What is the EU?

The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries that aims to improve the lives of its citizens and create a better world.

Although the headlines usually focus on the disputes and the occasional crisis, moving away from the cameras reveals the EU to be a significant success story. In just half a century, the EU has managed to bring about peace and prosperity to Europe, launched Europe’s single currency (Euro) and established a borderless ‘single market’ that allows for the free movement of capital and goods and services.

The EU is now not only a massive commercial force, it has also become a leading global aid provider in the area of environmental protection and development. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the European Union has expanded to cover twenty seven countries with a whole host of others queuing up for membership.

The European Union’s success can be attributed to the extraordinary way in which it operates. The European Union is extraordinary in that it is neither a federation akin to the United States, nor a simple international body of cooperation like the United Nations. The European Union is, in fact, without equal. The countries that make up the EU (EU States) maintain their independence and sovereignty, but combine their sovereignty in order attain a level of power and influence that would not be possible if they went it alone.

Combining their sovereignty means that they effectively concede a portion of their decision-making powers to jointly-established common institutions in order to make democratic decisions on certain issues that concern the common good.