cell_1_8_1 4%European Union_cell_1_8_2
HungarianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_9_0 3%European Union_cell_1_9_1 3%European Union_cell_1_9_2
PortugueseEuropean Union_header_cell_1_10_0 2%European Union_cell_1_10_1 3%European Union_cell_1_10_2
CzechEuropean Union_header_cell_1_11_0 2%European Union_cell_1_11_1 3%European Union_cell_1_11_2
SwedishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_12_0 2%European Union_cell_1_12_1 3%European Union_cell_1_12_2
BulgarianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_13_0 2%European Union_cell_1_13_1 2%European Union_cell_1_13_2
EnglishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_14_0 1%European Union_cell_1_14_1 51%European Union_cell_1_14_2
SlovakEuropean Union_header_cell_1_15_0 1%European Union_cell_1_15_1 2%European Union_cell_1_15_2
DanishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_16_0 1%European Union_cell_1_16_1 1%European Union_cell_1_16_2
FinnishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_17_0 1%European Union_cell_1_17_1 1%European Union_cell_1_17_2
LithuanianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_18_0 1%European Union_cell_1_18_1 1%European Union_cell_1_18_2
CroatianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_19_0 1%European Union_cell_1_19_1 1%European Union_cell_1_19_2
SloveneEuropean Union_header_cell_1_20_0 <1%European Union_cell_1_20_1 <1%European Union_cell_1_20_2
EstonianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_21_0 <1%European Union_cell_1_21_1 <1%European Union_cell_1_21_2
IrishEuropean Union_header_cell_1_22_0 <1%European Union_cell_1_22_1 <1%European Union_cell_1_22_2
LatvianEuropean Union_header_cell_1_23_0 <1%European Union_cell_1_23_1 <1%European Union_cell_1_23_2
MalteseEuropean Union_header_cell_1_24_0 <1%European Union_cell_1_24_1 <1%European Union_cell_1_24_2

The European Union has 24 official 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. European Union_sentence_111

Important documents, such as legislation, are translated into every official language and the European Parliament provides translation for documents and plenary sessions. European Union_sentence_112

Due to the high number of official languages, most of the institutions use only a handful of working languages. European Union_sentence_113

The European Commission conducts its internal business in three procedural languages: English, French, and German. European Union_sentence_114

Similarly, the Court of Justice of the European Union uses French as the working language, while the European Central Bank conducts its business primarily in English. European Union_sentence_115

Even though language policy is the responsibility of member states, EU institutions promote multilingualism among its citizens. European Union_sentence_116

English is the most widely spoken language in the EU, being understood by 51% of the EU population when counting both native and non-native speakers. European Union_sentence_117

German is the most widely spoken mother tongue (18% of the EU population), and the second most widely understood foreign language, followed by French (13% of the EU population). European Union_sentence_118

In addition, both are official languages of several EU member states. European Union_sentence_119

More than half (56%) of EU citizens are able to engage in a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue. European Union_sentence_120

A total of twenty official languages of the EU belong to the Indo-European language family, represented by the Balto-Slavic, the Italic, the Germanic, the Hellenic, and the Celtic branches. European Union_sentence_121

Only four languages, namely Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian (all three Uralic), and Maltese (Semitic), are not Indo-European languages. European Union_sentence_122

The three official alphabets of the European Union (Cyrillic, Latin, and modern Greek) all derive from the Archaic Greek scripts. European Union_sentence_123

Luxembourgish (in Luxembourg) and Turkish (in Cyprus) are the only two national languages that are not official languages of the EU. European Union_sentence_124

On 26 February 2016 it was made public that Cyprus has asked to make Turkish an official EU language, in a "gesture" that could help solve the division of the country. European Union_sentence_125

Already in 2004, it was planned that Turkish would become an official language when Cyprus reunites. European Union_sentence_126

Besides the 24 official languages, there are about 150 regional and minority languages, spoken by up to 50 million people. European Union_sentence_127

Catalan, Galician and Basque are not recognised official languages of the European Union but have semi-official status in one member state (Spain): therefore, official translations of the treaties are made into them and citizens have the right to correspond with the institutions in these languages. European Union_sentence_128

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. European Union_sentence_129

The European Day of Languages is held annually on 26 September and is aimed at encouraging language learning across Europe. European Union_sentence_130

Religion European Union_section_10

Main article: Religion in the European Union European Union_sentence_131

European Union_table_general_2

Religious affiliation in the European Union (2015)European Union_table_caption_2
AffiliationEuropean Union_header_cell_2_0_0 % of EU populationEuropean Union_header_cell_2_0_1
ChristianEuropean Union_header_cell_2_1_0 71.6European Union_cell_2_1_1 71.6European Union_cell_2_1_2
CatholicEuropean Union_header_cell_2_2_0 45.3European Union_cell_2_2_1 45.3European Union_cell_2_2_2
ProtestantEuropean Union_header_cell_2_3_0 11.1European Union_cell_2_3_1 11.1European Union_cell_2_3_2
Eastern OrthodoxEuropean Union_header_cell_2_4_0 9.6European Union_cell_2_4_1 9.6European Union_cell_2_4_2
Other ChristianEuropean Union_header_cell_2_5_0 5.6European Union_cell_2_5_1 5.6European Union_cell_2_5_2
MuslimEuropean Union_header_cell_2_6_0 1.8European Union_cell_2_6_1 1.8European Union_cell_2_6_2
Other faithsEuropean Union_header_cell_2_7_0 2.6European Union_cell_2_7_1 2.6European Union_cell_2_7_2
IrreligiousEuropean Union_header_cell_2_8_0 24European Union_cell_2_8_1 24European Union_cell_2_8_2
Non-believer/AgnosticEuropean Union_header_cell_2_9_0 13.6European Union_cell_2_9_1 13.6European Union_cell_2_9_2
AtheistEuropean Union_header_cell_2_10_0 10.4European Union_cell_2_10_1 10.4European Union_cell_2_10_2

The EU has no formal connection to any religion. European Union_sentence_132

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 organisations". European Union_sentence_133

The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe". European Union_sentence_134

Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity or a god, or both, in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped. European Union_sentence_135

Christians in the European Union are divided among members of Catholicism (both Roman and Eastern Rite), numerous Protestant denominations (Anglicans, Lutherans, and Reformed forming the bulk of this category), and the Eastern Orthodox Church. European Union_sentence_136

In 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million, and an estimated Jewish population of over a million. European Union_sentence_137

The other world religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism are also represented in the EU population. European Union_sentence_138

According to new polls about religiosity in the European Union in 2015 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union, accounting for 71.6% of the EU population. European Union_sentence_139

Catholics are the largest Christian group, accounting for 45.3% of the EU population, while Protestants make up 11.1%, Eastern Orthodox make up 9.6%, and other Christians make up 5.6%. European Union_sentence_140

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. European Union_sentence_141

Many countries have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years. European Union_sentence_142

The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were Estonia (16%) and the Czech Republic (19%). European Union_sentence_143

The most religious countries were Malta (95%, predominantly Catholic) as well as Cyprus and Romania (both predominantly Orthodox) each with about 90% of citizens professing a belief in their respective god. European Union_sentence_144

Across the EU, belief was higher among women, older people, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 or 16, and those "positioning themselves on the right of the political scale". European Union_sentence_145

Member states European Union_section_11

Main article: Member state of the European Union European Union_sentence_146

Through successive enlargements, the European Union has grown from the six founding states (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) to the current 27. European Union_sentence_147

Countries accede to the union by becoming party to the founding treaties, thereby subjecting themselves to the privileges and obligations of EU membership. European Union_sentence_148

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 sovereignty". European Union_sentence_149

To become a member, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 meeting of the European Council in Copenhagen. European Union_sentence_150

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. European Union_sentence_151

Evaluation of a country's fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council. European Union_sentence_152

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provides the basis for a member to leave the Union. European Union_sentence_153

Two territories have left the Union: Greenland (an autonomous province of Denmark) withdrew in 1985; the United Kingdom formally invoked Article 50 of the Consolidated Treaty on European Union in 2017, and became the only sovereign state to leave when it withdrew from the EU in 2020. European Union_sentence_154

There are six countries that are recognised as candidates for membership: Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey, though Iceland suspended negotiations in 2013. European Union_sentence_155

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are officially recognised as potential candidates, with Bosnia and Herzegovina having submitted a membership application. European Union_sentence_156

The four countries forming the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are not EU members, but have partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are a part of the single market through the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, which has similar ties through bilateral treaties. European Union_sentence_157

The relationships of the European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City include the use of the euro and other areas of co-operation. European Union_sentence_158

European Union_table_general_3

List of member statesEuropean Union_table_caption_3
StateEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_0 CapitalEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_1 AccessionEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_2 Population (2019)European Union_header_cell_3_0_3 AreaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_4 Population densityEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_5 MEPsEuropean Union_header_cell_3_0_6
AustriaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_1_0 ViennaEuropean Union_cell_3_1_1 199501011 January 1995European Union_cell_3_1_2 8,858,775European Union_cell_3_1_3 83,855 km

(32,377 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_1_4

106/km

(270/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_1_5

19European Union_cell_3_1_6
BelgiumEuropean Union_header_cell_3_2_0 BrusselsEuropean Union_cell_3_2_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_2_2 11,467,923European Union_cell_3_2_3 30,528 km

(11,787 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_2_4

376/km

(970/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_2_5

21European Union_cell_3_2_6
BulgariaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_3_0 SofiaEuropean Union_cell_3_3_1 200701011 January 2007European Union_cell_3_3_2 7,000,039European Union_cell_3_3_3 110,994 km

(42,855 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_3_4

63/km

(160/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_3_5

17European Union_cell_3_3_6
CroatiaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_4_0 ZagrebEuropean Union_cell_3_4_1 201307011 July 2013European Union_cell_3_4_2 4,076,246European Union_cell_3_4_3 56,594 km

(21,851 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_4_4

72/km

(190/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_4_5

12European Union_cell_3_4_6
CyprusEuropean Union_header_cell_3_5_0 NicosiaEuropean Union_cell_3_5_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_5_2 875,898European Union_cell_3_5_3 9,251 km

(3,572 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_5_4

95/km

(250/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_5_5

6European Union_cell_3_5_6
Czech RepublicEuropean Union_header_cell_3_6_0 PragueEuropean Union_cell_3_6_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_6_2 10,649,800European Union_cell_3_6_3 78,866 km

(30,450 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_6_4

135/km

(350/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_6_5

21European Union_cell_3_6_6
DenmarkEuropean Union_header_cell_3_7_0 CopenhagenEuropean Union_cell_3_7_1 197301011 January 1973European Union_cell_3_7_2 5,806,081European Union_cell_3_7_3 43,075 km

(16,631 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_7_4

135/km

(350/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_7_5

14European Union_cell_3_7_6
EstoniaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_8_0 TallinnEuropean Union_cell_3_8_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_8_2 1,324,820European Union_cell_3_8_3 45,227 km

(17,462 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_8_4

29/km

(75/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_8_5

7European Union_cell_3_8_6
FinlandEuropean Union_header_cell_3_9_0 HelsinkiEuropean Union_cell_3_9_1 199501011 January 1995European Union_cell_3_9_2 5,517,919European Union_cell_3_9_3 338,424 km

(130,666 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_9_4

16/km

(41/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_9_5

14European Union_cell_3_9_6
FranceEuropean Union_header_cell_3_10_0 ParisEuropean Union_cell_3_10_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_10_2 67,028,048European Union_cell_3_10_3 640,679 km

(247,368 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_10_4

105/km

(270/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_10_5

79European Union_cell_3_10_6
GermanyEuropean Union_header_cell_3_11_0 BerlinEuropean Union_cell_3_11_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_11_2 83,019,214European Union_cell_3_11_3 357,021 km

(137,847 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_11_4

233/km

(600/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_11_5

96European Union_cell_3_11_6
GreeceEuropean Union_header_cell_3_12_0 AthensEuropean Union_cell_3_12_1 198101011 January 1981European Union_cell_3_12_2 10,722,287European Union_cell_3_12_3 131,990 km

(50,960 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_12_4

81/km

(210/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_12_5

21European Union_cell_3_12_6
HungaryEuropean Union_header_cell_3_13_0 BudapestEuropean Union_cell_3_13_1 200401011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_13_2 9,797,561European Union_cell_3_13_3 93,030 km

(35,920 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_13_4

105/km

(270/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_13_5

21European Union_cell_3_13_6
Republic of IrelandEuropean Union_header_cell_3_14_0 DublinEuropean Union_cell_3_14_1 197301011 January 1973European Union_cell_3_14_2 4,904,226European Union_cell_3_14_3 70,273 km

(27,133 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_14_4

70/km

(180/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_14_5

13European Union_cell_3_14_6
ItalyEuropean Union_header_cell_3_15_0 RomeEuropean Union_cell_3_15_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_15_2 60,359,546European Union_cell_3_15_3 301,338 km

(116,347 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_15_4

200/km

(520/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_15_5

76European Union_cell_3_15_6
LatviaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_16_0 RigaEuropean Union_cell_3_16_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_16_2 1,919,968European Union_cell_3_16_3 64,589 km

(24,938 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_16_4

30/km

(78/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_16_5

8European Union_cell_3_16_6
LithuaniaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_17_0 VilniusEuropean Union_cell_3_17_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_17_2 2,794,184European Union_cell_3_17_3 65,200 km

(25,200 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_17_4

43/km

(110/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_17_5

11European Union_cell_3_17_6
LuxembourgEuropean Union_header_cell_3_18_0 Luxembourg CityEuropean Union_cell_3_18_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_18_2 613,894European Union_cell_3_18_3 2,586 km

(998 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_18_4

237/km

(610/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_18_5

6European Union_cell_3_18_6
MaltaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_19_0 VallettaEuropean Union_cell_3_19_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_19_2 493,559European Union_cell_3_19_3 316 km

(122 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_19_4

1,562/km

(4,050/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_19_5

6European Union_cell_3_19_6
NetherlandsEuropean Union_header_cell_3_20_0 AmsterdamEuropean Union_cell_3_20_1 19570325FounderEuropean Union_cell_3_20_2 17,282,163European Union_cell_3_20_3 41,543 km

(16,040 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_20_4

416/km

(1,080/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_20_5

29European Union_cell_3_20_6
PolandEuropean Union_header_cell_3_21_0 WarsawEuropean Union_cell_3_21_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_21_2 37,972,812European Union_cell_3_21_3 312,685 km

(120,728 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_21_4

121/km

(310/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_21_5

52European Union_cell_3_21_6
PortugalEuropean Union_header_cell_3_22_0 LisbonEuropean Union_cell_3_22_1 198601011 January 1986European Union_cell_3_22_2 10,276,617European Union_cell_3_22_3 92,390 km

(35,670 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_22_4

111/km

(290/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_22_5

21European Union_cell_3_22_6
RomaniaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_23_0 BucharestEuropean Union_cell_3_23_1 200701011 January 2007European Union_cell_3_23_2 19,401,658European Union_cell_3_23_3 238,391 km

(92,043 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_23_4

81/km

(210/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_23_5

33European Union_cell_3_23_6
SlovakiaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_24_0 BratislavaEuropean Union_cell_3_24_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_24_2 5,450,421European Union_cell_3_24_3 49,035 km

(18,933 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_24_4

111/km

(290/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_24_5

14European Union_cell_3_24_6
SloveniaEuropean Union_header_cell_3_25_0 LjubljanaEuropean Union_cell_3_25_1 200405011 May 2004European Union_cell_3_25_2 2,080,908European Union_cell_3_25_3 20,273 km

(7,827 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_25_4

103/km

(270/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_25_5

8European Union_cell_3_25_6
SpainEuropean Union_header_cell_3_26_0 MadridEuropean Union_cell_3_26_1 198601011 January 1986European Union_cell_3_26_2 46,934,632European Union_cell_3_26_3 504,030 km

(194,610 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_26_4

93/km

(240/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_26_5

59European Union_cell_3_26_6
SwedenEuropean Union_header_cell_3_27_0 StockholmEuropean Union_cell_3_27_1 199501011 January 1995European Union_cell_3_27_2 10,230,185European Union_cell_3_27_3 449,964 km

(173,732 sq mi)European Union_cell_3_27_4

23/km

(60/sq mi)European Union_cell_3_27_5

21European Union_cell_3_27_6
27 totalEuropean Union_header_cell_3_28_0 446,834,579European Union_header_cell_3_28_3 4,233,262 km

(1,634,472 sq mi)European Union_header_cell_3_28_4

106/km

(270/sq mi)European Union_header_cell_3_28_5

705European Union_header_cell_3_28_6

Geography European Union_section_12

Main article: Geography of the European Union European Union_sentence_159

The EU's member states cover an area of 4,233,262 square kilometres (1,634,472 sq mi). European Union_sentence_160

The EU's highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps, 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level. European Union_sentence_161

The lowest points in the EU are Lammefjorden, Denmark and Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands, at 7 m (23 ft) below sea level. European Union_sentence_162

The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. European Union_sentence_163

European Union_unordered_list_0

  • European Union_item_0_0
  • European Union_item_0_1
  • European Union_item_0_2
  • European Union_item_0_3

Including the overseas territories of France which are located outside the continent of Europe, but which are members of the union, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic (north-east Europe) to tropical (French Guiana), rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. European Union_sentence_164

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). European Union_sentence_165

The EU's population is highly urbanised, with some 75% of inhabitants living in urban areas as of 2006. European Union_sentence_166

Cities are largely spread out across the EU with a large grouping in and around the Benelux. European Union_sentence_167

Politics European Union_section_13

Main articles: Politics of the European Union, Institutions of the European Union, and Legislature of the European Union European Union_sentence_168

The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranational and intergovernmental decision-making, and according to the principles of conferral (which says that it should act only within the limits of the competences conferred on it by the treaties) and of subsidiarity (which says that it should act only where an objective cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states acting alone). European Union_sentence_169

Laws made by the EU institutions are passed in a variety of forms. European Union_sentence_170

Generally speaking, they can be classified into two groups: those which come into force without the necessity for national implementation measures (regulations) and those which specifically require national implementation measures (directives). European Union_sentence_171

Constitutionally, the EU bears some resemblance to both a confederation and a federation, but has not formally defined itself as either. European Union_sentence_172

(It does not have a formal constitution: its status is defined by the Treaty of European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). European Union_sentence_173

It is more integrated than a traditional confederation of states because the general level of government widely employs qualified majority voting in some decision-making among the member states, rather than relying exclusively on unanimity. European Union_sentence_174

It is less integrated than a federal state because it is not a state in its own right: sovereignty continues to flow 'from the bottom up', from the several peoples of the separate member states, rather than from a single undifferentiated whole. European Union_sentence_175

This is reflected in the fact that the member states remain the 'masters of the Treaties', retaining control over the allocation of competences to the Union through constitutional change (thus retaining so-called Kompetenz-kompetenz); in that they retain control of the use of armed force; they retain control of taxation; and in that they retain a right of unilateral withdrawal from the Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. European Union_sentence_176

In addition, the principle of subsidiarity requires that only those matters that need to be determined collectively are so determined. European Union_sentence_177

The European Union has seven principal decision-making bodies, its institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors. European Union_sentence_178

Competence in scrutinising and amending legislation is shared between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, while executive tasks are performed 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). European Union_sentence_179

The monetary policy of the eurozone is determined by the European Central Bank. European Union_sentence_180

The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. European Union_sentence_181

The EU budget is scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors. European Union_sentence_182

There are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the EU or operate in a specific area. European Union_sentence_183

EU policy is in general promulgated by EU directives, which are then implemented in the domestic legislation of its member states, and EU regulations, which are immediately enforceable in all member states. European Union_sentence_184

Lobbying at EU level by special interest groups is regulated to try to balance the aspirations of private initiatives with public interest decision-making process European Union_sentence_185

Institutions European Union_section_14

European Council European Union_section_15

Main article: European Council European Union_sentence_186

The European Council gives political direction to the EU. European Union_sentence_187

It convenes at least four times a year and comprises the President of the European Council (currently Charles Michel), the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state (either its head of state or head of government). European Union_sentence_188

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Josep Borrell) also takes part in its meetings. European Union_sentence_189

It has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority". European Union_sentence_190

It is actively involved in the negotiation of treaty changes and defines the EU's policy agenda and strategies. European Union_sentence_191

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. European Union_sentence_192

It acts externally as a "collective head of state" and ratifies important documents (for example, international agreements and treaties). European Union_sentence_193

Tasks for the President of the European Council are ensuring the external representation of the EU, driving consensus and resolving divergences among member states, both during meetings of the European Council and over the periods between them. European Union_sentence_194

The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organisation independent of the EU based in Strasbourg. European Union_sentence_195

European Commission European Union_section_16

Main article: European Commission European Union_sentence_196

The European Commission acts both as the EU's executive arm, responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU, and also the legislative initiator, with the sole power to propose laws for debate. European Union_sentence_197

The commission is 'guardian of the Treaties' and is responsible for their efficient operation and policing. European Union_sentence_198

It operates de facto as a cabinet government, with 27 Commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. European Union_sentence_199

One of the 27 is the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen for 2019–2024), appointed by the European Council, subject to the Parliament's approval. European Union_sentence_200

After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is ex-officio a Vice-President of the Commission and is also chosen by the European Council. European Union_sentence_201

The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President. European Union_sentence_202

The 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to approval (or otherwise) by vote of the European Parliament. European Union_sentence_203

Council of the European Union European Union_section_17

Main article: Council of the European Union European Union_sentence_204

The Council of the European Union (also called the Council and the "Council of Ministers", its former title) forms one half of the EU's legislature. European Union_sentence_205

It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. European Union_sentence_206

Notwithstanding its different configurations, it is considered to be one single body. European Union_sentence_207

In addition to its legislative functions, the council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. European Union_sentence_208

In some policies, there are several member states that ally with strategic partners within the Union. European Union_sentence_209

Examples of such alliances include the Visegrad Group, Benelux, the Baltic Assembly, the New Hanseatic League, the Weimar Triangle, the Lublin Triangle, EU Med Group and the Craiova Group. European Union_sentence_210

European Parliament European Union_section_18

Main article: European Parliament European Union_sentence_211

The European Parliament is one of three legislative institutions of the EU, which together with the Council of the European Union is tasked with amending and approving the Commission's proposals. European Union_sentence_212

The 705 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years on the basis of proportional representation. European Union_sentence_213

MEPs are elected on a national basis and they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. European Union_sentence_214

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. European Union_sentence_215

In the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Commission proposes legislation, which requires the joint approval of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to pass. European Union_sentence_216

This process applies to nearly all areas, including the EU budget. European Union_sentence_217

The Parliament is the final body to approve or reject the proposed membership of the commission, and can attempt motions of censure on the commission by appeal to the Court of Justice. European Union_sentence_218

The President of the European Parliament (currently David Sassoli) carries out the role of speaker in Parliament and represents it externally. European Union_sentence_219

The President and Vice-Presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years. European Union_sentence_220

Budget European Union_section_19

Main article: Budget of the European Union European Union_sentence_221

The EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007–2013, representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods. European Union_sentence_222

In 1960, the budget of the then European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP. European Union_sentence_223

In the 2010 budget of €141.5 billion, the largest single expenditure item is "cohesion & competitiveness" with around 45% of the total budget. European Union_sentence_224

Next comes "agriculture" with approximately 31% of the total. European Union_sentence_225

"Rural development, environment and fisheries" takes up around 11%. European Union_sentence_226

"Administration" accounts for around 6%. European Union_sentence_227

The "EU as a global partner" and "citizenship, freedom, security and justice" bring up the rear with approximately 6% and 1% respectively. European Union_sentence_228

The Court of Auditors is legally obliged to provide the Parliament and the council (specifically, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council) with "a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions". European Union_sentence_229

The Court also gives opinions and proposals on financial legislation and anti-fraud actions. European Union_sentence_230

The Parliament uses this to decide whether to approve the commission's handling of the budget. European Union_sentence_231

The European Court of Auditors has signed off the European Union accounts every year since 2007 and, while making it clear that the European Commission has more work to do, has highlighted that most of the errors take place at national level. European Union_sentence_232

In their report on 2009 the auditors found that five areas of Union expenditure, agriculture and the cohesion fund, were materially affected by error. European Union_sentence_233

The European Commission estimated in 2009 that the financial effect of irregularities was €1,863 million. European Union_sentence_234

In November 2020, members of the Union, Hungary and Poland, blocked approval to the EU’s budget at a meeting in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper), citing a proposal that linked funding with adherence to the rule of law. European Union_sentence_235

The budget included a covid recovery fund of €750 billion. European Union_sentence_236

The budget may still be approved if Hungary and Poland withdraw their vetos after further negotiations in the Council and the European Council. European Union_sentence_237

Competences European Union_section_20

EU member states retain all powers not explicitly handed to the European Union. European Union_sentence_238

In some areas the EU enjoys exclusive competence. European Union_sentence_239

These are areas in which member states have renounced any capacity to enact legislation. European Union_sentence_240

In other areas the EU and its member states share the competence to legislate. European Union_sentence_241

While both can legislate, member states can only legislate to the extent to which the EU has not. European Union_sentence_242

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. European Union_sentence_243

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. European Union_sentence_244

Different legislative procedures are used within the same category of competence, and even with the same policy area. European Union_sentence_245

The distribution of competences in various policy areas between Member States and the Union is divided in the following three categories: European Union_sentence_246

Legal system and justice European Union_section_21

Further information: European Union law, Treaties of the European Union, and Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union European Union_sentence_247

The EU is based on a series of treaties. European Union_sentence_248

These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties. European Union_sentence_249

These are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. European Union_sentence_250

These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants. European Union_sentence_251

The EU has legal personality, with the right to sign agreements and international treaties. European Union_sentence_252

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. European Union_sentence_253

The direct effect and supremacy doctrines were not explicitly set out in the European Treaties but were developed by the Court of Justice itself over the 1960s, apparently under the influence of its then most influential judge, Frenchman Robert Lecourt European Union_sentence_254

Court of Justice of the European Union European Union_section_22

The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court. European Union_sentence_255

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. European Union_sentence_256

Because of the doctrines of direct effect and supremacy, many judgments of the Court of Justice are automatically applicable within the internal legal orders of the member states. European Union_sentence_257

The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service. European Union_sentence_258

Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law. European Union_sentence_259

Fundamental rights European Union_section_23

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." European Union_sentence_260

In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. European Union_sentence_261

The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU's legal acts can be judged. European Union_sentence_262

It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the Court of Justice and derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the member states." European Union_sentence_263

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. European Union_sentence_264

Signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership. European Union_sentence_265

Previously, the EU itself could not accede to the convention as it is neither a state nor had the competence to accede. European Union_sentence_266

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. European Union_sentence_267

The EU is independent from the Council of Europe, although they share purpose and ideas, especially on the rule of law, human rights and democracy. European Union_sentence_268

Furthermore, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, as well as the source of law for the Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by the Council of Europe. European Union_sentence_269

The EU has also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. European Union_sentence_270

The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. European Union_sentence_271

Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership. European Union_sentence_272

On 19 October 2020, the European Union revealed new plans to create a legal structure to act against human rights violations worldwide. European Union_sentence_273

The new plan was expected to provide the European Union with greater flexibility to target and sanction those responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses around the world. European Union_sentence_274

Acts European Union_section_24

See also: European Citizens' Initiative European Union_sentence_275

The main legal acts of the EU come in three forms: regulations, directives, and decisions. European Union_sentence_276

Regulations become law in all member states the moment they come into force, without the requirement for any implementing measures, and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions. European Union_sentence_277

Directives require member states to achieve a certain result while leaving them discretion as to how to achieve the result. European Union_sentence_278

The details of how they are to be implemented are left to member states. European Union_sentence_279

When the time limit for implementing directives passes, they may, under certain conditions, have direct effect in national law against member states. European Union_sentence_280

Decisions offer an alternative to the two above modes of legislation. European Union_sentence_281

They are legal acts which only apply to specified individuals, companies or a particular member state. European Union_sentence_282

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. European Union_sentence_283

Regulations, directives, and decisions are of equal legal value and apply without any formal hierarchy. European Union_sentence_284

European Ombudsman European Union_section_25

The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty. European Union_sentence_285

The ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament for the length of the Parliament's term, and the position is renewable. European Union_sentence_286

Any EU citizen or entity may appeal to the ombudsman to investigate an EU institution on the grounds of maladministration (administrative irregularities, unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, failure to reply, refusal of information or unnecessary delay). European Union_sentence_287

Emily O'Reilly is the current ombudsman since 2013. European Union_sentence_288

Home affairs and migration European Union_section_26

Further information: Area of freedom, security and justice and Citizenship of the European Union European Union_sentence_289

Since the creation of the EU in 1993, it has developed its competencies in the area of justice and home affairs; initially at an intergovernmental level and later by supranationalism. European Union_sentence_290

Accordingly, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition, family law, asylum law, and criminal justice. European Union_sentence_291

Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties. European Union_sentence_292

In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. European Union_sentence_293

By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination. European Union_sentence_294

The Union has also established agencies to co-ordinate police, prosecutorial and immigrations controls across the member states: Europol for co-operation of police forces, Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors, and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities. European Union_sentence_295

The EU also operates the Schengen Information System which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. European Union_sentence_296

This co-operation had to particularly be developed with the advent of open borders through the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border crime. European Union_sentence_297

European Union_unordered_list_1

  • European Union_item_1_4
  • European Union_item_1_5
  • European Union_item_1_6
  • European Union_item_1_7

Foreign relations European Union_section_27

Main articles: Foreign relations of the European Union, Common Foreign and Security Policy, and European External Action Service European Union_sentence_298

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 EU's common commercial policy. European Union_sentence_299

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. European Union_sentence_300

In 1987 the European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. European Union_sentence_301

EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty. European Union_sentence_302

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 co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. European Union_sentence_303

The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. European Union_sentence_304

The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq. European Union_sentence_305

The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy 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. European Union_sentence_306

The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department 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. European Union_sentence_307

The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union. European Union_sentence_308

Besides the emerging international policy of the European Union, the international influence of the EU is also felt through enlargement. European Union_sentence_309

The perceived benefits of becoming 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. European Union_sentence_310

This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power". European Union_sentence_311

Switzerland was called to vote on whether to end the agreement with European Union on the free movement of people, in September 2020. European Union_sentence_312

The demand of Swiss People’s Party (SPP) was, however, turned down, as the voters rejected SPP’s demand for taking back immigration control. European Union_sentence_313

Security and Defence European Union_section_28

Main articles: Common Security and Defence Policy and Berlin Plus agreement European Union_sentence_314

The predecessors of the European Union were not devised as a military alliance because NATO was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes. European Union_sentence_315

21 EU members are members of NATO while the remaining member states follow policies of neutrality. European Union_sentence_316

The Western European Union, a military alliance with a mutual defence clause, was disbanded in 2010 as its role had been transferred to the EU. European Union_sentence_317

Since the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, France is the only member officially recognised as a nuclear weapon state and the sole holder of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. European Union_sentence_318

Possessing the EU's largest armed forces and the largest national defence budget of the bloc, France is also the only EU country that has power projection capabilities outside of Europe. European Union_sentence_319

Most EU member states opposed the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. European Union_sentence_320

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". European Union_sentence_321

To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. European Union_sentence_322

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. European Union_sentence_323

EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from middle and northern Africa to the western Balkans and western Asia. European Union_sentence_324

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. European Union_sentence_325

Frontex is an agency of the EU established to manage the cooperation between national border guards securing its external borders. European Union_sentence_326

It aims to detect and stop illegal immigration, human trafficking and terrorist infiltration. European Union_sentence_327

In 2015 the European Commission presented its proposal for a new European Border and Coast Guard Agency having a stronger role and mandate along with national authorities for border management. European Union_sentence_328

In an EU consisting of 27 members, substantial security and defence co-operation is increasingly relying on collaboration among all member states. European Union_sentence_329

Humanitarian aid European Union_section_29

Further information: Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations European Union_sentence_330

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, or "ECHO", provides humanitarian aid from the EU to developing countries. European Union_sentence_331

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. European Union_sentence_332

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%). European Union_sentence_333

The EU's external action financing is divided into 'geographic' instruments and 'thematic' instruments. European Union_sentence_334

The 'geographic' instruments provide aid through the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI, €16.9 billion, 2007–2013), which must spend 95% of its budget on official development assistance (ODA), and from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which contains some relevant programmes. European Union_sentence_335

The European Development Fund (EDF, €22.7 billion for the period 2008–2013 and €30.5 billion for the period 2014–2020) 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. European Union_sentence_336

In 2016, the average among EU countries was 0.4% and five had met or exceeded the 0.7% target: Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Kingdom. European Union_sentence_337

If considered collectively, EU member states are the largest contributor of foreign aid in the world. European Union_sentence_338

International cooperation and development partnerships European Union_section_30

Main articles: Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, ACP–EU development cooperation, European Development Fund, and European Neighbourhood Policy European Union_sentence_339

The EU uses foreign relations instruments like the European Neighbourhood Policy which seeks to tie those countries to the east and south of the European territory of the EU to the Union. European Union_sentence_340

These countries, primarily developing countries, include some who seek to one day become either a member state of the European Union, or more closely integrated with the European Union. European Union_sentence_341

The EU offers financial assistance to countries within the European Neighbourhood, so long as they meet the strict conditions of government reform, economic reform and other issues surrounding positive transformation. European Union_sentence_342

This process is normally underpinned by an Action Plan, as agreed by both Brussels and the target country. European Union_sentence_343

International recognition of sustainable development as a key element is growing steadily. European Union_sentence_344

Its role was recognized in three major UN summits on sustainable development: the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa; and the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro. European Union_sentence_345

Other key global agreements are the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015). European Union_sentence_346

The SDGs recognize that all countries must stimulate action in the following key areas - people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership - in order to tackle the global challenges that are crucial for the survival of humanity. European Union_sentence_347

EU development action is based on the European Consensus on Development, which was endorsed on 20 December 2005 by EU Member States, the council, the European Parliament and the commission. European Union_sentence_348

It is applied from the principles of Capability approach and Rights-based approach to development. European Union_sentence_349

Partnership and cooperation agreements are bilateral agreements with non-member nations. European Union_sentence_350

European Union_table_general_4

Partnership and Cooperation AgreementsEuropean Union_table_caption_4
Non-EU Member stateEuropean Union_header_cell_4_0_0 PCA NameEuropean Union_header_cell_4_0_1 Date SignedEuropean Union_header_cell_4_0_2 Agreement Supersedes (if any)European Union_header_cell_4_0_3
ArmeniaEuropean Union_cell_4_1_0 EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership AgreementEuropean Union_cell_4_1_1 2018European Union_cell_4_1_2 EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, 1999European Union_cell_4_1_3
Kyrgyz RepublicEuropean Union_cell_4_2_0 EU and Kyrgyz Republic Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation AgreementEuropean Union_cell_4_2_1 2019European Union_cell_4_2_2 -European Union_cell_4_2_3

Trade European Union_section_31

The European Union is the largest exporter in the world and as of 2008 the largest importer of goods and services. European Union_sentence_351

Internal trade between the member states is aided by the removal of barriers to trade such as tariffs and border controls. European Union_sentence_352

In the eurozone, trade is helped by not having any currency differences to deal with amongst most members. European Union_sentence_353

The European Union Association Agreement does something similar for a much larger range of countries, partly as a so-called soft approach ('a carrot instead of a stick') to influence the politics in those countries. European Union_sentence_354

The European Union represents all its members at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and acts on behalf of member states in any disputes. European Union_sentence_355

When the EU negotiates trade related agreement outside the WTO framework, the subsequent agreement must be approved by each individual EU member state government. European Union_sentence_356

The European Union has concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) and other agreements with a trade component with many countries worldwide and is negotiating with many others. European Union_sentence_357

Economy European Union_section_32

Main article: Economy of the European Union European Union_sentence_358

As a political entity the European Union is represented in the World Trade Organization (WTO). European Union_sentence_359

EU member states own the estimated second largest after the United States (US$105 trillion) net wealth in the world, equal to around 20% (~€60 trillion) of the US$360 trillion (~€300 trillion) global wealth. European Union_sentence_360

19 member states have joined a monetary union known as the eurozone, which uses the euro as a single currency. European Union_sentence_361

The currency union represents 342 million EU citizens. European Union_sentence_362

The euro is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. European Union_sentence_363

Of the top 500 largest corporations in the world measured by revenue in 2010, 161 had their headquarters in the EU. European Union_sentence_364

In 2016, unemployment in the EU stood at 8.9% while inflation was at 2.2%, and the current account balance at −0.9% of GDP. European Union_sentence_365

The average annual net earnings in the European Union was around €24,000 (US$30,000) in 2015. European Union_sentence_366

There is a significant variation in Nominal GDP per capita within individual EU states. European Union_sentence_367

The difference between the richest and poorest regions (281 NUTS-2 regions of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) ranged, in 2017, from 31% (Severozapaden, Bulgaria) of the EU28 average (€30,000) to 253% (Luxembourg), or from €4,600 to €92,600. European Union_sentence_368

Internal market European Union_section_33

Main articles: European Single Market, Digital Single Market, and European consumer law European Union_sentence_369

Two of the original core objectives of the European Economic Community were the development of a common market, subsequently becoming a single market, and a customs union between its member states. European Union_sentence_370

The single market involves the free circulation of goods, capital, people, and services within the EU, and the customs union involves the application of a common external tariff on all goods entering the market. European Union_sentence_371

Once goods have been admitted into the market they cannot be subjected to customs duties, discriminatory taxes or import quotas, as they travel internally. European Union_sentence_372

The non-EU member states of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland participate in the single market but not in the customs union. European Union_sentence_373

Half the trade in the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU. European Union_sentence_374

Free movement of capital is intended to permit movement of investments such as property purchases and buying of shares between countries. European Union_sentence_375

Until the drive towards economic and monetary union the development of the capital provisions had been slow. European Union_sentence_376

Post-Maastricht there has been a rapidly developing corpus of ECJ judgements regarding this initially neglected freedom. European Union_sentence_377

The free movement of capital is unique insofar as it is granted equally to non-member states. European Union_sentence_378

The free movement of persons means that EU citizens can move freely between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. European Union_sentence_379

This required the lowering of administrative formalities and recognition of professional qualifications of other states. European Union_sentence_380

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. European Union_sentence_381

While services account for 60–70% of GDP, legislation in the area is not as developed as in other areas. European Union_sentence_382

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. European Union_sentence_383

According to the Treaty the provision of services is a residual freedom that only applies if no other freedom is being exercised. European Union_sentence_384

Monetary union and financial services European Union_section_34

Main articles: Eurozone, Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, Banking Union, Euro Stoxx 50, and Eurobond (eurozone) European Union_sentence_385

The creation of a European single currency became an official objective of the European Economic Community in 1969. European Union_sentence_386

In 1992, having negotiated the structure and procedures of a currency union, the member states signed the Maastricht Treaty and were legally bound to fulfil the agreed-on rules including the convergence criteria if they wanted to join the monetary union. European Union_sentence_387

The states wanting to participate had first to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. European Union_sentence_388

In 1999 the currency union started, first as an accounting currency with eleven member states joining. European Union_sentence_389

In 2002, the currency was fully put into place, when euro notes and coins were issued and national currencies began to phase out in the eurozone, which by then consisted of 12 member states. European Union_sentence_390

The eurozone (constituted by the EU member states which have adopted the euro) has since grown to 19 countries. European Union_sentence_391

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). European Union_sentence_392

The ECB is the central bank for the eurozone, and thus controls monetary policy in that area with an agenda to maintain price stability. European Union_sentence_393

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 27 EU member states. European Union_sentence_394

The European System of Financial Supervision is an institutional architecture of the EU's framework of financial supervision composed by three authorities: the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority. European Union_sentence_395

To complement this framework, there is also a European Systemic Risk Board under the responsibility of the ECB. European Union_sentence_396

The aim of this financial control system is to ensure the economic stability of the EU. European Union_sentence_397

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 fulfil 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. European Union_sentence_398

Industry and digital economy European Union_section_35

Main articles: European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship and European corporate law European Union_sentence_399

The European Commission working sectors are: Aeronautics, automotive, biotechnology, chemicals, construction, cosmetics, defense, electronics, firearms, food and drink, gambling, healthcare, maritime, mechanics, medical, postal, raw materials, space, textile, tourism, toys and Social economy (Societas cooperativa Europaea). European Union_sentence_400

Energy European Union_section_36

Main article: Energy policy of the European Union European Union_sentence_401

In 2006, the EU-27 had a gross inland energy consumption of 1,825 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). European Union_sentence_402

Around 46% of the energy consumed was produced within the member states while 54% was imported. European Union_sentence_403

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 EU. European Union_sentence_404

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. European Union_sentence_405

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. European Union_sentence_406

The EU has five key points in its energy policy: increase competition in the internal market, encourage investment and boost interconnections between electricity grids; diversify energy resources with better systems to respond to a crisis; establish a new treaty framework for energy co-operation with Russia while improving relations with energy-rich states in Central Asia and North Africa; use existing energy supplies more efficiently while increasing renewable energy commercialisation; and finally increase funding for new energy technologies. European Union_sentence_407

In 2007, EU countries as a whole imported 82% of their oil, 57% of their natural gas and 97.48% of their uranium demands. European Union_sentence_408

There is a strong dependence on Russian energy that the EU has been attempting to reduce. European Union_sentence_409

Infrastructure European Union_section_37

Main article: Transport in the European Union European Union_sentence_410

Further information: European Commissioner for Transport European Union_sentence_411

The EU is working to improve cross-border infrastructure within the EU, for example through the Trans-European Networks (TEN). European Union_sentence_412

Projects under TEN include the Channel Tunnel, LGV Est, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Öresund Bridge, the Brenner Base Tunnel and the Strait of Messina Bridge. European Union_sentence_413

In 2010 the estimated network covers: 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. European Union_sentence_414

Rail transport in Europe is being synchronised with the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), an initiative to greatly enhance safety, increase efficiency of trains and enhance cross-border interoperability of rail transport in Europe by replacing signalling equipment with digitised mostly wireless versions and by creating a single Europe-wide standard for train control and command systems. European Union_sentence_415

The developing European transport policies will increase the pressure on the environment in many regions by the increased transport network. European Union_sentence_416

In the pre-2004 EU members, the major problem in transport deals with congestion and pollution. European Union_sentence_417

After the recent enlargement, the new states that joined since 2004 added the problem of solving accessibility to the transport agenda. European Union_sentence_418

The Polish road network was upgraded such as the A4 autostrada. European Union_sentence_419

Telecommunications and space European Union_section_38

Main articles: European Space Agency and European GNSS Agency European Union_sentence_420

The Galileo positioning system is another EU infrastructure project. European Union_sentence_421

Galileo is a proposed Satellite navigation system, to be built by the EU and launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). European Union_sentence_422

The Galileo project was launched partly to reduce the EU's dependency on the US-operated Global Positioning System, but also to give more complete global coverage and allow for greater accuracy, given the aged nature of the GPS system. European Union_sentence_423

Agriculture and fisheries European Union_section_39

Main article: Common Agricultural Policy European Union_sentence_424

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the long lasting policies of the European Community. European Union_sentence_425

The policy has the objectives of increasing agricultural production, providing certainty in food supplies, ensuring a high quality of life for farmers, stabilising markets, and ensuring reasonable prices for consumers. European Union_sentence_426

It was, until recently, operated by a system of subsidies and market intervention. European Union_sentence_427

Until the 1990s, the policy accounted for over 60% of the then European Community's annual budget, and as of 2013 accounts for around 34%. European Union_sentence_428

The policy's price controls and market interventions led to considerable overproduction. European Union_sentence_429

These were intervention stores of products bought up by the Community to maintain minimum price levels. European Union_sentence_430

To dispose of surplus stores, they were often sold on the world market at prices considerably below Community guaranteed prices, or farmers were offered subsidies (amounting to the difference between the Community and world prices) to export their products outside the Community. European Union_sentence_431

This system has been criticised for under-cutting farmers outside Europe, especially those in the developing world. European Union_sentence_432

Supporters of CAP argue that the economic support which it gives to farmers provides them with a reasonable standard of living. European Union_sentence_433

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the CAP has been subject to a series of reforms. European Union_sentence_434

Initially, these reforms included the introduction of set-aside in 1988, where a proportion of farm land was deliberately withdrawn from production, milk quotas 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). European Union_sentence_435

Agriculture expenditure will move away from subsidy payments linked to specific produce, toward direct payments based on farm size. European Union_sentence_436

This is intended to allow the market to dictate production levels. European Union_sentence_437

One of these reforms entailed the modification 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. European Union_sentence_438

Competition European Union_section_40

Further information: European Union competition law, European Commissioner for Competition, and Silicon Docks European Union_sentence_439

The EU operates a competition policy intended to ensure undistorted competition within the single market. European Union_sentence_440

The Competition Commissioner, currently Margrethe Vestager, is one of the most powerful positions in the commission, notable for the ability to affect the commercial interests of trans-national corporations. European Union_sentence_441

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. European Union_sentence_442

Another high-profile case against Microsoft, resulted in the Commission fining Microsoft over €777 million following nine years of legal action. European Union_sentence_443

Labour market European Union_section_41

The EU seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7% in September 2018. European Union_sentence_444

The euro area unemployment rate was 8.1%. European Union_sentence_445

Among the member states, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in the Czech Republic (2.3%), Germany and Poland (both 3.4%), and the highest in Spain (14.9%) and Greece (19.0 in July 2018). European Union_sentence_446

Social policy and equality European Union_section_42

Main articles: European social model, European Social Fund, Welfare State, European Social Charter, and European Voluntary Service European Union_sentence_447

The EU has long sought to mitigate the effects of free markets by protecting workers rights and preventing social and environmental dumping. European Union_sentence_448

To this end it has adopted laws establishing minimum employment and environmental standards. European Union_sentence_449

These included the Working Time Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. European Union_sentence_450

The EU has also sought to coordinate the social security and health systems of member states to facilitate individuals exercising free movement rights and to ensure they maintain their ability to access social security and health services in other member states. European Union_sentence_451

The European Social Charter is the main body that recognizes the social rights of European citizens. European Union_sentence_452

A European unemployment insurance has been proposed among others by the commissioner of Jobs Nicolas Schmit. European Union_sentence_453

Since 2019 there is a European Commissioner for Equality; a European Institute for Gender Equality has existed since 2007. European Union_sentence_454

Housing, youth, childhood, Functional diversity or elderly care are supportive competencies of the European Union and can be financed by the European Social Fund. European Union_sentence_455

Regional and local policy European Union_section_43

Main articles: Regional policy of the European Union, European Committee of the Regions, and European Investment Bank European Union_sentence_456

Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds are supporting the development of underdeveloped regions of the EU. European Union_sentence_457

Such regions are primarily located in the states of central and southern Europe. European Union_sentence_458

Several funds provide emergency aid, support for candidate members to transform their country to conform to the EU's standard (Phare, ISPA, and SAPARD), and support to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS). European Union_sentence_459

TACIS has now become part of the worldwide EuropeAid programme. European Union_sentence_460

Demographic transition to a society of aging population, low fertility-rates and depopulation of non-metropolitan regions is tackled within this policies. European Union_sentence_461

Environment and climate European Union_section_44

Further information: European Commissioner for the Environment, European Climate Change Programme, The LIFE Programme, and Natura 2000 European Union_sentence_462

In 1957, when the EEC was founded, it had no environmental policy. European Union_sentence_463

Over the past 50 years, an increasingly dense network of legislation has been created, extending to all areas of environmental protection, including air pollution, water quality, waste management, nature conservation, and the control of chemicals, industrial hazards, and biotechnology. European Union_sentence_464

According to the Institute for European Environmental Policy, environmental law comprises over 500 Directives, Regulations and Decisions, making environmental policy a core area of European politics. European Union_sentence_465

European policy-makers originally increased the EU's capacity to act on environmental issues by defining it as a trade problem. European Union_sentence_466

Trade barriers and competitive distortions in the Common Market could emerge due to the different environmental standards in each member state. European Union_sentence_467

In subsequent years, the environment became a formal policy area, with its own policy actors, principles and procedures. European Union_sentence_468

The legal basis for EU environmental policy was established with the introduction of the Single European Act in 1987. European Union_sentence_469

Initially, EU environmental policy focused on Europe. European Union_sentence_470

More recently, the EU has demonstrated leadership in global environmental governance, e.g. the role of the EU in securing the ratification and coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol despite opposition from the United States. European Union_sentence_471

This international dimension is reflected in the EU's Sixth Environmental Action Programme, which recognises that its objectives can only be achieved if key international agreements are actively supported and properly implemented both at EU level and worldwide. European Union_sentence_472

The Lisbon Treaty further strengthened the leadership ambitions. European Union_sentence_473

EU law has played a significant role in improving habitat and species protection in Europe, as well as contributing to improvements in air and water quality and waste management. European Union_sentence_474

Mitigating climate change is one of the top priorities of EU environmental policy. European Union_sentence_475

In 2007, member states agreed that, in the future, 20% of the energy used across the EU must be renewable, and carbon dioxide emissions have to be lower in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels. European Union_sentence_476

The EU has adopted an emissions trading system to incorporate carbon emissions into the economy. European Union_sentence_477

The European Green Capital is an annual award given to cities that focuses on the environment, energy efficiency, and quality of life in urban areas to create smart city. European Union_sentence_478

In the Elections to the European Parliament in 2019, the green parties increased their power, possibly because of the rise of post materialist values. European Union_sentence_479

Proposals to reach a zero carbon economy in the European Union by 2050 were suggested in 2018 - 2019. European Union_sentence_480

Almost all member states supported that goal at an EU summit in June 2019. European Union_sentence_481

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, and Poland disagreed. European Union_sentence_482

In 2017, EU emitted 9.1% of the global Greenhouse-gas emissions The EU has a target of zero GHG emission by 2050. European Union_sentence_483

Education and research European Union_section_45

Main articles: Educational policies and initiatives of the European Union and Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development European Union_sentence_484

Basic education is an area where the EU's role is limited to supporting national governments. European Union_sentence_485

In higher education, the policy was developed in the 1980s in programmes supporting exchanges and mobility. European Union_sentence_486

The most visible of these has been the Erasmus Programme, a university exchange programme which began in 1987. European Union_sentence_487

In its first 20 years, it supported international exchange opportunities for well over 1.5 million university and college students and became a symbol of European student life. European Union_sentence_488

There are 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. European Union_sentence_489

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. European Union_sentence_490

Through its support of the Bologna Process, the EU is supporting comparable standards and compatible degrees across Europe. European Union_sentence_491

Scientific development is facilitated through the EU's Framework Programmes, the first of which started in 1984. European Union_sentence_492

The aims of EU policy in this area are to co-ordinate and stimulate research. European Union_sentence_493

The independent European Research Council allocates EU funds to European or national research projects. European Union_sentence_494

EU research and technological framework programmes deal in a number of areas, for example energy where the aim is to develop a diverse mix of renewable energy to help the environment and to reduce dependence on imported fuels. European Union_sentence_495

Health care and food safety European Union_section_46

Further information: Healthcare in Europe and Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety European Union_sentence_496

The EU has no major competences in the field of health care and 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". European Union_sentence_497

The European Commission's 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 products. European Union_sentence_498

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. European Union_sentence_499

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 patients. European Union_sentence_500

The EU has some of the highest levels of life expectancy in the world, with Spain, Italy, Sweden, France, Malta, Ireland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Greece all among the world's top 20 countries with the highest life expectancy. European Union_sentence_501

In general, life expectancy is lower in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. European Union_sentence_502

In 2018, the EU region with the highest life expectancy was Madrid, Spain at 85.2 years, followed by the Spanish regions of La Rioja and Castilla y León both at 84.3 years, Trentino in Italy at 84.3 years and Île-de-France in France at 84.2 years. European Union_sentence_503

The overall life expectancy in the EU in 2018 was 81.0 years, higher than the World average of 72.6 years. European Union_sentence_504

Culture European Union_section_47

Further information: Culture of Europe, European Film Awards, and Cultural policies of the European Union European Union_sentence_505

Cultural co-operation between member states has been an interest of the EU since its inclusion as a community competency in the Maastricht Treaty. European Union_sentence_506

Actions taken in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000 seven-year programme, the European Cultural Month event, and orchestras such as the European Union Youth Orchestra. European Union_sentence_507

The European Capital of Culture programme selects one or more cities in every year to assist the cultural development of that city. European Union_sentence_508

Sport European Union_section_48

Main article: Sport policies of the European Union European Union_sentence_509

Association football is by far the most popular sport in the European Union by the number of registered players. European Union_sentence_510

The other sports with the most participants in clubs are tennis, basketball, swimming, athletics, golf, gymnastics, equestrian sports, handball, volleyball and sailing. European Union_sentence_511

Sport is mainly the responsibility of the member states or other international organisations, rather than of the EU. European Union_sentence_512

There are some EU policies that have affected sport, such as the free movement of workers, which was at the core of the Bosman ruling that prohibited national football leagues from imposing quotas on foreign players with European citizenship. European Union_sentence_513

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. European Union_sentence_514

This followed lobbying by governing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due to objections over the application of free market principles to sport, which led to an increasing gap between rich and poor clubs. European Union_sentence_515

The EU does fund a programme for Israeli, Jordanian, Irish, and British football coaches, as part of the Football 4 Peace project. European Union_sentence_516

Symbols European Union_section_49

Further information: European Heritage Label European Union_sentence_517

The flag used is the Flag of Europe, which consists of a circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background. European Union_sentence_518

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. European Union_sentence_519

The Council of Europe gave the flag a symbolic description in the following terms, though the official symbolic description adopted by the EU omits the reference to the "Western world": European Union_sentence_520

United in Diversity was adopted as the motto of the Union in the year 2000, having been selected from proposals submitted by school pupils. European Union_sentence_521

Since 1985, the flag day of the Union has been Europe Day, on 9 May (the date of the 1950 Schuman declaration). European Union_sentence_522

The anthem of the Union is an instrumental version of the prelude to the Ode to Joy, the 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony. European Union_sentence_523

The anthem was adopted by European Community leaders in 1985 and has since been played on official occasions. European Union_sentence_524

Besides naming the continent, the Greek mythological figure of Europa has frequently been employed as a personification of Europe. European Union_sentence_525

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. European Union_sentence_526

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. European Union_sentence_527

The bull is, for its part, depicted on all residence permit cards. European Union_sentence_528

Charles the Great, also known as Charlemagne (Latin: Carolus Magnus) and later recognised as Pater Europae ("Father of Europe"), has a symbolic relevance to Europe. European Union_sentence_529

The commission has named one of its central buildings in Brussels after Charlemagne and the city of Aachen has since 1949 awarded the Charlemagne Prize to champions of European unification. European Union_sentence_530

Since 2008, the organisers of this prize, in conjunction with the European Parliament, have awarded the Charlemagne Youth Prize in recognition of similar efforts led by young people. European Union_sentence_531

Media European Union_section_50

Main articles: Media freedom in the European Union and European Broadcasting Union European Union_sentence_532

Media freedom is a fundamental right that applies to all member states of the European Union and its citizens, as defined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. European Union_sentence_533

Within the EU enlargement process, guaranteeing media freedom is named a "key indicator of a country's readiness to become part of the EU". European Union_sentence_534

The majority of media in the European Union are national-oriented, although some EU-wide media focusing on European affairs have emerged since the early 1990s, such as Euronews, Eurosport, EUobserver, EURACTIV or Politico Europe. European Union_sentence_535

ARTE is a public Franco-German TV network that promotes programming in the areas of culture and the arts. European Union_sentence_536

80% of its programming are provided in equal proportion by the two member companies, while the remainder is being provided by the European Economic Interest Grouping ARTE GEIE and the channel's European partners. European Union_sentence_537

The MEDIA Programme of the European Union has supported the European popular film and audiovisual industries since 1991. European Union_sentence_538

It provides support for the development, promotion and distribution of European works within Europe and beyond. European Union_sentence_539

Impact European Union_section_51

The European Union has had a significant positive economic impact on most member states. European Union_sentence_540

According to a 2019 study of the member states who joined from 1973 to 2004, "without European integration, per capita incomes would have been, on average, approximately 10% lower in the first ten years after joining the EU." European Union_sentence_541

Greece was the exception reported by the study, which analysed up to 2008, "to avoid confounding effects from the global financial crisis". European Union_sentence_542

The European Union has contributed to peace in Europe, in particular by pacifying border disputes, and to the spread of democracy, especially by encouraging democratic reforms in aspiring Eastern European member states after the collapse of the USSR. European Union_sentence_543

Scholar Thomas Risse wrote in 2009, "there is a consensus in the literature on Eastern Europe that the EU membership perspective had a huge anchoring effects for the new democracies." European Union_sentence_544

However, R. European Union_sentence_545 Daniel Kelemen argues that the EU has proved beneficial to leaders who are overseeing democratic backsliding, as the EU is reluctant to intervene in domestic politics, gives authoritarian governments funds which they can use to strengthen their regimes, and because freedom of movement within the EU allows dissenting citizens to leave their backsliding countries. European Union_sentence_546

At the same time, the union provides an external constraint that prevents soft authoritarian regimes from progressing into hard dictatorships. European Union_sentence_547

See also European Union_section_52

European Union_unordered_list_2


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European Union.