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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 33 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 EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. Within the Schengen Area (which includes 26 EU and 4 non-EU states) passport controls have been abolished. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. A monetary union, the eurozone, was established in 1999 and is composed of 20 member states. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. Permanent diplomatic missions have been established around the world. The EU is represented at the United Nations, the WTO, the G8 and the G-20.
With a combined population of over 500 million inhabitants, or 7.3% of the world population, the EU, in 2011, generated the largest nominal world gross domestic product (GDP) of 17.9 trillion, representing approximately 21% of the global GDP when measured in terms of purchasing power parity. The EU was the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
List of Members
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- United Kingdom