What is European Union (EU)?
The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 European countries covering a major part of the continent. It is headquartered in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.
When and Why was it formed?
When–The EU can trace its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed in 1951 and 1958 respectively by the Inner Six countries of Belgium (Brussels), France (Paris), West Germany, Italy (Rome), Luxembourg (Luxembourg City) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam). It was in 1993, that EU was established under its current name by the Maastricht Treaty( or the Treaty on European Union). This treaty also led to the creation of Euro, a single European currency.
Why- It was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so are more likely to avoid conflict. The aim was to develop a single internal market and to ensure free movement of people, goods, services and capital within this market.
What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation covering policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. A name change from the European Economic Community to the EU in 1993 is a testimony to this.
Promotion of human rights, both internally and externally, is another key goal of the EU. Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights: these are the core values of the EU.
Members of the EU
Over the years, the union has expanded from six founding members to the current 28. 22 member states of the EU also belong to the Schengen Area. This area consists of 26 countries that have abolished passport requirements and border controls.
Conditions for membership of the EU?
To become a member, a country must fulfill the Copenhagen Criteria. These require the countries to have:
- stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
- a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU
- the ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.
Becoming a member of the EU is a complex procedure which cannot happen overnight. Once an applicant country meets the criteria for membership, it must implement EU rules and regulations in all areas.
What is Eurozone?
Those members of the European Union that have adopted a single currency i.e., Euro, together constitute the Eurozone.