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What Is the EU?

What is the European Union? We hear so much in the news about the EU (the European Union) and the countries that are in it, but how does it effect us? What do they do? What are the advantages and disadvantages for countries that are members of the European Union? There are a total of 27 democratic countries in the EU group, the aim of the European Union, is to help deal with criminal matters, health care, joining the countries together to help with problems and generally helping the

countries in the group. The idea, is that the countries in the group co-operate to help improve matters and problems within their countries.

The European Courts and Parliaments
The European Parliament help to decide on which laws are to be passed. The MEP's or Members of the European Parliament are elected are the people who work in the parliament and are selected to their positions by the people who reside in one of the twenty seven EU countries.

The European Courts of Justice are located in Luxembourg. The European Courts are made up of members from each country within the EU. One person is chosen from each of the countries within the European Union and they are then sent to Luxembourg to work in the courts. This is to make sure that each country in the EU can be made aware of the laws that are passed and the current situation of the EU, before informing their country of the news and changes, the laws must be interpreted in to the necessary language.

Who is in the European Union?
There are 27 countries that make up the European Union these are:
France, who joined in 1958
West Germany, who joined in 1958
Belgium, who joined in 1958
Italy, who joined in 1958
Luxembourg, who joined in 1958
Netherlands, who joined in 1958

Denmark, who joined in 1973
United Kingdom, who joined in 1973
Ireland, who joined in 1973

Greece, who joined in 1971

Spain, who joined in 1986
Portugal, who joined in 1986

Austria, who joined in 1995
Sweden, who joined in 1995
Finland, who joined in 1995

Slovenia, who joined in 2004
Cyprus, who joined in 2004
Czech Republic, who joined in 2004
Slovakia, who joined in 2004
Estonia, who joined in 2004
Poland, who joined in 2004
Malta, who joined in 2004
Hungary, who joined in 2004
Latvia, who joined in 2004
Lithuania, who joined in 2004

Romania, who joined in 2007
Bulgaria, who joined in 2007

Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia are set to join the EU in the future.

The Council of the European Union
The council of the European Union is the main part of the union who make the decisions. Working together with the European Union, the council approve of different laws for the EU. Every six months, the president of the council changes and every six months a new member from a different EU country will become President of the council. Depending on the subject of the meeting, the relevant minister of the country will attend. Decisions are made usually by members of the state voting, whatever law gets the highest votes, is the law that is to be passed. The EU council meets four times a year to discuss and set the agenda for the year, these meetings are known as 'European Summits'.

What is the European Commission?
The European Commission is similar to the UK civil service. They are the executive body and are incharge of ensuring that the EU states come in line with each of the Unions laws. The European Commission use the EU agenda set by the European council to draft new laws. A Commissioner is elected from each country in the European Union to cover one specific policy, such as travel, health, education etc.