european-union

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

  • The European Union (EU) consists of a group of countries that acts as one economic unit in the world economy.
  • Its official currency is the Euro; 19 of its 27 members have adopted the currency.
  • In a 2016 referendum, the U.K. voted to leave the EU. Though the terms of Brexit had been challenged many times, Jan 31, 2020 marked the official enactment of Britain leaving the EC.

Background: 

  • The EU began as the European Coal and Steel Community, which was founded in 1950 and had just six members: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. 
  • It became the European Economic Community in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome and, subsequently, became the European Community (EC).
  • It ceased to exist by Lisbon Treaty-2007 and its activities were incorporated in the EU.
  • The Lisbon Treaty now contains a clause under Article 50, providing for a member to leave the EU. 
  • Schengen Agreement (1985) paved the way for the creation of open borders without passport controls between most member states. It was effective in 1995.
  • In 1986, the Single European Act solidified the principles of foreign policy cooperation and extended the powers of the community over the members. The act also formalized the idea of a single European market.
  • Maastricht treaty 1993: the European Union (EU) replaced the EC. The treaty created the euro, which is intended to be the single currency for the EU. The euro debuted on January 1, 1999. Denmark and the United Kingdom negotiated "opt out" provisions that permitted them to retain their own currencies. 

Goals:

  • Promote peace, values and the well-being of all citizens of the EU.
  • Offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders
  • Sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection
  • Combat social exclusion and discrimination
  • Promote scientific and technological progress
  • Enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries
  • Respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity
  • Establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is euro.

More about EU:

  • EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.
  • To become a member, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, of the European Council which requires a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. 
  • EU has a common foreign and security policy, thus developing a coordinated external relations and defence.
  • Governance of EU:
    • European Council: It is a collective body that defines the European Union's overall political direction and priorities.
    • It comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.
    • The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in its meetings.
    • Established as an informal summit in 1975, the European Council was formalised as an institution in 2009 upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.
    • The decisions of its summits are adopted by consensus.
  • European Parliament: It is the only parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU) that is directly elected by EU citizens aged 18 years or older. Together with the Council of the European Union (also known as the 'Council'), it exercises the legislative function of the EU.
  • Council of the European Union: It is part of the essentially bicameral EU legislature (the other legislative body being the European Parliament) and represents the executive governments (Minister) of the EU's member states.
  • European Commission (EC): It is an executive body of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.
  • The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission. There is one member per member state. These members are proposed by member countries and European Parliament gives final approval on them.
  • The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): It interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB): It is the central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy within the Eurozone, which comprises 19 member states of the  European Union