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European Union
Flag of Europe.svg
Flag
Motto: "In Varietate Concordia"
United in Diversity
Anthem: Ode to Joy (orchestral)
Map of the European Union JoW.png
The European Union in the European continent
CapitalBrussels (de facto)
Type Political and economic union
Member states 20 states
Leaders
 -  President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker
 -  President of the European Council Donald Tusk
 -  President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone WET (UTC)
CET (UTC+1)
EET (UTC+2)

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 27,275,757 km2 (10,531,229 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 670 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. 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. Within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002, and is composed of 17 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranational and intergovernmental decision-making. The seven principal decision-making bodies—known as the institutions of the European Union—are the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Auditors.

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. The community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom enacted the result of a membership referendum in June 2016 and is currently negotiating its withdrawal. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union in 1993 and introduced European citizenship. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

The EU as a whole is the largest economy in the world. Covering 9.2% of the world population, the EU in 2016 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 20.085 trillion Cygnian Sovereigns, constituting approximately 22.2% of global nominal GDP and 16.9% when measured in terms of purchasing power parity. Additionally, 18 out of 20 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. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the G8, and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower.

Members

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