In 2011, the European Union consisted of mostly Western European nations. Turkey has been an applicant to the organization since 1987, when it was called the European Economic Community.

Map by National Geographic Society

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  • On February 7, 1992, 12 nations in Europe signed the Treaty on European Union, more commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty after the Dutch city in which it was signed. The purpose of the treaty was to increase economic integration, cooperation on issues such as immigration and crime, and promote common citizenship. The 12 nations that ratified the treaty were the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. 
    Today, the European Union (EU) is a powerful coalition. As of October 2013, there are 28 member states. Applications by other nations (such as Macedonia and Turkey) are under review. Joining a body such as the EU means that each member has to give up some power or sovereignty to the larger union. This is controversial in many member states. However, the economic and political power of the EU has empowered member states on the world stage. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    coalition Noun

    a group of people or organizations united for a goal.

    controversial Noun

    questionable or leading to argument.

    cooperation Noun

    the act of working together.

    crime Noun

    unlawful activity.

    Dutch Adjective

    coming from or having to do with the Netherlands (Holland).

    economic Adjective

    having to do with money.

    European Union Noun

    association of European nations promoting free trade, ease of transportation, and cultural and political links.

    immigration Noun

    process of moving to a new country or region with the intention of staying and living there.

    integration Noun

    process of mixing different substances or groups.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    treaty Noun

    official agreement between groups of people.