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Circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background.
Flag
MottoUnited in diversity[1][2][3]
AnthemOde to Joy[2] (orchestral)
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting the European Union and its Member States (green).
Political centres Brussels
Luxembourg
Strasbourg
Official languages
Demonym European[4]
Members
Leaders
 -  Commission José Manuel Barroso
 -  Council of Ministers Spain
 -  European Council Herman Van Rompuy
 -  Parliament Jerzy Buzek
Establishment
 -  Paris Treaty 23 July 1952 
 -  Rome Treaty 1 January 1958 
 -  Maastricht Treaty 1 November 1993 
 -  Lisbon Treaty 1 December 2009 
Area
 -  Total 4,324,782 km2 
1,669,807 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3.08
Population
 -  2010 estimate 501,259,840[5] 
 -  Density 115.9/km2 
300.2/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 (IMF) estimate
 -  Total $15.247 trillion 
 -  Per capita $30,513 
GDP (nominal) 2008 (IMF) estimate
 -  Total $18.394 trillion 
 -  Per capita $36,812 
Gini (2009) 30.7 (EU25)[6] (High) 
HDI (2007) 0.937 (High) 
Currency
Time zone (UTC+0 to +2)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+1 to +3[7])
Internet TLD .eu[8]
Website
europa.eu
Calling code See list
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states,[9] located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration,the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the European Communities.[10] With over 500 million citizens,[11] the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share (US$ 18.4 trillion in 2008) of the nominal gross world product and about 22% (US$15.2 trillion in 2008) of the PPP gross world product.[12]
The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, ensuring the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.[13] It maintains common policies on trade,[14] agriculture, fisheries[15] and regional development.[16] Sixteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro, constituting the Eurozone. The EU has developed a limited role in foreign policy, having representation at the World Trade Organization, G8, G-20 major economies and at the United Nations. It enacts legislation in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport controls by the Schengen Agreement between 22 EU and 3 non-EU states.[17]
As an international organisation, the EU operates through a hybrid system of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism.[18][19][20] In certain areas, decisions are made through negotiation between member states, while in others, independent supranational institutions are responsible without a requirement for unanimity between 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 member states' citizens, to whom the citizenship of the European Union is guaranteed.
The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome formed in 1957 by the same states. Since then, the EU has grown in size through enlargement, and in power through the addition of policy areas to its remit.

Contents

History

After World War II, moves towards European integration were seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent.[21] One such attempt to unite Europeans was the European Coal and Steel Community which, while having the modest aim of centralised control of the previously national coal and steel industries of its member states, was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe".[22] The originators and supporters of the Community include Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul Henri Spaak, and Alcide de Gasperi. The founding members of the Community were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.[23]
In 1957, these six countries signed the Treaties of Rome which extended the earlier cooperation within the European Coal and Steel Community and created the European Economic Community, (EEC) establishing a customs union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for cooperation in developing nuclear energy.[23] In 1967 the Merger Treaty created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities (EC), although commonly just as the European Community.[24]
In 1973, the Communities enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.[25] Norway had negotiated to join at the same time but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum and so Norway remained outside. In 1979, the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.[26]
Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986.[27] In 1985, the Schengen Agreement led the way toward the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states and some non-member states.[28] In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the Community[29] and the Single European Act was signed.
The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall)
In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the former East Germany became part of the Community as part of a newly united Germany.[30] With enlargement towards Eastern and Central Europe on the agenda, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed.
The European Union was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993,[10] and in 1995 Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined the newly established EU. In 2002, euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Since then, the eurozone has increased to encompass sixteen countries. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary joined the Union.[31]
On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became the EU's newest members and Slovenia adopted the euro.[31] In June 2009, the 2009 Parliament elections were held leading to a renewal of Barroso's Commission Presidency, and in July 2009 Iceland formally applied for EU membership. On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty came into force after a protracted and controversial birth. This reformed many aspects of the EU but in particular created a permanent President of the European Council, the first of which is Herman van Rompuy, and a strengthened High Representative, Catherine Ashton.

Treaties timeline

Signed
In force
Treaty
1948
1948
Brussels
1951
1952
Paris
1954
1955
Paris Agr.
1957
1958
Rome
1965
1967
Merger
1986
1987
Single Act
1992
1993
Maastricht
1997
1999
Amsterdam
2001
2003
Nice
2007
2009
Lisbon
Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
                   
European Communities Three pillars of the European Union
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
      Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    
                   

Member states

The Union's membership has grown from the original six founding states–Belgium, France, (then-West) Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands–to the present day 27 by successive enlargements as countries acceded to the treaties and by doing so, pooled their sovereignty in exchange for representation in the institutions.[33]
To join the EU a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. These require a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country's fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.[34]
No member state has ever left the Union, although Greenland (an autonomous province of Denmark) withdrew in 1985. The Lisbon Treaty now provides a clause dealing with how a member leaves the EU.
There are three official candidate countries, Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Iceland are officially recognised as potential candidates.[35] Kosovo is also listed as a potential candidate but the European Commission does not list it as an independent country because not all member states recognise it as an independent country separate from Serbia.[36]
Four Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU have partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations: Iceland, which has now applied for membership, 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.[37][38] The relationships of the European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican include the use of the euro and other areas of co-operation.[39]

Geography

Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest peak in the EU.
The territory of the EU consists of the combined territories of its 27 member states with some exceptions, outlined below. The territory of the EU is not the same as that of Europe, as parts of the continent are outside the EU, such as Switzerland, Norway, European Russia, and Iceland. Some parts of member states are not part of the EU, despite forming part of the European continent (for example the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (two Crown Dependencies), and the Faroe Islands (a territory of Denmark)). The island country of Cyprus, a member of the EU, is closer to Turkey than to continental Europe and is often considered part of Asia.[40][41]
The EU's climate is influenced by its 65,993 km (41,006 mi) coastline. (Crete)
Several territories associated with member states that are outside geographic Europe are also not part of the EU (such as Greenland, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and all the non-European British overseas territories). Some overseas territories are part of the EU even though geographically not part of Europe, such as the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Lampedusa, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélemy, Martinique and Réunion, Ceuta and Melilla. As well, although being technically part of the EU,[42] EU law is suspended in Northern Cyprus as it is under the de facto control of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, a self-proclaimed state that is recognised only by Turkey.
The EU's member states cover an area of 4,422,773 square kilometres (1,707,642 sq mi).[43] The EU is larger in area than all but six countries, and its highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps, 4,807 metres (15,771 ft) above sea level. The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. The EU has the world's second-longest coastline, after Canada. The combined member states share land borders with 19 non-member states for a total of 12,441 kilometres (7,730 mi), the fifth-longest border in the world.[19][44][45]
Including the overseas territories of member states, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic to tropical, rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the population lives in areas with a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), a temperate maritime climate (Western Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Eastern Europe).[46]

Governance

European Union
Flag of the European Union
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the European Union
  
The institutions of the EU operate solely within those competencies conferred on it upon the treaties and according to the principle of subsidiarity (which dictates that action by the EU should only be taken where an objective cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states alone). Law made by the EU institutions is passed in a variety of forms, primarily that which comes into direct force and that which must be passed in a refined form by national parliaments.
Legislative competencies are divided equally, with some exceptions, between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union while executive tasks are carried out 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). The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. There are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the EU or operate in a specific area.

European Council

The EU receives its political leadership from the European Council, which usually meets four times a year. It comprises one representative per member state—either its head of state or head of government—plus its President as well as the President of the Commission. The member states' representatives are assisted by their Foreign Ministers. 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. The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organisation independent from the EU.
On 19 November 2009, Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as the first President of the European Council and Catherine Ashton was chosen as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. They both assumed office on 1 December 2009.

Council

The Council (also called "Council of the European Union"[47] and sometimes referred to as the "Council of Ministers"[48]) forms one half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different compositions, it is considered to be one single body.[49] In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Commission

The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. It is intended to act solely in the interest of the EU as a whole, as opposed to the Council which consists of leaders of member states who reflect national interests. The commission is also seen as the motor of European integration. It is currently composed of 27 commissioners for different areas of policy, one from each member state. The President of the Commission and all the other commissioners are nominated by the Council. Appointment of the Commission President, and also the Commission in its entirety, have to be confirmed by Parliament.[50]

Parliament

The European Parliament forms the other half of the EU's legislature. The 736 (soon to be 750) Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats and in some cases is divided into sub-national constituencies. The Parliament and the Council of Ministers pass legislation jointly in nearly all areas under the ordinary legislative procedure. This also applies to the EU budget. Finally, the Commission is accountable to Parliament, requiring its approval to take office, having to report back to it and subject to motions of censure from it. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The president and vice presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.[51]

Courts

The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. Together they interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU.[52]
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.[53] The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts,[54] and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[55] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[56]

Legal system

The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties.[57] These are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation[58] which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants.[59] 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.[60]
The Court of Justice in Luxembourg can judge member states over EU law.
The main legal acts of the EU come in three forms: regulations, directives, and decisions. Regulations become law in all member states the moment they come into force, without the requirement for any implementing measures,[61] and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions.[58] Directives require member states to achieve a certain result while leaving them discretion as to how to achieve the result. The details of how they are to be implemented are left to member states.[62]
When the time limit for implementing directives passes, they may, under certain conditions, have direct effect in national law against member states. Decisions offer an alternative to the two above modes of legislation. They are legal acts which only apply to specified individuals, companies or a particular member state. 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. Regulations, directives, and decisions are of equal legal value and apply without any formal hierarchy.
One of the complicating features of the EU's legal system is the multiplicity of legislative procedures used to enact legislation. The treaties micro-manage the EU's powers, indicating different ways of adopting legislation for different policy areas and for different areas within the same policy areas.[63] A common feature of the EU's legislative procedures, however, is that almost all legislation must be initiated by the Commission, rather than member states or European parliamentarians.[64] The two most common procedures are co-decision, under which the European Parliament can veto proposed legislation, and consultation, under which Parliament is only permitted to give an opinion which can be ignored by European leaders. In most cases legislation must be agreed by the council.[65]
National courts within the member states play a key role in the EU as enforcers of EU law, and a "spirit of cooperation" between EU and national courts is laid down in the Treaties. National courts can apply EU law in domestic cases, and if they require clarification on the interpretation or validity of any EU legislation related to the case it may make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice. The right to declare EU legislation invalid however is reserved to the EU courts.

Fundamental rights

As a product of efforts to establish a written fundamental rights code, the EU drew up the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000. The Charter is legally binding since the Lisbon Treaty has come into force.[66] Also, the Court of Justice gives judgements on fundamental rights derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the member states,"[67] and may even invalidate EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to these fundamental rights.[68]
Although signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership,[69] the EU itself is not covered by the convention as it is neither a state[70] nor has the competence to accede.[71] Nonetheless the Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights co-operate to ensure their case-law does not conflict.[72] Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has been required to accede to the ECHR.[73] The EU opposes the death penalty and promotes its world wide abolition.[74] Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.[75]

Foreign relations

EU member states have a standardised passport design, burgundy coloured with the name of the member state, Coat of Arms and with the words "European Union" given in their official language(s) at the top; in this case those of Ireland.
Foreign policy cooperation 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 Common Commercial Policy.[76] Steps for a more wide ranging coordination 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. It was not, however, until 1987 when European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.[77]
The Maastricht Treaty gives the CFSP the aims of promoting both the EU's own interests and those of the international community as a whole. This includes promoting international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.[78]
Catherine Ashton is the EU's High Representative in foreign policy.
The Amsterdam Treaty created the office of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (currently held by Catherine Ashton) to co-ordinate the EU's foreign policy.[79] The High Representative, in conjunction with the current Presidency, speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy matters and can have the task of articulating ambiguous policy positions created by disagreements among member states. The Common Foreign and Security Policy requires unanimity among the now 27 member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP makes disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq,[80] not uncommon.
Besides the emerging international policy of the European Union, the international influence of the EU is also felt through enlargement. 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 former Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.[81] This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".[82]
The EU participates in all G8 summits. (Heiligendamm, Germany)
In the UN, as an observer and working together, the EU has gained influence in areas such as aid due to its large contributions in that field (see below).[83] In the G8, the EU has rights of membership besides chairing/hosting summit meetings and is represented at meetings by the presidents of the Commission and the Council.[84] In the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where all 27 member states are represented, the EU as a body is represented by Trade Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.[85]

Military and defence

The Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four EU countries.
The predecessors of the European Union were not devised as a strong military alliance because NATO was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes.[86] Twenty-one EU members are members of NATO[87] while the remaining member states follow policies of neutrality.[88] The Western European Union (WEU) is a European security organisation related to the EU. In 1992, the WEU's relationship with the EU was defined, when the EU assigned it the "Petersberg tasks" (humanitarian missions such as peacekeeping and crisis management). These tasks were later transferred from the WEU to the EU by the Amsterdam Treaty and now form part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy. Elements of the WEU are currently being merged into the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the President of the WEU is currently the EU's foreign policy chief.[89][90]
CFSP forces are peacekeeping in parts of the Balkans and Africa.
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". To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. 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 personel.[91]
EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from Africa to the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.[92] EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European Defence Agency, satellite centre and the military staff.[93] In an EU consisting of 27 members, substantial security and defence cooperation is increasingly relying on great power cooperation.[94]

Humanitarian aid

Collectively, the EU is the largest contributor of foreign aid in the world.
The European Community Humanitarian Aid Office, or "ECHO", provides humanitarian aid from the EU to developing countries. In 2006 its budget amounted to €671 million, 48% of which went to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.[95] Counting the EU's own contributions and those of its member states together, the EU is the largest aid donor in the world.[96]
The EU's aid has previously been criticised by the eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe for being inefficient, mis-targeted and linked to economic objectives.[97] Furthermore, some charities have claimed European governments have inflated the amount they have spent on aid by incorrectly including money spent on debt relief, foreign students, and refugees. Under the de-inflated figures, the EU as a whole did not reach its internal aid target in 2006[98] and is expected not to reach the international target of 0.7% of gross national income until 2015.[99]
However, four countries have reached that target, most notably Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Denmark.[96] In 2005 EU aid was 0.34% of the GNP which was higher than that of either the United States or Japan.[100] The previous commissioner for aid, Louis Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly, to greater effect, and on humanitarian principles.[101]

Justice and home affairs

The Schengen Area comprises most member states ensuring open borders.
Over the years, the EU has developed a wide competence in the area of justice and home affairs. To this end, agencies have been established that co-ordinate associated actions: Europol for co-operation of police forces,[102] Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors,[103] and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities.[104] The EU also operates the Schengen Information System[17] which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities.
Furthermore, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition,[105] family law,[106] asylum law,[107] and criminal justice.[108] Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties.[109] In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation.[110] By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.[111]

Economy

178 of the world's 500 largest corporations are headquartered in EU countries. (HSBC, UK.)
Since its origin, the EU has established a single economic market across the territory of all its members. Currently, a single currency is in use between the 16 members of the eurozone.[112][113] If considered as a single economy, the EU generated an estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of US$18.39 trillion (15.247 trillion international dollars based on purchasing power parity) in 2008, amounting to over 22% of the world's total economic output in terms of purchasing power parity,[12] which makes it the largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the second largest trade bloc economy in the world by PPP valuation of GDP. It is also the largest exporter ,[114] and largest importer[115] of goods and services, and the biggest trading partner to several large countries such as China and India.[116][117][118]
178 of the top 500 largest corporations measured by revenue (Fortune Global 500) have their headquarters in the EU.[119]
In May 2007 unemployment in the EU stood at 7%[120] while investment was at 21.4% of GDP, inflation at 2.2% and public deficit at −0.9% of GDP.[121] There is a great deal of variance for annual per capita income within individual EU states, these range from US$7,000 to US$69,000.[122]

Single market

Two of the original core objectives of the European Economic Community were the development of a common market, subsequently renamed the single market, and a customs union between its member states. The single market involves the free circulation of goods, capital, people and services within the EU,[113] and the customs union involves the application of a common external tariff on all goods entering the market. Once goods have been admitted into the market they can not be subjected to customs duties, discriminatory taxes or import quotas, as they travel internally. The non-EU member states of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland participate in the single market but not in the customs union.[37] Half the trade in the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU.[123]
Free movement of capital is intended to permit movement of investments such as property purchases and buying of shares between countries.[124] Until the drive towards Economic and Monetary Union the development of the capital provisions had been slow. Post-Maastricht there has been a rapidly developing corpus of ECJ judgements regarding this initially neglected freedom. The free movement of capital is unique insofar as that it is granted equally to non-member states.
The free movement of persons means citizens can move freely between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. This required the lowering of administrative formalities and recognition of professional qualifications of other states.[125]
The free movement of services and of establishment allows self-employed persons to move between member states in order to provide services on a temporary or permanent basis. While services account for between sixty and seventy percent of GDP, legislation in the area is not as developed as in other areas. 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.[126] According to the Treaty the provision of services is a residual freedom that only applies if no other freedom is being exercised.

Monetary union

The European Central Bank in Frankfurt governs the eurozone's monetary policy.
The creation of a European single currency became an official objective of the EU 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 no later than 1 January 1999. On this date 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 has since grown to sixteen countries, the most recent being Slovakia which joined on 1 January 2009.
16 EU countries have introduced the euro as their sole currency.
All other EU member states, except Denmark and the United Kingdom, are legally bound to join the euro[127] 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.[128]
The euro is designed to help build a single market by, for example: easing travel of citizens and goods, eliminating exchange rate problems, providing price transparency, creating a single financial market, price stability and 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 and stimulus for more.[112] Since its launch the euro has become the second reserve currency in the world with a quarter of foreign exchanges reserves being in euro.[129]
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).[130] There are eleven other currencies used in the EU.[112] A number of other countries outside the EU, such as Montenegro, use the euro without formal agreement with the ECB.[39]

Competition

The EU operates a competition policy intended to ensure undistorted competition within the single market.[131] The Commission as the competition regulator for the single market is responsible for antitrust issues, approving mergers, breaking up cartels, working for economic liberalisation and preventing state aid.[132]
The Competition Commissioner, currently Neelie Kroes, is one of the most powerful positions in the Commission, notable for the ability to affect the commercial interests of trans-national corporations.[133] 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.[134] Another high profile case against Microsoft, resulted in the Commission fining Microsoft over €777 million following nine years of legal action.[135]
In negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded in removing the words "free and undistorted competition" from the treaties. However, the requirement is maintained in an annex and it is unclear whether this will have any practical effect on EU policy.[136]

Budget

2006 EU total expenditure.      Agriculture: 46.7%      Structural Actions: 30.4%      Internal Policies: 8.5%      Administration: 6.3%      External Actions: 4.9%      Pre-Accession Strategy: 2.1%      Compensations: 1.0%      Reserves: 0.1%
The twenty-seven member state EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007–2013,[137] representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods. By comparison, the United Kingdom's expenditure for 2004 was estimated to be €759 billion, and France was estimated to have spent €801 billion. In 1960, the budget of the then European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP.[138]
In the 2006 budget, the largest single expenditure item was agriculture with around 46.7% of the total budget.[139] Next came structural and cohesion funds with approximately 30.4% of the total.[139] Internal policies took up around 8.5%. Administration accounted for around 6.3%. External actions, the pre-accession strategy, compensations and reserves brought up the rear with approximately 4.9%, 2.1%, 1% and 0.1% respectively.[139]

Development

Agriculture

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest policies of the European Community, and was one of its core aims.[140] 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.[141] It was, until recently, operated by a system of subsidies and market intervention. Until the 1990s, the policy accounted for over 60% of the then European Community's annual budget, and still accounts for around 35%.[140]
EU farms are supported by the CAP, the largest budgetary expenditure. (Vineyard in Spain)
The policy's price controls and market interventions led to considerable overproduction, resulting in so-called butter mountains and wine lakes. These were intervention stores of produce bought up by the Community to maintain minimum price levels. In order 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 produce outside the Community. This system has been criticised for under-cutting farmers in the developing world.[142]
The overproduction has also been criticised for encouraging environmentally unfriendly intensive farming methods.[142] Supporters of CAP say that the economic support which it gives to farmers provides them with a reasonable standard of living, in what would otherwise be an economically unviable way of life. However, the EU's small farmers receive only 8% of CAP's available subsidies.[142]
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the CAP has been subject to a series of reforms. Initially these reforms included the introduction of set-aside in 1988, where a proportion of farm land was deliberately withdrawn from production, milk quotas (by the McSharry reforms in 1992) 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). Agriculture expenditure will move away from subsidy payments linked to specific produce, toward direct payments based on farm size. This is intended to allow the market to dictate production levels, while maintaining agricultural income levels.[140] One of these reforms entailed the abolition 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.[143]

Energy

EU energy production
46% of total EU primary energy use
Nuclear energy[144] 29.3%
Coal & lignite 21.9%
Gas 19.4%
Renewable energy 14.6%
Oil 13.4%
Other 1.4%
Net imports of energy
54% of total primary EU energy use
Oil & petroleum products 60.2%
Gas 26.4%
Other 13.4%
In 2006, the 27 member states of the EU had a gross inland energy consumption of 1,825 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe).[145] Around 46% of the energy consumed was produced within the member states while 54% was imported.[145] 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.[146]
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. 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.[147]
The Commission 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[148] and North Africa; use existing energy supplies more efficiently while increasing use of renewable energy; and finally increase funding for new energy technologies.[147]
The EU currently imports 82% of its oil, 57% of its gas[149] and 97.48% of its uranium[146] demands. There are concerns that Europe's dependence on Russian energy is endangering the Union and its member countries. The EU is attempting to diversify its energy supply.[150]

Infrastructure

The Öresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden is part of the Trans-European Networks.
The EU is working to improve cross-border infrastructure within the EU, for example through the Trans-European Networks (TEN). Projects under TEN include the Channel Tunnel, LGV Est, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Öresund Bridge and the Brenner Base Tunnel. In 2001 it was estimated that by 2010 the network would cover: 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.[151][152]
The developing European transport policies will increase the pressure on the environment in many regions by the increased transport network. In the pre-2004 EU members, the major problem in transport deals with congestion and pollution. After the recent enlargement, the new states that joined since 2004 added the problem of solving accessibility to the transport agenda.[153] The Polish road network in particular was in poor condition: at Poland's accession to the EU, 4,600 roads needed to be upgraded to EU standards, demanding approximately €17 billion.[154]
Another infrastructure project is the Galileo positioning system. Galileo is a proposed Global Navigation Satellite System, to be built by the EU and launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), and is to be operational by 2010. 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 far greater accuracy, given the aged nature of the GPS system.[155] It has been criticised by some due to costs, delays, and their perception of redundancy given the existence of the GPS system.[156]

Regional development

EU funds finance infrastructure such as the motorway PragueBerlin (D8/A17) pictured near Lovosice, Czech Republic
There are substantial economical disparities across the EU. Even corrected for purchasing power, the difference between the richest and poorest regions (271 NUTS-2 regions of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) ranged, in 2007, from 26% of the EU27 average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to 334% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom. On the high end, Inner London has €83,200 PPP per capita, Luxembourg €68,500, and Bruxelles-Cap €55,000, while the poorest regions, are Severozapaden with €6,400 PPP per capita, Nord-Est and Severen tsentralen with €6,600 and Yuzhen tsentralen with €6,800.[157] Compared to the EU average, the United States GDP per capita is 35% higher and the Japanese GDP per capita is approximately 15% higher.[158]
There are a number of Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds to support development of underdeveloped regions of the EU. Such regions are primarily located in the new member states of East-Central Europe.[159] 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 former USSR Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS). TACIS has now become part of the worldwide EuropeAid programme. The EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) sponsors research conducted by consortia from all EU members to work towards a single European Research Area.[160]

Environment

The first environmental policy of the European Community was launched in 1972. Since then it has addressed issues such as acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, waste and water pollution. The Water Framework Directive is an example of a water policy, aiming for rivers, lakes, ground and coastal waters to be of "good quality" by 2015. Wildlife is protected through the Natura 2000 programme and covers 30,000 sites throughout Europe.[161] In 2007, the Polish government sought to build a motorway through the Rospuda valley, but the Commission has been blocking construction as the valley is a wildlife area covered by the programme.[162]
The Commission have managed to protect the Rospuda valley in Poland.
The REACH regulation was a piece of EU legislation designed to ensure that 30,000 chemicals in daily use are tested for their safety.[163] In 2006, toxic waste spill off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, from a European ship, prompted the Commission to look into legislation regarding toxic waste. With members such as Spain now having criminal laws against shipping toxic waste, the Commission proposed to create criminal sentences for "ecological crimes". Although the Commission's right to propose criminal law was contested, it was confirmed in this case by the Court of Justice.[164]
In 2007, member states agreed that the EU is to use 20% renewable energy in the future and that is has to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels.[165] This includes measures that in 2020, one-tenth of all cars and trucks in EU 27 should be running on biofuels. This is considered to be one of the most ambitious moves of an important industrialised region to fight global warming.[166]
At the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference, dealing with the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has proposed at 50% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050.[167] The EU's attempts to cut its carbon footprint appear to have also been aided by an expansion of Europe's forests which, between 1990 and 2005, grew 10% in western Europe and 15% in Eastern Europe. During this period they soaked up 126 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 11% of EU emissions from human activities.[168]

Education and research

Renewable energy is one priority in transnational research activities such as the FP7.
Education and science are areas where the EU's role is limited to supporting national governments. In education, the policy was mainly developed in the 1980s in programmes supporting exchanges and mobility. The most visible of these has been the ERASMUS programme, a university exchange programme which began in 1987. In its first 20 years it has supported international exchange opportunities for well over 1.5 million university and college students and has become a symbol of European student life.[169]
There are now 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. 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.[170] Through its support of the Bologna process the EU is supporting comparable standards and compatible degrees across Europe.
Ariane 5 10 2007.ogg
16 EU countries are members of the European Space Agency. (Launch of an Ariane rocket in Guiana)
Scientific development is facilitated through the EU's Framework Programmes, the first of which started in 1984. The aims of EU policy in this area are to co-ordinate and stimulate research. The independent European Research Council allocates EU funds to European or national research projects.[171] The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) deals in a number of areas, for example energy where it aims to develop a diverse mix of renewable energy for the environment and to reduce dependence on imported fuels.[172]
Since January 2000 the European Commission has set its sights on a more ambitious objective, known as the European Research Area, and has extensively funded research in a few key areas. This has the support of all member states, and extends the existing financing structure of the frameworks. It aims to focus on co-ordination, sharing knowledge, ensuring mobility of researchers around Europe, improving conditions for researchers and encouraging links with business and industry as well as removing any legal and administrative barriers.[173]
The EU is involved with six other countries to develop ITER, a fusion reactor which will be built in the EU at Cadarache. ITER builds on the previous project, Joint European Torus, which is currently the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the world.[174] The Commission foresees this technology to be generating energy in the EU by 2050.[147] It has observer status within CERN, there are various agreements with ESA and there is collaboration with ESO.[175] These organisations are not under the framework of the EU, but membership heavily overlaps between them.

Demographics

Population of the 5 largest cities in the EU[176]
City City limits
(2006)
Density
/km²
(city limits)
Density
/sq mi
(city limits)
Urban area
(2005)
LUZ
(2004)
Berlin 3,410,000 3,815 9,880 3,761,000 4,971,331
London 7,512,400 4,761 12,330 9,332,000 11,917,000
Madrid 3,228,359 5,198 13,460 4,990,000 5,804,829
Paris 2,153,600 24,672 63,900 9,928,000 11,089,124
Rome 2,708,395 2,105 5,450 2,867,000 3,457,690
The combined population of all 27 member states has been estimated at 501,259,840 as of January 2010.[11][5]
The EU's population is 7.3% of the world total, yet the EU covers just 3% of the Earth's land, amounting to a population density of 113 km2 (44 sq mi) making the EU one of the most densely populated regions of the world. One third of EU citizens live in cities of over a million people, rising to 80% living in urban areas generally.[177] The EU is home to more global cities than any other region in the world.[178] It contains 16 cities with populations of over one million.
Besides many large cities, the EU also includes several densely populated regions that have no single core but have emerged from the connection of several cites and now encompass large metropolitan areas. The largest are Rhine-Ruhr having approximately 11.5 million inhabitants (Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf et al.), Randstad approx. 7 million (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht et al.), Frankfurt/Rhine-Main approx. 5.8 million (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden et al.), the Flemish diamond approx. 5.5 million (urban area in between Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven and Ghent), the Upper Silesian Industrial Region approx. 3.5 million (Katowice, Sosnowiec et al.), and the Öresund Region approx. 2.5 million (Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden).[179]

Languages

European official languages report (EU-271)
Language Native Speakers Total
English 13% 51%
German 18% 32%
French 13% 26%
Italian 13% 16%
Spanish 9% 15%
Polish 8% 9%
Romanian 5% 5%
Dutch 4% 5%
Greek 2% 3%
Czech 2% 3%
Swedish 2% 3%
Hungarian 2% 3%
Portuguese 2% 2%
Catalan 1% 2%
Bulgarian 1% 2%
Slovak 1% 2%
Danish 1% 1%
Finnish 1% 1%
Lithuanian 1% 1%
Slovene 1% 1%
Published in 2006, before the
accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
1Revised 2010 official statistics.
Native: Native language[180]
Total: EU citizens able to hold a
conversation in this language[181]
Among the many languages and dialects used in the EU, it has 23 official and working languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and Swedish.[182][183] Important documents, such as legislation, are translated into every official language. The European Parliament provides translation into all languages for documents and its plenary sessions.[184] Some institutions use only a handful of languages as internal working languages.[185] Language policy is the responsibility of member states, but EU institutions promote the learning of other languages.[186][187]
German is the most widely spoken mother tongue (about 88.7 million people as of 2006), followed by English, Italian and French. English is by far the most spoken foreign language at over half (51%) of the population, with German and French following. 56% of European citizens are able to engage in a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue.[188] Most official languages of the EU belong to the Indo-European language family, except Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian, which belong to the Uralic language family, and Maltese, which is an Afroasiatic language. Most EU official languages are written in the Latin alphabet except Bulgarian, written in Cyrillic, and Greek, written in the Greek alphabet.[189]
Besides the 23 official languages, there are about 150 regional and minority languages, spoken by up to 50 million people.[189] Of these, only the Spanish regional languages (Catalan/Valencian, Galician, and the non-Indo-European Basque), Scottish Gaelic and Welsh [190] can be used by citizens in communication with the main European institutions.[191] Although EU programmes can support regional and minority languages, the protection of linguistic rights is a matter for the individual member states. Though the population of Romani speakers is triple[192] that of Welsh speakers (despite the Porajmos) and the history of Romani people in Europe is seven centuries long, their language is not official in any EU state.
Besides the many regional languages, a broad variety of languages from other parts of the world are spoken by immigrant communities in the member states: Turkish, Maghrebi Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Ukrainian, Punjabi and Balkan languages are spoken in many parts of the EU. Many older immigrant communities are bilingual, being fluent in both the local (EU) language and in that of their ancestral community. Migrant languages have no formal status or recognition in the EU or in the EU countries, although from 2007 they are eligible for support from the language teaching section of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013.[189]

Religion

Percentage of Europeans in each member state who believe in "a God"[193]
The EU is a secular body with no formal connection with any religion, but Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (as amended by the Lisbon Treaty) recognises the "status under national law of churches and religious associations" as well as that of "philosophical and non-confessional organisations".[194] The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".[194] Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity or God, or both, in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped.[195] This emphasis on Christianity stems from it being by far the largest religion in Europe as well as a cultural marker for, and vastly influential on, Europe and Western/European civilization. Other significant religions present in the EU are Islam and Judaism.[citation needed]
Christians in the EU are divided among followers of Roman Catholicism, numerous Protestant denominations (especially in northern Europe), and Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic (in south eastern Europe). Other religions, such as Islam and Judaism, are also represented in the EU population. As of 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million,[196] and an estimated Jewish population of over a million.[197]
Eurostat's Eurobarometer opinion polls show that in 2005 the majority of EU citizens (52%) believed in a god, and that a majority had some form of belief system, with 21% seeing it as important. Many countries have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years.[198] The 2005 Eurobarometer showed that of the European citizens (of the 25 members at that time), 52% believed in a god, 27% in "some sort of spirit or life force", and 18% had no form of belief. The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were the Czech Republic (19%) and Estonia (16%).[199]
The most religious countries are Malta (95%; predominantly Roman Catholic), and Cyprus and Romania both with about 90% of the citizens believing in God (both predominantly Eastern Orthodox). Across the EU, belief was higher among women, increased with age, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 with a basic education, and those "positioning themselves on the right of the political scale (57%)."[199]

Culture and sport

Pécs, the Hungarian city is one of the three European Capitals of Culture in 2010.
Policies affecting cultural matters are mainly set by individual member states. Cultural co-operation between member states has been a concern of the EU since its inclusion as a community competency in the Maastricht Treaty.[200] Actions taken in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000 7-year programme,[200] the European Cultural Month event,[201] the Media Plus programme,[202] orchestras such as the European Union Youth Orchestra[203] and the European Capital of Culture programme – where one or more cities in the EU are selected for one year to assist the cultural development of that city.[204]
In addition, the EU gives grants to cultural projects (totalling 233 in 2004) and has launched a Web portal dedicated to Europe and culture, responding to the European Council's expressed desire to see the Commission and the member states "promote the networking of cultural information to enable all citizens to access European cultural content by the most advanced technological means".[205]
Sport is mainly the responsibility of individual member states or other international organisations rather than that of the EU. However, some EU policies have had an impact on sport, such as the free movement of workers which was at the core of the Bosman ruling, which prohibited national football leagues from imposing quotas on foreign players with European citizenship.[206] Under the Treaty of Lisbon sports were given a special status which exempted this sector from many of the EU's economic rules. This followed lobbying by governing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due to objections over the applications of free market principles to sport which led to an increasing gap between rich and poor clubs.[207]

See also


References

Notes
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  3. ^ "European Parliament: The Legislative Observatory". Europa (web portal). European Commission. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/FindByProcnum.do?lang=en&procnum=REG/2007/2240. Retrieved 2010-01-20. "the motto 'United in diversity' shall be reproduced on Parliament's official documents;" 
  4. ^ The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edn., Erin McKean (editor), 2051 pages, May 2005, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-517077-6.
  5. ^ a b "Total population as of 1 January". Eurostat. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&language=en&pcode=tps00001&tableSelection=1&footnotes=yes&labeling=labels&plugin=1. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  6. ^ European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions [1]
  7. ^ Not including overseas territories
  8. ^ .eu is representative of the whole of the EU, member states also have their own TLDs
  9. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of English: European 5 b. spec. Designating a developing series of economic and political unions between certain countries of western (and later also eastern) Europe from 1952 onwards, as European Economic Community, European Community, European Union.". http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50078844?query_type=word&queryword=European&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&result_place=2&search_id=XNLm-9KGPpN-8152&hilite=50078844. 
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    Gross domestic product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) valuation of country GDP; Current international dollar, Billions;
    2007=14,762.109
    2008=15,247.163
    2009=14,851.385 [projection]
    GDP based on PPP share of world total
    2007=22.605%
    2008=22.131% 2009=21.519% [projection]
    World "GDP", current prices; U.S. dollars, Billions;
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    These data were published in 2009. Data for 2009 are projections based on a number of assumptions."
     
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  40. ^ UN
  41. ^ National Geographic
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  43. ^ Figure including the four French overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion), which are an integral part of the EU, but excluding the French overseas collectivities and territories, which are not part of the EU.
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  61. ^ See: Case 34/73, Variola v. Amministrazione delle Finanze [1973] ECR 981.
  62. ^ To do otherwise would require the drafting of legislation which would have to cope with the frequently divergent legal systems and administrative systems of all of the now 27 member states. See Craig and de Búrca, p. 115
  63. ^ For a good example of this see Title IV of Part Three of the Treaty of Rome, Council Decision (2004/927/EC) of 22 December 2004 providing for certain areas covered by Title IV of Part Three of the Treaty establishing the European Community to be governed by the procedure laid down in Article 251 of that Treaty and the Protocol on Article 67 of the Treaty establishing the European Community attached to the Nice Treaty.
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  70. ^ The European Convention on Human Rights is currently only open to members of the Council of Europe (Article 59.1 of the Convention) [5], and only states may become member of the Council of Europe (Article 4 of the Statute of the Council of Europe) [6].
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  144. ^ Note that although almost all Uranium is imported,
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    London as at 1 July 2006: "Mid-2006 Population Estimates" (CSV). Office for National Statistics. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D9664.csv. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
    Berlin as at September 2007: "Bevölkerung Berlin". Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (German statistics office). http://www.statistik-portal.de/Statistik-Portal/de_zs01_bl.asp. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
    Madrid as at 1 january 2007: "Cifras de población". Instituto Nacional de Estadística (Spanish national statistics office). http://www.ine.es/jaxi/tabla.do. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
    Paris as at 1 July 2005: "Résultats des enquêtes annuelles de recensement de 2004 à 2007 pour les grandes villes". Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (French national institute for statistics). http://www.insee.fr/fr/recensement/nouv_recens/resultats/grandes-villes.htm#P. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
    Rome as at 31 December 2007 "Bilancio demografico Anno 2007". ISTAT (Italian national statistics office). http://demo.istat.it/bilmens2007gen/index02.html. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
  176. ^ "A densely populated area". Telsat Guide. http://telsat.belspo.be/beo/en/profs/europe-population.asp?section=6.3.3. Retrieved 22 July 2007. 
  177. ^ "The World According to GaWC". Loughborough University. http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/citymap.html. Retrieved 29 June 2007. 
  178. ^ Eurostat. "Indicators for larger urban zones 1999 - 2003". Europa web portal. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page?_pageid=1996,45323734&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&screen=welcomeref&open=/&product=EU_MASTER_urban_audit&depth=2. Retrieved 25 January 2007. 
  179. ^ European Commission (2006), "Europeans and their Languages" (PDF), Special Eurobarometer 243 (Europa): pp. 141–143, http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_243_en.pdf, retrieved 19 November 2008 
  180. ^ European Commission (2006), "Europeans and their Languages" (PDF), Special Eurobarometer 243 (Europa): pp. 152–154, http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_243_en.pdf, retrieved 19 November 2008 
  181. ^ EUR-Lex (12 December 2006). "Council Regulation (EC) No 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006". Official Journal of the European Union. Europa web portal. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31958R0001:EN:NOT. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  182. ^ "Languages in Europe - Official EU Languages". EUROPA web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/languages-of-europe/doc135_en.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  183. ^ "europarltv, official webtv of the European Parliament, is also available in all UE languages". http://www.europarltv.europa.eu/StartPage.aspx. 
  184. ^ "Languages and Europe. FAQ: Is every document generated by the EU translated into all the official languages?". Europa web portal. 2004. http://europa.eu/languages/en/document/59#5. Retrieved 3 February 2007. 
  185. ^ See Articles 165 and 166 (ex Articles 149 and 150) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. [11]
  186. ^ European Parliament (2004). "European Parliament Fact Sheets: 4.16.3. Language policy". Europa web portal. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/facts/4_16_3_en.htm. Retrieved 3 February 2007. 
  187. ^ European Commission (2006). "Special Eurobarometer 243: Europeans and their Languages (Survey)" (PDF). Europa web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_243_en.pdf. Retrieved 3 February 2007. 
    European Commission (2006). "Special Eurobarometer 243: Europeans and their Languages (Executive Summary)" (PDF). Europa web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_243_sum_en.pdf. Retrieved 3 February 2007. 
  188. ^ a b c European Commission (2004). "Many tongues, one family. Languages in the European Union" (PDF). Europa web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/move/45/en.pdf. Retrieved 3 February 2007. 
  189. ^ Rory Watson (5 July 2008), "Welsh and Gaelic are official EU tongues", The Times (London), http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4272797.ece, retrieved 13 March 2009 
  190. ^ "Mercator Newsletter - n. 29". Mercator Central. 2006. http://www.mercator-central.org/newsletter/newsletter29.htm#2. Retrieved 1 February 2007. 
  191. ^ Ethnologue
  192. ^ European Commission (2005), "Social values, Science and Technology" (PDF), Special Eurobarometer 225 (Europa): pp. 9, http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf, retrieved 19 May 2009 
  193. ^ a b Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union.
  194. ^ Castle, Stephen (21 March 2007). "EU celebrates 50th birthday-with a row about religion". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/europe/eu-celebrates-its-50th-birthday--with-a-row-about-religion-440976.html. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  195. ^ Miller, Tracy, ed (October 2009) (PDF). Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. pp. 31–32. http://pewforum.org/newassets/images/reports/Muslimpopulation/Muslimpopulation.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  196. ^ Jewish population figures may be unreliable. Sergio DellaPergola. "World Jewish Population (2002)". American Jewish Year Book. The Jewish Agency for Israel. http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/concepts/demography/demjpop.html. Retrieved 3 May 2007. 
  197. ^ Ford, Peter (22 February 2005). "What place for God in Europe". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-02-21-god-europe_x.htm. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  198. ^ a b Eurostat (2005). "Eurobarometer 225: Social values, Science & Technology" (PDF). Europa web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf. Retrieved 21 July 2007. 
  199. ^ a b Bozoki, Andras. "Cultural Policy and Politics in the European Union" (PDF). IECOB, Institute for Central Eastern and Balkan Europe. http://137.204.115.130/activities/download/Bozoki/Cultural%20Policy%20and%20Politics%20in%20the%20European%20Union.pdf. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  200. ^ European Commission. "European Culture Month". Europa web portal. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. http://web.archive.org/web/20080202062436/http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/ecocs/present_cap/retrospective_en.html. Retrieved 27 February 2008. 
  201. ^ European Commission (5 July 2007). "Media programme". Europa web portal. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media/index_en.htm. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  202. ^ "An Overture to the European Union Youth Orchestra". The European Youth Orchestra. http://www.euyo.org.uk/about/history.htm. Retrieved 12 August 2007. 
  203. ^ European Commission. "European Capitals of Culture". Europa web portal. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20071215093302/http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/ecocs/present_cap/present_cap_en.html. Retrieved 27 February 2008. 
  204. ^ "Cultural heritage as a vehicle of cultural identity". Europa web portal. 3 May 2006. http://ec.europa.eu/culture/portal/activities/heritage/cultural_heritage_vehic_en.htm. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  205. ^ Fordyce, Tom (11 July 2007). "10 years since Bosman". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/4528732.stm. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  206. ^ "IOC, FIFA presidents welcomes new EU treaty, call it breakthrough to give sports more power". International Herald Tribune. 19 October 2007. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/19/sports/EU-SPT-OLY-EU-Treaty.php. Retrieved 21 October 2007. 

Further reading

  • Craig, Paul; de Búrca, Gráinne (2007). EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-927389-8. 
  • Dinan, Desmond (2004). Europe Recast: A History of European Union. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-98734-6. 
  • Hix, Simon (2005). The Political System of the European Union. The European Union Series (2nd ed.). Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0-333-96182-X. 
  • Kaiser, Wolfram. Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union (2007)
  • ed. by John Peterson ... (2006). Peterson, John; Shackleton, Michael. eds. The Institutions of the European Union (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-870052-0. 
  • McCormick, John. The European Union: Politics and Policies (2007)
  • Pinder, John, and Simon Usherwood. The European Union: A Very Short Introduction (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Podmore, Will & Nicholls, Doug (2006), The EU: bad for Britain - a trade union view. Bread Books, ISBN 0-942112-5-1.
  • Rifkin, Jeremy (2004). The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream. Jeremy P. Tarcher. ISBN 978-1-58542-345-3. 
  • Smith, Charles (2007). International Trade and Globalisation, 3rd edition. Stocksfield: Anforme. ISBN 1-905504-10-1. 
  • Staab, Andreas. The European Union Explained: Institutions, Actors, Global Impact (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Steiner, Josephine; Woods, Lorna; Twigg-Flesner, Christian (2006). EU Law (9th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-927959-3. 
  • Story, Christopher (2002). The European Union Collective: Enemy of its member states. Edward Harle. ISBN 1-899798-01-3. 
  • Yesilada, Birol A. and David M. Wood. The Emerging European Union (5th ed. 2009)

External links

Official
Overviews and data

       
       
       
       
       
Flag
        
MottoUnited in diversity[1][2][3]
Anthem
         
Political centresBrussels
Luxembourg
Strasbourg
Official languages
Demonym European[4]
Member States
Leaders
 -  European Council Herman Van Rompuy
 -  Commission José Manuel Barroso
 -  Parliament Jerzy Buzek
 -  Council of Ministers Belgium
Establishment
 -  Paris Treaty 23 July 1952 
 -  Rome Treaty 1 January 1958 
 -  Maastricht Treaty 1 November 1993 
 -  Lisbon Treaty 1 December 2009 
Area
 -  Total 4,324,782 km2 
1,669,807 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3.08
Population
 -  2010 estimate 501,259,840[5] 
 -  Density 115.9/km2 
300.2/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 (IMF) estimate
 -  Total $14.793 trillion 
 -  Per capita $29,729 
GDP (nominal) 2009 (IMF) estimate
 -  Total $16.447 trillion 
 -  Per capita $33,052 
Gini (2009) 30.7 (EU25)[6] (High) 
HDI (2007) 0.937 (High) 
Currency
Time zone (UTC+0 to +2)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+1 to +3[nb 1])
Internet TLD .eu[nb 2]
Website
europa.eu
Calling code See list

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states[9] which are located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993 upon the foundations of the European Communities.[10] With over 500 million citizens,[11] the EU generated an estimated 28% share (US$ 16.5 trillion) of the nominal and about 21% (US$14.8 trillion) of the PPP gross world product in 2009.[12]

The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, and ensures the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital,[13] including the abolition of passport controls by the Schengen Agreement between 22 EU states.[14] It enacts legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintains common policies on trade,[15] agriculture,[16] fisheries and regional development.[17] Sixteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro, constituting the eurozone.

Having a legal personality, the EU is able to conclude treaties with countries.[18] It has devised the Common Foreign and Security Policy, thus developing a limited role in European defence and foreign policy. Permanent diplomatic missions of the EU are established around the world and representation at the United Nations, WTO, G8 and G-20 is maintained. EU delegations are headed by EU ambassadors.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism.[19][20][21] In certain areas, decisions are taken by independent supranational institutions, while in others, they are made through negotiation between 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 traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome formed in 1957 by the same states. Since then, it has grown in size through enlargement, and in power through the addition of policy areas to its remit. The last amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU came into force in 2009 and was the Lisbon Treaty, by virtue of which the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was elevated to legally binding status.[nb 3]

Contents

History

1945–1957

After World War II, moves towards European integration were seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent.[22] One such attempt to unite Europeans was the European Coal and Steel Community which, while having the modest aim of centralised control of the previously national coal and steel industries of its member states, was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe".[23] The originators and supporters of the Community include Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul Henri Spaak, and Alcide de Gasperi. The founding members of the Community were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.[24][[File:|thumb|The 1957 Rome Treaty created two additional European Communities, most notably the European Economic Community.]]

In 1957, these six countries signed the Treaties of Rome, which extended the earlier cooperation within the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and created the European Economic Community, (EEC) establishing a customs union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for cooperation in developing nuclear energy.[24]

1958–1972

The two new communities were created separately from ECSC, although they shared the same courts and the Common Assembly. The executives of the new communities were called Commissions, as opposed to the "High Authority". The EEC was headed by Walter Hallstein (Hallstein Commission) and Euratom was headed by Louis Armand (Armand Commission) and then Etienne Hirsch. Euratom would integrate sectors in nuclear energy while the EEC would develop a customs union between members.[25][26][27]

Throughout the 1960s tensions began to show with France seeking to limit supranational power. However, in 1965 an agreement was reached and hence in 1967 the Merger Treaty was signed in Brussels. It came into force on 1 July 1967 and created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities (EC), although commonly just as the European Community.[28][29] Jean Rey presided over the first merged Commission (Rey Commission).

1973-1993

In 1973, the Communities enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.[30] Norway had negotiated to join at the same time but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum and so Norway remained outside. In 1979, the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.[31]

Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986.[32] In 1985, the Schengen Agreement led the way toward the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states and some non-member states.[33] In 1986, the European flag began to be used by the Community[34] and the Single European Act was signed.[[File:|thumb|right|The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall)]]

In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the former East Germany became part of the Community as part of a newly united Germany.[35] With enlargement towards Eastern and Central Europe on the agenda, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed.

1993-2010

File:Euro
The introduction of the euro in 2002 replaced several national currencies.

The European Union was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993,[10] and in 1995 Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined the newly established EU. In 2002, euro notes and coins replaced national currencies in 12 of the member states. Since then, the eurozone has increased to encompass sixteen countries. In 2004, the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date when Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and Hungary joined the Union.[36]

On 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became the EU's newest members. In the same year Slovenia adopted the euro,[36] followed in 2008 by Cyprus and Malta, and by Slovakia in 2009. In June 2009, the 2009 Parliament elections were held leading to a renewal of Barroso's Commission Presidency, and in July 2009 Iceland formally applied for EU membership.

On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and reformed many aspects of the EU. In particular it changed the legal structure of the European Union, merging the EU three pillars system into a single legal entity provisioned with legal personality, and it created a permanent President of the European Council, the first of which is Herman van Rompuy, and a strengthened High Representative, Catherine Ashton.

Treaties timeline

Signed
In force
Document
1948
1948
Brussels Treaty
1951
1952
Paris Treaty
1954
1955
Modified Brussels Treaty
1957
1958
Rome Treaties
1965
1967
Merger Treaty
1975
N/A
European Council conclusion
1986
1987
Single European Act
1992
1993
Maastricht Treaty
1997
1999
Amsterdam Treaty
2001
2003
Nice Treaty
2007
2009
Lisbon Treaty
File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif File:Pix.gif
                       
Three pillars of the European Union:  
European Communities:  
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
    TREVI Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)  
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
  European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    
Treaty terminated in 2010  
                   

Member states

The European Union is composed of 27 sovereign Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.[1]

The Union's membership has grown from the original six founding states—Belgium, France, (then-West) Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands—to the present day 27 by successive enlargements as countries acceded to the treaties and by doing so, pooled their sovereignty in exchange for representation in the institutions.[2]

To join the EU a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. These require a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country's fulfilment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.[3]

No member state has ever left the Union, although Greenland (an autonomous province of Denmark) withdrew in 1985. The Lisbon Treaty now provides a clause dealing with how a member leaves the EU.

There are four official candidate countries, Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia, and Turkey. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia are officially recognised as potential candidates.[4] Kosovo is also listed as a potential candidate but the European Commission does not list it as an independent country because not all member states recognise it as an independent country separate from Serbia.[5]

Four Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU have partly committed to the EU's economy and regulations: Iceland, which is a candidate country, 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.[6][7] The relationships of the European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican include the use of the euro and other areas of co-operation.[8]

Geography

File:Mont Blanc depuis la gare des
Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest peak in the EU.

The territory of the EU consists of the combined territories of its 27 member states with some exceptions, outlined below. The territory of the EU is not the same as that of Europe, as parts of the continent are outside the EU, such as Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Iceland and Turkey. Some parts of member states are not part of the EU, despite forming part of the European continent (for example the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (three Crown Dependencies), and the Faroe Islands (a territory of Denmark)). The island country of Cyprus, a member of the EU, is closer to Turkey than to continental Europe and is often considered part of Asia.[9][10]

Several territories associated with member states that are outside geographic Europe are also not part of the EU (such as Greenland and Aruba). Some overseas territories are part of the EU even though geographically not part of Europe, such as the Azores, French Guiana, Martinique and Melilla. As well, although being technically part of the EU,[11] EU law is suspended in Northern Cyprus as it is under the de facto control of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, a self-proclaimed state that is recognised only by Turkey.
File:Bay of
The EU's climate is influenced by its 65,993 km (41,006 mi) coastline. (Crete)

The EU's member states cover an area of 4,422,773 square kilometres (1,707,642 sq mi).[nb 1] The EU is larger in area than all but six countries, and its highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps, 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level.[12] The lowest point in the EU is Zuidplaspolder in the Netherlands, at -7 m (-23 ft) below sea level. The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. The EU has the world's second-longest coastline, after Canada. The combined member states share land borders with 19 non-member states for a total of 12,441 kilometres (7,730 mi), the fifth-longest border in the world.[13][14][15]

Including the overseas territories of member states, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic to tropical, rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the population lives in areas with a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), a temperate maritime climate (Western Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Eastern Europe).[16]

The EU's population is also highly urbanised, with some 75% of people (and growing, projected to be 90% in 7 states by 2020) living in urban areas. Cities are largely spread out across the EU, although with a large grouping in and around the Benelux. An increasing percentage of this is due to low density urban sprawl which is extending into natural areas. In some cases this urban growth has been due to the influx of EU funds into a region.[17]

Governance

European Union

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the European Union

 [[Template:FULLPAGENAME: Politics of the European Union|v]]  [[{{TALKPAGENAME:Template:FULLPAGENAME: Politics of the European Union}}|d]]  [{{fullurl:Template:FULLPAGENAME: Politics of the European Union|action=edit}}e] 

The institutions of the EU operate solely within those competencies conferred on it upon the treaties and according to the principle of subsidiarity (which dictates that action by the EU should only be taken where an objective cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states alone). Law made by the EU institutions is passed in a variety of forms, primarily that which comes into direct force and that which must be passed in a refined form by national parliaments.

Competencies in scrutinising and amending legislation are divided equally, with some exceptions, between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union while executive tasks are carried out 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). The interpretation and the application of EU law and the treaties are ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. There are also a number of ancillary bodies which advise the EU or operate in a specific area.

European Council

The European Council gives direction to the EU, and convenes at least four times a year. It comprises the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and one representative per member state; either its head of state or head of government. The European Council has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority".[18] It is actively involved in the negotiation of the treaty changes and defines the EU's policy agenda and strategies.

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. It acts externally as a "collective Head of State" and ratifies important documents (e.g. international agreements and treaties).

On 19 November 2009, Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as the first permanent President of the European Council. On 1 December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force and he assumed office. Ensuring the external representation of the EU,[19] driving consensus and settling divergences among members are tasks for the President both during the convocations of the European Council and in the time periods between them.

The European Council should not be mistaken for the Council of Europe, an international organisation independent from the EU.

Commission

The European Commission acts as the EU's executive arm and is responsible for initiating legislation and the day-to-day running of the EU. The commission is also seen as the motor of European integration. The Commission operates 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.

One of the 27 is the Commission President (currently José Manuel Durão Barroso) appointed by the European Council. The other 26 Commissioners are subsequently appointed by the Council of the European Union in agreement with the nominated President, and then the 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. After the President, the most prominent Commissioner is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who is ex-officio Vice President of the Commission.[20]

Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) forms one half of the EU's legislature (the other half is the Council of the European Union, see below). The 736 (soon to be 751) Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens every five years. Although MEPs are elected on a national basis, they sit according to political groups rather than their nationality. Each country has a set number of seats and in some cases is divided into sub-national constituencies.

The Parliament and the Council of the European Union pass legislation jointly in nearly all areas under the ordinary legislative procedure. This also applies to the EU budget. Finally, the Commission is accountable to Parliament, requiring its approval to take office, having to report back to it and subject to motions of censure from it. The President of the European Parliament carries out the role of speaker in parliament and represents it externally. The EP President and Vice Presidents are elected by MEPs every two and a half years.[21]

Council

The Council of the European Union (also called the "Council"[22] and sometimes referred to as the "Council of Ministers"[23]) forms the other half of the EU's legislature. It consists of a government minister from each member state and meets in different compositions depending on the policy area being addressed. Notwithstanding its different compositions, it is considered to be one single body.[24] In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions in relations to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Courts

The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, the General Court, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal. Together they interpret and apply the treaties and the law of the EU.[25]

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.[26] The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU's courts,[27] and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service.[28] Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.[29]

Competences

EU member states retain all powers not explicitly handed to the Union. In some areas the EU enjoys exclusive competence. These are areas in which member states have renounced any capacity to enact legislation. In other areas the EU and its member states share the competence to legislate. While both can legislate, member states can only legislate to the extent to which the EU has not. 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.

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

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

As outlined in Part I, Title I of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon 2009):        [[Template:FULLPAGENAME: EU competences|view]]  [[{{TALKPAGENAME:Template:FULLPAGENAME: EU competences}}|talk]]  [{{fullurl:Template:FULLPAGENAME: EU competences|action=edit}}edit] 
Exclusive competence:
"The Union has exclusive competence to make directives and conclude international agreements when provided for in a Union legislative act."
Shared competence:
"Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so."
"Union exercise of competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs in:"
  • research, technological development and space
  • development cooperation, humanitarian aid
"The Union coordinates Member States policies or implements supplemental to theirs common policies, not covered elsewhere"
Supporting competence:
"The Union can carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement Member States' actions in:"
  • the protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection (disaster prevention)
  • administrative cooperation

Legal system

File:Colour enhancement of
The Court of Justice in Luxembourg is the highest court in the European Union in matters of EU law.

The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties.[30] These are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation[nb 2] which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants.[nb 3] 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.[nb 4]

National courts within the member states play a key role in the EU as enforcers of EU law, and a "spirit of cooperation" between EU and national courts is laid down in the Treaties. National courts can apply EU law in domestic cases, and if they require clarification on the interpretation or validity of any EU legislation related to the case it may make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice. The right to declare EU legislation invalid however is reserved to the EU courts.

Fundamental rights

[[File:|thumb|left|Article 1 and 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:
"Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.
Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be condemned to death penalty, or executed."]]

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."[31]

In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU's legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the European Court of Justice and derived from the "constitutional traditions common to the member states."[32] The European 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.[33]

The Charter of Fundamental Rights was drawn up in 2000. Although originally not legally binding the Charter was frequently cited by the EU's courts as encapsulating rights which the courts had long recognised as the fundamental principles of EU law.

[[File:|thumb|150px|right|EU Member States have a standardised passport design, burgundy coloured with the name of the member state, Coat of Arms and with the words "European Union" given in their official language(s). (Ireland model)]]

Although signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership,[nb 5] previously, the EU itself could not accede to the Convention as it is neither a state[nb 6] nor had the competence to accede.[nb 7] The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR have changed this: the latter binds the EU to accede to the Convention while the former formally permits it.

The EU also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its world wide abolition.[34] Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.[35]

Acts

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

Regulations become law in all member states the moment they come into force, without the requirement for any implementing measures,[nb 8] and automatically override conflicting domestic provisions.[nb 2] Directives require member states to achieve a certain result while leaving them discretion as to how to achieve the result. The details of how they are to be implemented are left to member states.[nb 9] When the time limit for implementing directives passes, they may, under certain conditions, have direct effect in national law against member states.

Decisions offer an alternative to the two above modes of legislation. They are legal acts which only apply to specified individuals, companies or a particular member state. 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. Regulations, directives, and decisions are of equal legal value and apply without any formal hierarchy.

Justice and home affairs

[[File:|thumb|left|The Schengen Area comprises most member states ensuring open borders.]]

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. To this end, agencies have been established that co-ordinate associated actions: Europol for co-operation of police forces,[36] Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors,[37] and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities.[38] The EU also operates the Schengen Information System[39] which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. This cooperation had to particularly be developed with the advent of open borders through the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border crime.

Furthermore, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition,[40] family law,[41] asylum law,[42] and criminal justice.[43] Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties.[nb 10] In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation.[nb 11] By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.[nb 12]

The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon regrouped all the matters concerning justice and home affairs together under the newly shaped area of freedom, security and justice. The European Parliament and the Court of Justice gained a say over the whole area,[44] while the European Council adopted the Stockholm Programme to provide EU action on developing the area over the following five years.[45]

Foreign relations

Foreign policy cooperation 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 Common Commercial Policy.[46]

Steps for a more wide ranging coordination 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. It was not, however, until 1987 when European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.[47] 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.[48] The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP makes disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq,[49] not uncommon.

[[File:|thumb|right|The EU participates in all G8 and G20 summits. (Heiligendamm, Germany)]]

The co-ordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Catherine Ashton) 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. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department[50] that is being established following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.[51]

Besides the emerging international policy of the European Union, the international influence of the EU is also felt through enlargement. 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 former Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.[52] This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".[53]

In the UN, as an observer and working together, the EU has gained influence in areas such as aid due to its large contributions in that field.[54] In the G8, the EU has rights of membership besides chairing/hosting summit meetings and is represented at meetings by the presidents of the Commission and the Council.[55] In the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where all 27 member states are represented, the EU as a body is represented by Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.[56]

Military and defence

File:Typhoon f2 zj910
The Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four EU countries.

The European Union does not have one unified military. The predecessors of the European Union were not devised as a strong military alliance because NATO was largely seen as appropriate and sufficient for defence purposes.[57] Twenty-one EU members are members of NATO[58] while the remaining member states follow policies of neutrality.[59] However the compatibility of their neutrality with EU membership is questioned (including by the Prime Minister of Finland)[60] and with mutual solidarity in the event of disasters, terrorist attacks and armed aggression covered by TEU Article 42 (7) and TFEU Article 222 of the EU treaties; 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.[61] In 2000, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany accounted for 97% of the total military research budget of the then 15 EU member states.[62]

[[File:|thumb|right|CSDP forces have been deployed on peacekeeping duties in parts of the Balkans and Africa.]]

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". To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. 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.[63]

EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from Africa to the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.[64] EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European Defence Agency, satellite centre and the military staff.[65] In an EU consisting of 27 members, substantial security and defence cooperation is increasingly relying on great power cooperation.[66]

Humanitarian aid

File:ECHO
Collectively, the EU is the largest contributor of foreign aid in the world.

The European Commissions Humanitarian Aid Office, or "ECHO", provides humanitarian aid from the EU to developing countries. In 2006 its budget amounted to €671 million, 48% of which went to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.[67] Counting the EU's own contributions and those of its member states together, the EU is the largest aid donor in the world.[68]

The EU's aid has previously been criticised by the eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe for being inefficient, mis-targeted and linked to economic objectives.[69] Furthermore, some charities such as ActionAid have claimed European governments have inflated the amount they have spent on aid by incorrectly including money spent on debt relief, foreign students, and refugees. Under the de-inflated figures, the EU as a whole did not reach its internal aid target in 2006[70] and is expected not to reach the international target of 0.7% of gross national income until 2015.[71]

However, four countries have reached that target, most notably Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Denmark.[68] In 2005 EU aid was 0.34% of the GNP which was higher than that of either the United States or Japan.[72] The previous commissioner for aid, Louis Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly, to greater effect, and on humanitarian principles.[73]

Over the years the EU has established a strong relationship with the UN. Co-operation takes place on a broad range of areas: development, addressing climate change, peace building in conflict ridden countries, humanitarian assistance in crises, fighting corruption and crime, global health concerns such as AIDS/HIV, labour issues and culture. The EU and its Member States also play a crucial role as the major contributor to the UN system. Co-operation is based not only in the form of the policy dialogue, but also goes further by generating financial support of the UN programmes and projects.[74]

Economy

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The EU and the next seven largest economies in the
world by nominal GDP. (IMF, 2009)[75]

Since its origin, the EU has established a single economic market across the territory of all its members. Currently, a single currency is in use between the 16 members of the eurozone.[76][77] If considered as a single economy, the EU generated an estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of US$16.45 trillion (14.794 trillion international dollars based on purchasing power parity) in 2009, amounting to over 21% of the world's total economic output in terms of purchasing power parity,[78] which makes it the largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the second largest trade bloc economy in the world by PPP valuation of GDP. It is also the largest exporter,[79] and largest importer[80] of goods and services, and the biggest trading partner to several large countries such as China and India.[81][82][83]

161 of the top 500 largest corporations measured by revenue (Fortune Global 500 in 2010) have their headquarters in the EU.[84]

In May 2007 unemployment in the EU stood at 7%[85] while investment was at 21.4% of GDP, inflation at 2.2% and public deficit at −0.9% of GDP.[86] There is a great deal of variance for annual per capita income within individual EU states, these range from US$7,000 to US$69,000.[87]

Single market

Two of the original core objectives of the European Economic Community were the development of a common market, subsequently renamed the single market, and a customs union between its member states. The single market involves the free circulation of goods, capital, people and services within the EU,[77] and the customs union involves the application of a common external tariff on all goods entering the market. Once goods have been admitted into the market they cannot be subjected to customs duties, discriminatory taxes or import quotas, as they travel internally. The non-EU member states of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland participate in the single market but not in the customs union.[6] Half the trade in the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU.[88]

Free movement of capital is intended to permit movement of investments such as property purchases and buying of shares between countries.[89] Until the drive towards Economic and Monetary Union the development of the capital provisions had been slow. Post-Maastricht there has been a rapidly developing corpus of ECJ judgements regarding this initially neglected freedom. The free movement of capital is unique insofar as it is granted equally to non-member states.

The free movement of persons means citizens can move freely between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. This required the lowering of administrative formalities and recognition of professional qualifications of other states.[90]

The free movement of services and of establishment allows self-employed persons to move between member states in order to provide services on a temporary or permanent basis. While services account for between sixty and seventy percent of GDP, legislation in the area is not as developed as in other areas. 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.[91] According to the Treaty the provision of services is a residual freedom that only applies if no other freedom is being exercised.

Monetary union

File:European Central Bank
The European Central Bank in Frankfurt governs the monetary policy.

The creation of a European single currency became an official objective of the EU 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 no later than 1 January 1999. On this date 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 has since grown to sixteen countries, the most recent being Slovakia which joined on 1 January 2009.

[[File:|thumb|left|upright|The eurozone (in darker blue) is constituted by 16 member states adopting the euro as sole legal tender.]]

All other EU member states, except Denmark and the United Kingdom, are legally bound to join the euro[92] 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.[nb 13]

The euro is designed to help build a single market by, for example: easing travel of citizens and goods, eliminating exchange rate problems, providing price transparency, creating a single financial market, price stability and 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 and stimulus for more.[76] Since its launch the euro has become the second reserve currency in the world with a quarter of foreign exchanges reserves being in euro.[93]

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).[94] There are eleven other currencies used in the EU[76] with all but two legally obliged to be switched to the euro. A number of other countries outside the EU, such as Montenegro, use the euro without formal agreement with the ECB.[8]

Budget

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The total expenditure of the European Union in 2006.[95]

The twenty-seven member state EU had an agreed budget of €120.7 billion for the year 2007 and €864.3 billion for the period 2007–2013,[96] representing 1.10% and 1.05% of the EU-27's GNI forecast for the respective periods. By comparison, the United Kingdom's expenditure for 2004 was estimated to be €759 billion, and France was estimated to have spent €801 billion. In 1960, the budget of the then European Economic Community was 0.03% of GDP.[97]

In the 2006 budget, the largest single expenditure item was agriculture with around 46.7% of the total budget.[98] Next came structural and cohesion funds with approximately 30.4% of the total.[98] Internal policies took up around 8.5%. Administration accounted for around 6.3%. External actions, the pre-accession strategy, compensations and reserves brought up the rear with approximately 4.9%, 2.1%, 1% and 0.1% respectively.[98]

Competition

File:Airbus A380 blue
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) is one of 161 Fortune Global 500 companies with their headquarters in the EU. (A380 airliner from Airbus)

The EU operates a competition policy intended to ensure undistorted competition within the single market.[nb 14] The Commission as the competition regulator for the single market is responsible for antitrust issues, approving mergers, breaking up cartels, working for economic liberalisation and preventing state aid.[99]

The Competition Commissioner, currently Joaquín Almunia, is one of the most powerful positions in the Commission, notable for the ability to affect the commercial interests of trans-national corporations.[100] 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.[101] Another high profile case against Microsoft, resulted in the Commission fining Microsoft over €777 million following nine years of legal action.[102]

In negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded in removing the words "free and undistorted competition" from the treaties. However, the requirement is maintained in an annex and it is unclear whether this will have any practical effect on EU policy.[103]

Development

Agriculture

[[File:|thumb|EU farms are supported by the CAP, the largest budgetary expenditure. (Vineyard in Spain)]]

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the oldest policies of the European Community, and was one of its core aims.[104] 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.[nb 15] It was, until recently, operated by a system of subsidies and market intervention. Until the 1990s, the policy accounted for over 60% of the then European Community's annual budget, and still accounts for around 35%.[104]

The policy's price controls and market interventions led to considerable overproduction, resulting in so-called butter mountains and wine lakes. These were intervention stores of produce bought up by the Community to maintain minimum price levels. In order 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 produce outside the Community. This system has been criticised for under-cutting farmers outside of Europe, especially those in the developing world.[105]

The overproduction has also been criticised for encouraging environmentally unfriendly intensive farming methods.[105] Supporters of CAP say that the economic support which it gives to farmers provides them with a reasonable standard of living, in what would otherwise be an economically unviable way of life. However, the EU's small farmers receive only 8% of CAP's available subsidies.[105]

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the CAP has been subject to a series of reforms. Initially these reforms included the introduction of set-aside in 1988, where a proportion of farm land was deliberately withdrawn from production, milk quotas (by the McSharry reforms in 1992) 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). Agriculture expenditure will move away from subsidy payments linked to specific produce, toward direct payments based on farm size. This is intended to allow the market to dictate production levels, while maintaining agricultural income levels.[104] One of these reforms entailed the abolition 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.[106]

Energy

EU energy production
46% of total EU primary energy use
Nuclear energy[nb 16]29.3%
Coal & lignite21.9%
Gas19.4%
Renewable energy14.6%
Oil13.4%
Other1.4%
Net imports of energy
54% of total primary EU energy use
Oil & petroleum products60.2%
Gas26.4%
Other13.4%

In 2006, the 27 member states of the EU had a gross inland energy consumption of 1,825 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe).[107] Around 46% of the energy consumed was produced within the member states while 54% was imported.[107] 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.[108]

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. 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.[109]

The Commission 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[110] and North Africa; use existing energy supplies more efficiently while increasing use of renewable energy; and finally increase funding for new energy technologies.[109]

The EU currently imports 82% of its oil, 57% of its gas[111] and 97.48% of its uranium[108] demands. There are concerns that Europe's dependence on Russian energy is endangering the Union and its member countries. The EU is attempting to diversify its energy supply.[112]

Infrastructure

File:Öresundsbron i solnedgång
The Öresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden is part of the Trans-European Networks.

The EU is working to improve cross-border infrastructure within the EU, for example through the Trans-European Networks (TEN). Projects under TEN include the Channel Tunnel, LGV Est, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Öresund Bridge and the Brenner Base Tunnel. In 2001 it was estimated that by 2010 the network would cover: 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.[113][114]

The developing European transport policies will increase the pressure on the environment in many regions by the increased transport network. In the pre-2004 EU members, the major problem in transport deals with congestion and pollution. After the recent enlargement, the new states that joined since 2004 added the problem of solving accessibility to the transport agenda.[115] The Polish road network in particular was in poor condition: at Poland's accession to the EU, 4,600 roads needed to be upgraded to EU standards, demanding approximately €17 billion.[116]

Another infrastructure project is the Galileo positioning system. Galileo is a proposed Global Navigation Satellite System, to be built by the EU and launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), and is to be operational by 2010. 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 far greater accuracy, given the aged nature of the GPS system.[117] It has been criticised by some due to costs, delays, and their perception of redundancy given the existence of the GPS system.[118]

Regional development

File:Dálnice D8 u
EU funds finance such infrastructure projects as the Prague–Berlin motorway (D8/A17) (pictured here near Lovosice in the Czech Republic).

There are substantial economical disparities across the EU. Even corrected for purchasing power, the difference between the richest and poorest regions (271 NUTS-2 regions of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) ranged, in 2007, from 26% of the EU27 average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to 334% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom. On the high end, Inner London has €83,200 PPP per capita, Luxembourg €68,500, and Bruxelles-Cap €55,000, while the poorest regions, are Severozapaden with €6,400 PPP per capita, Nord-Est and Severen tsentralen with €6,600 and Yuzhen tsentralen with €6,800.[119] Compared to the EU average, the United States GDP per capita is 35% higher and the Japanese GDP per capita is approximately 15% higher.[120]

There are a number of Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds to support development of underdeveloped regions of the EU. Such regions are primarily located in the new member states of East-Central Europe.[121] 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 former USSR Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS). TACIS has now become part of the worldwide EuropeAid programme. The EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) sponsors research conducted by consortia from all EU members to work towards a single European Research Area.[122]

Environment

File:Pelicani din Delta
The Danube Delta in Romania with its diverse bird population is a "Special Protection Area" created by EU directives.

The first environmental policy of the European Community was launched in 1972. Since then it has addressed issues such as acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, waste and water pollution. The Water Framework Directive is an example of a water policy, aiming for rivers, lakes, ground and coastal waters to be of "good quality" by 2015. Wildlife is protected through the Natura 2000 programme and covers 30,000 sites throughout Europe.[123] In 2007, the Polish government sought to build a motorway through the Rospuda valley, but the Commission has been blocking construction as the valley is a wildlife area covered by the programme.[124]

[[File:|left|thumb|The Commission has protected the Rospuda valley in Poland.]]

The REACH regulation was a piece of EU legislation designed to ensure that 30,000 chemicals in daily use are tested for their safety.[125] In 2006, toxic waste spill off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, from a European ship, prompted the Commission to look into legislation regarding toxic waste. With members such as Spain now having criminal laws against shipping toxic waste, the Commission proposed to create criminal sentences for "ecological crimes". Although the Commission's right to propose criminal law was contested, it was confirmed in this case by the Court of Justice.[126]

In 2007, member states agreed that the EU is to use 20% renewable energy in the future and that is has to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels.[127] This includes measures that in 2020, 10% of the overall fuel quantity used by cars and trucks in EU 27 should be running on renewable energy such as biofuels. This is considered to be one of the most ambitious moves of an important industrialised region to fight global warming.[128]

The EU is the most ambitious player and self-proclaimed leader in international climate policy.[129] At the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference, dealing with the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has proposed at 50% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050.[130] The EU's attempts to cut its carbon footprint appear to have also been aided by an expansion of Europe's forests which, between 1990 and 2005, grew 10% in western Europe and 15% in Eastern Europe. During this period they soaked up 126 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 11% of EU emissions from human activities.[131]

Education and research

File:Windkraftanlagen Dänemark
Renewable energy is one priority in transnational research activities such as the FP7.

Education and science are areas where the EU's role is limited to supporting national governments. In education, the policy was mainly developed in the 1980s in programmes supporting exchanges and mobility. The most visible of these has been the Erasmus Programme, a university exchange programme which began in 1987. In its first 20 years it has supported international exchange opportunities for well over 1.5 million university and college students and has become a symbol of European student life.[132]

There are now 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. 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.[133] Through its support of the Bologna process the EU is supporting comparable standards and compatible degrees across Europe.

[[File:|thumb|left|Erasmus students from five countries in the Netherlands.]]

Scientific development is facilitated through the EU's Framework Programmes, the first of which started in 1984. The aims of EU policy in this area are to co-ordinate and stimulate research. The independent European Research Council allocates EU funds to European or national research projects.[134] The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) deals in a number of areas, for example energy where it aims to develop a diverse mix of renewable energy for the environment and to reduce dependence on imported fuels.[135]

Since January 2000 the European Commission has set its sights on a more ambitious objective, known as the European Research Area, and has extensively funded research in a few key areas. This has the support of all member states, and extends the existing financing structure of the frameworks. It aims to focus on co-ordination, sharing knowledge, ensuring mobility of researchers around Europe, improving conditions for researchers and encouraging links with business and industry as well as removing any legal and administrative barriers.[136]

The EU is involved with six other countries to develop ITER, a fusion reactor which will be built in the EU at Cadarache. ITER builds on the previous project, Joint European Torus, which is currently the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the world.[137] The Commission foresees this technology to be generating energy in the EU by 2050.[109] It has observer status within CERN, there are various agreements with ESA and there is collaboration with ESO.[138] These organisations are not under the framework of the EU, but membership heavily overlaps between them.

Demographics

Population of the 5 largest cities in the EU[139]
City City limits
(2006)
Density
/km²
Density
/sq mi
Urban area
(2005)
LUZ
(2004)
Berlin 3,410,0003,8159,8803,761,0004,971,331
London 7,512,4004,76112,3309,332,00011,917,000
Madrid 3,228,3595,19813,4604,990,0005,804,829
Paris 2,153,60024,67263,9009,928,00011,089,124
Rome 2,708,3952,1055,4502,867,0003,457,690

The combined population of all 27 member states has been forecast at 501,259,840 as of January 2010.[140]

The EU's population is 7.3% of the world total, yet the EU covers just 3% of the Earth's land, amounting to a population density of 113 km2 (44 sq mi) making the EU one of the most densely populated regions of the world. One third of EU citizens live in cities of over a million people, rising to 80% living in urban areas generally.[141] The EU is home to more global cities than any other region in the world.[142] It contains 16 cities with populations of over one million.

Besides many large cities, the EU also includes several densely populated regions that have no single core but have emerged from the connection of several cites and now encompass large metropolitan areas. The largest are Rhine-Ruhr having approximately 11.5 million inhabitants (Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf et al.), Randstad approx. 7 million (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht et al.), Frankfurt/Rhine-Main approx. 5.8 million (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden et al.), the Flemish diamond approx. 5.5 million (urban area in between Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven and Ghent), the Upper Silesian Industrial Region approx. 3.5 million (Katowice, Sosnowiec et al.), and the Öresund Region approx. 2.5 million (Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden).[143]

Languages

European spoken languages report (EU-251)
Language Native Speakers Total
English 13% 51%
German 18% 32%
French 12% 26%
Italian 13% 16%
Spanish 9% 15%
Polish 9% 10%
Russian 1% 7%
Dutch 5% 6%
Greek 3% 3%
Czech 2% 3%
Swedish 2% 3%
Hungarian 2% 2%
Portuguese 2% 2%
Catalan 1% 2%
Slovak 1% 2%
Danish 1% 1%
Finnish 1% 1%
Lithuanian 1% 1%
Slovenian 1% 1%
Arabic <1% <1%
Basque <1% <1%
Bulgarian <1% <1%
Chinese <1% <1%
Croatian <1% <1%
Estonian <1% <1%
Galician <1% <1%
Irish/Gaelic <1% <1%
Latvian <1% <1%
Luxembourgish <1% <1%
Maltese <1% <1%
Romanian <1% <1%
Turkish <1% <1%
Other regional languages 1% 4%

1Published in 2006, before the
accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
Percentages, including zero, are rounded.
Native: Native language[144]
Total: EU citizens able to hold a
conversation in this language[145]

Among the many languages and dialects used in the EU, it has 23 official and working languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, and Swedish.[146][147] Important documents, such as legislation, are translated into every official language. The European Parliament provides translation into all languages for documents and its plenary sessions.[148] Some institutions use only a handful of languages as internal working languages.[149] Language policy is the responsibility of member states, but EU institutions promote the learning of other languages.[nb 17][150]

German is the most widely spoken mother tongue (about 88.7 million people as of 2006), followed by English, Italian, and French. English is by far the most spoken foreign language at over half (51%) of the EU population, with German and French following. 56% of EU citizens are able to engage in a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue.[151] Most official languages of the EU belong to the Indo-European language family, except Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian, which belong to the Uralic language family, and Maltese, which is an Afroasiatic language. Most EU official languages are written in the Latin alphabet except Bulgarian, written in Cyrillic, and Greek, written in the Greek alphabet.[152]

Besides the 23 official languages, there are about 150 regional and minority languages, spoken by up to 50 million people.[152] Of these, only the Spanish regional languages (i.e., Catalan/Valencian, Galician, and the non-Indo-European Basque), Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh[153] can be used by citizens in communication with the main European institutions.[154] Although EU programmes can support regional and minority languages, the protection of linguistic rights is a matter for the individual member states. 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.

Besides the many regional languages, a broad variety of languages from other parts of the world are spoken by immigrant communities in the member states: Turkish, Maghrebi Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Ukrainian, Punjabi, and Balkan languages are spoken in many parts of the EU. Many older immigrant communities are bilingual, being fluent in both, the local and their ancestral language. Migrant languages have no formal status or recognition in the EU or in the EU countries, although from 2007 they are eligible for support from the language teaching section of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013.[152]

Religion

The EU is a secular body with no formal connection with any religion, but 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".[155]

File:EU belief in
The percentage of Europeans in each member state who believe in "a God".[156]

The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".[155] Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity or God, or both, in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped.[157] This emphasis on Christianity stems from it being by far the largest religion in Europe as well as a cultural marker for, and vastly influential on, Europe and Western/European civilisation. Other significant religions present in the EU are Islam and Judaism.

Christians in the EU are divided among followers of Roman Catholicism, numerous Protestant denominations (especially in northern Europe), and Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic (in south eastern Europe). Other religions, such as Islam and Judaism, are also represented in the EU population. As of 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million,[158] and an estimated Jewish population of over a million.[159]

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.[156] Many countries have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years.[160] The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were the Czech Republic (19%) and Estonia (16%).[156] The most religious countries are Malta (95%; predominantly Roman Catholic), and Cyprus and Romania both with about 90% of the citizens believing in God (both predominantly Eastern Orthodox). Across the EU, belief was higher among women, increased with age, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 with a basic education, and those "positioning themselves on the right of the political scale (57%)."[156]

Culture and sport

File:Pecs - Hungary -
The Hungarian city of Pécs is one of three European Capitals of Culture in 2010.

Policies affecting cultural matters are mainly set by individual member states. Cultural co-operation between member states has been a concern of the EU since its inclusion as a community competency in the Maastricht Treaty.[161] Actions taken in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000 7-year programme,[161] the European Cultural Month event,[162] the Media Plus programme,[163] orchestras such as the European Union Youth Orchestra[164] and the European Capital of Culture programme – where one or more cities in the EU are selected for one year to assist the cultural development of that city.[165]

In addition, the EU gives grants to cultural projects (totalling 233 in 2004) and has launched a Web portal dedicated to Europe and culture, responding to the European Council's expressed desire to see the Commission and the member states "promote the networking of cultural information to enable all citizens to access European cultural content by the most advanced technological means".[166]

Sport is mainly the responsibility of individual member states or other international organisations rather than that of the EU. However, some EU policies have had an impact on sport, such as the free movement of workers which was at the core of the Bosman ruling, which prohibited national football leagues from imposing quotas on foreign players with European citizenship.[167] Under the Treaty of Lisbon sports were given a special status which exempted this sector from many of the EU's economic rules. This followed lobbying by governing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due to objections over the applications of free market principles to sport which led to an increasing gap between rich and poor clubs.[168]

See also

European Union portal

Notes and references

Notes
  1. ^ Figure including the four French overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion), which are an integral part of the EU, but excluding the French overseas collectivities and territories, which are not part of the EU.
  2. ^ a b See Article 288 (ex Article 249 TEC) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Eur-lex.europa.eu
  3. ^ According to the principle of Direct Effect first invoked in the Court of Justice's decision in Van Gend en Loos v. Nederlanse Administratie Der Belastingen, Eur-Lex . See: Craig and de Búrca, ch. 5.
  4. ^ According to the principle of Supremacy as established by the ECJ in Case 6/64, Falminio Costa v. ENEL [1964] ECR 585. See Craig and de Búrca, ch. 7. See also: Factortame Ltd. v. Secretary of State for Transport (No. 2) [1991] 1 AC 603, Solange II (Re Wuensche Handelsgesellschaft, BVerfG decision of 22 Oct. 1986 [1987] 3 CMLR 225,265) and Frontini v. Ministero delle Finanze [1974] 2 CMLR 372; Raoul George Nicolo [1990] 1 CMLR 173.
  5. ^ It is effectively treated as one of the Copenhagen criteria, Assembly.coe.int. It should be noted that this is a political and not a legal requirement for membership.
  6. ^ The European Convention on Human Rights was previously only open to members of the Council of Europe (Article 59.1 of the Convention), and even now only states may become member of the Council of Europe (Article 4 of the Statute of the Council of Europe).
  7. ^ Opinion (2/92) of the European Court of Justice on "Accession by the Community to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" 1996 E.C.R. I-1759 (in French), ruled that the European Community did not have the competence to accede to the ECHR.
  8. ^ See: Case 34/73, Variola v. Amministrazione delle Finanze [1973] ECR 981.
  9. ^ To do otherwise would require the drafting of legislation which would have to cope with the frequently divergent legal systems and administrative systems of all of the now 27 member states. See Craig and de Búrca, p. 115
  10. ^ See Articles 157 (ex Article 141) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Eur-lex.europa.eu
  11. ^ See Article 2(7) of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Eur-lex.europa.eu
  12. ^ Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22–26); Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16–22).
  13. ^ In order to meet the euro convergence criteria it is necessary first to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, something Sweden has declined to do: "ERM II". Danish Finance Ministry. 20 March 2009. http://uk.fm.dk/Portfolio/International%20cooperation/EU%20economic%20and%20political%20coordination/ERM2.aspx. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Article 3(1)(g) of the Treaty of Rome
  15. ^ Article 39 (ex Article 33) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Eur-lex.europa.eu
  16. ^ Note that although almost all Uranium is imported,
    Nuclear Power is considered primary energy produced in the EU
  17. ^ See Articles 165 and 166 (ex Articles 149 and 150) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Eur-lex.europa.eu
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