The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states.
Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens. The EU's de facto capital is Brussels.
The main purpose of the European Union was the cessation of frequent and bloody wars between neighbors, which culminated in the Second World War. At the same time, the objectives of creating the European Union as well were to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe; to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development; and to pool their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty.
Although the aims were lofty, Europe embarked on a practical, step-by-step journey, mainly because European leaders were divided on the ultimate goal — whether their Community should be a family of nations, a confederation of states, or a unified European government. 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.
Officially, the establishment of the European Union was confirmed by signing the Treaty of Rome, which is an international agreement. The Treaty of Rome included references to two instruments that would define Europe’s initial approach to the problem of reducing disparities within the Community. The European Investment Bank would make loans in lagging regions, and the European Social Fund would provide money for vocational...