The European Union - Definition & Facts


  • The European Union is an international organization comprising 28 European countries. An estimated 508.2 million people lived within the European Union in 2015.
  • The EU motto: “United in diversity”- first came into use in 2000.
  • The Objectives: It governs common economic, social and security policies of its member states.
    • To establish European citizenship
    • Ensure freedom, justice and security
    • Promote economic and social progess,
    • Assert Europe’s role worldwide.
  • The Members: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the UK- voted to leave on 24 June 2016.
  • The Capital of EU: Brussels, Belgium.
  • The EU Adminstration: The European Parliament, the Council of the Union, European Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors.
  • Countries with an opt-out Denmark, United Kingdom 
  • The Euro (€): It is the official currency of 19 out of 28 EU member countries- collectively known as the Eurozone. 
  • The European flag 
    • A circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background symbolizes the identity and the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe.
  • The European Anthem: Friedrich von Schiller’s lyrical poem “the Ode to Joy,” composed by Ludwig Beethoven in 1823, symbolizing the EU and Europe as a whole. 
  • Europe Day: 9 May every year 
    • It marks the ‘Robert Schuman Declaration' made at a speech in Paris in 1950, for a new form of political cooperation which would stopwar between European nations. 
  • The Treaty of Liston 
    • Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon lists out the processes and deadlines that would govern a country leaving the EU- and the UK will be the first member state to use it. 
    • Any country wishing to exist the bloc must enter into negotiations with the rest of the EU about the terms of its departure. 
    • The Lisbon Treaty became law in December 2009, eight years after European leaders launched a process to make the EU “more democratic more transparent and more efficient”.

How the EU is funded

  • The EU's sources of income include contributions from member countries, import duties on products from outside the EU and fines imposed when businesses fail to comply with EU rules. The EU countries agree on the size of the budget and how it is to be financed several years in advance.
  • The EU budget supports growth and job creation. Under the cohesion policy, it funds investment to help bridge economic gaps between EU countries and regions. It also helps develop rural areas in Europe.

The EU budget:

  • is funded chiefly (98%) from the EU's own resources, supplemented by other sources of revenue;
  • is based on the principle that expenditure must be matched by revenue;
  • has in-built schemes to compensate certain EU countries;
  • own resources account for approximately 98% of the budget. The total amount of own resources to cover annual payment appropriations are not allowed to exceed 1.20% of the EU's gross national income (GNI);
  • the remaining approximately 2% of budget revenue comes from other sources of income.
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