The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2 (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) combining the characteristics of both a federation and a confederation.
|Motto: "In Varietate Concordia" (Latin)|
"United in Diversity"
|Anthem: "Anthem of Europe"|
|Official languages||24 languages|
3 main official languages
|Government||Mixed intergovernmental parliamentary confederation|
|Ursula von der Leyen|
|Legislature||The European Parliament and the Council|
|Council of the European Union|
|17 March 1948|
|18 April 1951|
|1 January 1958|
|1 July 1987|
|1 November 1993|
|1 December 2009|
|4,233,262 km2 (1,634,472 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
|106/km2 (274.5/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2021 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
• Per capita
|Gini (2020)|| 30.0|
|HDI (2019)|| 0.911|
|Currency||Euro (€) (EUR) |
|Time zone||UTC to UTC+2 (WET, CET, EET)|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC+1 to UTC+3 (WEST, CEST, EEST)|
|(see also Summer Time in Europe)|
Containing 5.8 per cent of the world population in 2020, the EU generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$17.1 trillion in 2021, constituting approximately 18 per cent of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all EU states have a very high Human Development Index according to the United Nations Development Programme. Its cornerstone, the Customs Union, paved the way to establishing an internal single market based on standardised legal framework and legislation that applies in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where the states have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. The eurozone is a group composed of the 19 EU member states that have fully implemented the economic and monetary union and use the euro currency. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the union has developed a role in external relations and defence. It maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Due to its global influence, the European Union has been described by some scholars as an emerging superpower.
The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the Western Union, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1948 Treaty of Brussels, the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original member states of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The communities and their successors have grown in size by the accession of 21 new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2020, the United Kingdom became the only member state to leave the EU. There are several other countries that are negotiating to join the European Union.