The European Union

European UnionOne of the largest and most influential organizations in the world, the European Union, or the EU, did not have an actual founding, and was only called the European Union after 1993. It began with the Treaty of Paris signed on April 18th, 1951 between the countries of Italy, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The treaty was also called the Treaty establishing the European Steel and Coal Community and focused on the production and trade of steel and coal, but was also seen as a way to bring the former enemies of World War II closer together and prevent another conflict.

There was a series of other treaties that helped form the EU, such as the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957, which formed the European Economic Community or EEC, an organization that aimed to create a common market between the member countries and existed until 1993 when it was reformed into the European Community, and subsequently disbanded in 2009 when it was officially replaced with the European Union. There was also the Merger Treaty signed in 1965 in Brussels, Belgium that combined the EEC,  the European Coal and Steel Community or ECSC, and the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, into a single, more efficient organization.

Eventually came the Treaty of Maastricht, signed on 1992 and coming into force on 1993; this treaty is also known as the Treaty on European Union, as this is the treaty that not only created the European Union but also introduced the euro, the currency now used in twenty-seven countries. The most recent treaty regarding the EU was the Treaty of Lisbon, which made several amendments to the EU and officially ended the EEC.

The different kinds of Euros
The different kinds of Euros

Currently, the EU maintains 20% of all imports and exports around the globe, and is trying to increase it’s research and development (R&D) spending which will allow it to better compete with Japan and the United States of America. Surprisingly, the EU has both higher imports and exports than the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and has a higher Gross-Domestic-Product (GDP), or the goods and services produced, than the USA. To commemorate the day the ideas that would eventually create the EU were first brought forward on May 9th, 1950, “Europe Day” is celebrated across the continent where EU offices in each country organize events for adults and children alike that help celebrate both the diversity and unity of Europe but also awareness towards the EU.

Military-wise the EU differs from NATO in that it is focused on unification and the prevention of another war in Europe, although after the wars in the former Yugoslavia it was believed that the EU should have some relative military power, and currently operates European Force, or EUFOR, which is essentially a rapid-reaction force of units contributed by EU members. Although EUFOR is currently involved in Macedonia, the bulk of its other forces are deployed in Africa. The EU since 2007 also maintains the EU Battlegroups, a series of 19 battlegroups comprising of aircraft, vehicles and soldiers that are capable of being deployed at any time for multiple roles. These groups are usually comprised of member countries similar to each other, such as a Czech-Slovak group, German-French group, etc.

The European Union is a mostly economic and political organization, and although current issues with inflation and the economy have some considering the euro may collapse or a possible break-up of the organization, the EU appears to be fulfilling its mission of unifying Europe and bringing the different countries together, helping bring Europe into the 21st Century and allowing it to compete with other superpowers around the globe; such is its motto, “United in diversity.”

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