Originally conceived as an idea in 1945 after World War II, The European Union, or EU as it often known, is a political and economic union of 27 independent member states situated in Europe. First established in 1958 under the name The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the union originally consisted of just six members; Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany and was set up to reduce the risks of any form of extreme nationalism that had ravaged the continent during its recent history. It wasn’t until the Maastricht Treaty of 1993 that the union was given the name that we know today.
Growth of the European Union
Despite its relative popularity, and the backing it received, especially from those who had directly experienced the atrocities of the war, it wasn’t until 1973 that the European Union began to grown in terms of member states. It was on 1st of January of that that Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined to take its membership up to six. However, it wouldn’t be too long before other countries fallowed suit, which, unsurprisingly, coincided with the fall of the last two right-wing dictators in Western Europe – the Salazar regime in Portugal and General Franco in Spain. After the fall of these regimes, the EU began to assert its influence in European affairs.
The Member states of the European Union
Today, the European Union consists of 27 sovereign Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. To become a member of the EU, a state must comply with the terms of the Copenhagen criteria, which was defined in 1993 and requires all member states, amongst other things, to have a stable democracy, to respect human right and the rule of law and to have functioning and competitive market economy.
IMG: Thinkstock, iStock, chelovek