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Introduction

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community. With almost 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share (US$16.8 trillion in 2007) of the nominal gross world product.

The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all member states, guaranteeing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It maintains a common trade policy, agricultural and fisheries policies, and a regional development policy. Sixteen member states have adopted a common currency, the euro. It has developed a role in foreign policy, representing its members in the World Trade Organisation, at G8 summits, and at the United Nations. Twenty-one EU countries are members of NATO. The EU has developed a role in justice and home affairs, including the abolition of passport controls between many member states under the Schengen Agreement, which incorporates also non-EU states.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. In certain areas it depends upon agreement between the member states. However, it also has supranational bodies, able to make decisions without unanimity between all national governments. Important institutions and bodies of the EU include the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. EU citizens elect the Parliament every five years.

The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951 and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Since then the union has grown in size through the accession of new countries, and new policy areas have been added to the remit of the EU institutions.

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West Wycombe Park is a country house near the village of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England. Built between 1740 and 1800 as a pleasure palace for the decadent 18th-century libertine and dilettante Sir Francis Dashwood, the house is long and rectangular, and all four façades are columned and pedimented, three theatrically so. The house combines and encapsulates the entire progression of British 18th-century architecture from early idiosyncratic Palladian to the Neoclassical, although anomalies in the design of the house make it architecturally unique. It is in an 18th-century landscaped park, surrounded by smaller temples that act as satellites to the greater temple, the house.

The house was given to the National Trust in 1943 by Sir John Dashwood, 10th Baronet (1896–1966), an action strongly resented by his heir. Dashwood retained ownership of the contents of the house, much of which he sold; after his death, the house was restored at the expense of his son, Sir Francis Dashwood. Today, while the structure is owned by the National Trust, the house is the home of Sir Edward Dashwood and his family. The house is open to the public during the summer months and a venue for civil weddings and corporate entertainment, which help to fund its maintenance and upkeep.

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Vienna is the capital of Austria, and also one of the nine States of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city; with a population of about 1.6 million (2.2 million within the metro area), Vienna is by far the largest city in Austria as well as its cultural, economic and political centre. Vienna lies in the south-eastern corner of Central Europe and is close to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Founded around 500 BC, Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement. In 15 BC, Vienna became a Roman frontier city guarding the Roman Empire against Germanic tribes to the north. Art and culture have a long tradition in Vienna, in the areas of theatre, opera, classical music and fine arts. Apart from the Burgtheater which, together with its branch, the Akademietheater, is considered one of the best theatres in the German-speaking world.

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