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The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal on 29 March 2019.

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In the news

14 February 2019 – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, February 2019 Warsaw Conference
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accuses European Union members of trying to break U.S. sanctions against Iran, and calls on the EU to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. (Reuters)
14 February 2019 – Brexit
The House of Commons votes to reject British Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiating strategy with the EU, though this motion has no legal force. (BBC News)
4 February 2019 – 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis
Several European Union states, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal and Spain, officially recognize Juan Guaidó as interim President of Venezuela after Nicolás Maduro rejects the European ultimatum to call a new snap election. Other European Union countries, such as Greece and Ireland, stop short of recognizing Guaidó, while Italy's leading coalition party, the 5 Star Movement, declares that it is not "for the EU to tell another nation what to do". (BBC)
21 January 2019 – Brexit
The Labour Party proposes an amendment to the Brexit deal which would require a second referendum before the United Kingdom fully exits the European Union. (The Guardian)


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