European Union


The following states are members of the European Union:
The Republic of Austria, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hellenic Republic, the Republic of Hungary, Ireland, the Republic of Italy, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Republic of Malta, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Poland, the Portuguese Republic, the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The European Union is 3.892 million sq. km in area and has a population of some 455 million. On 1 January 2007 Romania and the Republic of Bulgaria will join the Union. With its two new members, the EU will be 4.241 million sq. km in area and its population will be 485 million.

The EU and the G8

The first discussions between the European Community and what was then the G7 took place in London as early as 1977. The Venice Summit of 1980 saw extensive consultation with the European Community on foreign policy matters.
From the Ottawa Summit of 1981 onward, the European Community regularly participated in all working sessions. The EU has however never held the presidency and has thus never organized a summit.
The EU's permanent involvement in the G8 process is made necessary by its role as the most powerful economic zone in the world. A further factor is the EU's growing involvement in security policy.
The European Union is represented at G8 summits by the country that currently holds its presidency and by the President of the European Commission.
Germany will hold the EU presidency for the first six months of 2007. During this period, Chancellor Angela Merkel will be President of the European Council that gathers together the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States and the President of the EU Commission. She will therefore represent not only Germany but talso the EU at the G8 summit.
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The EU institutions

The European Council is the most important decision-making body in the EU. It determines the main lines of European policy.
The European Commission, based in Brussels, is the EU's executive body and represents it in international negotiations, in trade matters more particularly. It is the only organ of the EU to have the right to initiate legislation. The president of the European Commission is José Manuel Barroso.
European laws, known as directives, are passed by the Council of Ministers (from the Member States) and by the European Parliament. The Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, representing important economic and social interests, also play an advisory role in the legislative process.
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The EU has some 7 percent of the world population, but is responsible for a fifth of world exports and imports. GDP per capita is 22,300 euros (2004). With the Lisbon Strategy the EU has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the most dynamic economy in the world by 2010, in this way meeting the challenges of global competition and of continuing high unemployment.
Facts (EU - 25 countries):
  • GDP in 2005: 10,846 bn EUR
  • GDP growth in 2006: 2.3% (estimated); in 2005: 1.7%
  • Inflation rate in 2005: 2.2%
  • Public debt as percentage of GDP in 2005: 63.2%

The European Union (EU) is a historically unique community of at present 25 Member States. Its constitutional structure is unprecedented. As it has developed over the years since it was first established as the European Economic Community in 1957, Member States have transferred substantial powers to the Union.