Member state of the European Union

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Member states of the European Union
Member States of the European Union (polar stereographic projection) EN.svg
Category Sovereign states [note 1]
Location European Union
Created1952/1958 [note 2]
Number28 (as of 2018)
Possible typesRepublics (21)
Monarchies (7)
PopulationsIncrease2.svg 512,596,403 (2018) [1]
Areas4,381,376 km2 (1,691,659 sq mi)
Government Parliamentary representative democracy (24)
Semi-presidential representative democracy (3)
Presidential representative democracy (1)

The European Union (EU) consists of 28 member states. Each member state is party to the founding treaties of the union and thereby subject to the privileges and obligations of membership. Unlike members of most international organisations, the member states of the EU are subjected to binding laws in exchange for representation within the common legislative and judicial institutions. Member states must agree unanimously for the EU to adopt policies concerning defence and foreign policy. Subsidiarity is a founding principle of the EU.

European Union Economic and political union of European states

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 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. 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. For travel 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 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

Treaties of the European Union treaty on European Union and treaty on the functioning of the European Union

The Treaties of the European Union are a set of international treaties between the European Union (EU) member states which sets out the EU's constitutional basis. They establish the various EU institutions together with their remit, procedures and objectives. The EU can only act within the competences granted to it through these treaties and amendment to the treaties requires the agreement and ratification of every single signatory.

A country's foreign policy, also called foreign relations or foreign affairs policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries. The study of such strategies is called foreign policy analysis. In recent times, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, the states will also have to interact with non-state actors. The aforementioned interaction is evaluated and monitored in attempts to maximize the benefits of multilateral international cooperation. Since the national interests are paramount, foreign policies are designed by the government through high-level decision-making processes. National interests accomplishment can occur as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations, or through exploitation. Usually, creating foreign policy is the job of the head of government and the foreign minister. In some countries, the legislature also has considerable effects. Foreign policies of countries have varying rates of change and scopes of intent, which can be affected by factors that change the perceived national interests or even affect the stability of the country itself. The foreign policy of a country can have a profound and lasting impact on many other countries and on the course of international relations as a whole, such as the Monroe Doctrine conflicting with the mercantilism policies of 19th-century European countries and the goals of independence of newly formed Central American and South American countries.

Contents

In 1957, six core states founded the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany). The remaining states have acceded in subsequent enlargements. On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the newest member state of the EU. To accede, a state must fulfill the economic and political requirements known as the Copenhagen criteria, which require a candidate to have a democratic, free-market government together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect for the rule of law. Enlargement of the Union is also contingent upon the consent of all existing members and the candidate's adoption of the existing body of EU law, known as the acquis communautaire.

Inner Six The six founding member countries of the European Communities

The Inner Six, or simply "the Six", were the six founding member states of the European Communities. They were in contrast to the outer seven who formed the European Free Trade Association rather than engage in supranational European integration. Five of the Outer Seven later joined the European Communities.

European Economic Community international organisation created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957

The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organisation which aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Upon the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC). In 2009 the EC's institutions were absorbed into the EU's wider framework and the community ceased to exist.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

There is disparity in the size, wealth, and political system of member states, but all have de jure equal rights. In practice, certain states are considerably more influential than others. While in some areas majority voting takes place where larger states have more votes than smaller ones, smaller states have disproportional representation compared to their population.

No member state has withdrawn or been suspended from the EU, though some dependent territories or semi-autonomous areas have left. In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum on membership of the EU, resulting in 51.89% of votes cast, being in favour of leaving. The UK government invoked Article 50 on 29 March 2017 to formally initiate the withdrawal process.

United Kingdom invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union Invocation of the EUs withdrawal process for "Brexit"

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) which began the member state's withdrawal, commonly known as Brexit, from the European Union (EU). In compliance with the TEU, the UK gave formal notice to the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU to allow withdrawal negotiations to begin.

List

Country nameNative name Arms Flag CodeCapital Accession
Population
Area (km²)
GDP (PPP)
(millions of US$)
GDP per cap.
(PPP)
[2]
Currency
Gini
HDI
Council
votes
EP
seats
Languages Territories
Austria Österreich Austria coat of arms official.svg Flag of Austria.svg AT Vienna 1995 8,792,500 [3] 83,855437,58250,031 [4] euro 29.1 [5] 0.908 [6] 1018German
Belgium België
Belgique
Belgien
Royal Arms of Belgium.svg Flag of Belgium (civil).svg BE Brussels Founder11,365,834 [3] 30,528534,23046,621 [4] euro 33.0 [5] 0.916 [6] 1221 Dutch
French
German
Bulgaria България (Bǎlgariya) Coat of arms of Bulgaria (version by constitution).svg Flag of Bulgaria.svg BG Sofia 2007 7,101,859 [3] 110,99455,82421,768 [4] lev 29.2 [5] 0.813 [6] 1017 Bulgarian
Croatia Hrvatska Croatia chequy.svg Flag of Croatia.svg HR Zagreb 2013 4,154,213 [3] 56,59457,07324,749 [4] kuna 29 [5] 0.831 [6] 711 Croatian
Cyprus Κύπρος (Kípros)
Kıbrıs
Lesser coat of arms of Cyprus.svg Flag of Cyprus.svg CY Nicosia 2004 854,802 [3] 9,25123,26337,172 [4] euro 31.2 [5] 0.869 [6] 46 Greek
Turkish [lower-alpha 1]
Czechia Česko Small coat of arms of the Czech Republic.svg Flag of the Czech Republic.svg CZ Prague 2004 10,467,628 [3] 78,866205,27035,537 [4] Czech koruna 25.8 [5] 0.888 [6] 1221 Czech [lower-alpha 4]
Denmark Danmark National Coat of arms of Denmark no crown.svg Flag of Denmark.svg DK Copenhagen 1973 5,743,947 [3] 43,075342,36250,071 [4] krone (DKK) 24.7 [5] 0.929 [6] 713 Danish
2 excluded
Estonia Eesti Small coat of arms of Estonia.svg Flag of Estonia.svg EE Tallinn 2004 1,315,635 [3] 45,22726,50631,649 [4] euro 36.0 [5] 0.871 [6] 46 Estonian
Finland Suomi
Finland
Coat of Arms of Finland Alternative style.svg Flag of Finland.svg FI Helsinki 1995 5,577,282 [3] 338,424272,64944,492 [4] euro 26.9 [5] 0.920 [6] 713 Finnish
Swedish
1

includes:

France France Arms of the French Republic.svg Flag of France.svg FR Paris Founder67,024,633 [3] 632,833 [7] 2,833,68744,081 [4] euro 32.7 [5] 0.901 [6] 2974French
Germany Deutschland Coat of arms of Germany.svg Flag of Germany.svg DE Berlin Founder [lower-alpha 7] 82,437,641 [3] 357,3863,874,43750,804 [4] euro 28.3 [5] 0.936 [6] 2996German
Greece Ελλάδα (Elláda) Lesser coat of arms of Greece.svg Flag of Greece.svg GR Athens 1981 10,757,293 [3] 131,990237,97027,796 [4] euro 34.3 [5] 0.870 [6] 1221 Greek
Hungary Magyarország Arms of Hungary.svg Flag of Hungary.svg HU Budapest 2004 9,797,561 [3] 93,030136,98929,559 [4] forint 30.0 [5] 0.838 [6] 1221 Hungarian
Ireland Éire
Ireland
Arms of the Republic of Ireland.svg Flag of Ireland.svg IE Dublin 1973 4,774,833 [3] 70,273250,81473,215 [4] euro 34.3 [5] 0.938 [6] 711Irish
English
Italy Italia Emblem of Italy.svg Flag of Italy.svg IT Rome Founder61,219,113 [3] 301,3382,147,74438,233 [4] euro 36.0 [5] 0.880 [6] 2973Italian
Latvia Latvija Lesser coat of arms of Latvia (escutcheon).svg Flag of Latvia.svg LV Riga 2004 1,950,116 [3] 64,58931,97227,702 [4] euro 35.7 [5] 0.847 [6] 48 Latvian
Lithuania Lietuva Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg Flag of Lithuania.svg LT Vilnius 2004 2,847,904 [3] 65,20048,28832,379 [4] euro 35.8 [5] 0.858 [6] 711 Lithuanian
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Luxemburg
Lëtzebuerg
Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.svg Flag of Luxembourg.svg LU Luxembourg City Founder589,370 [3] 2,586.465,683105,148 [4] euro 30.8 [5] 0.904 [6] 46French
German
Luxembourgish [lower-alpha 8]
Malta Malta Arms of Malta.svg Flag of Malta.svg MT Valletta 2004 440,433 [3] 31610,51441,839 [4] euro 25.8 [5] 0.878 [6] 36 Maltese
English
Netherlands Nederland
Nederlân
Royal Arms of the Netherlands.svg Flag of the Netherlands.svg NL Amsterdam Founder17,220,721 [3] 41,543880,71653,933 [4] euro 30.9 [5] 0.931 [6] 1326 Dutch
Frisian [lower-alpha 9]
6 excluded
Poland Polska Herb Polski.svg Flag of Poland.svg PL Warsaw 2004 37,972,964 [3] 312,685547,89429,642 [4] złoty 34.9 [5] 0.865 [6] 2751 Polish
Portugal Portugal Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal (1481-1910).png Flag of Portugal.svg PT Lisbon 1986 10,309,573 [3] 92,390229,94830,487 [4] euro 38.5 [5] 0.847 [6] 1221 Portuguese
2

includes:

Romania România Coat of arms of Romania.svg Flag of Romania.svg RO Bucharest 2007 19,638,309 [3] 238,391199,09324,605 [4] leu 31.5 [5] 0.811 [6] 1432 Romanian
Slovakia Slovensko Coat of arms of Slovakia.svg Flag of Slovakia.svg SK Bratislava 2004 5,435,343 [3] 49,03599,86933,070 [4] euro 25.8 [5] 0.855 [6] 713 Slovak
Slovenia Slovenija Coat of arms of Slovenia.svg Flag of Slovenia.svg SI Ljubljana 2004 2,065,895 [3] 20,27349,57034,480 [4] euro 31.2 [5] 0.896 [6] 48 Slovene
Spain España
Espanya
Espainia
Arms of Spain.svg Flag of Spain.svg ES Madrid 1986 46,528,966 [3] 504,0301,406,53838,381 [4] euro 32.0 [5] 0.891 [6] 2754Spanish
Galician
Catalan
Basque [lower-alpha 10]
Sweden Sverige Shield of arms of Sweden.svg Flag of Sweden.svg SE Stockholm 1995 10,080,000 [3] 449,964570,59151,185 [4] krona (SEK) 25.0 [5] 0.933 [6] 1020 Swedish
United Kingdom [lower-alpha 11] United Kingdom
Teyrnas Unedig
An Rìoghachd Aonaichte
Arms of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of the United Kingdom.svg GB London 1973 65,808,573 [3] 243,6102,950,03944,292 [4] pound sterling 36.0 [5] 0.922 [6] 2973English
Welsh
Scottish Gaelic [lower-alpha 12]
Notes
  1. The Turkish language is not an official language of the European Union.
  2. Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the EU, so it is de jure part of the Republic of Cyprus and the EU, but de facto is outside the control of both entities and operates as an independent state recognised only by Turkey. See Cyprus dispute.
  3. De jure part of the Republic of Cyprus and the EU, but de facto is outside of the control of both due to the ongoing Cyprus dispute. It is administered by the United Nations.
  4. Officially recognised minority languages:
    Slovak language language spoken in Slovakia

    Slovak or less frequently Slovakian is a West Slavic language. It is called slovenský jazyk or slovenčina in the language itself.

    Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

    Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

    Belarusian language east Slavic language

    Belarusian is an official language of Belarus, along with Russian, and is also spoken in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. Before Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the language was only known in English as Byelorussian or Belorussian, transliterating the Russian name, белорусский язык Belorusskiy yazyk, or alternatively as White Ruthenian or White Russian. Following independence, it has acquired the additional name Belarusian.

  5. Greenland left the then-EEC in 1985.
  6. 1 2 See Article 355(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  7. On 3 October 1990, the constituent states of the former German Democratic Republic acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany, automatically becoming part of the EU.
  8. The Luxembourgish language is not an official language of the European Union.
  9. The Frisian language is not an official language of the European Union.
  10. Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician are co-official languages with Castilian Spanish in their respective territories, allowing their use in E.U. institutions under limited circumstances. [8]
  11. Following a referendum on 23 June 2016 in favour of withdrawing from the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 on 29 March 2017. This scheduled the United Kingdom to withdraw on 29 March 2019. [9] In March 2019 the UK and EU agreed to a short extension. [10]
  12. Welsh and Scottish Gaelic are co-official languages alongside English in their respective territories, allowing their use in E.U. institutions under limited circumstances. [8] Scots, Cornish, and Irish, along with British Sign Language, are officially recognized minority languages in the U.K., but have no official E.U. status.

Enlargement

The continental territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession. EC-EU-enlargement animation.gif
The continental territories of the member states of the European Union (European Communities pre-1993), animated in order of accession.

According to the Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free-market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership, such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and switching to the euro. [11] To join the European Union, it is required for all member states to agree; if a single member state disagrees, the applying country is declined accession to the European Union. In addition to enlargement by adding new countries, the EU can also expand by having territories of member states, which are outside the EU, integrate more closely (for example in respect to the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles) or by a territory of a member state which had previously seceded and then rejoined (see withdrawal below).

Copenhagen criteria

The Copenhagen Criteria are the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the European Union. The criteria require that a state has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, has a functioning market economy, and accepts the obligations and intent of the EU.

In economics, a free market is a system in which the prices for goods and services are determined by the open market and by consumers. In a free market, the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government or other authority and from all forms of economic privilege, monopolies and artificial scarcities. Proponents of the concept of free market contrast it with a regulated market in which a government intervenes in supply and demand through various methods, such as tariffs, used to restrict trade and to protect the local economy. In an idealized free-market economy, prices for goods and services are set freely by the forces of supply and demand and are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by government policy.

Liberal democracy form of government

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called Western democracy, it is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.

Enlargement is, and has been, a principal feature of the Union's political landscape. [12] The EU's predecessors were founded by the "Inner Six", those countries willing to forge ahead with the Community while others remained skeptical. It was only a decade before the first countries changed their policy and attempted to join the Union, which led to the first skepticism of enlargement. French President Charles de Gaulle feared British membership would be an American Trojan horse and vetoed its application. It was only after de Gaulle left office and a 12-hour talk by British Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President Georges Pompidou took place that the United Kingdom's third application succeeded in 1970. [13] [14] [15]

Charles de Gaulle 18th President of the French Republic

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to establish democracy in France. In 1958, he came out of retirement when appointed President of the Council of Ministers by President René Coty. He was asked to rewrite the Constitution of France and founded the Fifth Republic after approval by referendum. He was elected President of France later that year, a position he was reelected to in 1965 and held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the Cold War era, and his memory continues to influence French politics.

Edward Heath Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1970–1974)

Sir Edward Richard George Heath, often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975. He was a strong supporter of the European Communities (EC), and after winning the decisive vote in the House of Commons by 336 to 244, he led the negotiations that culminated in Britain's entry into the EC on 1 January 1973. It was, says biographer John Campbell, "Heath's finest hour". Although he planned to be an innovator as Prime Minister, his government foundered on economic difficulties, including high inflation and major strikes. He became an embittered critic of Margaret Thatcher, who supplanted him as Tory leader.

Georges Pompidou President of France

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968—the longest tenure in the position's history—and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974. He had long been a top aide to president Charles de Gaulle. As president, he was a moderate conservative who repaired France's relationship with the United States and maintained positive relations with the newly independent former colonies in Africa.

Applying in 1969 were the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. Norway, however, declined to accept the invitation to become a member when the electorate voted against it, [16] [17] leaving just the UK, Ireland, and Denmark to join. [18] But despite the setbacks, and the withdrawal of Greenland from Denmark's membership in 1985, [19] three more countries joined the Communities before the end of the Cold War. [18] In 1987, the geographical extent of the project was tested when Morocco applied, and was rejected as it was not considered a European country. [20]

The year 1990 saw the Cold War drawing to a close, and East Germany was welcomed into the Community as part of a reunited Germany. Shortly thereafter, the previously neutral countries of Austria, Finland, and Sweden acceded to the newly renamed European Union, [18] though Switzerland, which applied in 1992, froze its application due to opposition from voters [21] while Norway, which had applied once more, had its voters reject membership again in 1994. [22] Meanwhile, the members of the former Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia were all starting to move towards EU membership. Eight of these, plus Cyprus and Malta, joined in a major enlargement on 1 May 2004 symbolising the unification of Eastern and Western Europe in the EU. [23] They were followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 and then Croatia in 2013. [24]

The EU has prioritised membership for the rest of the Western Balkans. Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey are all formally acknowledged as candidates, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates. [25] Turkish membership, pending since the 1980s, is a more contentious issue. [26] Aside from the Cyprus dispute being a long-standing hurdle, [27] [28] relations between the EU and Turkey have become strained after several incidents, mostly concerning the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, the Turkish referendum, and the resulting 2016–17 purges in Turkey. [28] This has led to the European Parliament calling for a suspension of membership talks. [29]

Representation

A 2011 'family photo' of the European Council, which comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission Familiefoto europese raad 2011.jpg
A 2011 'family photo' of the European Council, which comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission

Each state has representation in the institutions of the European Union. Full membership gives the government of a member state a seat in the Council of the European Union and European Council. When decisions are not being taken by consensus, votes are weighted so that a country with a greater population has more votes within the Council than a smaller country (though the number of votes in relation to population is weighted disproportionately in favour of smaller member states). The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among each of the member states, allowing each state six months to help direct the agenda of the EU. [30] [31]

Similarly, each state is assigned seats in Parliament according to their population (again, with the smaller countries receiving more seats per inhabitant than the larger ones). The members of the European Parliament have been elected by universal suffrage since 1979 (before that, they were seconded from national parliaments). [32] [33]

The national governments appoint one member each to the European Commission (in accord with its president), the European Court of Justice (in accord with other members) and the European Court of Auditors. Historically, larger member states were granted an extra Commissioner. However, as the body grew, this right has been removed and each state is represented equally. The six largest states are also granted an Advocates General in the Court of Justice. Finally, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank includes the governors of the national central banks (who may or may not be government appointed) of each euro area country. [34]

The larger states traditionally carry more weight in negotiations, however smaller states can be effective impartial mediators and citizens of smaller states are often appointed to sensitive top posts to avoid competition between the larger states. This, together with the disproportionate representation of the smaller states in terms of votes and seats in parliament, gives the smaller EU states a greater clout than normally attributed to a state of their size. However most negotiations are still dominated by the larger states. This has traditionally been largely through the "Franco-German motor" but Franco-German influence has diminished slightly following the influx of new members in 2004 (see G6). [35]

Sovereignty

Article 4
# In accordance with Article 5, competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the member states.
  1. The Union shall respect the equality of member states before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government. It shall respect their essential State functions, including ensuring the territorial integrity of the State, maintaining law and order and safeguarding national security. In particular, national security remains the sole responsibility of each member state.
  2. Pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the member states shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties. The member states shall take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union. The member states shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives.

Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union

While the member states are sovereign, the union partially follows a supranational system that is comparable to federalism. Previously limited to European Community matters, the practice, known as the "community method", is currently used in most areas of policy. Combined sovereignty is delegated by each member to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions. This practice is often referred to as "pooling of sovereignty". Those institutions are then empowered to make laws and execute them at a European level.

If a state fails to comply with the law of the European Union, it may be fined or have funds withdrawn.

In contrast to other organisations, the EU's style of integration has "become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs". [36] However, on defence and foreign policy issues (and, pre-Lisbon Treaty, police and judicial matters) less sovereignty is transferred, with issues being dealt with by unanimity and co-operation. Very early on in the history of the EU, the unique state of its establishment and pooling of sovereignty was emphasised by the Court of Justice: [37]

By creating a Community of unlimited duration, having its own institutions, its own personality, its own legal capacity and capacity of representation on the international plane and, more particularly, real powers stemming from a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of powers from the States to Community, the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves...The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community legal system of the rights and obligations arising under the Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights.

European Court of Justice 1964, in reference to case of Costa v ENEL [38]

The question of whether EU law is superior to national law is subject to some debate. The treaties do not give a judgement on the matter but court judgements have established EU's law superiority over national law and it is affirmed in a declaration attached to the Treaty of Lisbon (the European Constitution would have fully enshrined this). Some national legal systems also explicitly accept the Court of Justice's interpretation, such as France and Italy, however in Poland it does not override the national constitution, which it does in Germany. The exact areas where the member states have given legislative competence to the EU are as follows. Every area not mentioned remains with member states. [39]

As outlined in Title I of Part I of the consolidated Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
Exclusive competence
Shared competence
Supporting competence
The Union has exclusive competence to make directives and conclude international agreements when provided for in a Union legislative act as to …
Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so, that is …
Union exercise of competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs in …
  • research, technological development and  (outer) space
  • development cooperation, humanitarian aid
The Union coordinates Member States policies or implements supplemental to their common policies not covered elsewhere in …
The Union can carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement Member States' actions in …
  • the protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection (disaster prevention)
  • administrative cooperation

As a result of the European sovereign debt crisis, some eurozone states required a bailout from the EU via the European Financial Stability Facility and European Financial Stability Mechanism (to be replaced by the European Stability Mechanism from 2013). In exchange for their bailout, Greece was required to accept a large austerity plan including privatisations and a sell off of state assets. To ensure that Greece complies with the EU's demands, a "large-scale technical assistance" from the European Commission and other member states has been deployed to Greek government ministries. Some, including the President of the Euro Group Jean-Claude Juncker, state that "the sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited." [40] [41] [42] The situation of the bailed out countries (Greece, Portugal and Ireland) has been described as being a ward [43] [44] or protectorate [42] [45] [46] of the EU with some such as the Netherlands calling for a formalisation of the situation. [47]

Multi-speed integration

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EU integration is not always symmetrical, with some states proceeding with integration ahead of hold-outs. This comes in two forms; a faster integrated core where some states forge ahead with a new project, and opt-outs where a few states are excused from normal integration. The notion of multi-speed integration is anathema to some, including President Juncker, who see it as divisive to the European project and others, such as the less-integrated states, who feel they would be left behind. It is however supported by others, such as President Macron, to move forward in integration faster. [48] [49]

Enhanced cooperation

There are several different forms closer integration both within and outside the EU's normal framework. The main mechanism is enhanced cooperation where nine or more states can use EU structures progress in a field that not all states are willing to partake in. One example of this is the European Public Prosecutor. [50] A similar mechanism is Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence, where the majority of EU states work in a flexible manner on defence cooperation. Other projects, such as the European Fiscal Compact, operate between EU members but as a separate intergovernmental treaty outside of the official EU structures. [51]

Opt-outs

A number of states are less integrated into the EU than others. In most cases this is because those states have gained an opt-out from a certain policy area. The most notable is the opt-out from the Economic and Monetary Union, the adoption of the euro as sole legal currency. Most states outside the Eurozone are obliged to adopt the euro when they are ready, but Denmark and the United Kingdom have obtained the right to retain their own independent currencies.

Ireland and the United Kingdom also do not participate in the Schengen Agreement, which eliminates internal EU border checks. Denmark has an opt out from the Common Security and Defence Policy; Denmark, Ireland and the UK have an opt-out on police and justice matters and Poland and the UK have an opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. [52]

Outermost regions

There are a number of overseas member state territories which are legally part of the EU, but have certain exemptions based on their remoteness. These "outermost regions" have partial application of EU law and in some cases are outside of Schengen or the EU VAT area—however they are legally within the EU. [53] They all use the euro as their currency.

TerritoryMember StateLocationArea
km2
PopulationPer capita GDP
(EU=100)
EU VAT area Schengen Area
Flag of the Azores.svg  Azores Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Atlantic Ocean 2,333237,90066.7YesYes
Flag of the Canary Islands.svg  Canary Islands Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Atlantic Ocean7,4471,715,70093.7NoYes
Flag of French Guiana.svg  French Guiana Flag of France.svg  France South America 84,000161,10050.5NoNo
Flag of Guadeloupe (local).svg  Guadeloupe Flag of France.svg  France Caribbean 1,710425,70050.5NoNo
Flag of Madeira.svg  Madeira Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Atlantic Ocean795244,80094.9YesYes
Flag of France.svg  Saint-Martin Flag of France.svg  France Caribbean5225,00061.9NoNo
Snake Flag of Martinique.svg  Martinique Flag of France.svg  France Caribbean1,080383,30075.6NoNo
Flag of France.svg  Réunion Flag of France.svg  France Indian Ocean 2,512837,86861.6NoNo
Flag of Mayotte (local).svg  Mayotte [54] Flag of France.svg  France Indian Ocean374212,645NoNo

Political systems

presidential republic
semi-presidential republic
parliamentary republic
parliamentary constitutional monarchy UE MAPA 1.png

Entry to the EU is limited to liberal democracies and Freedom House ranks all EU states as being totally free electoral democracies. [55] All but 4 are ranked at the top 1.0 rating. [56] However, the exact political system of a state is not limited, with each state having its own system based on its historical evolution.

Half of member states—14 out of 28—are parliamentary republics, while seven states are constitutional monarchies, meaning they have a monarch although political powers are exercised by elected politicians. Most republics and all the monarchies operate a parliamentary system whereby the head of state (president or monarch) has a largely ceremonial role with reserve powers. That means most power is in the hands of what is called in most of those countries the prime minister, who is accountable to the national parliament. Of the remaining republics, five operate a semi-presidential system, where competencies are shared between the president and prime minister, while one republic operates a presidential system, where the president is head of state and government.

The EU is divided between unicameral (single chamber) and bicameral (dual chamber) parliaments, with 15 unicameral national parliaments and 13 bicameral parliaments. The prime minister and government are usually directly accountable to the directly elected lower house and require its support to stay in office—the exception being Cyprus with its presidential system. Upper houses are composed differently in different member states: it can be directly elected like the Polish senate, indirectly elected, for example, by regional legislatures like the Federal Council of Austria, unelected, but representing certain interest groups like the National Council of Slovenia, unelected (though by and large appointed by elected officials) as a remnant of a non-democratic political system in earlier times (as in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom). Most (though not all) elections in the EU use some form of proportional representation. The most common type of proportional representation is the party-list system.[ citation needed ]

There are also differences in the level of self-governance for the sub-regions of a member state. Most states, especially the smaller ones, are unitary states; meaning all major political power is concentrated at the national level. 10 states allocate power to more local levels of government. Austria, Belgium and Germany are full federations, meaning their regions have constitutional autonomies. Denmark, Finland, France and the Netherlands are federacies, meaning some regions have autonomy but most do not. Spain and Italy have system of devolution where regions have autonomy, but the national government retains the right to revoke it. The United Kingdom has a system of asymmetric devolution, whereby Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland enjoy a degree of self-government. [57]

States such as France have a number of overseas territories, retained from their former empires. Some of these territories such as French Guiana are part of the EU (see outermost regions, above) while others are related to the EU or outside it, such as the Falkland Islands.[ citation needed ]

Withdrawal

The Lisbon Treaty made the first provision of a member state to leave. The procedure for a state to leave is outlined in TEU Article 50 which also makes clear that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Although it calls for a negotiated withdrawal between the seceding state and the rest of the EU, if no agreement is reached two years after the seceding state notifying of its intention to leave, it would cease to be subject to the treaties anyway (thus ensuring a right to unilateral withdrawal). [58] There is no formal limit to how much time a member state can take between adopting a policy of withdrawal, and actually triggering Article 50.

In a non-binding referendum in June 2016—the result of which the government promised to implement—the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the EU. Termed "Brexit", this has become government policy under Prime Minister Theresa May. UK government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017. [59] Once triggered, formal talks could begin but there is no certainty of a deal and some EU officials are preparing to deal with a situation where no deal is reached after the two-year limit. [60]

Prior to 2016, no member state had ever voted to withdraw. However Greenland, as a territory, did leave the EU in 1985 when gaining home rule from a member state (Denmark). The situation of Greenland being outside the EU while still subject to an EU member state had been discussed as a template for the pro-EU regions of the UK remaining within the EU or its single market. [61]

Beyond the formal withdrawal of a member state, there are a number of independence movements such as Catalonia or Flanders which could result in a similar situation to Greenland. Were a territory of a member state to secede but wish to remain in the EU, some scholars claim it would need to reapply to join as if it were a new country applying from scratch. [62] However, other studies claim internal enlargement is legally viable if, in case of a member state dissolution or secession, the resulting states are all considered successor states. [63] There is also a European Citizens' Initiative that aims at guaranteeing the continuity of rights and obligations of the European citizens belonging to a new state arising from the democratic secession of a European Union member state. [64]

Suspension

There is no provision to expel a member state, but TEU Article 7 provides for the suspension of certain rights. Introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 outlines that if a member persistently breaches the EU's founding principles (liberty, democracy, human rights and so forth, outlined in TEU Article 2) then the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership, such as voting and representation. Identifying the breach requires unanimity (excluding the state concerned), but sanctions require only a qualified majority. [65]

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventative mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above. [65] However, the treaties do not provide any mechanism to expel a member state outright. [58]

Council of EuropeSchengen AreaEuropean Free Trade AssociationEuropean Economic AreaEurozoneEuropean UnionEuropean Union Customs UnionAgreement with EU to mint eurosGUAMCentral European Free Trade AgreementNordic CouncilBaltic AssemblyBeneluxVisegrád GroupCommon Travel AreaOrganization of the Black Sea Economic CooperationUnion StateSwitzerlandIcelandNorwayLiechtensteinSwedenDenmarkFinlandPolandCzech RepublicHungarySlovakiaGreeceEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourgItalyFranceSpainAustriaGermanyPortugalSloveniaMaltaCyprusIrelandUnited KingdomCroatiaRomaniaBulgariaTurkeyMonacoAndorraSan MarinoVatican CityGeorgiaUkraineAzerbaijanMoldovaArmeniaRussiaBelarusSerbiaAlbaniaMontenegroNorth MacedoniaBosnia and HerzegovinaKosovo (UNMIK)Member state of the European Union
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations and agreements.

There are a number of countries with strong links with the EU, similar to elements of membership. Following Norway's decision not to join the EU, it remained one of the members of the European Economic Area which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein (all former members have joined the EU, and Switzerland rejected membership). The EEA links these countries into the EU's market, extending the four freedoms to these states. In return, they pay a membership fee and have to adopt most areas of EU law (which they do not have direct impact in shaping). The democratic repercussions of this have been described as "fax democracy" (waiting for new laws to be faxed in from Brussels rather than being involved in drafting them). [66]

A different example is Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been under international supervision. The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina is an international administrator who has wide-ranging powers over Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the peace agreement is respected. The High Representative is also the EU's representative, and is in practice appointed by the EU. In this role, and since a major ambition of Bosnia and Herzegovina is to join the EU, the country has become a de facto protectorate of the EU. The EU appointed representative has the power to impose legislation and dismiss elected officials and civil servants, meaning the EU has greater direct control over Bosnia and Herzegovina than its own states. Indeed, the state's flag was inspired by the EU's flag. [67]

In the same manner as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo is under heavy EU influence, particularly after the de facto transfer from UN to EU authority. In theory Kosovo is supervised by EU missions, with justice and policing personal training and helping to build up the state institutions. However the EU mission does enjoy certain executive powers over the state and has a responsibility to maintain stability and order. [68] Like Bosnia, Kosovo has been termed an "EU protectorate". [69] [70] [71]

However, there is also the largely defunct term of associate member. It has occasionally been applied to states which have signed an association agreement with the EU. Associate membership is not a formal classification and does not entitle the state to any of the representation of free movement rights that full membership allows. The term is almost unheard of in the modern context and was primarily used in the earlier days of the EU with countries such as Greece and Turkey. Turkey's association agreement was the 1963 Ankara Agreement, implying that Turkey became an associate member that year. [72] [73] Present association agreements include the Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the western Balkans; these states are no longer termed "associate members".

See also

Notes

  1. See section on sovereignty for details on the extent to which sovereignty is shared.
  2. The first states first formed the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and then created the parallel European Economic Community in 1958. Although the latter was later, it is more often considered the immediate predecessor to the EU. The former has always shared the same membership and has since been absorbed by the EU.

Related Research Articles

Treaty of Nice treaty

The Treaty of Nice was signed by European leaders on 26 February 2001 and came into force on 1 February 2003.

European Economic Area area of the European Unions internal market and some of EFTA states established in 1994

The European Economic Area (EEA), which was established via the EEA Agreement in 1992, is an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union (EU)'s single market to non-EU member parties. The EEA links the European Union member states and three European Free Trade Association states into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable free movement of labour, goods, services, and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. The EEA was established on 1 January 1994 upon entry into force of the EEA Agreement. The contracting parties are the European Union (EU), its member states, and three EFTA member states.

Eurozone Area in which the euro is the official currency

The eurozone, officially called the euro area, is a monetary union of 19 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states which have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The monetary authority of the eurozone is the Eurosystem. The other nine members of the European Union continue to use their own national currencies, although most of them are obliged to adopt the euro in the future.

Enlargement of the European Union the accession process of new countries to the European Union

The European Union (EU) has expanded a number of times throughout its history by way of the accession of new member states to the Union. To join the EU, a state needs to fulfil economic and political conditions called the Copenhagen criteria, which require a stable democratic government that respects the rule of law, and its corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty, each current member state and the European Parliament must agree to any enlargement. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration. This term is also used to refer to the intensification of co-operation between EU member states as national governments allow for the gradual harmonisation of national laws.

Special member state territories and the European Union

The special territories of the European Union are 31 territories of EU member states which, for historical, geographical, or political reasons, enjoy special status within or outside the European Union. The special territories divide themselves in two categories: 9Outermost Regions (OMR) that form part of the European Union, though they benefit from derogations from some EU laws due to their geographical remoteness from mainland Europe; and 22 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) that do not form part of the European Union, though they cooperate with the EU via the Overseas Countries and Territories Association.

Multi-speed Europe Political idea

Multi-speed Europe or two-speed Europe is the idea that different parts of the European Union should integrate at different levels and pace depending on the political situation in each individual country. Indeed, multi-speed Europe is currently a reality, with only a subset of EU countries being members of the eurozone and of the Schengen area. Like other forms of differentiatedintegration such as à la carte and variable geometry, "multi-speed Europe" arguably aims to salvage the "widening and deepening of the European Union" in the face of political opposition.

Accession of Turkey to the European Union

Turkey is negotiating its accession to the European Union (EU) as a member state, following its application accede to the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, on 14 April 1987. After the ten founding members, Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949. The country was also an associate member of the Western European Union from 1992 to its end in 2011. Turkey signed a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and was officially recognised as a candidate for full membership on 12 December 1999, at the Helsinki summit of the European Council.

Politics of the European Union

The politics of the European Union are different from other organisations and states due to the unique nature of the European Union (EU). The EU is similar to a confederation, where many policy areas are federalised into common institutions capable of making law; however the EU does not, unlike most states, control foreign policy, defence policy or the majority of direct taxation policies. These areas are primarily under the control of the EU's member states although a certain amount of structured co-operation and coordination takes place in these areas. For the EU to take substantial actions in these areas, all Member States must give their consent. EU laws that override national laws are more numerous than in historical confederations; however the EU is legally restricted from making law outside its remit or where it is no more appropriate to do so at a national or local level (subsidiarity) when acting outside its exclusive competencies. The principle of subsidiarity does not apply to areas of exclusive competence.

Withdrawal from the European Union Legal process of Article 50 of the TEU

Withdrawal from the European Union is the legal and political process whereby an EU member state ceases to be a member of the Union. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements".

Accession of Albania to the European Union

The Republic of Albania has been an official candidate for accession to the European Union (EU) since June 2014 and is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the EU.

Accession of Kosovo to the European Union

Accession of Kosovo to the European Union (EU) is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the EU and Kosovo is recognized by the EU as a potential candidate for accession. Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia was enacted on 17 February 2008 by a vote of members of the Assembly of Kosovo. Independence has not been recognised by Serbia, or five out of 28 EU member states, and as a result the European Union itself refers only to "Kosovo*", with an asterisked footnote containing the text agreed to by the Belgrade–Pristina negotiations: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence." This has not prevented Kosovo from continuing its EU enacted Stabilisation Tracking Mechanism (STM) programme, aiming to gradually integrate its national policies on legal, economic and social matters with the EU, so that at some point in the future they could qualify for EU membership.

Future enlargement of the European Union Potential candidates for admission into the European Union.

There are five recognised candidates for future membership of the European Union: Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, and Serbia. All except Albania and North Macedonia have started accession negotiations. Kosovo, whose independence is not recognised by five EU member states, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are recognised as potential candidates for membership by the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina has formally submitted an application for membership, while Kosovo has a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, which generally precedes the lodging of membership application. In July 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the EU had no plans to expand before 2019, while Serbia and Montenegro, the most advanced candidates, are both expected to join before 2025. While the others are progressing, Turkish talks are at an effective standstill.

2004 enlargement of the European Union enlargement of the European Union

The 2004 enlargement of the European Union was the largest single expansion of the European Union (EU), in terms of territory, number of states, and population to date; however, it was not the largest in terms of gross domestic product. It occurred on 1 May 2004.

Treaty of Lisbon International agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon is an international agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU member states on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009. It amends the Maastricht Treaty (1992), known in updated form as the Treaty on European Union (2007) or TEU, and the Treaty of Rome (1957), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) or TFEU. It also amends the attached treaty protocols as well as the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

2007 enlargement of the European Union

The 2007 enlargement of the European Union saw Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007. Together with the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, it is considered part of the fifth wave of enlargement of the European Union.

Passports issued by the European Union candidate states

Since the 1980s, member states of the European Union have started to harmonise aspects of the designs of their ordinary passports, as well as common security features and biometrics.

European Union–Turkey relations

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Turkey were established in 1959, and the institutional framework was formalized with the 1963 Ankara Agreement. Turkey is one of the EU's main partners in the Middle East and both are members of the European Union–Turkey Customs Union. The EU and Turkey have a common land border through the EU member states Bulgaria and Greece.

Poland has been a member state of the European Union since 1 May 2004, with the Treaty of Accession 2003 signed on 16 April 2003 in Athens as the legal basis for Poland's accession to the EU. The actual process of integrating Poland into the EU began with Poland's application for membership in Athens on 8 April 1994, and then the confirmation of the application by all member states in Essen from 9–10 December 1994. Poland's integration into the European Union is a dynamic and continuously ongoing process.

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union is a procedure in the treaties of the European Union (EU) to suspend certain rights from a member state. While rights can be suspended, there is no mechanism to expel a member.

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