Portal:European Union
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Portal:European Union
Flag of Europe.svg Welcome to the European Union Portal!

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are primarily located 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 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. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

     

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Pleniere.JPG

The European Parliament (Europarl or EP) is the directly elected parliamentary body of the European Union. Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council), it forms the bicameral legislative branch of the Union's institutions and has been described by some one of the most powerful legislatures in the world. The Parliament, together with the Council, form the highest legislative body within the Union. This is only within the competencies of the European Community being limited to specific policy areas, however Union law does override national law. The Parliament is composed of 785 MEPs (Member of the European Parliament) who serve the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (492 million).

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Coat of Arms of Brussels.svg

Brussels is the capital of Belgium, of the French Community of Belgium, of the Flemish Community, and is the headquarters of the European Union's institutions. Brussels is in the centre of Belgium, and also the largest municipality of the Brussels-Capital Region. This municipality inside Brussels is correctly named The City of Brussels, which is one of 19 municipalities that make up the Brussels-Capital Region, with a total population of 1,018,804 inhabitants (1 January 2006). The municipality has a population of about 140,000. The Metropolitan area has about 2,090,000 inhabitants. Brussels is also the political seat of NATO, the Western European Union (WEU) and EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation.

In 977 AD, the Holy Roman emperor Otto II gave the duchy of Lower Lotharingia on the empire's western frontier to Charles, the banished son of King Louis IV of France. Mention was already made of Brussels at the time: Bishop Saint-Gery of Cambrai-Arras settled a chapel on a small island (695). However, the founding of Brussels is usually said to be when a small castle was built by Charles around 979 on Saint-Géry island in the Zenne or Senne river.

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Montserrat Mountains, Catalonia, Spain - Jan 2007.jpg
Photo credit: User:Diliff
A panoramic view from St Jerome at 1236 metres above sea level on the mountains of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain.
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