European Union

Disciplines: Economics, Political Science

Usually abbreviated as: E.U.

A still-enlarging union that binds the majority of the European countries together through a set of institutions that govern the economic, political, and judicial affairs on a supranational level.

It has its own legislative (European Parliament (lower), Council of the European Union (upper)), executive (European Commission), and judicial (European Court of Justice) branches; its own central bank (European Central Bank); and its own currency (Euro).

The European Union (EU) evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), European Economic Community (EEC), and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). Each of these institutions had six Western European members. The Merger Treaty (1965) merged these three institutions under the roof of the European Economic Community (EEC), which was renamed European Community by the Maastricht Treaty (1992).

The chronological expansion of the membership in the EU has occurred as follows:

Founding Members (1952): Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands

1973: Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom

1986: Portugal, Spain

1995: Austria, Finland, Sweden

1981: Greece

2004: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia

2007: Bulgaria, Romania

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