Sri Lanka, Pallewela 22 June 2015 – A beehive of delightful little girls and boys dance to traditional drums welcoming the dawn of a fresh new beginning for the small village preschool of Pallewela. Their voices reach a joyful crescendo as they sing their favourite nursery rhymes in unison to the group of parents and […]
The European Union
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.
As of 1950, the European Coal and Steel Community began to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. The six founders were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Since then, the European Community has come a long way and the European Union now consists of 28 countries with 500 million citizens free to move and settle where they wish. It created the single currency — the euro — now a major world currency.
Today, the 28 member states of the EU are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the 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 the United Kingdom, promoting “unity in diversity”.
The EU is a major player in global affairs engaging in political, economic and cultural relations with all the countries. The European Union’s economic and trade policy makes the EU one of the strongest, most competitive single economies in the world. As one of the world’s leading trade powers (accounting for more than a fifth of global imports and exports), the EU plays an active role in the global economic system especially in international trade and trade negotiations.
EU member states work together through common institutions to set policy and to promote their collective interests. Key EU institutions include the European Council, composed of EU Heads of State or Government, which acts as the strategic guide and driving force for EU policy; the European Commission, which upholds the common interest of the Union as a whole and functions as the EU’s executive; the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers), which represents the national governments; and the directly elected European Parliament, which represents the citizens of the EU.
The EU has been active in development cooperation from its inception in the late 1950s. As enshrined in its treaty, poverty eradication is the EU’s primary objective in development cooperation policy. The EU with its Member States is the world’s leading donor of emergency and humanitarian assistance, and delivers aid to those in need irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender, politics or ethnic origin.
One of EU’s founding principles is the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy both internally and around the world. Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are the core values of the EU. This particularly includes the rights of women, children, persons belonging to minorities, as well as displaced persons.