EU or European Union was created in 1993 from the European Economic Community (EEC) and is a unique political and economic union. EEC was created with the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and came into effect in 1958. The founding members of EEC were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany and the Community aimed at economic integration and a common market. With the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, EEC became EU showing that it would cover much wider areas than just economic integration. EU has grown to include the following 28 member countries from Europe:
|The Czech Republic||The Netherlands|
|Ireland||The United Kingdom|
There are still some countries in Europe that are not a part of the EU. These are:
A major blow to EU came on June 23rd, 2016, when citizens of the UK, in a referendum, voted for its exit from the Union by 52% to 48% of votes. On March 29th, 2017, the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU by provoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would result in the amendment of the two treaties that form the basis of the EU. Under it, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May will start the two-year process for ‘Brexit.’ Until completion of Brexit, the UK remains a full member of the EU with all rights and obligations.
The reason for the creation of EU in the post-World War II scenario was the belief that economic cooperation and interdependence among countries would lessen the chance of a conflict. Thus, when the EEC was established between 6 countries; Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, a huge single market was created, which until now, had continued to grow and develop. This economic union evolved with time to include policy areas as well, and in 1993, the EEC became the EU. EU is based on the Rule of Law and governed by the Principle of Representative Democracy.
Membership to the EU is a complex procedure. A country that wishes to become a member must fulfill certain conditions, known as the Copenhagen Criteria. These include a free-market economy, a stable democracy and the rule of law, and the acceptance of all EU legislation, including of the euro. A country that wishes to become an EU member has to submit an application to the Council. The council asks the Commission to see if the country meets the conditions specified in the Copenhagen Criteria. If the opinion of the Commission is positive, then a mandate is negotiated by the Council. This takes a lot of time to reach.
These are some of the candidate countries that fulfill the Copenhagen Criteria and are in the process of integrating EU legislation into national law:
There are also some potential candidate countries that do not yet fulfill all the requirements of EU membership. These include:
The euro (€) is the official currency of 19 out of 28 EU member countries. Together, these countries are known as the Eurozone.
The greatest achievement of EU as an entity is said to be the Schengen Area. It implies an area without any internal borders between countries where citizens, non-EU nationals, business, and tourists can move freely without being subjected to passport checks and other kinds of border control to the movement of people, goods, services, and capital.
There are currently 26 Schengen Area member countries.
It must be noted that of these countries, three – Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, are not members of the EU but are associate members of the Schengen Area.