EU Basics

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The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent.

The predecessor of the EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.

The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Since then, 22 other members joined and a huge single market (also known as the ‘internal’ market) has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential.

What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. A name change from the European Economic Community (EEC) to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this.

The main EU institutions The European Parliament, European Council and The European Commission. To find out more about the EU and its institutions visit European Union website.

Many EU Publications can be ordered for free from the publications website

Click Here to watch real life examples of how the Customs Union impacts upon everyday life.