OVERVIEW FROM WIKIPEDIA:
The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member statesthat are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2(1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) combining the characteristics of both a federation and a confederation.
Containing 5.8 per cent of the world population in 2020,[c] the EU generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$17.1 trillion in 2021, constituting approximately 18 per cent of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all EU states but Bulgaria have a very high Human Development Index according to the United Nations Development Programme. Its cornerstone, the Customs Union, paved the way to establishing an internal single market based on standardised legal framework and legislation that applies in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where the states 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. Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. The eurozone is a group composed of the 20 EU member states that have fully implemented the economic and monetary union and use the euro currency. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the union has developed a role in external relations and defence. It maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Due to its global influence, the European Union has been described by some scholars as an emerging superpower.
The union was established along with its citizenship when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993, and was subsequently incorporated as an international law juridical person upon entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, but its beginnings may be traced to its earliest predecessors incorporated primarily by a group of founding states known as the Inner Six(Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany) at the start of modern institutionalised European integration in 1948 and onwards, namely to the Western Union (WU, 1954 renamed Western European Union, WEU), the International Authority for the Ruhr (IAR), the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC, 1993 renamed European Community, EC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), established, respectively, by the 1948 Treaty of Brussels, the 1948 London Six-Power Conference, the 1951 Treaty of Paris, the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the 1957 Euratom Treaty. These increasingly amalgamated bodies later known collectively as the European Communitieshave grown since, along with their legal successor, the EU, both in size through accessions of further 21 states as well as in power through acquisitions of various policy areas to their remit by the virtue of the abovementioned treaties, as well as numerous other ones, such as the Modified Brussels Treaty, the Merger Treaty, the Single European Act, the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
After the creation by six states, 22 other states joined the union in 1973–2013. The United Kingdom became the only member state to leave the EU in 2020; ten countries are aspiring or negotiating to join it.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member states – 28 European and two North American. Established in the aftermath of World War II, the organization implemented the North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949. NATO is a collective security system: its independent member states agree to defend each other against attacks by third parties. During the Cold War, NATO operated as a check on the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union. The alliance remained in place after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and has been involved in military operations in the Balkans, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. The organization's motto is animus in consulendo liber (Latin for "a mind unfettered in deliberation").
NATO's main headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium, while NATO's military headquarters are near Mons, Belgium. The alliance has targeted its NATO Response Force deployments in Eastern Europe, and the combined militaries of all NATO members include around 3.5 million soldiers and personnel. Their combined military spending as of 2020 constituted over 57 percent of the global nominal total. Moreover, members have agreed to reach or maintain the target defence spending of at least two percent of their GDP by 2024.
NATO formed with twelve founding members and has added new members eight times, most recently when North Macedonia joined the alliance in March 2020. Following the acceptance of their applications for membership in June 2022, Finland and Sweden are anticipated to become the 31st and 32nd members, with their Accession Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty now in the process of being ratified by the existing members. In addition, NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members. Enlargement has led to tensions with non-member Russia, one of the twenty additional countries participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace programme. Another nineteen countries are involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes with NATO.