What actually is the EU?

EU stands for European Union, it’s a political and economic union of countries – currently 28 – that are located in Europe, with the exception of a few. The headquarters are based in Brussels.

When did it begin?

The idea initially came shortly after the Second World War when Germany and France wanted to unite; this then, four years later, led a collection of countries to group together to become the EU. French foreign minister Robert Schuman first put the idea forward of the EU in 1950. He led the formation of the ECSE (European Coal and Steel Community) with the Schuman Declaration in May of that year. It was then officially established and renamed the EU in 1993.

What’s the point in it?

The union was set up to avoid wars between neighbouring countries. Essentially the EU created a pact of nations so we could live in peace… or at least be assured that our neighbouring friends in the EU wouldn’t suddenly turn on us.

What does it do?

The EU provides security, justice, and freedom for the countries in its union, it operates as a single market and allows free movement of capital, goods, services, and people between the nations. This is why it’s so easy for us (EU members) to hop on a plane to France without the need for a visa.

Agreements are set by the Union to ensure fair trade and that everyone follows the same set of rules.

Who’s in the EU?

  • France
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Romania
  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Croatia
  • Bulgaria
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Czech Republic
  • Belgium
  • Lithuania
  • Denmark
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Malta
  • Estonia
  • Slovakia
  • Latvia
  • Cyprus
  • Slovenia
  • Great Britain (for now – In 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU, as you will have noticed… the leave process has been named Brexit)

This is a very basic run down so you can get your head around it, but if you’d like a more detailed answer and more info head to the EUROPA website here.