Author : Matteo Aristei
2019, July 11 th


What is the European Union and what does it do ? Here is a very general overview to understand what the European Union is, how it was created, what are its objectives and functions

The European Union is an economic and political union, unique in its kind, which includes 28 countries that cover a large part of the continent .
The European Union is a political entity with well – defined borders ; unlike geographic Europe, which for many is not exactly defined . In fact, on the one hand, many people claim that geographical Europe also includes Russia and even extends beyond the Urals . On the other hand, for many other people, Russia is not even Europe .

The European Union is made up of 28 countries which are : Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Hungary . However, there are other countries that have applied for access to the European Union and are : Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey . The accession of these various countries is at various stages, in the sense that the European Union is negotiating accession, precisely to the European Union, with these states individually .

The predecessor of the EU, the European Economic Community ( EEC ), was created in the aftermath of the Second World War with the aim of promoting economic cooperation starting from the principle that trade produces interdependence between countries that reduces the risks of conflicts .
In 1958 the EEC was therefore created, which intensified economic cooperation between six countries : Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands .
Since then, 22 other members have joined in forming a big single market .

What was born as a purely economic union has over time has become an organization active in a whole series of sectors, such as climate and health, external relations and security, justice and immigration . To reflect this change, in 1993 the name of European Economic Community ( EEC ) was replaced by European Union ( EU ).

A factor of peace, stability and prosperity for over half a century, the EU has contributed to raising the standard of living and introduced a single European currency : the euro . More than 340 million EU citizens in 19 countries currently use it as a currency and benefit from it .
Thanks to the abolition of border controls between member countries, people can now move freely around almost the entire continent . It has also become much easier to live, work and travel in another EU country . This ensures all citizens the certainty of their rights and the freedom to choose in which Member State to work, study or spend their retirement years . Each member country, as far as work, social security and taxes are concerned, has a duty to treat EU citizens in the same way as their citizens .

The EU ‘s main economic engine is the single market, which allows most goods, services, capital and people to move freely . The EU intends to develop this immense resource also in other fields, such as energy, knowledge and capital markets, to allow European citizens to fully benefit from it .

The EU remains committed to making its institutions more transparent and democratic . Decisions are taken as openly and as closely as possible to citizens .
The European Parliament, elected by direct universal suffrage, now has more powers, while national parliaments play a more important role, supporting the European institutions in their work .
The EU is governed by the principle of representative democracy, in which citizens are directly represented at EU level in the European Parliament and Member States are represented in the European Council and in the EU Council .

European citizens are invited to contribute to the democratic life of the Union by expressing their views on EU policies during their development or by suggesting improvements in existing legislation and policies . The European citizens ‘ initiative allows citizens to have more say in EU policies affecting their lives . Citizens can also file complaints and requests for information on the application of EU law .

The European Union is the largest trading bloc in the world . It is the world ‘s leading exporter of manufactured goods and services and the largest import market for over 100 countries .
Free trade between Member States was one of the founding principles of the European Union . This is possible thanks to the single market . Beyond its borders, the EU is also working to liberalize world trade .

The EU is committed to helping victims of natural or man – made disasters around the world and supports over 120 million people every year . Together the EU and its Member States represent the first humanitarian aid donor in the world .

The EU plays an important role in diplomacy and works for stability, security and prosperity, democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law at the international level .

The single currency is another characteristic of the European union . As you know, the euro is the single currency adopted by the member countries of the European Union . But not everyone, as the countries that have adopted the euro, the single currency, are part of the eurozone and to become part of this eurozone, fundamental requirements must be met from an economic point of view, with parameters that have for example with the level of inflation, debts and government deficits .

A big issue in today’s Europe is multilingualism

Multilingualism is a strategy of the European Commission to promote the dissemination of linguistic knowledge in order to promote the integration of European citizens. Furthermore, multilingualism is also a condition of society .
When we talk about multilingualism in Europe, we talk for example about the possibility of using a single language . It is an old dream of the community, but in reality it never existed . And it cannot exist because language is a natural phenomenon that is constantly changing .
One of the possibilities for a common language is the artificial language . And in reality, in the past, artificial languages were widespread, particularly at the beginning of the 1900 s, before the First World War and even later .

Esperanto also belongs to this period . Esperanto proclaims itself to be neutral, artificial and easy to learn . And surely it is true that it is an easy language : it contains only 16 rules and has a system of productivity of words, that is, from the existing words new ones can be produced . So yes, it is actually an easy language to learn . But it is certainly not a neutral language, as no language in the world is . Esperanto belongs to a very specific culture : it was invented by a Polish – Jew who lived in Lithuania and his grammar was published for the first time in Russia . It is therefore a mixture of Germanic, Latin and Slavic languages and therefore, I repeat, it cannot be considered a neutral language . Above all, not being able to count on a true culture, a tradition and texts has never been adopted by European peoples . It is indeed difficult to guide a society, a people in one direction, in a precise linguistic behavior without this becoming an imposition .

Our Europe needs to speak and to share languages and therefore to promote a great spread of linguistic knowledge . This is multilingualism for us .
There are clearly ” international languages “, of great diffusion, such as English . And it is right to use it, because it is useful and serves the goal of European integration . But English alone is not enough . It is necessary to develop different linguistic knowledge based on the specific needs of each people, of every citizen of the Union . Here, this is the multilingualism that we can achieve . This is an achievable and sensible goal that we should all aim for .

The objectives of the European Union are :

• promote peace, its values and the well – being of its citizens
• offer freedom, security and justice, without internal borders
• promote sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, on a highly competitive market economy, with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection
• fight against social exclusion and discrimination
• promote scientific and technological progress
• strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity between Member States
• respect the richness of its cultural and linguistic diversity
• establishing an economic and monetary union with the euro as the single currency .

EU values are shared by Member States in a society where inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non – discrimination prevail . These values are an integral part of our European way of life :

• Human dignity : human dignity is inviolable . It must be respected and protected and constitutes the very basis of fundamental rights .
• Freedom : freedom of movement gives citizens the right to move and reside freely in the European Union . Individual freedoms, such as respect for private life, freedom of thought, religion, assembly, expression and information, are protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU .
• Democracy : the functioning of the EU is based on representative democracy . Being a European citizen also means enjoying political rights . Every adult citizen of the EU has the right to stand as a candidate in the European Parliament elections . EU citizens have the right to apply and vote in their country of residence or home country .
• Equality : equality means recognizing all citizens the same rights before the law . The principle of equality between men and women is the basis of all European policies, and is the element on which European integration is based . It applies in all sectors . The principle of equal pay for the same work was inscribed in the 1957 treaty . Even if the inequalities persist, the EU has made considerable progress .
• Rule of law : the European Union is founded on the principle of the rule of law . In other words, all his powers rest on treaties freely and democratically signed by the member countries . Law and justice are protected by an independent judiciary . The member countries have given the Court of Justice of the European Union the competence to give a definitive ruling and all must respect the sentences issued .
• Human rights : the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union protects human rights, including the right not to be discriminated against based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, the right to protection of personal data and the right of access to justice .
These goals and values, which are the foundations of the EU, are enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union .

In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for having contributed to peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe .


Surely what we all know is the flag with a blue background and a flag with a circle made up of 12 stars but which do not represent the members of the Union who are instead 28 . The flag represents the union, the identity in a broader sense and wants however, it also represents the solidarity and harmony that exists between the various member states of the union . This flag was first adopted in 1955 by the Council of Europe which then encouraged the other EU institutions to take it as its flag .
In fact, in 1983 the European Parliament also took it as its symbol and then in 1985 it was chosen by all the leaders of the European Union . Despite this, each institution currently has its own emblem .

Another symbol of the European Union is the anthem . The hymn in question is Beethoven ‘s ninth symphony composed in 1823 that aims to represent the brotherhood that exists between the whole human race . The hymn to joy, this is the name of the symphony, was first taken as its symbol in 1972 always by the Council of Europe and then in 1985 by all the leaders of the European Union . This composition symbolizes freedom, peace and solidarity which are then celebrated as values shared by the Member States of the European Union .

A further emblem is the motto that mentions ” United in diversity ” which represents how all the states that are part of this institution have come together to work to guarantee peace and prosperity .

A final symbol I would like to talk about is instead the Europe holiday which also coincides with the European Union ‘s open day . In fact, 9 May represents a day of peace and unity . This day was followed by the Schuman declaration which was named after a speech by French Prime Minister Robert Schuman in 1950 in Paris where he argued that there was a need for a new way to cooperate on a political level in Europe . So this politician saw the need to create a European body that would unite all the states and in fact, following his speech, it was precisely the year in which the European Union started … it took its first steps .
To celebrate this event every year the European Union opens the doors of the Parliament and of some local offices that organize activities to make more and more known to the citizens of the European Union, of the member states of the European Union this institution and to celebrate together the creation of such a Union .