An economic and political union established in 1993 after the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty by members of the European Community and since expanded to include numerous Central and Eastern European nations. The establishment of the European Union expanded the political scope of the European Economic Community, especially in the area of foreign and security policy, and provided for the creation of a central European bank and the adoption of a common currency, the euro.
A union of European nations created by treaty and put into effect in 1993 for the purpose of working gradually toward an economic and political unification of Europe by means of a unified monetary policy, a common currency, standardized laws of commerce and trade, etc.
A treaty-based organization that was set up to manage economic and political cooperation among 15 European member countries. The European Union began in the 1950s with six countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Their theory was that by creating communities that shared sovereignty in matters of coal and steel production, trade, and nuclear energy, another war in Europe would be unthinkable. Since then, common EU policies have evolved in a number of other sectors. The members of the EU are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. During 2003, ten new countries were undergoing the process of becoming a member of the EU. Those countries are the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The European Council makes the decisions to define and implement common foreign and security policy and coordinates the activities of member states, including police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The council is made up of the heads of the member-country governments and meets at least twice a year. The president of the council organizes meetings and works out compromises to resolve difficulties. The presidency rotates every six months.