European Union
The European Union is an economic
Economic and monetary union
An economic and monetary union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of an economic union with a monetary union. It is to be distinguished from a mere monetary union , which does not involve a common market. This is the fifth stage of economic integration...

 and political union of 27 independent member states
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

 which are located primarily in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community
European Coal and Steel Community
The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...

 (ECSC) and the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 (EEC), formed by six countries
Inner Six
The Inner Six, or simply The Six, are the six founding member states of the European Communities. This was in contrast to the outer seven who formed the European Free Trade Association rather than be involved in supranational European integration .-History:The inner six are those who responded to...

 in 1958. In the intervening years the EU has grown in size by the accession of new member states
Enlargement of the European Union
The Enlargement of the European Union is the process of expanding the European Union through the accession of new member states. This process began with the Inner Six, who founded the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952...

, and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

 established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon of 1668 was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain, concluded at Lisbon on 13 February 1668, through the mediation of England, in which Spain recognized the sovereignty of Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza....

, came into force in 2009.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranational
Supranational union
Supranationalism is a method of decision-making in multi-national political communities, wherein power is transferred or delegated to an authority by governments of member states. The concept of supranational union is sometimes used to describe the European Union, as a new type of political entity...

 independent institutions and intergovernmentally
-A theory of regional integration:The theory is not applied on European integration which rejects the idea of neofunctionalism. The theory, initially proposed by Stanley Hoffmann suggests that national governments control the level and speed of European integration. Any increase in power at...

 made decisions negotiated by the member states.

1950    Robert Schuman presents his proposal on the creation of an organized Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. This proposal, known as the "Schuman declaration", is considered by some people to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.

1990    Re-unification of Germany. The German Democratic Republic ceases to exist and its territory becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany. East German citizens became part of the ''European Community'', which later became the European Union. Now celebrated as German Unity Day.

1992    The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.

1993    EU - riots in Nørrebro, Copenhagen caused by the approval of the four Danish exceptions in the Maastricht Treaty referendum. Police opened fire against civilians for the first time since World War II and injured 11 demonstrators. In total 113 bullets are fired.

1993    The Maastricht Treaty takes effect, formally establishing the European Union.

1994    In a referendum voters in Sweden decide to join the European Union.

1995    The Kingdom of Sweden and the republics of Austria and Finland are admitted into the European Union.

1995    Latvia applies for membership in the European Union.

1996    The Czech Republic applies for membership of the European Union.

1996    The last occurrence of February 24 as a leap day in the European Union and for the Roman Catholic Church.