Highlights on the European Union – KION546

CNN Editorial Research

Here is an overview of the European Union.

About the European Union

The European Union is an international organization made up of 27 European countries.

It governs the common economic, political, social and security policies of its member states.

According to the EU website, the objectives of the European Union are to establish European citizenship, to ensure freedom, justice and security, to promote economic and social progress and to affirm the role of Europe in the world.

Membership is open to any country with a democratic government, a good human rights record and sound economic policies.

Member States delegate their sovereignty to EU institutions to represent the interests of the European Union as a whole.

Decisions and procedures derive from treaties ratified by member states.

The capital of the European Union is Brussels, Belgium.

The European Union is governed by five main bodies: the European Parliament, the Council of the Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors.

It is estimated that 447 million people live in the European Union.

The United States is the European Union’s main trading partner.

The Treaty of Lisbon amends the Treaty on European Union to explicitly recognize for the first time the right of Member States to withdraw from the union. (Article 50, modified TEU)
– Any Member State can decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional rules.
– A Member State which decides to withdraw notifies its intention to the European Council. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State setting the terms of its withdrawal, taking into account the framework of its future relations with the Union.


1957 – The European Economic Community (EEC) is created. The member countries are Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The group aims to remove trade barriers and form a common market.

1973 – Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom become member countries.

nineteen eighty one – Greece becomes a member.

1985 – Spain and Portugal become members.

June 14, 1985 – Five of the 10 member states sign the Schengen agreement, which eventually opens the borders of the agreeing member states, removing border controls. In 2016, 26 countries belong to the Schengen area.

February 7, 1992 – The Treaty on European Union is signed in Maastricht (Netherlands) by the leaders of the Member States.

November 1, 1993 – The Maastricht Treaty enters into force.

1993 – The then EEC members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal) extend their cooperation in the fields of justice and business internal affairs and a common foreign and security policy.

January 1, 1995 – Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union.

April 30, 2004 – A ceremony takes place in Dublin, Ireland, marking the enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 members. The new members are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia.

June 2004 – Member countries approve the text of the EU Constitution. It was signed by all members in October 2004.

May 29, 2005 – The people of France (and its territories) vote against the EU constitution in a referendum. (No = 54.87% / Yes = 45.13%)

June 1, 2005 – The Netherlands votes against the constitution in a referendum. The 27 members of the European Union must adopt the constitution for it to come into force. Either a national parliament can approve it, or in some countries citizens vote by referendum.

June 23, 2007 – EU leaders in Brussels agree on the outline of a treaty that would replace the EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago.

June 19, 2008 – the The European Union decides to lift the diplomatic sanctions imposed on Cuba.

November 19, 2009 – Herman Van Rompuy, Belgian Prime Minister, becomes the first President of the European Council under the Treaty of Lisbon. Catherine Ashton of the United Kingdom will be the first foreign minister.

December 1, 2009 – The Lisbon Treaty comes into force after being ratified by all EU Member States. It amends the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 and the Rome Treaty of 1957.

October 12, 2012 – The European Union receives the Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to the advancement of peace, democracy and human rights in Europe.

June 25, 2013 – The European Union accepts a new round of accession negotiations with Turkey.

July 1, 2013 – Croatia joins the European Union as the 28th member.

April 1, 2014 – The European Union is launching military operations to restore stability in the Central African Republic.

March 2015 – Iceland withdraws its request to be considered as a candidate for membership.

March 18, 2016 – The European Union and Turkey reach an agreement on how to deal with an influx of Syrian refugees. The agreement stipulates that all migrants entering Greece from Turkey will be sent back to Turkey. For every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greece, another Syrian will be resettled in the European Union.

June 23, 2016 – The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union. It will take at least two years to settle the output.

March 16, 2017 – Britain’s exit from the European Union takes another step after legislation allowing the country to leave received royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen’s signature means UK Prime Minister Theresa May is now able to go ahead and trigger Article 50, allowing formal talks to begin between Downing Street and the 27 EU member states on the terms of the divorce, dubbed “Brexit”.

September 5, 2018 – The European Union adopts the European Travel Information and Authorization System, an additional security check for travelers who normally do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area. Security screening will come into effect in 2021.

January 31, 2020 – Britain officially leaves the European Union, becoming the first country to leave the EU.

December 24, 2020 – In a press release, the British government announces that the United Kingdom and the European Union have reached a post-Brexit trade agreement after months of tense negotiations.

February 28, 2022 – Four days after the invasion of his country by Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky signs an application for Ukraine to join the European Union.

March 7-10, 2022 – European Union ambassadors agree to consider applications from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to join the EU. On March 10, the European Council issues a statement in support of Ukraine’s membership application, stating that “Ukraine belongs to our European family”. The Council does not agree to speed up their accession process.

Presidencies of the Council of the European Union until 2023

France: January-June 2022
Czechia: July-December 2022

Sweden: January-June 2023

Spain: July-December 2023

Current members

(Founding members in bold)
Czech Republic

Candidate countries

fruit salad

Candidate countries

Bosnia and Herzegovina

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