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Portal:European Union

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Introduction

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The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2 (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. An internal single market has been established through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where the states have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 member states which use the euro currency. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) with the characteristics of either a federation or confederation.

The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original member states of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The communities and their successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. The United Kingdom became the first member state to leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Before this, three territories of member states had left the EU or its forerunners. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. (Full article...)

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While most of the states in the world, and in Europe, are republics (have a directly or indirectly elected head of state), there are still six monarchies in the European Union, whose head of state (a monarch) inherits his or her office, and usually keeps it for life or until they abdicate. At the dawn of the 20th century, France was the only republic among the future member states of the European Union; the ascent of republicanism to the political mainstream only started at the beginning of the 20th century.

The European Union's monarchies are: the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Kingdom of Sweden.

All six monarchies in the European Union are constitutional monarchies, which means that the monarch does not influence the politics of the state: either the monarch is legally prohibited from doing so, or the monarch does not utilise the political powers vested in the office by convention. There is currently no major campaign to abolish the monarchy in any of the remaining six states, although there is a significant minority of republicans in all of them.

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Did you know?

...that Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City all mint their own euro coins, with their own national symbols on the back, despite not being EU members?

...that Slovenia joined the Euro on January 1, 2007?

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Vilnius

Vilnius is the capital and largest city of Lithuania, with a population of 537,152 as of 2013. It is the capital of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the county seat of Vilnius County. Vilnius is situated in southeastern Lithuania at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris Rivers. It is believed that Vilnius, like many other cities, was named after a crossing river, Vilnia. Vilnius is a cosmopolitan city with diverse architecture. There are more than 40 churches in Vilnius.

Some historians identify the city with Voruta, a legendary capital of Mindaugas who was crowned in 1253 as King of Lithuania. The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323, in letters of Grand Duke Gediminas that were sent to German cities and invited German and Jewish community to settle in the capital city. In 1387, the city was granted city rights by Jogaila, one of Gediminas' successors.

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