The European Union is a supranational organisation and the product of the joint efforts of 28 countries, or Member States, across Europe and its surrounding area. There are over 500 million┬ápeople living within these Member States. The European Union works by each Member State conferring (the same) powers, or competences to this organisation such that certain objectives can be achieved. It is governed today by two Treaties: The Treaty on European Union and The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Together, these Treaties may be referred to as The Treaty of Lisbon – where the Treaties were concluded. Over time, the Treaties have evolved, altering the nature of the European Union.

The European Union is neither a federation like the United States, where a central (federal) power has some areas of competence, and subordinate organisations (states) have other areas of competence, nor is it merely a co-operation initiative between governments. It is an evolving hybrid. It is almost paradoxical in nature, as Member States confer competences, yet the organisation has developed to such a point that it has the power to decide whether a competence has been conferred to itself.

The content of European Union law can be described as the Community acquis – comprised of its objectives, treaties, the principles behind the treaties, acts, agreements and declarations – a rather broad concept.

A brief history of the European Union

The European Union started out in 1951. It was then known as the European Coal and Steel Community: an organisation comprised of only 6 Member States following the Second World War with the objective of pooling the resources required to wage war in an attempt to prevent future wars...

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