The European Union and its structure.

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The European Union was formally established on November 1, 1993.It’s headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium. It is the most recent in a series of European cooperative organizations that originated with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) of 1951, which became the European Community (EC) in 1967. The members of the EC were Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Spain. In 1991 the governments of the 12 member states signed the Treaty on European Union (commonly called the Maastricht Treaty), which was then ratified by the national legislatures of all the member countries. The Maastricht Treaty transformed the EC into the EU. In 1994 Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU, bringing the total membership to 15 nations.

The EU has a number of objectives. Primarily, it works to promote and expand cooperation among its members in several areas, including economics and trade, social issues, foreign policy, security, and judicial matters. Another major goal has been to implement Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which established a single currency for EU members. With the exception of EMU, which went into effect in 1999, progress toward these goals has been erratic. The EU’s ability to achieve its goals has been limited by disagreements among member states, external political and economic problems, and pressure for membership from the new democracies of Eastern Europe



The members of the EU cooperate in three areas, often referred to as pillars. At the heart of this system is the EC pillar with its supranational functions and its governing institutions. The EC pillar is flanked by two pillars based on intergovernmental cooperation: Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). These two pillars are a result of the Maastricht agreement to develop closer cooperation in these areas. However, because the members were unwilling to cede authority to supranational institutions, policy decisions in these pillars are made by unanimous cooperation between members and cannot be enforced. For the most part, the governing institutions of the EC pillar have little or no input in the other two.

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The CFSP and JHA pillars are based entirely on intergovernmental cooperation, and decisions have to be made unanimously. CFSP is a forum for foreign policy discussions, common declarations, and common actions that work toward developing a security and defense policy. It has successfully developed positions on a range of issues and has established some common policy actions; however, the CFSP has failed to agree on a common security and defense. Some countries, led by France, want an integrated European military force, while others, especially the United Kingdom, insist that United States involvement via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ...

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