European Union

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.[9] 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. An internal single market has been established through a standardised system of laws that apply 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;[10] enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade,[11] agriculture,[12] fisheries and regional development.[13] Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area.[14] A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 member states which use the euro currency. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) with the characteristics of either a federation or confederation.[15][16]

European Union
Motto: "In Varietate Concordia" (Latin)
"United in Diversity"
Anthem: "Anthem of Europe" (instrumental)
Institutional seatsBrussels


Luxembourg City


  • Parliament (official seat)
Largest metropolisParis
Official languages
Official scripts
TypeSupranational union
Member states
Ursula von der Leyen
David Sassoli
Charles Michel
18 April 1951
1 January 1958
1 July 1987
1 November 1993
1 December 2009
1 July 2013 (Croatia)
31 January 2020 (United Kingdom)
4,233,262 km2 (1,634,472 sq mi)
 Water (%)
 2020 estimate
106/km2 (274.5/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2021 estimate
$20.918 trillion[6]
 Per capita
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
$17.128 trillion[6]
 Per capita
Gini (2019) 30.2[7]
HDI (2019) 0.911[8]
very high · 14th
CurrencyEuro (EUR; ; in eurozone) and
9 others
Time zoneUTC to UTC+2 (WET, CET, EET)
 Summer (DST)
(see also Summer Time in Europe)[lower-alpha 2]
Internet[lower-alpha 3]

The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.[17] The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by 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 new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. The United Kingdom became the first member state to leave the EU[18] on 31 January 2020. Before this, three territories of member states had left the EU or its forerunners. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

Containing some 5.8 per cent of the world population in 2020,[lower-alpha 4] the EU had generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$17.1 trillion in 2021,[6] constituting approximately 18 per cent of global nominal GDP.[20][better source needed] Additionally, all EU countries have a very high Human Development Index according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.[21] 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.[22][23][24]