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. 
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.

Noun

political unit made of people who share a common territory.

treaty
Noun

official agreement between groups of people.