Representation in Ireland

About the EU

Background

The EU is a unique economic and political partnership between 27 European countries. It was first created in 1958 as the European Economic Community (EEC) by 6 countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The EU is based on the rule of law – everything it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries.

In 1993 its name was changed to the European Union (EU).

EU policy fields

Institutions

The EU has a unique institutional set-up. Broad priorities are set by the member governments in regular summits, and decision-making involves a range of institutions, although the 3 main ones are:

The EU also has a diplomatic arm – the European External Action Service.

More on the EU institutions

Countries

The EU has 27 Member States.

Read more about the current & aspiring EU countries

EU in facts and figures