30 July 1962
The EU starts its ‘common agricultural policy’
giving the countries joint control over food
20 July 1963
The EU signs its first big international agreement
— a deal to help 18 former colonies in Africa. By
2005, it has a special partnership with 78
countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) regions. The EU is the world’s biggest
provider of development assistance to poorer
countries. Its aid is linked to respect for human
rights by recipients.
1 July 1968
The six remove customs duties on goods
imported from each other, allowing free cross-
border trade for the first time. Trade among the six
and between the EU and the rest of the world
24 April 1972
The EU’s first plan for a single currency dates
from 1970. The EU adopts laws to protect the
environment, introducing the notion of ‘the polluter
pays ’ for the first time.
1 January 1973
The six become nine
when Denmark, Ireland
and the United Kingdom
formally enter the EU.
10 December 1974
To show their solidarity, EU leaders set up the
European Regional Development Fund.
7–10 June 1979
EU citizens directly elect the members of the
European Parliament for the first time. Previously
they were delegated by national parliaments.
Members sit in pan-European political groups
1 January 1981
Membership of the EU reaches double figures when
Greece joins. It has been eligible to join since its military
regime was overthrown and democracy restored in 1974
1 January 1986
Spain and Portugal enter the EU, bringing
membership to 12.
17 February 1986
Although customs duties disappeared in 1968,
trade is not flowing freely across EU borders.
The main obstacles are differences in national
regulations. The Single European Act of 1986
launches a vast six-year programme to sort
The collapse of communism across
central and eastern Europe, which began
in Poland and Hungary, is symbolised by
the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Faced
by a mass exodus of its citizens to West,
the East German government throws open
the gates. Germany is united after more
than 40 years, and its eastern part joins
the EU (October 1990).
7 February 1992
● The Treaty on European Union is signed in
Maastricht. It is a major EU milestone, setting
clear rules for the future single currency as well
as for foreign and security policy and closer
cooperation in justice and home affairs. Under
the treaty, the name ‘European Union’ officially
replaces ‘European Community’.
1 January 1993
The single market
and its four freedoms
are established: the
free movement of
people and money is
1 January 1995
Austria, Finland and
Sweden join the EU.
The 15 members now
cover almost the whole
of western Europe.
26 March 1995
The Schengentakes effect in seven countries —
Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands and Portugal. Travellers of any
nationality can travel between all these countries
without any passport control at the frontiers. Other
countries have since joined the passport-free
13 December 1997
EU leaders agree to start the process of
membership negotiations with 10 countries of
central and eastern Europe: Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The
Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta are
1 January 1999
The euro is introduced in 11 countries (joined
by Greece in 2001) for commercial and
financial transactions only. Notes and coins will
From January 1, 1999, inclusive, the currency of the monetary Spanish
system will be the EURO, which will happen to the PESETA (PESETA)
In the same date, the PESETA will turn into DECIMAL FRACTION of the
EURO, being able to continue being used as unit of account and liberation
mean of payment of obligations until December 31, 2001,
This way so, between 1.1.99 and 31.12.01, they will coexist, in his legal
tender, EURO and PESETA,
It is foreseen that, from January 1, 2002 they circulate fullly the tickets
and coins named in EURO.
1 January 2002
Euro notes and coins arrive. Printing, minting
and distributing them in 12 countries is a major
logistical operation. More than 80 billion coins are
Notes are the same for all countries. Coins have
one common face, giving the value, while the
other carries a national emblem. All circulate
freely. Using Finnish (or any other) euro coin to
buy a Madrid metro ticket is something we take
1 May 2004
Eight countries of central and eastern Europe — the
Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland,
Slovenia and Slovakia — join the EU, finally ending the
division of Europe decided by the Great Powers 60 years
earlier at Yalta. Cyprus and Malta also become members.
Member States: Germany, France,
Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland,
United Kingdom, Greece, Spain,
Portugal, Austria, Finland and
New Member States: Czech
Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland,
Slovenia and Slovakia.
Candidate Countries: Bulgaria,
Romania and Turkey.
29 October 2004
The 25 EU countries sign a Treaty establishing
a European Constitution.
1 January 2007
Two more countries from eastern Europe,
Bulgaria and Romania, nw join the EU, brining
the number of member states to 27 countries.
Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia and Turkey are also candidates for
● Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the
Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark,
Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain,
Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Czech
Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
● New Member States: Bulgaria and Romania.
● Candidate Countries: Croatia, the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.
13 December 2007
The 27 EU countries sign the Treaty of Lisbon
A major financial crisis hits the world economy. The
problems start with mortgage loans in the United States.
Several European banks also experience difficulties. The
crisis leads to closer economic cooperation between EU
The new decade starts with a severe economic crisis, but
also with the hope that investments in new green and
climate-friendly technologies and closer European
cooperation will bring lasting growth and welfare.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Living standards can be compared by
measuring the price of a range of goods
and services in each country relative to
income, using a common notional
currency called the purchasing power
standard (PPS). Comparing GDP per
inhabitant in PPS provides an overview of
living standards across the EU+.
SIZE AND POPULATION
The EU covers over 4 million km² and has 503
million inhabitants — the world’s third largest
population after China and India. By surface area,
France is the biggest EU country and Malta the
Europe’s population is increasing through a
combination of natural growth ( more people
are born each year than die) and net migration
(more people settle in the EU than leave it).
At the same time, the population of Europe is
ageing as life expectancy increases and fewer
children are born.
The UE Symbols
The EU is recognisable by several symbols,
the most well-known being the circle of yellow
stars on a blue background.
This site introduces other symbols such as
the European anthem and motto
The European Flag
It's a symbol of unity.
The European flag consists of 12 golden stars in a
circle on a blue background. The stars symbolise
the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among
the peoples of Europe.
History of the European Flag.
The history of the flag goes back to 1955. The
council of Europe, adopted the present design for
its own use.
In 1983, the European parlament adopted the
flag. In 1985, it was adopted by all EU leaders as
the official emblem of the European Union (called
the European Communities at the time). All
European institutions now use an emblem of their
The European anthem.
The melody used to symbolize the EU comes from the Ninth Symphony composed in
1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven.
The anthem symbolises not only the European Union but also Europe in a wider
sense. The anthem expresses idealistic vision of the human race becoming brothers.
In 1972, the Council of Europe adopted Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme as its
anthem. In 1985, it was adopted by EU leaders as the official anthem of the
European Union. Without words, in the universal language of music, this anthem
expresses the European ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity.
● Europe Day – EU Open Doors
Europe Day held on 9 May every year celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date
marks the anniversary of the historical `Schuman declaration´. At a speech in Paris in
1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new
form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s
His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and
steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later.
Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European
– Open doors at EU institutions.
To celebrate Europe Day, the EU institutions open their doors to the public in early
May in Brussels and Strasbourg. Local EU offices in Europe and all over the world
organise a variety of activities and events for all ages.
The EU motto.
"United in diversity", the motto of the European
Union, first came into use in 2000.
It signifies how Europeans have come together, in
the form of the EU, to work for peace and
prosperity, while at the same time being enriched
by the continent's many different cultures,
traditions and languages.
● European Council
● Council of the UE
● European Commission
● Court of Justice of the UE
● European Central Bank
Directly elected by EU voters every 5 years,
members of the European Parliament represent
the people. Parliament is one of the EU’s main
-Passing european laws.
-Supervising the budget.
THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
The European Council defines the general
political direction and priorities of the
European Union. With the entry into force
of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December
2009, it became an institution. Its President
is Herman Van Rompuy.
COUNCIL OF THE UE
Also informally known as the EU Council, this is
where national ministers from each EU country
meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.
Not to be confused with:
Council of Europe
What does it do?
- Passes EU laws
-Coordinates the broad economic policies of EU member
- Signs agreements between the EU and other countries
- Approves the annual EU budget
- Develops the EU's foreign and defence policies
- Coordinates cooperation between courts and police forces
of member countries
Who are the members of the Council?
There are no fixed members as such. At each Council meeting, each
country sends the minister for the policy field being discussed
Who chairs the meetings?
The foreign ministers’ Council has a permanent chairperson – the EU's
High Representative for foreign and security policy.
All other Council meetings are chaired by the relevant minister of the
country holding the rotating EU presidency
Decisions in the Council of the EU are taken by qualified majority as a
general rule. The bigger a country’s population, the more votes it has,
but in fact the numbers are weighted in favour of the less populous
The European Commission is one of the main institutions
of the European Union. It represents and upholds the
interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for new
European laws. It manages the day-to-day business of
implementing EU policies and spending EU funds.
The 28 Commissioners, one from each EU country,
provide the Commission’s political leadership during their
5-year term. Each Commissioner is assigned
responsibility for specific policy areas by the President.
The current President of the European Commission is
The Commission represents and upholds the interests of the EU
as a whole. It oversees and implements EU policies by:
proposing new laws to Parliament and the Council
managing the EU's budget and allocating funding
enforcing EU law (together with the Court of Justice)
representing the EU internationally, for example, by
negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries.
The Commission is based in Brussels and Luxembourg and has
offices (representations) in every EU country and delegations in
capital cities around the world.
The Court of Justice is composed of 28 Judges and nine
Advocates General. The Judges and Advocates General
are appointed by common accord of the governments of
the Member States after consultation of a panel
responsible for giving an opinion on prospective
candidates' suitability to perform the duties concerned.
They are appointed for a term of office of six years, which
is renewable. They are chosen from among individuals
whose independence is beyond doubt and who possess
the qualifications required for appointment, in their
respective countries, to the highest judicial offices, or
who are of recognised competence.
The Court of Justice of UE is seated in Luxembourg.
The ECB is the central bank
(ECB, based in Frankfurt,
Germany) for Europe's single
currency, the euro. The ECB’s
main task is to maintain the
euro's purchasing power and
thus price stability in the euro
area. The euro area
comprises the 18 European
Union countries that have
introduced the euro since
The European Central Bank and the national
central banks together constitute the Eurosystem,
the central banking system of the euro area. The
main objective of the Eurosystem is to maintain
price stability: safeguarding the value of the euro.