European union

THE european √úNioN (EU) is a democratic organization of member European countries. The European Union was established neither to join all nations into one state nor to manage international cooperation; rather, it was established to act as a democratic forum in which policies could be made, affecting all member countries equally. The EU supports the diversity of its member nations, working together to foster shared values. Countries wishing to join the EU must apply and be approved.

The EU was originally formed after World War II in an effort to prevent further war among the European countries. Six initial countries formed the first version of the EU, and their interests were mostly in trade and economy. These six founding countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Since then, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom joined in 1973, with Greece joining in 1981. Portugal and Spain joined in 1986; Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined in 1995; Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia joined in 2004; and Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007. As of 2007, the EU included 27 countries, home to nearly 500 million people. The euro, the shared currency of the EU, was introduced in 2002, and was used in 13 countries by 2007. As each member nation improves its economy, this number will rise.

Beginning in 2004, former rifts between Eastern and Western Europe began to heal when 10 nations, primarily from Eastern Europe, joined the formerly Western Europe-dominated EU. Since then, other developing European nations joined as well; as of January 2008, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey were candidate EU countries.

The Schuman declaration is often cited as the blueprint for the EU. On May 9, 1950, French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed an organization of European nations, to promote peace. In honor of his proposal, May 9, is Europe Day in today's EU. The Schuman declaration proposes that Europe come together over a series of unions, not all at once in one large plan.

One such union that Schuman proposed was the alliance of French and German coal and steel production, into an alliance in which other European nations could participate in. In fact, the Treaty of Paris, signed April 18, 1951 and enacted July 25, 1952, established the first European Steel and Coal Community and is considered the foundation of the modern European Union.

Although many subsequent treaties have been signed, which have amended the initial treaties of the EU, the Treaties of Rome are considered the first documents of the EU and the basis of its constitution. They are made up of the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community and the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community. Both were signed as the Treaties of Rome on March 25, 1957, and enacted on January 1, 1958.

In 2004, three years prior to the 50th anniversary of the European Union, a Constitution was written.

The Official document is called the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe and serves to unite and replace all pre-existing Treaties regarding the European Union.

The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on December 13, 2007, amending the original Constitution Treaty and, thereby, all prior EU Treaties. Also in 2007, the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome was celebrated throughout Europe. A declaration at the Berlin celebration states "We are facing major challenges which do not stop at national borders. The European Union is our response to these challenges."

The EU acts much like a large nation in some respects, especially in its policies regarding economic improvement and environmental stewardship. Europe takes pride in its agriculture and agricultural products such as olive oils, meats, and cheeses. The EU recognizes that global warming and climate change would negatively impact this agriculture. Therefore, it has arranged conferences to discuss policies regarding agriculture, forests and deforestation, and sustainable economic growth that will protect the environment. For example, in March 2000, the EU held its Lisbon Summit, geared to stimulate the EU economy into becoming the leading global economy with sustainable economic growth. The resulting document was the Lisbon Strategy, including the Gothenburg Objectives, for Economic, Social, and Environmental Renewal. The strategy stresses environmental sustainability as a foundation for the economic growth and maintenance of Europe. The Lisbon Strategy is distinct from the Treaty of Lisbon, also sometimes called the Lisbon Treaty.

The large population of the European Union requires a large amount of energy, not much of which comes from the EU itself; changes are underway to improve the self-reliance of EU nations in terms of energy. For example, while approximately one-quarter of EU gas and oil is purchased from Russia, not a member nation, in 2005 a report from the European Commission (EC) entitled the Biomass Action Plan stated that at that time, the EU was obtaining 4 percent of its energy from biomass utilization, and that it had the potential to use up to 8 percent by the year 2010, if policies were supportive.

According to the Oak Ridge National Research Laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1996, member countries of the European Union were among the top 20 carbon dioxide emitters in the world. These countries were Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Poland (which would join the EU in 2004), and Italy. The EU imports nearly one-half of its energy used.

This dependence on foreign oil puts the EU in a risky position, should another energy crisis occur. For this reason, as well as for environmental stewardship, the EU nations are actively investigating and incorporating alternate sources for energy. A goal value for energy from renewable sources is to generate 21 percent of EU electricity from renewable sources by 2010. As of early 2008, the only EU country that had a net export of energy was Denmark. Another energy goal of the EU is to open international, EU energy networks that would stabilize electricity prices across member nations and foster a more efficient use of power.

The EU has data on its website citing the amount of energy imported per member nation as well as the percentage of electricity generated that came from alternate, renewable sources for energy. These numbers, compiled by Eurostat, are for the year 2004.

Additionally, the website describes the 2003 Greenhouse Gas Emissions numbers, as well as target emissions for 2008-12. The target values are given as a percentage of their 1990 values. This percentage is because the Kyoto Protocol aims for each nation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 8 percent lower than the 1990 emissions, by 200812. In order to make this goal feasible for the joint nations of the European Union, the EU has spread the numbers among each member nation, such that developing nations are allowed to increase their emissions in order to continue development while larger, more developed, and economically stable nations will reduce their emissions further.

The participating countries are those that were members of the EU prior to the year 2004; these countries are called the EU-15. The countries that joined in 2004 have individual reduction plans, and the countries of Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and Malta do not have target emissions values. The values for emissions in 2003 as well as the projected emissions for 2008-2012 (all as a percent of 1990

values) were compiled by the European Environment Agency, European Topic Center on Air and Climate Change.

Large numbers of cars and trucks and the ensuing traffic in the European Union add to global warming by emitting greenhouse gases. In order to curtail these emissions, the EU urges its citizens to use public transportation, and requests industries to use ships or trains to transport freight. In fact, trade between member EU nations totals approximately two-thirds of all EU trade. Additionally, one unified air-traffic control module for Europe is under consideration, to reduce air congestion.

sEE ALso: Agriculture; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Deforestation; Denmark; Economics, Cost of Affecting Climate Change; Economics, Impact From Climate Change; Estonia; European Commission; Finland; France; Forests; Germany; Greece; Greenhouse Gases; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Kyoto Protocol; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia (FYROM); Malta; Netherlands; Poland; Policy, International; Portugal; Romania; Russia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sustainability; Sweden; Turkey; United Kingdom.

bibliography. Alasdair Blair, The European Union Since 1945 (Seminar Studies in History Series) (Longman, 2005); A. Ghazi, ed., Environment and Earth's Resources: Research at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (Remote Sensing Review Series) (Routledge, 1990); John McCormick, Understanding the European Union: A Concise Introduction, Third Edition (European Union) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Neill Nugent, The European Commission (European Union) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001); Neill Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union (Duke University Press, 2006).

Claudia Winograd University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable.

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