It first came into existence as the "Common Market", led by the so-called Inner Six of France, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxemburg and the Netherlands who signed the Treaty of Paris in the wake of World War Two, while the so-called Outer Seven of Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom wanted nothing more than a Free Trade Association. Gradually it evolved as more countries joined, until it was formally founded as the European Union on November 1, 1993, in Maastricht in the Netherlands. Monetary union followed in 1999.
I have enjoyed so much what is written on the CIA site that I cannot resist including it. It almost sounds worried:
"The evolution of what is today the European Union (EU) from a regional economic agreement among six neighboring states in 1951 to today's hybrid intergovernmental and supranational organization of 28 countries across the European continent stands as an unprecedented phenomenon in the annals of history. Dynastic unions for territorial consolidation were long the norm in Europe; on a few occasions even country-level unions were arranged - the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were examples. But for such a large number of nation-states to cede some of their sovereignty to an overarching entity is unique.
"Although the EU is not a federation in the strict sense, it is far more than a free-trade association such as ASEAN, NAFTA, or Mercosur, and it has certain attributes associated with independent nations: its own flag, currency (for some members), and law-making abilities, as well as diplomatic representation and a common foreign and security policy in its dealings with external partners.
"Thus, inclusion of basic intelligence on the EU has been deemed appropriate as a new, separate entity in The World Factbook. However, because of the EU's special status, this description is placed after the regular country entries."
The trouble is, you can't give Marks to the EU. Marks have been abolished. In which case:
Euros for: 24 (this being the number of European countries that use it)
Euros against: 9 (this being the number of EU countries that do not use it; and yes, I know that 24 + 9 = more countries than are members of the EU; there are non-EU countries which have also elected to use it, or not to)
But you can't really give Euros either. They are basically a worthless commodity, as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece have now discovered. Any country in Europe that treasures its own economy has wisely stayed out of it, and look how well they are doing compared to the rest! One has to presume that, at some point in their future, when they start singing the words of their national anthem once again, as inevitably they will, the Euro will be abolished and a new currency will take over, the one that happens to be the strongest at the time, and we all know which one that will be; and then we will be able to give
Deutschmarks for: 76.3 (the Haydn "Emperor Quartet" which is the musical source of the German national anthem is correctly Opus 76, number 3)
Deutschmarks against: 7545 (the date of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the theoretical end for all time of Deutschland Deutschland über alles)
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