Europe had one of its biggest elections when people in 27 countries voted over four days to elect a new European Parliament. 736 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were elected for a five year term.
The European Union (EU) is a group of 27 European countries that cooperate and work together to improve things such as trade, employment, and environment. The idea of a more unified Europe started in the early 1950s to bring peace and economic stability to European countries. Six European countries got together and unified their coal and steel industries. This was very successful, and so the unification spread to other areas. More countries joined, and in 1992, a treaty creating the EU was signed in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Rules were created for a single currency, foreign policies, trade policies, and lots more.
The EU governing body is split up into different organizations. There is the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission. The European Commission consists of one person from each of the 27 countries, and the group suggests new laws that are meant to benefit Europe as a whole. The Council and the Parliament pass new laws. The Council consists of ministers from each country, and it represents the interests of the member countries. The Parliament consists of 736 members who are elected by the citizens of the EU – larger countries get to choose more members than smaller countries. The Parliament represents the interests of the citizens of the EU.
The EU flag is blue with twelve gold stars in a circle. The number “12″ was chosen because the number keeps popping up in the European world – there are 12 inches in a foot, 12 symbols of the zodiac, 12 Olympian gods, 12 hours on a clock, 12 months in a year, 12 days of Christmas, and so on. There is also an EU anthem, motto, and currency (euro), though not all EU countries use euro. There are twenty-three official languages of the European Union!
The member countries of the EU are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom