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European Union

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Flag of the European Union
Map of countries (green) in the European Union
An animation about the enlargements of the European Union

The European Union (EU) is an organization of countries in Europe. As of 2014, there are 28 countries that are members.[1]

It was initially formed in the 1950s. Originally it was called the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the first countries were France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Other countries joined the EU in 1973; 1981; 1986; 1995; 2004 (10 countries at the same time); 2007 and 2013.

These countries trade with each other in a common market, meaning that goods can be sold and bought freely across the union. People can also live and work (with some restrictions) in any EU country if they are an EU citizen. Member countries also have some common laws derived from decisions made by the union. Each country in the EU also elects politicians to a European Parliament which helps make and decide what common goals the union should pursue.

Nineteen countries in the European Union also share a common currency: the Euro.

Member countries[edit | edit source]

There are 28 countries in the EU which has a population of around 500 million and the largest economy in the world.

The members are (in order of when they joined):[2] France ; Italy; Germany; Luxembourg; Netherlands and Belgium as founding member in 1951; then Denmark (1973); United Kingdom (1973); Ireland (1973); Greece (1981); Spain (1986); Portugal (1986); Finland (1995); Sweden (1995); Austria (1995); Poland (2004); Lithuania (2004); Latvia (2004); Estonia (2004); Czech Republic (2004); Slovakia (2004); Hungary (2004); Slovenia (2004); Malta (2004); Cyprus (2004); Romania (2007); Bulgaria (2007) and Croatia (2013).

Candidates[edit | edit source]

Macedonia; Turkey; Montenegro; Serbia and Iceland are applicant countries who wish to join the European Union in the future.

Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are also potential candidates.

Euro[edit | edit source]

Nineteen of the twenty-seven EU member countries use the euro as their currency: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All other members (except the United Kingdom and Denmark) are obliged by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty to adopt the euro at some point in the future.

This currency was created in 1999, yet the euro notes and coins were only released on 1 January 2002 (it was used only for electronic payments before), and the countries that adopted this new currency got rid of their former national currencies in the following months.

In addition, a few smaller countries which are not part of the EU also use the euro: Vatican City, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, Montenegro and the province of Kosovo in Serbia.

Open borders[edit | edit source]

Schengen Countries, no borders (in dark blue and light blue)

The Schengen Agreement was signed by many countries in Europe (including some which are not part of the EU). Countries which have singed up to this agreement have no border controls between similar countries. This means that you can travel from Portugal to Spain to France to Germany to Poland to Lithuania to Latvia to Estonia and Finland (several thousand kilometres) and you don't need to stop at borders, show passports.

The following countries have singed the agreement and removed border controls: Portugal, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Iceland (not part of the EU), Sweden, Norway (not part of the EU), Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland (not part of the EU), Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece and Liechtenstein (not part of the EU). The only EU countries where passports are still needed are the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Related pages[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Other websites[edit | edit source]

ZoomOnEurope.png Europe Portal — All articles about countries in Europe, traditions, monuments, and more!
Society.svg Politics Portal — All articles about politics and politicians !