The European Union, which is also known as the EU, is an economic and political partnership between countries in Europe.
There are currently 28 member states which are:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
(image courtesy of http://europa.eu © European Union, 1995-2016)
The EU was started 5 years after the end of World War 2 by France and Germany in an attempt to ensure that their countries would never go to war against each other again. The European Economic Community (EEC), or Common Market, was formed in 1957 (Treaty of Rome) by the 6 founding members Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to provide economic co-operation between countries (which has become a single market that allow goods and people to move freely between member states).
The UK joined (the EEC) in 1973 together with Ireland and Denmark.
Greece joined in 1981, Portugal and Spain in 1986.
Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1995.
10 more countries joined in 2004 followed by Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 with Croatia in 2013.
The EU has its own currency, the Euro, which was introduced in 1999 and is used by 19 of the member states making up the Euro area. Denmark and the UK have opt-out clauses which means they are exempt from having to use the Euro.
The EU is run by a number of institutions including the European Commission, The European Parliament, the European Council and the Court of Justice.
The official website of the European Union can be found at
European Union official website