The European Union

The European Union is an economic and political union with 28 member states. The EU has its origins in the period after the Second World War. The European Economic Community was founded in 1958 by six founding countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). What began as a purely economic community has now become an organisation that covers a wide range of policy areas from climate change, environmental protection and health to foreign relations and security, justice and migration. The EU's achievements include more than half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, its contributions to a rise in living standards and the introduction of a single European currency. One of the EU's main objectives is to promote human rights both within the EU and globally. Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force, human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights have been enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.