EUROPEAN UNION, EU — an association of European states participating in the process of European integration. The predecessors of the EU were: 1951–1957 — European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC); 1957–1967 — European Economic Community (EEC); 1967–1992 — European Communities (EEC, Euratom, EUSC); November 1993 — European Union. The name «European Communities» is often used for all stages of EU development.
Includes 28 countries: Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Ireland, Great Britain, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Cyprus (except the northern part of the island), Malta, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia.
In December 2011, an agreement was signed with Croatia on EU accession. In July 2013, Croatia became a member of the European Union.
In 2009, Iceland applied for EU membership. On June 13, 2013, an official statement was made to withdraw the application for accession to the European Union.
The main declared goals of the Union:
- introduction of European citizenship;
- ensuring freedom, security and the rule of law;
- promoting economic and social progress;
- strengthening the role of Europe in the world.
The population of the countries included in the EU as of January 1, 2003 amounted to 378.5 million people, the total area — 3236.2 thousand square meters. km
The official languages of the EU are the official languages of the member countries: English, Greek, Spanish (Catalan), Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, Flemish, French, Swedish.
The EU has its own official symbols — the flag and anthem. The flag was approved in 1986 and is a blue panel in the form of a rectangle with a ratio of length and height of 1.5: 1, in the center of which are located 12 gold stars in a circle. This flag was first hoisted in front of the European Commission in Brussels on May 29, 1986. The EU anthem is the Ode to Joy of Ludwig van Beethoven, a fragment of his Ninth Symphony (which is also the anthem of another pan-European organization — the Council of Europe).
Although the EU does not have an official capital (the member countries are alternately chairing the Community for six months according to the Latin alphabet), most of the main EU institutions are located in Brussels (Belgium). In addition, some EU bodies are located in Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Frankfurt and other major cities.
12 Member States of the EU (except Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden), members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in addition to common bodies and Community legislation, have a single currency — the euro.