"A European supranational organization dedicated to
increasing economic integration and
strengthening cooperation among its member states."
The European Union was established on November 1, 1993,
when the Treaty on European Union, or Treaty of Maastricht, was ratified by
the 12 members of the European Community (EC)—
Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Upon ratification of the treaty, the countries of the EC became members of the EU.
Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU in 1995.
In May 2004 a further ten countries also took up membership,
bringing the number of member countries in the EU up to 25. (See below)
Countries in the European Union up to 1995
are shown in yellow on the map above.
of the European Union
Ten countries (shown in red above)
Candidates for EU membership are shown in the map above.
series of short videos (with Real Player) illustrating
learn more about the EU, go to their Home Page...
"The European Commission embodies and upholds
the general interest of the Union and
is the driving force in the Union's institutional system."
Its four main roles are:
to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council,
to administer and implement Community policies,
to enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice)
and to negotiate international agreements,
mainly those relating to trade and cooperation.
Shown above left is the temporary EC Headquarters, in Brussels, during the 1990s and early 2000s.
In November 2004 the Commission finally returned to its original building, Berlaymont.
For over a decade it has been under renovation, as they removed asbestos and
and up-graded the environmental and architectural features, creating a high-tech facility.
A special firm, Berlaymont 2000, was set up and architects Steven Beckers and Pierre Lallemand
were given a budget of 8bn Belgian francs (200m euros; £124m) to redesign the shell of the building.
What they came up with, in 1996, was a plan so visionary
it won a coveted award for environmentally-friendly architecture.
However, subsequent budget and even environmental contraversies
took some of the glow off of the project.
For a brief summary of the contraversial issues...
José Manuel Barroso
Current President of the EC
Images, Profiles, Portfolios and Homepages of EC President Barroso
and the Commissioners...
Image Library of the EC...
Despite its idealistic mission, there is a constant array of contraversies in Europe
surrounding the bureaucracy of the Commission,
with it Commissioners referred to by some as the
For more information about the EC and
news of its latest goings-on,
go to its Home Page...