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About the EU

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A brief history of the European Union…

The European Union was set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War.

As of 1950, the European Coal and Steel Community begins to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. The six founders are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The 1950s are dominated by a cold war between east and west. Protests in Hungary against the Communist regime are put down by Soviet tanks in 1956; while the following year, 1957, the Soviet Union takes the lead in the space race, when it launches the first man-made space satellite, Sputnik 1.

Also in 1957, the Treaty of Rome creates the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘Common Market’.


Cohesion Policy 2014-2020

The European Commission has produced two films about 2014-2020 EU Cohesion Policy:

• a three minute film explains the draft legislative package that will frame cohesion policy for 2014-2020. It shows how the new proposals are designed to reinforce the strategic dimension of the policy and to ensure that EU investment is targeted on Europe's long-term goals for growth and jobs ("Europe 2020").
o EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020: legislative proposals – film (European Commission website) (

• a six minute film provides an overall view of the European Union’s cohesion policy, real results it has helped achieve in the field and its future prospects.
o Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion – film (European Commission website) (


Information on the European Union

General information on how the EU works, what it does and how the budget is spent. Find facts, figures, graphs, slides on all aspects of the EU. Learn more about the treaties that lay down the ground rules for how the EU operates.

Panorama of the EU
Basic question-and-answer guide to the EU

Europe in 12 lessons
More detailed exploration of Europe -past, present and future

Facts and figures
Charts, graphs and illustrations about the EU, its countries and its people

EU budget
How is your money spent?

EU in slides
Free slides for your presentations

Treaties and law
Overview of the treaties that lay down the ground rules for how the EU operates

Reference documents: EU factsheets
Overview of European integration and of the European Parliament’s part in that process


See also…