1. European Union (EU)
1.1 Basic information on the European Union
The European Union is a unique economic and political partnership between 27 European countries. It has delivered half a century of peace, stability, and prosperity, helped raise living standards, launched a single European currency, and is progressively building a single Europe-wide market in which people, goods, services, and capital move among Member States as freely as within one country.
The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: countries that trade with one another are economically interdependent and will thus avoid conflict. Since then, the union has developed into a huge single market with the euro as its common currency. What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning all areas, from development aid to environmental policy.
The EU actively promotes human rights and democracy and has the most ambitious emission reduction targets for fighting climate change in the world. Thanks to the abolition of border controls between EU countries, it is now possible for people to travel freely within most of the EU. It has also become much easier to live and work in another EU country.
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1.2 Geography of the European Union
The territory of the EU consists of the combined territories of its 27 member states with some exceptions, outlined below. The territory of the EU is not the same as that of Europe, as parts of the continent are outside the EU. Some parts of member states are not part of the EU, The European Union is composed 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.
Europe’s mission in the 21st century is to:
• provide peace, prosperity and stability for its peoples;
• overcome the divisions on the continent;
• ensure that its people can live in safety;
• promote balanced economic and social development;
• meet the challenges of globalisation and preserve the diversity of the peoples of Europe;
uphold the values that Europeans share, such as sustainable development and a sound environment, respect for human rights and the social market economy.