The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union, consisting of 27 member states that are subject to the obligations and the privileges of the membership.
Every member state is part of the founding treaties of the union and is subjected to binding laws within the common legislative and judicial institutions. In order for the EU to adopt policies that concern defence and foreign affairs, all member states must agree unanimously.
Before 1993, the EU was not as big as it is today. European countries started to cooperate economically since 1951 when only states such as Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, The Netherlands and Italy participated. Gradually, more countries decided to join. The last to join is Croatia – in 2013.