2006-12-14

A little bit about the European Union

The aim of this post is to offer a little overview of the story and main characteristics of the European Union.

First of all it would be interesting to know what is the European Union (EU) and why it exists. The EU is an intergovernmental union of 25 (27 as of 1st January 2007) independent, democratic member states. The European Union is the world's largest confederation of independent states, they all defending peace, democracy, freedom and human rights. It was created in 1957, by means of the Treaty of Rome. But why?
To understand the main reason of the European Union, we only need to look to our past. Europe has always been a continent in war. We need to go far, far away in the past to see a period of peace in the whole continent. After the II World War a group of 6 European countries decided to put their steel and coal industries under the control of a common authority. It sounds strange, doesn't it? But if we think that those two materials are indispensable for war, we will immediately understand the reason for that union. Under a common authority, those six members would defend the same interests in the steel and coal markets and thus, war would be senseless. In fact, EU has ensured that there has been no war between its members for last 60 years and thinking now about a possible war between France and Germany, for example, sounds really weird!!

The idea of EU was so successful that this supranational authority would gain more and more responsibilities in new areas (nuclear power, economy, agriculture, etc) and new countries would join them in a continuous process.
In 1973, UK, Denmark and Ireland; in 1981 Greece; in 1986 Portugal and Spain (hallellujah for us -Spain-, since our economy and well-fare have grown without stop from that moment); in 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden and in 2004 Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. And in 2007 Bulgaria and Romania!!! Welcome!!

Through richly diverse (do you know the motto of the EU? "United in Diversity"!!. Suitable, isn't it?) EU countries are united in their commitment to peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They seek to promote these values in the wider world.
The EU is, for example, the biggest donor of aid for development around the world.

But we must be realistic, sometimes there are problems to make EU go forward. The last one is the problem to approve the Constitution. Since France and Netherlands rejected it, now the EU is suffering a period of uncertainty. But let's be positive. Great things are achieved by solving big problems!!!

If you are interested in the EU and would like more about it, you can get a lot of information in the official website:

europa.eu

Or you can find a good guide on European Union topics in:

ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/eu_glance/22/en.pdf

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