European Union, EU

(Photo: Court of Auditors)

European Union, EU

The European Union is a federation of 28 member states from Europe. All European nations may apply for membership.

The European Union had 507 million inhabitants in 2013, constituting 7.3% of the world population. EU countries, however, had 23% of world gross domestic product, GDP.

Union's total gross domestic product was bigger than the U.S. and still twice as large as China's.

The Lisbon Treaty provides the EU with a full legal personality in Article 47 TEU and has replaced the European Community. It permits the Union to enter into international agreements with other states and international organisations.

The European Union looks like a state, seen from other states. With a President, a government, a foreign minister, a parliament and a federal court with supremacy over national laws and constitutions and a monopoly to interpret Union law in Article 344 TFEU.

The German Constitutional Court in a verdict from 30 June 2009 has not accepted this. Ireland is the only EU country, which has explicitly accepted the full principle of primacy of EU law. 

The principle is now stated in Declaration number 17 in the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU succeeded the European Communities, EC. The new abbreviation was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993 as a name for the extended cooperation then based on three “pillars”.

1.  The supra-national Community pillar incorporating the three communities , which existed prior to the Treaty on European Union: the European Economic Community, the European Atomic Energy Community and the European.

The founding Treaty on the European Economic Community, EEC, was renamed the European Community, EC.

Together with two “inter-governmental” pillars, where states cooperated with one another in:

2.  Foreign and Security Policy

3.  Justice and Home affairs Policy.

The Lisbon Treaty has abolished the pillars. In legal terms, the Union has become a state above and in cooperation and competition with the 28 member states. The new federal state has a little joint budget on only 1% of GNP, a small police and no real joint defence.