CIA World Fact Book, 2004/European Union

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map of European Union

Introduction European Union
Preliminary statement: The evolution of the European Union (EU) from a regional economic agreement among six neighboring states in 1951 to today's supranational organization of 25 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 truly 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 many of the attributes associated with independent nations: its own flag, anthem, founding date, and currency, as well as an incipient common foreign and security policy in its dealings with other nations. In the future, many of these nation-like characteristics are likely to be expanded. Thus, inclusion of basic intelligence on the EU has been deemed appropriate as a new, separate entry in The World Factbook. However, because of the EU's special status, this description is placed after the regular country entries.
Following the two devastating World Wars of the first half of the 20th century, a number of European leaders in the late 1940s became convinced that the only way to establish a lasting peace was to unite the two chief belligerent nations - France and Germany - both economically and politically. In 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert SCHUMAN proposed an eventual union of all of Europe, the first step of which would be the integration of the coal and steel industries of Western Europe. The following year the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was set up when six members, Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, signed the Treaty of Paris.

The ECSC was so successful that within a few years the decision was made to integrate other parts of the countries' economies. In 1957, the Treaties of Rome created the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), and the six member states undertook to eliminate trade barriers among themselves by forming a common market. In 1967, the institutions of all three communities were formally merged into the European Community (EC), creating a single Commission, a single Council of Ministers, and the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament were initially selected by national parliaments, but in 1979 the first direct elections were undertaken and they have been held every five years since.

In 1973, the first enlargement of the EC took place with the addition of Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The 1980s saw further membership expansion with Greece joining in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht laid the basis for further forms of cooperation in foreign and defense policy, in judicial and internal affairs, and in the creation of an economic and monetary union - including a common currency. This further integration created the European Union (EU). In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined to the EU, raising the membership total to 15.

A new currency, the euro, was launched in world money markets on 1 January 1999; it became the unit of exchange for all of the EU states except Great Britain, Sweden, and Denmark. In 2002, citizens of the 12 euro-area countries began using euro banknotes and coins. Ten new countries joined the EU in 2004 - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia - bringing the current membership to 25. In order to ensure that the EU can continue to function efficiently with an expanded membership, the 2003 Treaty of Nice set forth rules streamlining the size and procedures of EU institutions. An EU Constitutional Treaty, signed in Rome on 29 October 2004, gives member states two years to ratify the document before it is scheduled to take effect on 1 November 2006.

Despite the expansion of membership and functions, "Eurosceptics" in various countries have raised questions about the erosion of national cultures and the imposition of a flood of regulations from the EU capital in Brussels. Failure by member states to ratify the constitution or the inability of newcomer countries to meet euro currency standards might force a loosening of some EU agreements and perhaps lead to several levels of EU participation. These "tiers" might eventually range from an "inner" core of politically integrated countries to a looser "outer" economic association of members.

Geography European Union
Location: Europe between Eastern Europe and the North Atlantic Ocean
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 3,976,372 sq km
Area - comparative: less than one-half the size of the US
Land boundaries: total: 11,214.8 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Andorra 120.3 km, Belarus 1,050 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Croatia 999 km, Holy See 3.2 km, Liechtenstein 34.9 km, Macedonia 246 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Norway 2,348 km, Romania 443 km, Russia 2,257 km, San Marino 39 km, Serbia and Montenegro 151 km, Switzerland 1,811 km, Turkey 206 km, Ukraine 726 km
note: data for European Continent only
Coastline: 65,413.9 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: cold temperate; potentially subarctic in the north to temperate; mild wet winters; hot dry summers in the south
Terrain: fairly flat along the Baltic and Atlantic coast; mountainous in the central and southern areas
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Lammefjord, Denmark -7 m; Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands -7 m
highest point: Mount Blanc, France/Italy 4,807 m
Natural resources: iron ore, arable land, natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, hydropower, uranium, potash, fish
Land use: arable land: NA
permanent crops: NA
Irrigated land: 115,807 sq km
Natural hazards: flooding along coasts; avalanches in mountainous area; earthquakes in the south; volcanic eruptions in Italy; periodic droughts in Spain; ice floes in the Baltic
Environment - current issues: NA
Environment - international agreements: Hazardous Wastes, Biodiversity, Air Pollution, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Tropical Timber 82, Tropical Timber 94, Ozone Layer Protection, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Law of the Sea, Desertification, Climate Change; has signed, but not yet ratified: Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants

People European Union
Population: 456,285,839 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.3%
15-64 years: 67.2%
65 years and over: 16.6% (July 2004 est.)
Median age: NA
Population growth rate: 0.17% (July 2004 est.)
Birth rate: 10.2 births/1,000 population (July 2004 est.)
Death rate: 10 deaths/1,000 population (July 2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (July 2004 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: NA
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and older: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (July 2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births (July 2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.1 years
male: 74.9 years
female: 81.4 years (July 2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.48 children born/woman (July 2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish
Languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish; note - only official languages are listed

Government European Union
Union name: conventional long form: European Union
abbreviation: EU
Political structure: a hybrid intergovernmental and supranational organization
Capital: Brussels, Belgium
Member states: 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK; note - Canary Islands (Spain), Azores and Madeira (Portugal), and French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion (France) are sometimes listed separately even though they are legally a part of Spain, Portugal, and France; candidate countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Turkey
Independence: 7 February 1992 (Maastricht Treaty signed establishing the EU); 1 November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered into force)
National holiday: Europe Day 9 May (1950); note - a Union-wide holiday, the day that Robert Schuman proposed the creation of an organized Europe
Constitution: based on a series of treaties: the Treaty of Paris, which set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951; the Treaties of Rome, which set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1957; the Single European Act in 1986; the Treaty on European Union (Maastrict) in 1992; the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997; and the Treaty of Nice in 2001; note - a new draft Constitutional Treaty, signed on 29 October 2004 in Rome, gives member states two years for ratification either by parliamentary vote or national referendum before it is scheduled to take effect on 1 November 2006
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of union: President of the European Commission Jose DURAO BARROSO (since 22 November 2004)
election results: European Parliament approved the European Commission by an approval vote of 449-149 with 82 abstentions
elections: the president of the European Commission is designated by member governments; the president-designate then chooses the other Commission members; the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a five-year term; election last held 18 November 2004 (next to be held 2009)
cabinet: European Commission (composed of 25 members, one from each member country; each commissioner responsible for one or more policy areas)
note: the European Council brings together heads of state and government and the president of the European Commission and meets at least twice a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the major political issues relating to European integration and to issue general policy guidelines
Legislative branch: Council of the European Union (25 member-state ministers having 321 votes; the number of votes is roughly proportional to member-states' population); note - the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU; European Parliament (732 seats; seats allocated among member states by proportion to population); members elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats by party - EPP-ED 268, PES 202, ALDE 88, Greens/EFA 42, EUL/NGL 41, IND/DEM 36, UEN 27, independents 28
elections: last held 10-13 June 2004 (next to be held June 2009)
Judicial branch: European Court of Justice (ensures that the treaties are interpreted and applied correctly) - 25 Justices (one from each member state) appointed for a six-year term; note - for the sake of efficiency, the court can sit with 11 justices known as the "Grand Chamber"; Court of First Instance - 25 justices appointed for a six-year term
Political parties and leaders: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or ALDE [Graham R. WATSON]; Independence/Democracy Group or IND/DEM [Jens-Peter BONDE and Nigel FARAGE]; Group of Greens/European Free Alliance or Greens/EFA [Monica FRASSONI and Daniel Marc COHN-BENDIT]; Socialist Group in the European Parliament or PES [Martin SCHULZ]; Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left or EUL/NGL [Francis WURTZ]; European People's Party-European Democrats or EPP-ED [Hans-Gert POETTERING]; Union for Europe of the Nations Group or UEN [Brian CROWLEY and Cristiana MUSCARDINI]
International organization participation: European Union: ASEAN (dialogue member), ARF (dialogue member), EBRD, IDA, OAS (observer), OECD, WTO
European Commission: Australian Group, CBSS, CERN, FAO, G-10, NSG (observer), UN (observer)
European Central Bank: BIS
European Investment Bank: WADB (nonregional member)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador John BRUTON
chancery: 2300 M Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
FAX: [1] (202) 429-1766
telephone: [1] (202) 862-9500
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Rockwell SCHNABEL
embassy: 13 Zinnerstraat (Rue Zinner), B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: same as above
telephone: [32] (2) 508-2222
FAX: [32] (2) 512-5720
Flag description: on a blue field, 12 five-pointed gold stars arranged in a circle, representing the union of the peoples of Europe; the number of stars is fixed

Economy European Union
Economy - overview: Domestically, the European Union attempts to lower trade barriers, adopt a common currency, and move toward convergence of living standards. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe's trade position and its political and economic power. Because of the great differences in per capita income (from $10,000 to $28,000) and historic national animosities, the European Community faces difficulties in devising and enforcing common policies. For example, both Germany and France since 2003 have flouted the member states' treaty obligation to prevent their national budgets from running more than a 3% deficit. In 2004, the EU admitted 10 central and eastern European countries that are, in general, less advanced technologically and economically than the existing 15. The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), an associated organization, introduced the euro as the common currency on 1 January 1999. The UK, Sweden, and Denmark do not now participate; the 10 new countries may choose to join the EMU when they meet its fiscal and monetary criteria and the member states so agree.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $11.05 trillion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $25,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.3%
industry: 28.3%
services: 69.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): percent of GDP - NA (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 25.2% (1995 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 31.1 (2003 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2004 est.)
Labor force: 211.1 million
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 4.3%, industry 29%, services 66.8% (2000)
Unemployment rate: 9.1% (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes, dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, fish
Industries: among the world's largest and most technologically advanced industries, including iron and steel, aluminum, petroleum, coal, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, aircraft, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, machine tools, electronics, telecommunications equipment, fishing, food processing, furniture, paper, textiles and clothing, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 0.8% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production: 2.822 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 2.635 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 234.8 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 245.7 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 3.244 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - consumption: 14.48 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - exports: 6.429 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports: 16.97 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves: 7.467 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production: 243.8 billion cu m (2001)
Natural gas - consumption: 463.6 billion cu m (2001)
Natural gas - exports: 77.04 billion cu m (2001)
Natural gas - imports: 292.2 billion cu m (2001)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 3.262 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance: $NA
Exports: $850.3 billion (2002)
Exports - commodities: machinery, motor vehicles, aircraft, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, fuels, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, wood pulp and paper products, textiles, meat, dairy products, fish, alcoholic beverages.
Exports - partners: NA
Imports: $887.1 billion (2002)
Imports - commodities: machinery, vehicles, aircraft, plastics, crude oil, chemicals, textiles, metals, foodstuffs, clothing
Imports - partners: NA
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $NA
Debt - external: $NA
Economic aid - donor: $NA
Currency: euro; pound (Cyprus), koruna (Czech Republic), krone (Denmark), kroon (Estonia), forint (Hungary), lat (Latvia), litas (Lithuania), lira (Malta), zloty (Poland), koruna (Slovakia), tolar (Slovenia), krona (Sweden), pound (UK)
Currency code: EUR
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001)
Fiscal year: NA

Communications European Union
Telephones - main lines in use: 238,763,162 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 314,644,700 (2002)
Telephone system: note - see individual country entries of member states
Radio broadcast stations: AM 866, FM 13,396, shortwave 73 (1998); note - sum of individual country radio broadcast stations; there is also a European-wide station (Euroradio)
Television broadcast stations: 2,791 (1995); note - does not include repeaters; sum of individual country television broadcast stations; there is also a European-wide station (Eurovision)
Internet country code: .eu (effective 2005); note - see country entries of member states for individual country codes
Internet hosts: 22,000,414 (2004); note - sum of individual country Internet hosts
Internet users: 206,032,067 (September 2004)

Transportation European Union
Railways: total: 222,293 km
broad gauge: 28,438 km
narrow gauge: 7,427 km
standard gauge: 186,405 km
other: 23 km (2003)
Highways: total: 4,634,810 km (including 56,704 km of expressways)
paved: 4,161,318 km
unpaved: 473,492 km (1999-2000)
Waterways: 53,512 km
Ports and harbors: Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Bremen (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), London (UK), Marseille (France), Naples (Italy), Peiraiefs or Piraeus (Greece), Riga (Latvia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Stockholm (Sweden), Talinn (Estonia)
Airports: total: 3,130
with paved runways: 1,834
with unpaved runways: 1,296 (2003)
Heliports: 94 (2003)

This page was last updated on 1 January 2003

This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005