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The European Union is a group of countries whose governments work together.
It's a bit like a club. To join you have to agree to follow the rules and in return you get certain benefits.
Each country has to pay money to be a member. They mostly do this through taxes.
The EU uses the money to change the way people live and do business in Europe.
Countries join because they think that they will benefit from the changes the EU makes.
These are the five big things the EU has set out to do.
1. Promote economic and social progress.
Help people earn enough money and get treated fairly.
2. Speak for the European Union on the international scene.
By working as a group the EU hopes that Europe will be listened to more by other countries.
3. Introduce European citizenship.
Anyone from a member state is a citizen of the EU and gets four special rights.
4. Develop Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice.
Help Europeans to live in safety, without the threat of war.
5. Maintain and build on established EU law.
Make laws that protect peoples rights in the member countries.
These are the 25 countries in the EU with the dates when they joined.
- Belgium 1957
- France 1957
- Netherlands 1957
- Germany 1957
- Italy 1957
- Luxembourg 1957
- Denmark 1973
- Ireland 1973
- UK 1973
- Greece 1981
- Portugal 1986
- Spain 1986
- Austria 1995
- Finland 1995
- Sweden 1995
- Hungary 2004
- Poland 2004
- Czech Republic 2004
- Slovak Republic 2004
- Slovenia 2004
- Estonia 2004
- Latvia 2004
- Lithuania 2004
- Malta 2004
- Cyprus 2004
Going to become members
The twenty-five nation European Union has 500 million citizens.
- Bulgaria 2007
- Romania 2007
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