'European Union' is explained in detail and with examples in the Economics edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.
The European Union proves to be both an economic and political cooperation and block. It is made up of 28 independent European countries. There are several common representative institutions that bind the nations together. The European Council is a body that represents the various national governments. The citizens are represented by the European Parliament.
The common interests of the Europeans are represented by an independent group called the European Commission. These three bodies democratically legislate particular issues of mutual interest to the countries that belong. Most of the countries in Europe participate in the European Union in some form. Three countries that have opted not to are still associated members of the European Economic Area. This includes Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Several European countries established the EU following the Second World War and its devastation. They wanted to encourage better economic cooperation and ties. The philosophy behind this was that countries which traded more closely shared an economic interdependence. This would make them less likely to engage in future wars and conflicts.
The group they created out of this philosophy in 1958 became the EEC European Economic Community. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy were founding members that pledged to work towards closer economic cooperation and ties. Over the years since then, more and more nations joined to form an enormous common market.
The original economic union has increased its powers and scope to become a political union as well. As a result of this, they changed the name from European Economic Community to European Union in 1993. These areas of political cooperation include security and external diplomatic relations, migration policies and justice, health, climate, and the environment.
All aspects of this political and economic cooperation stem from the rule of law. Every action the EU takes is authorized by treaties that are democratically and voluntarily agreed on by the member nations. This is evident for member states in the institutions the Council of the EU and the European Council. Citizens themselves have their representation at the European Parliament.
The EU is able to boast of some significant accomplishments. It has ensured over fifty years of peace, prosperity, and stability on the continent. The organization has increased living standards throughout Europe, though not uniformly. Countries in the north and center have seen greater economic benefits and improvements than those on the periphery.
The EU also successfully launched the world’s second most important reserve currency the Euro. These achievements received official recognition in the year 2012. That year the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in moving forward the democracy, reconciliation, peace, and human rights throughout the continent.
Benefits that EU citizens receive in the group have to do with freedom of movement. Removing the border controls between EU countries ensured individuals were able to travel without restrictions around the vast majority of Europe. They are allowed to work and live in the other EU countries as well.
This benefit extends to not only people, but also to goods, services, and money which are allowed to move freely back and forth as well. This has been a main economic advantage that the EU provided for decades. The EU also is working to come up with common cooperation in knowledge, energy, and capital markets to provide the optimal benefits from these to the various EU citizens.
The United States provided a diplomatic Mission to the EU since 1961. Both the EU and U.S. maintain close strategic ties and work together extensively. These issues extend from global problems like nuclear non proliferation to counter terrorism efforts. The EU has major investment and trade relations with the United States as well.