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European Union

Flag_of_EuropePolitical centres: Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg
Official languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish
Demonym: European
Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
Leaders:
– President of the Council: Herman Van Rompuy (EPP)
– President of the Commission: José Manuel Barroso (EPP)
– High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: Catherine Ashton (PES)
Legislature Legislature of the EU
– Upper house Council of the EU
– Lower house European Parliament
Establishment
– Treaty of Paris 23 July 1952
– Treaty of Rome 1 January 1958
– Maastricht Treaty 1 November 1993
– Treaty of Lisbon 1 December 2009
Area
– Total 4,324,782 km2 (7th¹), 1,669,807 sq mi
– Water (%) 3.08
Population
– 2012 estimate 503,492,041 (3rd¹)
– Density 116.2/km2, 300.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
– Total $15.821 trillion (1st¹)
– Per capita $31,607 (15th¹)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
– Total $17.577 trillion (1st¹)
– Per capita $35,116 (14th¹)
Gini (2010) 30.4 (medium)
HDI (2011) Increase 0.876 (very high) (13th /25th¹)
Currency
Euro (€) (EUR)
Time zone (UTC+0 to +2)
– Summer (DST) (UTC+1 to +3)
Internet TLD .eu
Website: europa.eu
¹ If considered as a single entity.

European Union is an economic and political union, developed in Europe, which is composed of 27 states. Origins of the European Union comes from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by six countries in 1958. In the coming years the EU has grown by accession of new Member States and increased its strength by adding economic, social and political abilities. Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under the present name in 1993. The last amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU was the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on December 1, 2009.

The EU operates through a system of independent supranational institutions and intergovernmental decisions through negotiation between Member States. The most important institutions of the EU are European Commission, European Council, European Union Council, European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.

The EU has developed a single market in a standardized and unified system of laws which apply to all Member States. Within the Schengen Area (which includes EU Member States and non-EU) border controls were abolished. EU policy supports and guarantees the free movement of people, goods, services and capital, were issued laws in justice and home affairs and keep common policies in trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. It was also established a monetary union, the euro area currently consists of 17 states. Through the Policy for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU has developed a limited role in international relations and security. It were established permanent diplomatic missions in several countries in the world and the EU is represented at the United Nations, WTO, G8 and G-20.

With a combined population of over 500 million, representing 7.3% of the world population, the European Union generates a GDP of 17.6 trillion dollars in 2011 (more than any other country in the world), which represents 20% of estimated GDP in terms of worldwide purchasing power.

It is considered to be a sui generis construction, considered by some as a de facto confederation. From 1 December 2009 the European Union has a legal personality and may conclude international treaties.

In 2012 EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for over six decades has contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.

Materials translated and adapted by Nicolae Sfetcu from the Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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