January 24, 2022
The European Union (EU) is officially a political and economic union that aims to improve cooperation in Europe. In fact, it is a sui generis entity that has some of the powers of an international organization, but also of a united state. As of 1 January 2021, the EU consisted of 27 European countries with a population of 446.8 million (2019, approximately 5.7% of the world's population). The European Union was formally established on 1 November 1993 by the Treaty on European Union, better known as the Maastricht Treaty. It has thus replaced the European Community and is its legal successor. European integration has been going on since the end of World War II. As the number of Member States and Associated States increased, the United Kingdom was the first country to leave the EU, on 31 January 2020. By then, three Member States had left the EU or its predecessors. The European Union is founded on the Treaty on European Union and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which have been concluded by the Member States and which have delegated some of their powers to the Union in order to achieve common objectives. According to Article 3 of the EU Treaty, the Union's objective is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its people. In particular, the Union provides its citizens with an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured. It creates the internal market and strives for the sustainable development of Europe, based on balanced economic growth and a highly competitive social market economy and environmental protection. It promotes scientific and technical progress and fights against social exclusion. The objectives also include the promotion of economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity between Member States. The Union creates an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro. In its relations with the outside world, the Union upholds and promotes its values and interests and contributes to the protection of its own citizens. According to the treaty, it contributes to peace, security, the sustainable development of the planet, free and fair trade, the eradication of poverty, the protection of human rights and the observance and development of international law. The European Union is the second largest economy in the world, both nominally (after the United States) and purchasing power parity (after China). In 2012, the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee particularly appreciated its role in ensuring peaceful coexistence on the European continent.