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Difference between revisions of "European Union"

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==Understand==
 
==Understand==
The European Union was motivated by the catastrophe of World War II. The idea of "European integration" was developed to prevent such a disastrous war from happening again. The idea was first proposed by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman in a speech in 1950, which resulted in the first agreements in 1951 that formed the basis for the European Union.
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The European Union was motivated by the catastrophe of World War II. The idea of "European integration" was developed to prevent such a disastrous war from happening again, the idea being first proposed by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, in a speech in 1950, which resulted in the first agreements in 1951 that formed the basis for the European Union.
  
 
There are at least four groups of countries in Europe that overlap but are not identical:
 
There are at least four groups of countries in Europe that overlap but are not identical:

Revision as of 04:52, 16 March 2013

Contents

The European Union (abbreviated "EU") is an economic and political union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.

Countries

EU member countries
European Central Bank, Frankfurt

The member states of the European Union are:

Croatia is set to join on on 1 July 2013 and Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia together with Turkey are candidates that are currently negotiating their future membership, but no entry date has been set as yet.

1 These European Union member countries have replaced their national currencies with the common European currency, the € (euro). They are often commonly referred to as the "Eurozone". The euro is also the currency of Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Andorra, Kosovo, and Montenegro even though they are neither members of the euro treaty, nor the European Union. The first three countries are allowed to mint their own euro coins.

2 Officially the whole of Cyprus lies within the European Union. However, the de facto EU border runs along the Green Line, dividing the country in a Greek and Turkish part. EU law is currently not applied in the Turkish northern third of Cyprus.

Understand

The European Union was motivated by the catastrophe of World War II. The idea of "European integration" was developed to prevent such a disastrous war from happening again, the idea being first proposed by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, in a speech in 1950, which resulted in the first agreements in 1951 that formed the basis for the European Union.

There are at least four groups of countries in Europe that overlap but are not identical:

  • The European Union (EU), a partial political and customs union (which Croatia will join on 1 July 2013)
  • The Eurozone, countries using the common European currency, the Euro
  • The Schengen Agreement, countries using common visas and immigration controls
  • The Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), which entered into force on 1 January 1994, brings together the 27 EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — in a single market, referred to as the "Internal Market". The EEA Agreement also states that when a country becomes a member of the EU, it shall also apply to become party to the EEA Agreement, thus leading to an enlargement of the EEA. The EEA used to include Switzerland and most countries' visa regimes treat Swiss passport holders as if Switzerland was still an EEA member.

Here is a table showing membership of these 4 groups:

Country EEA? Symbol3 Currency EU
member
Schengen Time
zone
Austria Y A, .at EUR 1995 y CET
Belgium Y B, .be EUR 1958 y CET
Bulgaria Y BG, .bg BGN 2007 n EET
Croatia N HR, .hr HRK 2013 n CET
Cyprus Y CY, .cy EUR 2004 n CET
Czech Republic Y CZ, .cz CZK 2004 y CET
Denmark Y DK, .dk DKK 1973 y CET
Estonia Y EST, .ee EUR 2004 y EET
Finland Y FIN, .fi EUR 1995 y EET
France Y F, .fr EUR 1958 y CET
Germany Y D, .de EUR 1958 y CET
Greece Y GR, .gr EUR 1981 y EET
Hungary Y H, .hu HUF 2004 y CET
Iceland Y IS, .is ISK - y UTC
Ireland Y IRL, .ie EUR 1973 n WET
Italy Y I, .it EUR 1958 y CET
Latvia Y LV, .lv LVL 2004 y EET
Liechtenstein Y LI, .li CHF - y CET
Lithuania Y LT, .lt LTL 2004 y EET
Luxembourg Y L, .lu EUR 1958 y CET
Malta Y M, .mt EUR 2004 y CET
Netherlands Y NL, .nl EUR 1958 y CET
Norway Y N, .no NOK - y CET
Poland Y PL, .pl PLN 2004 y CET
Portugal Y P, .pt EUR 1986 y WET
Romania Y RO, .ro RON 2007 n EET
Slovakia Y SK, .sk EUR 2004 y CET
Slovenia Y SLO, .si EUR 2004 y CET
Spain Y E, .es EUR 1986 y CET
Sweden Y S, .se SEK 1995 y CET
Switzerland N CH, .ch CHF - y CET
United Kingdom Y GB, .uk GBP 1973 n WET

3 The first symbol is the letter code to be shown on the rear of vehicles and the second is the internet top level domain symbol.

Get in

There are many ways to enter the EEA; your best course of action is to read up on the individual nation you wish to enter.

Passport and visa requirements

You will have to get a visa from your "primary destination" country. In the case of Schengen Treaty countries, that visa is then valid for all other signatory countries. See the "Get around" section.

Citizens of some non-EU member countries, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States of America don't need visas if they are travelling for tourist purposes and their stays lasts no longer than 90 days within a 180 day period inside the Schengen area. Citizens of the EU candidate countries (except Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), also don't need visas, as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Citizens of these four countries should use the immigration queue often signed "EEA" - even though Switzerland formally left the EEA some years ago.

The 90 days visa-free stay for citizens of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States of America applies for the whole Schengen area; in other words, it is not 90 days per country. Citizens of the above countries who wish to travel within the Schengen Treaty region for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit. This is best done in Germany, as all other Schengen countries require applicants to apply from their home countries. Alternatively, you can sneakily arrange your travel to spend 90 days in the UK or Ireland (or other non-Schengen countries) to satisfy the "90 days in 180 days" provision.

By plane

The largest airports in the European Union are in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, and Paris. Countless smaller international and regional airports exist.

Customs

You are legally allowed to bring through the EU border limited amounts of tobacco (exact numbers depend on your arrival country) and 1 litre of spirits (above 22% alcohol) or 2 L of alcohol (e.g. sparkling wine below 22% alcohol) and 4 L of non-sparkling wine and 16 L of beer. If you are below 17 years old it's half of these amounts or nothing at all.

Get around

Passport and visa requirements

There are no border controls between countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen Agreement signatory country is valid in all other countries that signed the treaty. Travel to and from a Schengen Agreement country to any other non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks.

These countries have implemented the Schengen agreement so far: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty and not all Schengen treaty countries are members of the European Union. Several countries are members of the Schengen Agreement, but nevertheless have not implemented it. Switzerland became a full Schengen member in 2008, as did all the other EEA members at that time. Three European micro-states – Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City – do not have any immigration controls with the Schengen countries. Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania will follow at a later date, perhaps as late as 2016.

Citizens of EU and EEA member countries don't need visas to visit other member countries.

By plane

The European Union has an extensive selection of low-cost carriers, which can fly freely within the Union.

All flights within and from the European Union limit liquids, gels and creams in hand baggage to 100 mL/container, carried in a transparent, zip-lock plastic bag (1 L or less). The bag must be presented during security checks and only one bag per passenger is permitted.

At some airports, airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

By car

There is a set of traffic signs valid in many EU countries. The most important are described here:

  • Speed limit - A round white or yellow board surrounded by a red ring with a black number in the middle. This is the maximum allowed speed in km/h. 1
  • End of Speed limit - A round white board with a gray number on it (speed in km/h 1), slashed with 4 thin black lines.
  • Stop - A red octagon with 'STOP' in white letters.
  • Yield - A white or yellow triangle surrounded by a red edge standing on one corner.
  • Priority street - A yellow square with a white edge standing on a corner.
  • End of priority - The same, but slashed with 4 thin black lines.
  • No overtaking - A round white or yellow board with a red edge and a red car on the left and a black car on the right inside. Often the sign is only valid for trucks and shows a red truck in this case. 2

1 All speed limits and distances are measured and marked in miles or mph in the United Kingdom.

2 In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the red vehicle is on the right.

By bicycle

Both the EU and the EEA offer limited support for Eurovelo; that is implementing cross-Europe cycling routes, linking local infrastructure into long distance touring routes.

Buy

The euro

The euro (Symbol: €; ISO 4217 code EUR) is the common currency of many countries of the European Union. One euro equals 100 cents, unofficially referred to as 'euro cent' to differentiate them from their US and other counterparts.

The euro has not been adopted by all EU countries. The 17 countries of the EU, that have replaced their own national currencies are commonly called the Eurozone. Some other EU countries are due to replace their currencies with the euro over the next few years. 3 countries (Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) currently have no intention of adopting the euro in the foreseeable future, however some shops accept both local currency and euros.

Established in 1999 and introduced as bank notes and coins on 1 Jan 2002, the euro removes the need for money exchange. It is not only a boon to pan-european business, but to travellers also.

It's not a good idea to accept any of the obsolete currencies. While several countries' banks will still change them into euros, it's a lot of hassle and there is no guarantee that this will be possible everywhere or on short notice. You should also expect to have to give your personal details to the bank as a precaution against money laundering. You're very unlikely to come across any of the old currencies - and if you do, they might make great souvenirs.

ATMs

Throughout Europe, automatic teller machines are readily available. They will accept various European bank cards as well as credit cards. However, be prepared to pay a fee for the service (usually a percentage of the amount withdrawn, with a minimum of a few euro). Read the notices on the machine before using.



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