Reading: European Union

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

KEY TAKEAWAY

  • The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union made up of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • Members of the EU include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  • The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states.
  • Within the Schengen Area (which includes EU and non-EU states) passport controls have been abolished.
  • The creation of a single currency became an official objective of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1969. On January 1, 2002 euro notes and coins were issued and national currencies began to phase out in the eurozone.
  • The ECB is the central bank for the eurozone, and thus controls monetary policy in that area with an agenda to maintain price stability. It is at the center of the European System of Central Banks, which comprises 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.


Terms

  • Euro:  The currency unit of the European Monetary Union. Symbol: €
  • Transparency:  Open, public; having the property that theories and practices are publicly visible, thereby reducing the chance of corruption.
  • European Union:  A supranational organization created in the 1950s to bring the nations of Europe into closer economic and political connection. At the beginning of 2012, 27 member nations were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.


Examples

  • The euro is designed to help build a single market by easing travel of citizens and goods, eliminating exchange rate problems, providing price transparency, creating a single financial market, stabilizing prices, maintaining low interest rates, and providing a currency used internationally and protected against shocks by the large amount of internal trade within the eurozone. It is also intended as a political symbol of integration.


The European Union

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union or confederation of 27 member states that are located in Europe, including:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental decisions negotiated by the member states. Important institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Central Bank. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens. The EU has developed a single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states. Within the Schengen Area (which includes EU and non-EU states) passport controls have been abolished. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. A monetary union, the eurozone, was established in 1999, and as of January 2012, is composed of 17 member states. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy the EU has developed a limited role in external relations and defense. Permanent diplomatic missions have been established around the world. The EU is represented at the United Nations, the WTO, the G8 and the G-20.

The Euro

The creation of a single European currency became an official objective of the European Economic Community in 1969. However, it was only with the advent of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 that member states were legally bound to start the monetary union. In 1999 the euro was duly launched by eleven of the then fifteen member states of the EU. It remained an accounting currency until 1 January 2002, when euro notes and coins were issued and national currencies began to phase out in the eurozone, which by then consisted of twelve member states. The eurozone (constituted by the EU member states that have adopted the euro) has since grown to seventeen countries, the most recent being Estonia, which joined on 1 January 2011. All other EU member states, except Denmark and the United Kingdom, are legally bound to join the euro when the convergence criteria are met, however only a few countries have set target dates for accession. Sweden has circumvented the requirement to join the euro by not meeting the membership criteria.

The euro is designed to help build a single market by easing travel of citizens and goods, eliminating exchange rate problems, providing price transparency, creating a single financial market, stabilizing prices, maintaining low interest rates, and providing a currency used internationally and protected against shocks by the large amount of internal trade within the eurozone. It is also intended as a political symbol of integration. 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). The ECB is the central bank for the eurozone, and thus controls monetary policy in that area with an agenda to maintain price stability. It is at the center of the European System of Central Banks, which comprises 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. The monetary union has been shaken by the European sovereign-debt crisis since 2009.

European Union
European Union member countries

GLOSSARY

Good
An object produced for market.

Justice
The ideal of fairness, impartiality, etc., especially with regard to the punishment of wrongdoing.

Mission
A set of tasks that fulfills a purpose or duty; an assignment set by an employer.

Services
That which is produced, then traded, bought or sold, then finally consumed and consists of an action or work.
 

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