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

  • Whiskey and spirits to get enhanced geographical protection labelling +

    Alcoholic spirit drinks are to benefit from enhanced protection under labelling and geographical indications to protect such drinks that originate Read More
  • Cork & Limerick students pitch EU plan to reduce "carbon cup print" +

    A group of secondary school students from Counties Cork and Limerick, who attend Charleville CBS, Co. Cork presented their plan Read More
  • Brazilian meat: EU Commissioner is "sincere but naive" +

    MEP for Ireland South and leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, has labelled comments by EU Read More
  • MEP Kelly criticises ex-diplomat’s “unhelpful and misleading” suggestion that Ireland should leave the EU +

    Fine Gael leader in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly MEP, has criticised suggestions made by former Irish diplomat, Ray Bassett, Read More
  • MEP Kelly slams Commission proposal to phase out biofuels +

    The lead negotiator for the largest parliamentary group in the European Parliament on the Renewable Energy Directive, Seán Kelly MEP, Read More
  • FG MEPs congratulate Taoiseach Leo Varadkar +

    The four Fine Gael MEPs have congratulated Leo Varadkar on his election as An Taoiseach today (Wednesday). Seán Kelly, Mairead Read More
  • The end of extortionate roaming charges - Seán Kelly MEP +

    From today (Thursday), extortionate mobile roaming charges will be a thing of the past thanks to the European Union, according Read More
  • MEP Kelly criticises Parliament position on 2030 target – would lead to a poor use of Irish taxpayer's money +

    MEP for Ireland South and Energy Committee rapporteur for the European People’s Party (EPP) on the 2030 climate targets, Seán 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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