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

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 who 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, that increased economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential.

From economic to political union

What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning policy areas, from development aid to environment. A name change from the EEC to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this.
The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries. These binding agreements set out the EU's goals in its many areas of activity.

Mobility, growth, stability and a single currency

The EU has delivered half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards, and launched a single European currency, the euro.
Thanks to the abolition of border controls between EU countries, people can travel freely throughout most of the continent. And it's become much easier to live and work abroad in Europe.
The single or 'internal' market is the EU's main economic engine, enabling most goods, services, money and people to move freely. Another key objective is to develop this huge resource to ensure that Europeans can draw the maximum benefit from it.

Human rights and equality

One of the EU’s main goals is to promote human rights both internally and around the world. Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights: these are the core values of the EU. Since the 2009 signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights brings all these rights together in a single document. The EU's institutions are legally bound to uphold them, as are EU governments whenever they apply EU law.

Transparent and democratic institutions

As it continues to grow, the EU remains focused on making its governing institutions more transparent and democratic. More powers are being given to the directly elected European Parliament, while national parliaments are being given a greater role working alongside the European institutions. In turn, European citizens have an ever-increasing number of channels for taking part in the political process.

Newsletter

News & Events

  • Halawa verdict: MEP Kelly criticises Egyptian Human Rights Breach +

    MEP for Ireland South and Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, has welcomed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Read More
  • Ireland to benefit from EU-Japan trade deal +

    Ireland can reap the economic benefits from the EU-Japan trade deal, especially in terms of agri-exports, according to Ireland South Read More
  • Seán Kelly MEP welcome’s Juncker’s cybersecurity pledge +

    Seán Kelly MEP and Leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the European Parliament has welcomed today’s pledge by the Read More
  • Robust cybersecurity needed to counter attacks - Seán Kelly MEP +

    “We need a robust common EU cybersecurity strategy to be able to repel any cyber-attacks against our energy supplies, aviation Read More
  • #ExitFromBrexit: British business must be more vocal - MEP Kelly +

    Using the hashtag #ExitFromBrexit, Seán Kelly MEP is urging more British businesses to come out against Brexit and call for Read More
  • Kelly welcomes 2018 Cultural Heritage focus +

    “2018 will be European Year of Cultural Heritage and an important opportunity to highlight the role of Europe's cultural heritage Read More
  • Worst Apps for Cyberbullying: survey reminder of threat +

    "Cyberbullying persists and vigilance is needed", Seán Kelly MEP warned today after a new survey highlighted the prevalence of online Read More
  • Half a million tech job vacancies by 2020 +

    “Over half a million job vacancies for coders, engineers, and other tech specialists are expected within the EU by 2020, Read More
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Jargon Buster

  • Special EU Programmes Body +

    Special EU Programmes Body ... In 1994, following the announcement of the IRA Ceasefire, the then President of the Commission Jacques Delors, Read More
  • European Financial Stability Fund +

    European Financial Stability Fund ... On the night of the 9th of May 2010, the European Council - the summit of EU leaders, Read More
  • Erasmus Programme +

    Erasmus Programme ... Travel broadens the mind and education fills it, so what better way to expand your horizons than to travel Read More
  • Leonardo da Vinci +

    Leonardo da Vinci is arguably history's most famous artist and inventor, known equally for the Mona Lisa as for providing blueprints Read More
  • Rapporteur +

    Rapporteur is a word often heard around the European Parliament. Derived from the French, it simply means "author of a report". Read More
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