The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster peace and economic cooperation: The idea being that countries, which trade with one another, become economically interdependent, and so more likely to avoid conflict. Initially created in 1958 between six countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), peaceful and economic cooperation began.
Since then, a huge ‘Single Market’ has been created and it continues to develop towards its full potential spanning many policy areas: Economic development, development aid, human rights, laws and justice, disaster recovery and environmental management. The EU is based on the rule of law: Everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all Member Countries. These binding agreements set out the EU’s goals in its many areas of activity.
The EU has a combined population of 500 million, a GDP of $20 trillion and imports $2.5 trillion of products and services annually including labour, fuels, textiles, agricultural products and gemstones – all fantastic opportunities for Myanmar.
The European Union comprises 28 sovereign Member States:
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|Location:||Europe between the North Atlantic Ocean in the West and Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to the east|
|Total Area:||4,324,782 sq km|
|Land Boundaries:||12,440.8 km|
|Population:||506,908,000 (2015 est.)|
|GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):||$19.035 trillion (2015 est.)|
|GDP (Official Exchange Rate):||$16.36 trillion (2012 est.)|
|GDP (Real Growth Rate):||-0.3% (2012 est.)|
|GDP (Per Capita):||$37,607 (2015 est.)|
|GDP (Sector Comparison):||Agriculture: 1.8%
Services: 73.4% (2012 est.)
|Agricultural Products:||Wheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes; dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry; fish|
|Industries:||Ferrous and non-ferrous metal production and processing, metal products, petroleum, coal, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, rail transportation equipment, passenger and commercial vehicles, construction equipment, industrial equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, machine tools and automated manufacturing systems, electronics and telecommunications equipment, fishing, food and beverage processing, furniture, paper, textiles|
|Exports:||$2.17 trillion (2011 est.)|
|Exports Commodities:||Machinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals,
fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp and paperproducts, alcoholic beverages, furniture
|Imports:||$2.397 trillion (2011 est.)|
|Imports Commodities:||Fuels and crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, ships|
Internally, the EU has abolished trade barriers, adopted a common currency, and is striving toward convergence of living standards. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe’s trade position and its political and economic weight. Because of the great differences in Per Capita Income among Member States (currently ranging from $13,000 to $82,000) – and also in national attitudes, toward issues such as inflation, debt, and foreign trade – the EU faces real challenges in devising and enforcing common policies.
Eleven established EU Member States, under the auspices of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), introduced the Euro (€) as their common currency. Doing so on 1st January 1999 (Greece joining two years later).
Between 2004 and 2007, 12 new States acceded to the EU – which were, in general, less advanced economically than the other 15 Member States.
On 1st July 2013 Croatia became the most recent Member of the EU, following a decade long application process.
Of the 13 most recent entrants, only Slovenia (1st January 2007), Cyprus and Malta (1st January 2008), Slovakia (1st January 2009), and Estonia (1st January 2011) have adopted the Euro; 11 non-Euro Member States (other than the UK and Denmark, which have formal opt-outs) are required by EU treaties to adopt the Common Currency – upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria.
Following the 2008-2009 global economic crisis, the EU economy saw only moderate GDP growth during 2010 and 2011. A sovereign debt crisis in the Euro Zone intensified in 2011; and became the Bloc’s top economic and political priority.