The EU is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent.

The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, that increased economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential.

From economic to political union

What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning policy areas, from development aid to environment. A name change from the EEC to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this.
The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries. These binding agreements set out the EU's goals in its many areas of activity.

Mobility, growth, stability and a single currency

The EU has delivered half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards, and launched a single European currency, the euro.
Thanks to the abolition of border controls between EU countries, people can travel freely throughout most of the continent. And it's become much easier to live and work abroad in Europe.
The single or 'internal' market is the EU's main economic engine, enabling most goods, services, money and people to move freely. Another key objective is to develop this huge resource to ensure that Europeans can draw the maximum benefit from it.

Human rights and equality

One of the EU’s main goals is to promote human rights both internally and around the world. Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights: these are the core values of the EU. Since the 2009 signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights brings all these rights together in a single document. The EU's institutions are legally bound to uphold them, as are EU governments whenever they apply EU law.

Transparent and democratic institutions

As it continues to grow, the EU remains focused on making its governing institutions more transparent and democratic. More powers are being given to the directly elected European Parliament, while national parliaments are being given a greater role working alongside the European institutions. In turn, European citizens have an ever-increasing number of channels for taking part in the political process.

Newsletter

News & Events

  • Storm Ophelia: MEP Kelly discusses Solidarity Funding with EU Commission +

    MEP for Ireland South and leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, this morning met with officials Read More
  • MEPs back mandatory infrastructure for electric vehicles– Sean Kelly MEP +

    The European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) has voted for mandatory electro mobility requirements in buildings as Read More
  • Ireland's house prices second fastest-growing in EU - MEP Kelly calls for regional investment +

    Ireland's house prices are the second fastest-growing in the EU, according to Seán Kelly MEP. New data released by Eurostat Read More
  • Fine Gael MEPs congratulate Foróige on European Citizen's Prize +

    Fine Gael MEPs Seán Kelly, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Deirdre Clune have congratulated Ireland's leading youth organisation, Foróige – Read More
  • Seán Kelly MEP chairs EU Funding event in Cork +

    The European Parliament Information Office together with Seán Kelly MEP hosted a special briefing on "EU Funding Opportunities" today in Cork, at Read More
  • End of excess Intra-EU phone charges +

    Excessive charges on so-called "Intra-EU" phone calls, or the tariffs applied to fixed and mobile calls from one EU Member Read More
  • Liam Cosgrave: "A brave & intelligent leader" - Seán Kelly MEP +

    Seán Kelly MEP and Leader of the Fine Gael Delegation in the European Parliament has paid tribute to former Taoiseach Read More
  • Brexit: FG MEPs call for “less grandstanding, more engagement” +

    The four Fine Gael MEPs are calling for less grandstanding and more engagement by the UK in the ongoing Brexit Read More
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Jargon Buster

  • Special EU Programmes Body +

    Special EU Programmes Body ... In 1994, following the announcement of the IRA Ceasefire, the then President of the Commission Jacques Delors, Read More
  • European Financial Stability Fund +

    European Financial Stability Fund ... On the night of the 9th of May 2010, the European Council - the summit of EU leaders, Read More
  • Erasmus Programme +

    Erasmus Programme ... Travel broadens the mind and education fills it, so what better way to expand your horizons than to travel Read More
  • Leonardo da Vinci +

    Leonardo da Vinci is arguably history's most famous artist and inventor, known equally for the Mona Lisa as for providing blueprints Read More
  • Rapporteur +

    Rapporteur is a word often heard around the European Parliament. Derived from the French, it simply means "author of a report". Read More
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