The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of over 510 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters (only) where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.
The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty was enacted in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its predecessors, the United Kingdom signified an intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal.
The European Union provides more foreign aid than any other economic union. Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24.6% of global nominal GDP and 16.5% when measured in terms of purchasing power parity. Additionally, 27 out of 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower.

Example Sentences

  • On a European-Union harmonized basis, consumer inflation for the month was flat and 2.4% higher than a year earlier.

  • According to figures released by the European-Union statistics agency Eurostat, industrial production rose 0.8% from March and gained 9.5% from a year earlier.

  • Adding to the pressure on the bank and its advisers, the results of European-Union wide stress tests, which Bankia passed but five Spanish savings banks failed, were announced days before Bankia was due to set the final price for its deal.

  • In Britain, the majority of Halal sheep, about 94 per cent, are slaughtered after being stunned, and about three-quarters of Halal beef has been stunned, according to a recent European-Union study.

  • Istanbul-born economist Nouriel Roubini says the current turmoil in Greece would not have occurred if the European-Union member had looked east to Turkey and took copied its reform effort after the 2001 crisis.

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