What Is the European Union?
The Eurpean Union is a unified trade and monetary body of 28 member countries. Its purpose is to be more competitive in the global marketplace. At the same time, it must balance the needs of its independent fiscal and political members.
What Countries Are EU Members
The EU’s 28 member countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The EU eliminates all border controls between members. That allows the free flow of goods and people, except for random spot checks for crime and drugs. The EU transmits state-of-the-art technologies to its members. The areas that benefit are environmental protection, research and development, and energy.
Public contracts are open to bidders from any member country. Any product manufactured in one country can be sold to any other member without tariffs or duties. Taxes are all standardized. Practitioners of most services (law, medicine, tourism, banking, insurance, etc.) can operate in all member countries. As a result, the cost of airfares, the internet, and phone calls have fallen dramatically.
How It Is Governed
Three bodies run the EU. The EU Council represents national governments. The Parliament is elected by the people.
The European Commission is the EU staff. They make sure all members act consistently in regional, agricultural, and social policies. Contributions of €120 billion a year from member states fund the EU.The Schengen Area guarantees free movement to those legally residing within its boundaries. Residents and visitors can cross borders without getting visas or showing their passports. In total, there are 26 members of the Schengen Area. They are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Two EU countries (Ireland and the UK) have declined the Schengen benefits. Four non-EU countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) that have adopted the Schengen Agreement. Three territories are special members of the EU and part of the Schengen Area: the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands.