The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 28 European countries.
The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War, with the idea that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.
The result was the European Economic Community (EEC) created in 1958, which initially increased economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created with 28 Member States.
What began as an economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. The European Economic Community (EEC) was renamed the European Union (EU) in 1993.
The EU is based on the rule of law: everything it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by its member countries.
The EU is also governed by the principle of representative democracy, with citizens directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament and Member States represented in the European Council and the Council of the EU.