European Union

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In varietate concordia
United in diversity

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union or confederation of 27 member states which are located primarily in Europe.

The EU has the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union as legislative institutions, the European Commission and the European Council as executive institutions, and the Court of Justice of the European Union as a judicial institution. It also controls the European Central Bank issuing its common currency, the euro, and the European Court of Auditors. The current President of the European Council is Charles Michel, while the current President of the Commission is Ursula von der Leyen.

It was formed via the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993, which merged numerous regional organizations created since World War II together. It maintains a single market guaranteeing tariff-free movement of goods, services, labor, and capital, and is the third-largest economy in the world behind the United States and China. It also maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, foreign and security policy, and regional development. Ten other countries are considering entry into the EU, while one country, the United Kingdom, exited it.


Alphabetized by author or source


The European Union remains unwavering in its support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urges the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. ~ High Representative Josep Borrell
  • Did it have to come to this? The paradox is that when Europe was less united, it was in many ways more independent. The leaders who ruled in the early stages of integration had all been formed in a world before the global hegemony of the United States, when the major European states were themselves imperial powers, whose foreign policies were self-determined. These were people who had lived through the disasters of the Second World War, but were not crushed by them. This was true not just of a figure like De Gaulle, but of Adenauer and Mollet, of Eden and Heath, all of whom were quite prepared to ignore or defy America if their ambitions demanded it. Monnet, who did not accept their national assumptions, and never clashed with the US, still shared their sense of a future in which Europeans could settle their own affairs, in another fashion. Down into the 1970s, something of this spirit lived on even in Giscard and Schmidt, as Carter discovered. But with the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s, and the arrival in power in the 1990s of a postwar generation, it faded. The new economic doctrines cast doubt on the state as a political agent, and the new leaders had never known anything except the Pax Americana. The traditional springs of autonomy were gone.
    • Perry Anderson, "Depicting Europe", London Review of Books (20 September 2007)
  • We are a very special construction unique in the history of mankind … Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire .. What we have is the first non-imperial empire .. We have 27 countries that fully decided to work together and to pool their sovereignty. I believe it is a great construction and we should be proud of it.
  • Any attempts to alter the status of parts of Ukrainian territory are a clear violation of international law, the UN Charter and Ukraine’s Constitution, they further undermine sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and will not be recognised by the European Union. Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in violations of international law and international humanitarian law will be held accountable for these illegal actions.
    The European Union remains unwavering in its support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urges the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
  • The future treaty which you are discussing has no chance of being agreed; if it was agreed, it would have no chance of being ratified; and if it were ratified, it would have no chance of being applied. And if it was applied, it would be totally unacceptable to Britain.
    • Russell Bretherton, British Foreign Office representative at a meeting of Spaak Committee, November 1955 [1]
  • The best thing out of Maastricht is Andre Rieu.
    • Louise Burfitt-Dons, January 2013 in a speech promoting her candidacy to represent London in the EU as an MEP for the British Conservative Party
  • The European Union implies the notion of the ‘Minimal State’, the abandonment of mixed economy and of economic planning, the redefinition of the ways the expenses are arranged, a redistribution of responsibilities that reduces the power of parliamentary assemblies and increases that of governments, fiscal autonomy for local authorities, the rejection of the principle of widespread gratuitousness of services (and the ensuing reform of healthcare and of social security), the abolition of the wage indexation scale, the dramatic reduction of pockets of privilege, the mobility of the factors of production, the reduction of the State’s presence in the credit system and in industry, the abandonment of inflationary behaviour not only by workers, but also by the producers of services, the abolition of the norms that fixed administered prices and tariffs. In a word: a new pact between States and citizens, to the latter’s advantage.
    • Guido Carli, Minister of the Treasury of the Italian government, 8 February 1992 (the day after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty)[1]
  • The European Union is very popular with politicians, because it's very good to politicians. It was created for their benefit. It's not so good to voters, because it denies them a voice - another reason it's popular with politicians. These days, we in Europe no longer make most of our own laws. We have them handed down to us by people we haven't elected and can't remove. The people we do elect are powerless to change anything, even if they wanted to, and most of them don't want to, because they've got their snouts in the trough of a corrupt organisation whose accounts haven't been signed off for the last sixteen years.
  • Indeed, if there's one thing a euro politician despises and fears more than anything it's the democratic will of the people. And this is because many of those who run Europe today were politicised by sixties pseudo-Marxist utopianism, which they're still determined to impose on the people - for their own good - regardless of what the people might want. They believe in centralised state control: society as a project - their project. It's the mentality that ran the old Soviet Union, and it's the mentality that has driven the European Union forward against the wishes of the European people, imposing a constitution on the whole of Europe that hardly anyone was allowed to vote for, and imposing a single currency on the whole of Europe that's now falling apart at the seams. But they won't abandon it because they consider it a vital step on the road to full political union, and the abolition of all European nation-states under a central socialist dictatorship.
  • If you cannot join them, beat them!"
    • Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, in a short statement to television before the European Championship 1992 Final, won by Denmark, shortly after the Danes voted against the Maastricht Treaty
  • In order for European citizens properly to exercise their democratic right to participate in the EU’s decision-making process, and hold those involved to account, legislative deliberations must be sufficiently transparent. In order also for citizens to be able to hold their governments to account for the decisions they make on EU laws, they need to know how their governments positioned themselves during the legislative process. Making such information public would also oblige Member State governments to assume greater responsibility for this legislation and discourage them from ‘blaming Brussels’ for EU laws they themselves helped to shape and adopt.


The European Union and many of its countries, which used to take initiatives in the United Nations for peaceful settlements of conflict, are now one of the most important war assets of the U.S./ NATO front. Many countries have also been drawn into complicity in breaking international law through U.S./U.K./NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and so on. ~Mairead Maguire
  • Increasingly, I believe that the issue of migration will be seen by future historians as the fatal solvent of the EU. In their accounts Brexit will appear as merely an early symptom of the crisis. Their argument will be that a massive Völkerwanderung overwhelmed the project for European integration, exposing the weakness of the EU as an institution and driving voters back to national politics for solutions.
    • Niall Ferguson, "The EU melting pot is melting down", Boston Globe, June 18, 2018.
  • I am afraid that I have seen enough of both the governance of science, and the political operations at the European Union. In these three long months, I have indeed met many excellent and committed individuals, at different levels of the organization of the ERC and the EC. However, I have lost faith in the system itself.
  • At first, only a few dipped their toes in the water; then others, hesitantly, followed their lead, all the time looking at each other for reassurance. As austerity-ravaged Greece was placed under what Yanis Varoufakis terms a “postmodern occupation”, its sovereignty overturned and compelled to implement more of the policies that have achieved nothing but economic ruin, Britain’s left is turning against the European Union, and fast. [...] The more leftwing opponents of the EU come out, the more momentum will gather pace and gain critical mass. For those of us on the left who have always been critical of the EU, it has felt like a lonely crusade. But left support for withdrawal – “Lexit”, if you like – is not new. If anything, this new wave of left Euroscepticism represents a reawakening.
  • Let’s just be honest about our fears. We fear that we will inadvertently line up with the xenophobes and the immigrant-bashing nationalists, and a “no” result will be seen as their vindication, unleashing a carnival of Ukippery. Hostility to the EU is seen as the preserve of the hard right, and not the sort of thing progressives should entertain. And that is why – if indeed much of the left decides on Lexit – it must run its own separate campaign and try and win ownership of the issue. Such a campaign would focus on building a new Britain, one of workers’ rights, a genuine living wage, public ownership, industrial activism and tax justice. Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago.
  • Lexit may be seen as a betrayal of solidarity with the left in the EU: Syriza and Podemos in Spain are trying to change the institution, after all, not leave it. Syriza’s experience illustrates just how forlorn that cause is. But in any case, the threat of Brexit would help them. Germany has little incentive to change tack: it benefits enormously from the current arrangements. If its behaviour is seen to be causing the break-up of the EU, it will strengthen the hand of those opposing the status quo. The case for Lexit grows ever stronger, and – at the very least – more of us need to start dipping our toes in the water.
  • Europe was built in a St. Simonian [i.e., technocratic] way from the beginning, this was Monnet’s approach: The people weren’t ready to agree to integration, so you had to get on without telling them too much about what was happening. Now St. Simonianism is finished. It can’t work when you have to face democratic opinion.
  • We do not fear that the operations of time may never bring a united Europe, with a reunited Germany at its centre. We do not know how it will happen, how this unnaturally divided Germany is to become once again. It is obscure to us, and we must take refuge in the belief that history will find ways and means of overcoming the unnatural and restoring the natural: a Germany as a consciously serving member of a Europe united in self-awareness – not as its lord and master...
    Let us not delude ourselves over the fact that among the difficulties delaying the unification of Europe is a mistrust of the purity of German intentions, a fear by other peoples of Germany and of hegemonic plans that its vital energy may install into it, which in their view it does not conceal very well….It is for the rising German generation, for German youth, to dispel the mistrust, this fear, by rejecting what has long been rejected and clearly and unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany."
    • Thomas Mann, in a lecture at the University of Hamburg, 1953
  • … the European Union functions as a 27-member caucus (plus several associated members) and they have to agree on a statement before they can even say “good morning”.
  • A referendum on this matter consists of consulting people who don’t know the problems instead of consulting people who know them. I would deplore a situation in which the policy of this great country [the UK] should be left to housewives. It should be decided instead by trained and informed people.
  • Robert Schuman, who was in a hurry to catch his train for London, so skilfully evaded the newspapermen’s detailed questions about the future of the plan that one of them exclaimed:
    ‘In other words, it’s a leap in the dark?’
    ‘That’s right,’ said Schuman soberly: ‘a leap in the dark.’
  • There are only two kinds of states in Europe: small states, and small states that have not yet realised they are small.

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