The abc of the European Union

Europe Day, 9 May ES DA DE FR IT NL PT FI SV

40th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome ES DA DE FR IT PT FI SV

The Union's objectives and prospects
In its relatively short history, the European Union has increased in size with the entry of new members and in scope with the enlargement of its political responsibilities. Today, its main constitutional objectives are "... to promote economic and social progress, ... to assert its identity on the international scene, ...to introduce a citizenship of the Union, to develop close cooperation on justice and home affairs ..." as spelled out by the Treaty on European Union. For the next few years, the EU has three major priorities : introduce the single currency, prepare for new members and define its future shape at the "Intergovernmental Conference". (Take part in the insider´s game on Europe!)

The fifteen Member States
In the beginning they were six. Then nine, ten, twelve and today fifteen European countries bound together to form the European Union. Fifteen different nations determined to shape their future closely together. Governments on-line provides links to their public web servers.

The Policies
The 1992 Treaty on European Union took the process of European integration one step further, paving the way for the introduction of a single currency and setting up new political structures or "pillars" to enable the Union to fulfil its responsibilities as a leading global power in a rapid changing world. These are the Common Foreign and Security Policy and cooperation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs.

The Institutions
The Union is governed by the following institutions: a democratically elected Parliament, a Council, representing the Member States and composed of government ministers, a Commission, which acts as guardian of the Treaties and has the right to initiate and implement legislation, a Court of Justice, which ensures that Community law is observed and a Court of Auditors which monitors the financial management of the Union. In addition, there are a two advisory bodies which represent economic, social and regional interests - the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions -, an European Investment Bank set up to contribute to the balanced development of the Union and the European Monetary Institute created in 1994 in preparation for monetary union. The European Union is also supported by a certain number of agencies and bodies which are responsible for specific tasks. Virtual visit of the European Institutions in Brussels!

European Citizenship
"Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union ...... every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States ...... every citizen of the Union residing in a Member State of which he is not a national shall have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections in the Member State in which he resides ...... every citizen of the Union residing in a Member State of which he is not a national shall have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which he resides ...... every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which he is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State ...... every citizen of the Union shall have the right to petition the European Parliament...... every citizen of the Union may apply to the Ombudsman " (Treaty on European Union)

The mission of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg, is to provide the European Union with a high-quality statistical service. Eurostat receives statistical data, collected according to uniform rules, from the national statistical institutes of the EU Member States. It then consolidates and harmonises the data, before making them available to the public in the form of printed or electronic publications or press releases. The data are directly available from the Data Shop network and from EUR-OP distribution networks.

Publications, Databases and Documents
General information about the European Union is available as free of charge publications. The Official Journal, other official documents, specialized publications and databases addressing professional needs, can be ordered from EUR-OP. All these information sources can also be consulted in the relays and networks created in each Member State and several foreign countries.

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