EUROPE

The use of the word “Europe” to designate the western part of the Eurasian continent spread gradually over time. The Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BCE) reported that the world had long been divided into three parts: Asia, Europe, and Libya (Africa). Since the Fall of Constantinople (1453) that ushered in the Renaissance, Europe has achieved major accomplishments in the areas of arts, humanities, and sciences. It has also been the theater of devastating wars, especially WWI (1914-1918) and WWII (1939-1945) that came to affect the entire world and cause extensive suffering.

Two quotes:

From London-based author and blogger, Frank Jacobs [January 2012]: “Where is Europe?
You might as well ask: What is Europe? For it is a concept as well as a continent, and the borders of both oscillate wildly. For the ancient Persians, it was that small stepping stone separating them from Greece. In the Middle Ages, it became virtually synonymous with Christendom. A relatively recent and generally unaccepted theory sees Europe spanning half the globe, from Iceland to the Bering Strait, nearly touching Alaska.
Take the most common present-day usage of the term “Europe,” shorthand for (and synonymous with) the European Union.
The external borders of this supranational project are well-defined, and in some cases well-defended. But they remain movable, having consistently shifted outward over the last half century. From a core of six founding members in the continent’s west this “Europe” has expanded to comprise 27 states, as far east as Cyprus.
See more: Where is Europe?

From Cédric Villani, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Lyon and Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris. [July 2014]
“Europe! it is praised to the skies,
it is denigrated, it is encouraged,
it is criticized, it is admired, it is dreamt,
it is decorated, it is accused… But what are we exactly talking about when we talk about Europe?”
See more: So What is Europe?

The Council of Europe

In 1949, out of the human misery and piles of rumbles caused by World War II, an international organization was founded to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law. It called itself the Council of Europe.

It consists of 47 countries: the current 28 members of the EU and an additional 19 countries that include Switzerland, Turkey, and the Russian Federation. The Council of Europe is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.

Europe 800px_NASA_satellite

 NASA-satellite: Europe

EU map 2014 official site

European Union: Map of Europe

Schengen area

European Research Council-Mars landing site

European Research Council: Mars landing site.
European Research Council

Europe_shaping-eu-cover

European Economic and Social Committee:

Shaping Europe. Recent EESC Achievements

THE EUROPEAN UNION

In the wake of World War II a number of European visionaries worked together to build a postnationalist European community. Today this community is called the European Union (EU).
It began as an economic union. To ease distrust and tensions after WWII, six countries – the founding members – agreed to create interdependence in coal and steel so that one country could no longer mobilize its armed forces without others knowing.
In 1957, meetings in the capital of Italy led to the Rome treaties that formally established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Commission (EURATOM).
In the past fifty years, the EEC has evolved into a larger and more diverse organization consisting of twenty-eight member states that have agreed to create a system of governance that can address its issues, opportunities, and crises, big and small: the European Union (EU)

The EU is neither a federally centralized entity nor a loose association such as the United Nations. Varying degrees of integration exist. For instance the United Kingdom is a member state of the EU that has elected not to participate into the Schengen area agreement or the Eurozone.

The EU is committed to the rule of law. Voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries, treaties are binding agreements that define the EU's goals in its many areas of activity. The Lisbon Treaty that entered into force in 2009 clarifies which powers:
• belong to the EU
• belong to EU member countries
• which are shared.

Facts and Figures

The European Union is a unique politico-economic organization that is home to over 510 million people, which is the world’s third largest population – after China and India. In 2014, the EU generated a GDP of over US $16 trillion, ranking as the second largest economy in the world.

For its contributions to peace in Europe for over sixty years, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

To learn more on the EU, explore the EU official website. Though you can view it in any of 24 languages, here are four links provided for the following languages:

English index page:

French index page:

German index page:

Italian index page: