This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
The European Union (EU) was established with the Treaties of Rome in 1958. Since then, it has evolved through a long history of successive Treaty reforms.
The EU is both a political project and a form of legal organisation.
It is a political project that reflects the will of the EU countries to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen (Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union).
To achieve this, the EU has a number of objectives:
The EU is founded on values: respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights.
It is recognisable by its symbols: a flag (twelve stars on a blue background), an anthem (Ludwig van Beethoven's ´Ode to Joy`), a motto ('United in diversity'), a currency (the euro) and a Europe Day (9 May).
The EU is a form of legal organisation founded on the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. EU countries confer competences on the EU to attain objectives that they have in common. The 'Community method' applies to all policies coming under the EU's responsibility, with the exception of:
It has a single institutional framework (consisting of the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Commission, the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors). Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon confers legal personality on the EU.