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Greece joined the community in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986. European Union It's a political and economic union of 28 member states - European countries. The European Union operates through its institutions. What is it? Can you name, locate and describe the most important EU institutions? Lets look at some of the official symbols of the EU. Lets take a look at the history of the EU... The first one is the , which consists of 12 golden stars formed into a circle on a blue background. The number of stars is fixed - it isn't based on the number of member states in the EU. Originally, it was the flag of the Council of Europe and EU just took it over. Flag of Europe The official anthem of the European Union is , which is part of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th symphony, composed at the beginning of 19th century. Ode to Joy It's played on official occasions by the European Union. How big and populous it is? The EU has a total area of more than 4 million square kilometres and if it was a single country, it would be the 7th largest country in the world. HOW WAS THE EU FORMED? The population of all member states together is more than 500 million residents. It has almost twice as many residents as the United States of America. European Parliament What are the capital and largest cities in the EU? The capital city of the European Union is Brussels in Belgium, one of the founding states. The largest cities are London (Great Britain) and Paris (France). Brussels European Commission European Council Council of the European Union Court of Justice of the EU European Central Bank Yes, there are 7 most powerful institutions in the EU. Three of them have a executive and legislative role. Those with executive power are responsible for the daily administration of the state - they executes, or enforces the law. Law is made or changed by the institutions with legislative power. European Court of Auditors WHAT WERE THE MAJOR EVENTS OF ITS EVOLUTION? The European Parliament holds the legislative power and represents citizens. It has 751 members. They are elected every 5 years in elections in each member state. Strasbourg The parliament's President and Speaker is Antonio Tajani, elected in 2012. Luxembourg The official seat of the European Parliament is Strasbourg in France, but some meetings are held in Luxembourg and Brussels. The commission submits proposals for new laws to Parliament and the Council of the EU. Brussels Brussels It acts together with the European Parliament as a legislative branch of the EU, but it's a lot more powerful than the Parliament itself. Each member state of the EU sends one minister to meetings depending on the topic that is going to be discussed. The Presidency is held by a single member state's government. The member state which holds the Presidency changes every 6 months. The current Presidency is held by Bulgaria. The European Commission plays the role of the government, so it holds the executive power of the European Union. It has 28 members, each one from a member state. The Commission President is currently Jean-Claude Juncker. As an executive branch of the EU, the commission manages every-day administration in the European Union. Luxembourg The European Commission is based in Brussels, the EU's capital city. The court of Justice of the EU is the highest court in Europe. It was established in 1952. Its mission is to guarantee the uniformity of the application and interpretation of the law in the European Union. It can rule on legal conflicts between EU member states and institutions. Brussels It comprises of the heads of the EU member states (Prime Ministers or Presidents). The current President of the European Council is Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister of Poland. It also defines the EU policy, especially the foreign policy, so it's a motor of the EU's development. In fact, it has no formal powers, but it gathers the influence of the heads of all the EU member states. It appoints the President of the European Central Bank and proposes the President of the European Commission to the Parliament. Frankfurt The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the official European currency - The Euro. Its main goal is to control monetary policy of the Eurozone - a group of states that use the Euro as their official currencies. It's headquarters is in Frankfurt (Germany) and it was established in 1998. The President of the European Central Bank is currently Mario Draghi. The European Court of Auditors checks the correct implementation of the budget of the EU, the legal spending of EU funds. It was established in Luxembourg and was given the mission: audit the accounts of EU institutions. Luxembourg In 1957, six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which extended their earlier cooperation. In 1973, three new members - Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland - entered to the existing community. Map of European Union and Eurozone. The European Union was formally established in 1993 by signing the Maastricht Treaty. In 1995, Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the EU. In 2004, EU saw its biggest enlargement - Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and 6 other states became a new members. Are there any mistakes or failures? What are the main goals of EU policy? In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU. The founding members of the EU were: - France - Belgium - Italy - Luxembourg - the Netherlands - Germany - Denmark - Great Britain - Greece - Portugal - Spain - Ireland - Austria - Finland - Sweden - Czech republic - Slovakia - Hungary - Poland - Slovenia - Cyprus - Malta - Lithuania - Latvia - Estonia - Romania - Bulgaria - Croatia 12 Other members, which have joined the EU: In 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the EU. 16 Without a doubt, the EU succeeded in one of its major missions - keeping and advancing peace in Europe after the Second World War. That was the main reason why the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union in 2012. There is a differenc