The European Union


What is the EU?

The EU is a union of different European countries to realize their common goals.The members are Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Finland.The EU represents a desire for peace and cooperation among European states. With increased growth the EU may become a major economic rival to North America and Asia.


World War II (1939 - 1945) destroyed the economy of Europe. Many Europeans hoped that the reconstruction of Europe would result in an agreement to create a unified European state. In May 1950 Schuman proposed the creation of an organisation to regulate the coal and steel industry in West Germany and France; Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and West Germany joined the organisation. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established in August 1952. In June 1955 the foreign ministers of the six nations in the ECSC agreed to examine the possibilities for further economic integration. This new effort resulted in the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).The aims of the EEC were the elimination of trade barriers among member nations and the creation of a common policy for managing and supporting agriculture.In response to the EEC, Great Britain and six other non - EEC countries formed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960.The three communities (the EEC, the ECSC, and Euratom) merged in July 1967 under one set of institutions, the European Community.In January 1972, after nearly two years of negotiations Great Britain, Ireland, and Denmark joined the EC. Greece entered the EC in 1981 and, after eight years of negotiations, Spain and Portugal joined in 1986. In March 1989 the European Monetary System (EMS) was established as a first step toward achieving an economic and monetary union, called EMU. The EMS helped lower inflation rates in the EC.The most significant development in the EC during the 1980s was the progress toward implementing a single European market.West Germany and France proposed to pursue closer European unity. They began work on a series of agreements that became the Treaty on European Union.Representatives from each of the EC countries negotiated the Treaty on European Union in 1991, and in December the European Council met at Maastricht, the Netherlands, to consider a draft version. The final treaty was signed by the European Council on February 7, 1992. The European Union was established on November 1, when the treaty went into effect.
In 1995 Austria, Sweden and Finland joined the EU


Decision - making is divided between supranational European institutions and the governments of the member states.

European Commission

The executive branch of the EU. Consists of 20 members ,a president, all elected by the member States. It watches over the correct usage of the Treaty rules and the decisions of the community bodies, makes policy proposals, represents the EU in economic relations with other countries or international organizations.

Council of Ministers

Is the main law - making body of the EU, composed of ministers from the member governments. It is aided by the Committee of Permanent Representatives, consists of ambassadors of each member state.

European Council

Once every six months the president of the Council of Ministers calls the top leaders of the member states together to a summit meeting. The summits were instituted on a regular basis in 1975, became an official part of the EC structure.

European Parliament

Members are directly elected by the citizens of its member states. The main body meets in Strasbourg (Palais de I'Europe), though most of its work is done in Brussels. The secretariat is based in Luxembourg. It is open to the public and its resolutions are published in 11 European languages. It consists of 626 seats, distributed on the population of each member state. 1994 Germany largest representation with 99 seats.


The Economic and Social Committee: very important. Its 189 members, appointed to four - year terms by the Council of Members. It has an advisory role. Committee of the Regions: should bring the EU closer to its citizens and give regional and local authorities a voice in government. It has 189 members allocated based on the population of each country. No legislative power.

Court of Justice

The final arbiter in all matters of EU law is the Court of Justice. Composed of 15 judges who are appointed to six - year terms, one judge from each member country. The court deals with disputes between member governments and EU institutions and among EU institutions, and with appeals against EC rulings or decisions.

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