The European Union

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 members located primarily in Europe.
  • It was officially established in 1993.
  • The main objectives of the EU are to promote peace, stability and prosperity in Europe, to promote economic growth and employment.

Influential leaders in the EU history

Winston Churchill

  • He was the first politician who came with the idea of a union.
  • Winston Churchill was a British politician, statesman, and writer.
  • He served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • He is best known for leading the United Kingdom during World War II, and for his speeches and writings.
  • People remember him for his words / quote: Never give up.
  • He is also famous for his sarcastic humor (Lady Astor, a politician to Winston Churchill: ‘If you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.’ Winston Churchill in his reply: ‘If you were my wife, I’d drink it.’)
  • He is regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20 th century.
  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • He famously used the ‘V’ for Victory sign during World War II as a symbol of defiance against Nazi Germany.

Robert Schuman

  • Robert Schuman put the real idea of this union.
  • He was a French statesman and politician who served as the Prime Minister of France.
  • He is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Union.

Key dates in the modern history of European Integration

  1. 1993: The EU was officially established.
  2. 2002: The Euro is introduced as the common currency in 12 European states.
  3. 2004 (1st May): the biggest enlargement in the history of the EU (10 countries). Slovakia joined the EU.
  4. 2009: Slovakia adopted the Euro as its official currency (January).
  5. 2013: the last EU enlargement (Croatia entered).
  6. 2020: Brexit – The UK officially leaves the EU (the withdrawal of the UK).

The main tasks of the EU

  1. Promote peace, stability, and prosperity in Europe.
  2. Create a single market with the free movement of goods, services, people within the EU.
  3. Create jobs, promote economic growth, reduces social and economic disparities among its member states.
  4. Protect the environment and to promote human rights, and public health.
  5. Cooperation and integration among European states, in the field of justice, education, and culture.

The main institutions of the EU

The European Union has several key institutions that work together to govern the EU.
The main institutions are:

  1. The European Parliament: It represents the citizens of the EU and has the power to approve or reject EU legislation. The parliament meets in  Brussels, Belgium and Strasbourg, France. 
  2. The European Commission: It is the executive body that proposes EU laws and is responsible for their implementation in EU countries.
  3. The European Court of Justice: It is located in Luxembourg and its role is to control keeping and respecting the law across all member states.
  4. The European Central Bank: The European Central Bank is responsible for maintaining the price stability in the Euro area and is located in Frankfurt, Germany.

The flag of the EU

  • The flag of the European Union features a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background.
  • The stars are arranged in the form of a circle. The circle symbolises equality, unity and solidarity among the EU member states.
  • The number 12 is a number of perfection and is associated with European culture and traditions.
  • The number 12 can also be found in the following examples:
    – 12 zodiac signs,
    – 12 months of the year,
    – 12 apostles,
    – 12 stars in the halo of the Virgin Mary and 12 hours on a clock face.
  • While the number of EU member states may change over time, the number of stars on the flag remains the same.

The anthem of the EU

  • The European anthem is Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.
  • It is a musical composition and does not have lyrics.

EU’s program for education, training, youth and sport – Erasmus+

  • Erasmus+ is a program that provides funding for education, training, youth, and sport activities.
  • It provides opportunities for students, trainees, teachers, and youth workers to study, work, and volunteer abroad.
  • The program also supports language development.
  • Erasmus+ is named after the Dutch philosophers and humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1465-1536), who lived and worked in different parts of Europe. He said that traveling abroad was the best way to gain knowledge and experience. 

Advantages of being a member of the EU

  • EU citizens can travel freely within the EU. To cross the border of any European country, you need only your ID card or passport.
  • Many countries in the EU use the common currency – the Euro. (but not all countries)
  • EU citizens can study and work within the EU and also participate in Erasmus+ program that brings many benefits as well.
  • EU citizens have the right to have their qualifications and skills recognized in other EU countries.
  • EU citizens have access to healthcare. You just need the European Health Insurance.
  • A driving license issued by an EU country is generally valid in all other EU countries. However, it’s recommended to check if there are any specific requirements or restrictions for the country you are traveling to.
  • The EU provides financial support and regional development programs for developing and building new roads, motorways, hospitals, schools, etc.

Disadvantages of being a member of the EU

  • Brain Drain – the situation in which large numbers of highly educated and skilled people leave their home country to live and work elsewhere, where they can get better pay and working conditions.
    Factors that cause Brain drain include low salaries, poor working conditions, lack of job opportunities, poor quality of education.

An interesting fact: Malta is the smallest country in the European Union.


European flag
The European Union
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