England, France, Spain, Germany. These are all countries on the continent of Europe. They have their own citizens, governments and cultures, but they and many other countries of Europe are also a part of the European Union, known as the EU. In fact, the European Union is a partnership between 27 European countries! The governments of EU countries work together, and many citizens of member countries truly feel that being a part of the European Union helps make their country and their continent a better place!
While the countries of the European Union are independent entities, they each agree to follow EU laws and agreements, some involving trade, the environment and security. One goal of the EU is to bring the people of Europe together so they can work toward common goals, such as making sure citizens of European countries are treated fairly, seeing to it that Europeans are safe and peaceful, and making it easier for EU countries to buy and sell things to and from one another. The European Union even has its own currency, the euro, which is used by most of its member countries!
Members of the EU have special rights, such as the right to move from one EU country to another and live in any of these nations they choose.
by Mya Kagan (Whyzz writer)
Now it's time to find the countries of the European Union on a map! Begin by finding the continent of Europe. Either with the help of a grown-up or on your own, see if you can locate the following 27 EU countries:
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. Whether you find a handful of countries or finish the entire list, you have just learned quite a bit about geography and a very important partnership of nations! Nice job!
The European Union has a European Parliament that makes laws, as well as decisions about the amount of money the EU should spend. The EU also has a Council of the European Union, which is in charge of making major decisions with the help of representatives from each country. The European Commission oversees the day to day duties of the EU, and the presidency of the EU is given to a different country every six months! To join the European Union, prospective member countries must prove that their citizens are treated fairly and with dignity, and that these citizens are allowed to vote. They must also show that their governments spend money wisely, and that their people are given an amount of freedom in the way that they do business. Finally, countries wishing to join must be willing to make changes to their laws if needed so these laws fit well with the laws of the EU.