The European Union is a supranational organization whose twenty-seven members include most courtries in Europe. The EU began as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1953 with an original purpose of regulating the capacity of large metal fabricating industries. The six original member states—Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands—signed the ECSC Treaty and began the process of European integration. Since then, the EU has evolved in stages with the creation of an economic community, development of a single market, the removal of many trade restrictions and border controls, and the issuance of a common currency. In recent years, the EU has made efforts to develop a common foreign affairs policy and to improve cooperation among member states on justice and home affairs.
Source: Duncan E. Alford, European Union Legal Materials, available at www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/European_Union.htm