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The European Union

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The European Union is a family of democratic European countries, that work together for peace and prosperity. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.

The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. The idea of European integration was conceived to prevent such killing and destruction. It was first proposed by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in a speech on

9 May 1950. This date, the "birthday" of what is now the EU, is celebrated annually as Europe Day.

There are five EU institutions, each playing a specific role:

European Parliament (elected by the peoples of the Member States);

Council of the European Union (representing the governments of the Member States)

European Commission (the executive body)

Court of Justice (controlling the respect of the law)

Court of Auditors (controlling the EU budget)

All EU decisions and procedures are based on the Treaties, which are agreed by all the EU countries.

In the early years, much of the co-operation between EU countries was about trade and  economy, but now the EU also deals with many other subjects of direct importance for our everyday life, such as citizens' rights, freedom, security and justice, job creation, regional development, environmental protection.

The European Union has delivered half a century of stability, peace and prosperity.

Unity in diversity: Europe is a continent with many different traditions and languages,

but also with shared values. The EU defends these values.


In 1952 - Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and

the Netherlands - create the European Coal and Steel Community by

putting their coal and steel resources in a common market.

In 1958 - The Rome Treaties set up the European Economic Community and the

European Atomic Energy Community, extending the common market for coal

and steel to all economic sectors in the member countries.

In 1973 - The United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark join the European Community.

In 1979 - The European Parliament is elected, for the first time, by direct universal 


In 1981 - Greece becomes the 10th member state.

In 1985 - The program to complete the Single Market by 1992 is launched.

In 1986 - Spain end Portugal become the 11th and 12th member states.

In 1989 - The for the Economic and Monetary Union is launched.

In 1990 - East and West Germany are reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 1992 - The treaty on European Union is signed in Maastricht. It makes it easier to

work and trade with the other countries in the EU. For exemple it is

possible to cross most borders inside the EU without a passport; goods can

travel around Europe without custom duties; students and professionals can

study or practice in any European country; you can deposit your money in a

bank in any member country.

In 1993 - The Single Market enters into force on January 1.

The Maastricht Treaty changes the name of the European Community to

European Union, it introduces the idea of European citizenship and the idea

of a single currency.

In 1995 - Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU on January 1.

In 1999 - The Euro is introduced on January 1 electronically in 12 member states.

In 2002 - The Euro is fully launched on January 1 but some member of the EU still

don't use it ( the United Kingdom . )

In 2004 - Ten countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,

Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia) join the

European Union on May 1. Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia are other

candidate states.

The European flag is the symbol of the European Union of Europe's unity and identity.

The circle of gold stars represents solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of Member States. There are twelve stars because the number twelve is traditionally the symbol of perfection.

The history of the flag goes back to 1955. The Council of Europe was considering what symbol to adopt for its own use. After much discussion, the present design was adopted - a circle of twelve gold stars on a blue background.

The Council of Europe then encouraged other European institutions to adopt the same flag. Finally, in 1985, the flag was adopted by all EU heads of State and government as the official emblem of the European Union.   

The anthem of the European Union comes from the Ninth Symphony composed in 1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Beethoven set to music the  "Ode to Joy" written in 1785 by Friedrich von Schiller. This poem expresses Schiller's idealistic vision of the human race becoming brothers.

In 1972, the Council of Europe adopted Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as is own anthem.

Without words, in the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity for which Europe stands.

On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe. This proposal, known as the "Schuman declaration", is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.

Today, the 9th of May has become a European symbol (Europe Day) which along with the single currency (the euro), the flag and the anthem, identifies the political entity of the European Union.  


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