The European Union

For those who are unfamiliar with the European Union, it’s a political and economic union which includes twenty-eight states predominantly in mainland Europe, created as a result of the Second World War. It’s managed through an organization of independent institutions by the members of the included states. They intend to make life easier for their citizens by making their life peaceful, safer and richer. Think of it as a politicized Eurovision where each member represents their country for decisions regarding European policies.

Every five years European members represent their country and join together to display their interests. If you think that the European Union (EU) sounds horrendously complicated, you’re right, as there are hundreds of policies and rules. However, to keep things precise, note that the European Union has two major rules: countries in the EU have to pay membership fees and the countries vote on laws. Also, if you are a native in one of the twenty-eight countries, you are automatically a citizen of the European Union, which entitles you to work, live and retire in any of the other EU countries.

Not all countries in Europe are in the European Union, such as Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, but they still have to abide by some of the EU policies, even though they aren’t granted with a say in any of the contracts or agreements that take place every five years. Those external countries, however, have to pay a membership fee through the Union despite not being a part of it; it is beneficial as their citizens are able to live in any of the European Union states in exchange of freedom of movement, but it’s unlucky for them as they have to pay and don’t have a voice. Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are part of something called the European Economic Area (EEA).

Even then, this doesn’t cover everyone as Switzerland is left out. Switzerland remains impartial and independent but is a part of the Schengen area, which is a free movement of people between countries without needing a passport. As Switzerland is amongst the Schengen area but not part of the EU, it means that people from Switzerland can easily travel over the border but they cannot stay as they are not members.

Money is another key issue with the EU. The European Union provides its own currency which is popularly known as the Euro. This currency is used by quite a lot of the members of the European Union but not all countries have conformed to it. The groups of nations within the EU who do use the specific money are in the Eurozone.

As the Eurozone is one of the major economic regions in the world, it is believed to be one of the most liquid when compared to others. However, before complying with the Eurozone there must be a few goals they must achieve to become part of it, which is known as ‘convergence criteria’. Once they have qualified to be in the Eurozone, by proving their inflation is controlled and maintaining other financial stability over at least a couple of years, they will convert their original currency into the favored euros. All members of the European Union are expected to adopt the euro currency except for the United Kingdom and Denmark who have opted out for economic independence reasons.

With so many participating nations, the governance of the European Union is extremely exigent and thought-provoking. The continually changing organization is the most efficient and effective and treaties and laws, which are created by the ‘institutional triangle’, are formed by the Council of the EU and represent national governments. The institutional triangle is the decision maker and remains vital for the integration procedure.

There is a president for the Council of the European Union, which each state member of the EU takes a turn to withhold this position for a comfortable six months. Subsequently, the Council has the statutory power to make the decision, which is made with a majority vote, a qualified majority or a vote that is undisputed from a representative.

The European Union’s main goal is to condone and successfully endorse human rights. In December 2007 the Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU member states, which was an intercontinental agreement, and took action two years later in 2009. The European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights amalgamated these rights onto one single document, making it more efficient and easier to contend with.

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