The European Union: Some Basic Information  

Background & Institutions

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of twenty-seven member states of the European continent. It was established in 1993 as a successor to the European Economic Community (EEC) that was formed in 1957.  The 27 member states were gradually accepted to the European Union during this existence while further candidates are under consideration.

The EU creates a single market by a system of laws which apply in all member states, guaranteeing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.  Passport control between many member states has been abolished under the Schengen Agreement.  In 1999 the EU introduced a common currency, the Euro, which has been adopted by fifteen member states.

The European Union’s legislative and administrative power doesn’t supersede that of its member states; an example being the foreign policy.  An attempt to introduce a common constitution was twice rejected; most recently in 2008.  There’re also variations in the adoption of the common currency and border controls.  In general supranational policy is stronger in the areas of economic policy and weaker in the areas of foreign policy and security.

 

Important institutions of the EU include the

  • European Commission
  • European Parliament
  • Council of the European Union (Consilium)
  • European Council (European Summit)  
  • European Court of Justice
  • European Central Bank

 

EU’s economy in the world 

With almost 500 million citizens the EU generates an estimated 31% share of the world’s nominal GDP (€11.45 trillion or US$15.8 trillion) in 2007, 40% of global Mergers & Acquisitions (US$1.4 trillion) and 43% of global import and export trade.  A large part of the trade occurs within the European Union members; outside very significant is the significance of the bilateral trade between the EU and US which in 2007 amounted to US$600 billion; for goods only.  Total external trade of EU and US amounts for 45% of global trade.  EU investment to US represented 42 percent of total global investment flows to the country while at the same time over half of all private direct investment outflows from the United States were directed to the EU.  Transatlantic acquisitions, involving EU and US companies amounted to US$ 330 billion in 2007, a year with the second highest level of M&A value recorded.  Based on 2005 data, US companies employed 3.7 million workers in the EU while EU companies 3.1 million in US.

 

European Union Member States

 

 

Flag Country 

Member since

Capital

GDP (PPP) 2007
millions of Euro

Population

Currency

Common Borders

(Schengen Member)

Austria 

1995

Vienna

264,472

8,340,924

Euro

Full

Belgium. 

1957

Brussels

76,400

10,666,866

Euro

Full

Bulgaria 

2007

Sofia

18,109

7,640,238

Lev

N/a

Cyprus 

2004

Nicosia

209,773

778,700

Euro

N/a

Czech Republic 

2004

Prague

171,298

10,403,100

Koruna

Full

Denmark 

1973

Copenhagen

24,005

5,482,266

Krone

Full

Estonia 

2004

Tallinn

155,640

1,340,935

Kroon

Full

Finland 

1995

Helsinki

271,206

5,312,415

Euro

Full

France 

1957

Paris

158,304

63,753,140

Euro

Full

Germany 

1957

Berlin

157,070

82,218,000

Euro

Full

Greece 

1981

Athens

32,802

11,125,179

Euro

Full

Hungary 

2004

Budapest

50,515

10,036,000

Forint

Full

Ireland 

1973

Dublin

31,376

4,339,000

Euro

N/a

Italy 

1957

Rome

7,824

59,619,290

Euro

Full

Latvia 

2004

Riga

194,502

2,266,000

Lats

Full

Lithuania 

2004

Vilnius

217,012

3,357,873

Litas

Full

Luxembourg 

1957

Luxembourg

91,772

483,800

Euro

Full

Malta 

2004

Valletta

44,429

407,810

Euro

Full

Netherlands 

1957

Amsterdam

319,867

16,428,360

Euro

Full

Poland 

2004

Warsaw

1,744,444

38,115,641

Zloty

Full

Portugal 

1986

Lisbon

2,309,810

10,599,095

Euro

Full

Romania 

2007

Bucharest

1,500,475

21,538,000

Leu

N/a

Slovakia 

2004

Bratislava

530,564

5,400,998

Koruna

Full

Slovenia 

2004

Ljubljana

515,608

2,025,866

Euro

Full

Spain 

1986

Madrid

1,189,174

46,063,511

Euro

Full

Sweden 

1995

Stockholm

274,499

9,208,034

Krona

Full

United Kingdom

1973

London

1,847,105

61,003,875

Pound

N/a

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