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25. The European Union

28. 1. 2008

The European Union Your browser may not support display of this image.

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You can often see, that European Union is pictured as a temple- a structure with common foundations, three pillars under common roof.

Building of the European Union temple started after the Second World War. The ideas of creating a “United States of Europe” or a “Pan-European Union” were not new, but only after WW II, did the conditions for a European organization exist. Politicians realized that Europe could develop and become an economic power again only if there was peace. To keep peace it was necessary to co-operate and have friendly relations. This idea forms the foundations of the temple.

The First pillar was built in 1951 when France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy agreed to co-operate in the production and trade of coal and steel.

In 1957 these countries extended the co-operation to the areas of trade economy and nuclear energy (it is called Euroatom Treaty). The global was to create a common market with four freedoms- 1) free movement of goods 2) free movement of workers 3) free movement of services 4) free movement of capital. That technically means that there are open borders and there are no problems for goods and services, people and money to move freely among these countries.

The number of areas of co-operation grew and the countries also started to work together in areas that are not strictly economic, such as the environment, culture, or social affairs

In 1992 the second ant the third pillars of co-operation were built. The co-operation in these pillars is political, not economic. It means that it is in the areas that are more sensitive counties normally manage these areas themselves.

The second pillar is built on co-operation in security and foreign policy.

The third pillar is built on co-operation in justice and home affairs.

The roof of the temple is made by institutions whose roles and described in the treaties. When the countries start to co-operate, they sign a treaty describing how they are going to do it, and who will be responsible for what.

There are five important institutions of the European Union:


1) The European Parliament 4) The Council of the European Union

2) The European Commission 5) The European Court of Justice

3) The European Court of Auditors

It is very important to remember that there is the Council of Europe and Council of European Union and they are quite different. The Council of Europe is the separate intergovernmental organization, based in Strasbourg. The Council of Europe has meeting two times on year and it gives the impulses what to do for European Commission. It is interested especially in the protection of human rights and freedoms.

The Council of the European Union is only one of institutions of the European Union.

Just as the numbers of areas of co-operation grew, also the number of Member States grew.

From the 6 original states (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium)

It becomes 9 when in 1973 (Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark) joined.

Than in the 1981 joined Greece. And in 1986 joined (Spain, Portugal) and in 1995 entered (Finland, Sweden and Austria). The next currency is very important event for our country. It was on 1st of May on 2004-joined E.U (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, ½ Cyprus and Estonia).

In 2007 joined (Bulgaria and Romania) so nowadays European Union has 27 Members.

Institutions of the European union:

THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL consist of the Heads of States and Governments.

The European Parliament represents the peoples of the E.U. With 625 Members of Parliament from Member States is the largest multinational parliament in the world. Its basic role is to legislate and control.

The Council of the E.U. represents the interests of the individual Member States. The 27 representatives of EU Member States meet to legislate, co-ordinate the policies and make political decisions.

The European Commission is the driving force of the E.U., it makes legislative proposals and manages the European Union’s money. The commission has 17 members.

The European Court of Justice has a role to make sure that E.U. law is applied and interpreted in the same way in all Member Sates.

The Court of Auditors is there to check if the money was spent according to the rules.

Symbols of the European Union:

Flag: In 1986 E.U. started using the flag that become the emblem of the E.U. Twelve golden stars in circle on a background of blue sky.

Anthem: The E.U. anthem is the final part of the Ode to Joy from the Beethoven’s ninth Symphony. It was first used as an E.U. anthem on the Council of Europe in 1972.

Europe Day: Europe day is constituted on 9 May.

Euro: The Euro is the name of the new European money. From 1 January 2002 12 of the European Union countries accepted the Euro notes and coins. It means that you can pay with the same notes and coins everywhere in euro zone. The Euro makes it easier to travel and do business,and compare prices. Your browser may not support display of this image.Some notes and coins of Euro.

Some E.U. statistics

Number of inhabitants: 454,6 million (the biggest is Germany than UK and France, the smallest is Luxembourg with 0,4 million inhabitants

Territory: 3,9 million square kilometres (the biggest is France, than Spain and Sweden)

Wealth: When comparing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per inhabitant the richest is Luxembourg, followed by Ireland and Denmark.

Eurobarometr: Young people (15-24 years old) across the European Union countries were asked: What the E.U. meant for them. These were their answers:

A chance to travel wherever I want in the E.U.,

A chance of better future for young people,

A way of improving the economic situation in Europe

A chance to create new jobs,

A guarantee of peace in Europe,

A lot of bureaucracy,

A waste time and money,

A way of protecting rights of citizens,

A risk of losing cultural identity,

Just a dream, utopia.



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