An EU primer: the European Union, its predecessors, and other Euro communities

Should they stay or should they go? This week, the British electorate will vote in a referendum deciding whether or not the United Kingdom will withdraw from the European Union. It wasn’t always called the European Union, though; some of us remember the EEC and other acronyms describing various European communities. Glosso refreshes our memories.

EEC: The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organisation that aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Upon the formation of the European Union (EU, see below) in 1993, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC, see below). In 2009 the EC’s institutions were absorbed into the EU’s wider framework and the community ceased to exist.

ECThe European Communities (EC), sometimes referred to as the European Community, were three international organisations that were governed by the same set of institutions. These were the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom), and the European Economic Community (EEC, see above) — the latter of which was renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty, which formed the European Union.

EU: The European Union (EU) is an economic-political union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It covers an area of 4,324,782 km2, with an estimated population of over 508 million. It operates through a hybrid system of supranational and intergovernmental decision-making.

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. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993 and introduced European citizenship. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

Eurozone: officially called the euro area, the eurozone is a monetary union of 19 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states, which have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The other nine members of the European Union continue to use their own national currencies, although most of them are obliged to adopt the euro in future.

Euro: the official currency of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The currency is also officially used by the institutions of the European Union and four other European countries, as well as unilaterally by two others, and is consequently used daily by some 337 million Europeans as of 2015. Outside Europe, a number of overseas territories of EU members also use the euro as their currency.

Brexit:  The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, for or against which the Brits are voting on Thursday, has been nicknamed “Brexit” — a portmanteau combining the words “Britain” and “exit”. It’s a political aim of certain advocacy groups, individuals and political parties in the UK. The two campaigns — for staying in or leaving the EU — have been nicknamed “Remain” and “Leave” accordingly.

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  1. Pingback: What Do I Know About The EU? « Motor City Mongrel

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