Why do we have different countries
THE EUROPEAN UNION - WHAT IS IT REALLY?
SINCE ITS FOUNDED IN 1957, THE EU HAS GROWN FROM SIX COUNTRIES TO 27 COUNTRIES. THEY HAVE UNITED TO TAKE YOUR FATE INTO HANDS TOGETHER. WHICH COUNTRIES ARE IN THE EU AND WHEN DID YOU JOIN IT? IN THIS CHAPTER YOU WILL FIND OUT HOW THE EU HAS DEVELOPED TO WHAT IT IS TODAY AND WHAT MAKES IT SO UNIQUE.
Member States of the EU
The European Union is not a state, but a unique partnership between European countries known as Member States. It extends over almost the entire European continent. The European Union is home to over 446 million people, which is around 6% of the world's population. The citizens of the EU member states are also citizens of the European Union.
The EU currently consists of 27 countries. In June 2016, one of these countries, the United Kingdom, voted to leave the European Union. It left the EU in 2020.
WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE EU?
Take a look at the flags and country names listed below. These are all European countries, but not all of them belong to the European Union. Determine the countries that belong to the EU. Then locate these countries on the map. If you need help, take a look at this website. europa.eu/!yY73MU
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THESE COUNTRIES - OR WHAT CAN YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THEM?
Imagine you work for a travel agency in Europe. Select the two EU countries that they know best and prepare a brief summary for visitors from abroad. For example: How many people live in these countries and what is the name of the respective capital? What do they have to offer visitors (culinary specialties, culture, language, etc.)?
The official languages of the EU
The European Union has 24 official languages.
Why are there so many? The EU would not exist without its member states and their citizens. As a democratic organization, it must communicate in their language with the governments of the member states, their citizens, companies and public institutions. People have the right to know what is being done on their behalf. They must also have the opportunity to actively participate in EU affairs without having to learn a foreign language first. Did you know that you can contact the EU institutions in any of the 24 official languages and receive an answer in the same language?
Dobré ráno / Godmorgen
Good morning / Tere hommikust
Kalimera / Good morning
Bonjour / Dia DUIT
Dobro jutro / Buongiorno
Labas rytas / Labrīt
JÓ NAPOT / L-Għodwa t-Tajba Goedemorgen / Dzień dobry / Bom dia
Bună dimineaţa / Dobré ráno
Dobro jutro / Hyvää huomenta
The European values
Have you heard the phrase "United in Diversity"? That is the motto of the EU and it makes it clear what the EU values are about. Even if every EU country has its own culture, language and tradition, these countries are united by the same common values that they must adhere to if they want to be part of the European Union.
A fundamental value that binds all Member States is democracy. This means that only democratic countries can be members of the European Union.
The other EU values common to all Member States are human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
These values are set out in an important piece of legislation known as the Treaty, to which all Member States have agreed and which they must therefore comply with. The currently applicable contract is the Lisbon Treaty. It was signed in the Portuguese capital in 2007.
From six to 27 EU member states
As we have seen, the EU is made up of very different countries. The largest - Germany - has around 82 million inhabitants, the smallest - Malta - just 400,000. Europeans speak different languages and use three different alphabets (the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabet). They have different traditions, cultures, culinary specialties and festivals.
DID YOU KNOW …
... that the European flag shows a circle of twelve gold stars on a blue background? It was introduced in 1984 by the European Union (then called the European Economic Community) and is now blowing on parliaments, municipal buildings, parks and monuments across Europe. The flag symbolizes the peoples of Europe and the circle their unity. The number of stars is always twelve; the number twelve symbolizes perfection and completeness.
PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE EU'S VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
Part 1: Tick the correct column for each of the following nine questions. In small groups, discuss what you think a country should and should never do if it wants to be part of the EU.
|A country …|| (A)|
... can become a member of the EU
... cannot become a member of the EU
|1 that does not grant freedom of the press,|
|2 who practices the death penalty,|
|3 that allows its citizens to protest against the government,|
|4 in which regular parliamentary elections take place,|
|5 in which a president rules until his death and is replaced by a son or daughter,|
|6 in which the army command determines politics and, if necessary, intervenes militarily in domestic politics,|
|7 in which people are considered innocent until a court has determined that they are guilty,|
|8 in which there is only one party, which is therefore always in government,|
|9 that protects minorities, even if the majority rejects them,|
Part 2: Create small groups and choose two of the five EU values listed below; Discuss in your group what these values mean for you.
- HUMAN DIGNITY
- Respect for human rights
How did it all start?
After World War II, which broke out just 20 years after the First World War ended and lasted from 1939 to 1945, people were determined to make sure that this didn't happen again.
Between 1945 and 1950, a number of European politicians, including Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi and Winston Churchill, initiated a process that would create the European Union we live in today. In Western Europe, new structures emerged for the economic and political unification of European states in order to secure lasting peace and prosperity.
On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman (the then French Foreign Minister) proposed that the production of coal and steel - the raw materials with which the war had been prepared - should be jointly managed to ensure that no country could secretly arm itself. Back then, coal was as important as the main available energy source that oil and natural gas are today. The European Coal and Steel Community, from which today's EU emerged, was founded in 1952. It was founded by six neighboring countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
A few years later, the six founding states decided to expand their cooperation to other branches of the economy. In 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed, which established the European Economic Community. Mutual hostility gave way to cooperation - and this cooperation proved extremely successful. The European Economic Community has made enormous economic progress. No wonder that over the years more and more countries have tried to join.
Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom * joined the EU in 1973. A few years later, three European countries that had developed from dictatorships to democratic states could also apply for membership. These were Greece, which joined the EU in 1981, and Portugal and Spain, which followed in 1986. Finland, Austria and Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, which now had 15 member states.
Shortly after the Second World War, Europe was divided into East and West by the Iron Curtain, which ushered in the 40-year Cold War. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of this division. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the way was clear for the Central and Eastern European countries that had previously belonged to the former Soviet domain and that could now reform their systems and apply for membership of the EU. In 2004, eight Central and Eastern European countries joined the EU: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In the same year the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta also became EU members. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, and Croatia has been the 28th member of the European Union since 2013.
The admission of new members ensured the maintenance of peace and stability in Europe and contributed to the expansion of the area of democracy and the internal market. New members must be ready to sign the treaties and adopt EU legislation in its entirety. They must commit to the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the rule of law.* The UK left the EU in 2020.
Nobel Peace Prize
Even if the EU states do not always agree on everything, the principles on which the EU is based have not changed in the last 70 years. In recognition of its tireless work for peace, democracy and human rights in Europe and around the world, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. The EU is the first association of states in the world to receive this honor.
WHAT DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION MEAN FOR YOUNG PEOPLE?
As we know, the European Union has its origins in the early 1950s, when its basic rules were laid down by people who experienced the atrocities of a world war or even two world wars. These wars had killed millions upon millions across the European continent. The aim was to avoid future conflicts through close cooperation between the countries and the bringing together of their citizens: a very bold undertaking for countries and people who had only just overcome a conflict.
Not many young people today have relatives who can tell them about their experiences from these difficult times. You and your friends were born around 2004, at a time when Europe had been in peace and prosperity for 50 years. As a young person, what moves you when you think of such a long time of peace in Europe? Do you take it for granted or do you sometimes worry about the future? Discuss this topic with your classmates.
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