What is European Union?
The European Union (EU) is a unique political and economic partnership that currently consists of 28 member states.1 Built through a series of binding treaties, the Union is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II to promote peace and economic recovery in Europe. Its founders hoped that by creating specified areas in which member states agreed to share sovereignty—initially in coal and steel production, trade, and nuclear energy—it would promote interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. Since the 1950s, this European integration project has expanded to encompass other economic sectors; a customs union; a single market in which capital, goods, services, and people move freely (known as the “four freedoms”); a common trade policy; a common agricultural policy; many aspects of social and environmental policy; and a common currency (the euro) that is used by 19 member states. Since the mid-1990s, EU members have also taken steps toward political integration, with decisions to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and efforts to promote cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).
Twenty-two EU members participate in the Schengen area of free movement, which allows individuals to travel without passport checks among most
Specialist in European Affairs