.eu

.eu is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the European Union (EU).[1] Launched on 7 December 2005, the domain is available for any person, company or organization based in the European Economic Area (the EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).[2] The TLD is administered by EURid, a consortium originally consisting of the national ccTLD registry operators of Belgium, Sweden, and Italy, joined later by the national registry operator of the Czech Republic. Trademark owners were able to submit registrations through a sunrise period, in an effort to prevent cybersquatting. Full registration started on 7 April 2006.[3]

.eu
.eu
Introduced2005
TLD typeCountry code
StatusActive
RegistryEURid
SponsorEuropean Commission
Intended useEntities connected with the  European Union
Actual useGradually increasing, mostly among sites with pan-European or cross-border intentions.(details)
Registration restrictionsRegistrants must be located within the EEA
StructureNames are registered directly at second level
DocumentsCommission Regulation (EC) No. 874/2004
Dispute policiesEU ADR
DNSSECyes
Registry Websitewww.eurid.eu

History

Establishment

The .eu TLD was approved by ICANN on 22 March 2005[4] and put in the Internet root zone on 2 May 2005.[5] Even though the EU is not a country (it is a sui generis intergovernmental and supranational organisation), there are precedents of issuing top-level domains to other entities—e.g. .nato. See also GeoTLD.

.eu.int was the subdomain most used by the European Commission and the European Parliament, based on the .int generic top-level domain (gTLD) for international bodies, until 9 May 2006. The .eu domain (ccTLD) was launched in December 2005, and because of this most .eu.int domain names changed to .europa.eu on Europe day, 9 May 2006.

Sunrise period

The Sunrise Period was broken into two phases. The first phase, which began on 7 December 2005 was to facilitate applications by registrants with prior rights based on trademarks and geographic names. The second phase began on 7 February 2006 and covered company, trade and personal names. In the case of all Sunrise applications, the application needed to be accompanied by documents proving the claim to ownership of a certain right. The decision was then made by PricewaterhouseCoopers Belgium, which had been chosen as the validation agent by EURid.

On 7 February 2006, the registry was opened for company, trade and personal names. In the first 15 minutes, there were 27,949 total applications, and after one hour, 71,235.

Landrush

On 7 April 2006 at 11 am CET registration became possible for non-trademark holders. Most people requesting domains had asked their registrars to put their requested domains in a queue, ensuring the best chance to register a domain. This way more than 700,000 domains were registered during the first 4 hours of operation. Some large registrars like Go Daddy and small registrars like Dotster suffered from long queues and unresponsiveness, allowing people to 'beat the queue' by registering through a registrar that had already processed its queue. By August 2006, 2 Million .eu domains had been registered. It is now the fourth-largest ccTLD in Europe, after .de, .uk and .nl, and is one of the largest internationally.

Bob Parsons, CEO and co-founder of Go Daddy, criticized the landrush process designed by EURid. Particularly, he condemned the use of shell companies by some registrars. In his blog, he stated "These companies, instead of only registering their real active registrars, created hundreds of new "phantom" registrars."[6] Parsons cited a group of about 400 companies, all with similar address and contact information based in New York, each registered as an LLC; in his opinion, these were phantom registrars "created to hijack the .EU landrush."

These "phantom" registrars effectively had hundreds of opportunities of registering a domain whereas a genuine registrar effectively only had one opportunity to register the same domain. Thus some registrants were crowded out of the .eu landrush process and many generic .eu domain names are now owned by the companies using these "phantom" registrars.

Patrik Lindén, spokesman for EURid at the time, denied the allegations by Parsons, stating that "[EURid] verified that each registrar was an individual legal entity. Each had to sign an agreement with us, and prepay €10,000."[7] Parsons didn't dispute that each registrar was a separate legal entity, but noted that creating such entities was trivial: "Mr. Linden seemed proud that the EURid registry verified that each applicant was a legal entity before it was accredited. Take a moment and think about what that means. You can form a “legal entity” for $50 – an LLC – and you are good to go. Is that what we want a registry to do? Don’t we want them instead to make sure that the organization it allows to provide end-users with its domain names – especially Europe's very own domain name – are actually in the domain name registration business?"[8]

The EURid organisation investigated some allegations of abuse, and in July 2006 announced the suspension of over 74,000 domain names and that they were suing 400 registrars for breach of contract.[9] The status of the domains was changed from ACTIVE to ON-HOLD. This meant that the domains could not be moved or have their ownership changed. The registrars also lost their access to the EURid registration database meaning that they could no longer register .eu domain names. The legal action relates to the practice of Domain name warehousing, whereby large numbers of domain names are registered, often by registrars, with the intention of subsequently selling them on to third parties. EURid rules state that applications for domains can only be made after a legitimate application has been made to a registrar. The 74,000 applications were made in the name of only three Cyprus registered companies— Ovidio Ltd., Fausto Ltd. and Gabino Ltd.

The affected registrars, joined in the action by the affected registrants obtained a provisional order from the Court of First Instance in Brussels, Belgium on 27 September 2006. The court ordered EURid to release the blocked domain names or else pay a fine of €25,000 per hour for each affected domain name. EURid complied with the court order and changed the status of the domains from ON HOLD to ACTIVE and restored EURid registration database access to the affected registrars.

The main legal action, that of EURid seeking the registrar agreements between EURid and the registrars in question to be dissolved has still to be heard.

Brexit

On 29 March 2018, as a consequence of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, it was announced that "as of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU, and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date".[10][11] The Commission announced on 27 April 2018 that it would like to open registration to all EU and EEA citizens, including those living outside the EU.[12] The Parliament, the Council, and the Commission reached an agreement on this in December 2018,[13] and the corresponding regulation passed the Parliament on 31 January 2019.[14]

Use by the European Union institutions

The second-level domain .europa.eu has been reserved for EU institution sites, with institutions and agencies making the switch from .eu.int to .europa.eu domains on the Europe day of 9 May 2006.

Actual use

The main users of .eu domains are websites with pan-European or cross-border intentions and audiences. It is often used to emphasise the 'European identity' of a website, as opposed to the website having a strictly national ccTLD or global "dotcom" nature. Alternative (opportunistic) uses include Basque webpages (as the initial letters of Euskadi or the language Euskara) and Romanian, Portuguese, or Galician personal sites, as eu is the equivalent of the English pronoun 'I' in those languages.

In most countries of the EU, the national ccTLDs have the major share of the market with the remainder spread over .com/.net/.org/.info/.biz. As a result of this, .eu has had an uphill battle to gain a significant share of these national markets. The dominant players tend to be the national ccTLD and .com. The other TLDs such as .net, .org and to a lesser extent .info and .biz have progressively smaller shares of these national markets.

Over one year after the launch of .eu (5 July 2007), the number of .de domains registered was 11,079,557 according to the German .de registry's statistics page, while number of German owned .eu domains according to EURid's statistics page was 796,561. The number of .uk domains registered was 6,038,732 according to .uk registry Nominet's statistics page. The number of apparently UK owned .eu domains was 344,584.

Some .eu domain names have had some popularity, such as the Leave.EU.[15] The 317.000 British .eu domain names will be subject to Brexit negotiations because the .eu domain is reserved for European use. The .eu brexit could occur on March 30, 2019, in case of no deal.[15]

Parking and redirects

  • Some domain registrants use their .eu website as a web portal containing a list of their national websites with national ccTLDs.
  • Other registrants have registered a .eu domain name to protect the brand name of their main website or domain, and redirect visitors to their pre-existing national ccTLD or .com website. (example: www.champagne.eu)
  • 12.8% of .eu websites are parking pages with Pay Per Click advertisements.[16] ISPs and web hosters will often point unused domains to a parking webpage with PPC advertising. This percentage does not include .eu domains that are pointed to holding pages or not set up in DNS.
  • 26% of .eu domain names are redirects for existing national ccTLD or .com websites.[16]
  • Domain name speculation, Domain name warehousing and cybersquatting are always features of the launch of any new TLD; however, this was more widespread in the case of the .eu launch, as seen below.

According to page 20 of EURid's Annual Report for 2006, the breakdown of .eu domain ownership figures on 31 December 2006 was:

  • Registrants with more than 10,000 domains: 6
  • Registrants with 5,000–9,999 domains: 18
  • Registrants with 1,000–4,999 domains: 64
  • Registrants with 100-999 domains: 1,257
  • Registrants with 10–99 domains: 20,886
  • Registrants with 6–9 domains: 22,933
  • Registrants with 5 domains: 13,200 – (66,000 domains)
  • Registrants with 4 domains: 23,007 – (92,028 domains)
  • Registrants with 3 domains: 42,887 – (128,661 domains)
  • Registrants with 2 domains: 115,543 – (231,086 domains)
  • Registrants with 1 domain: 610,679

The number of registrants with five domains or fewer registered in .eu ccTLD was, according to these statistics, 805,316. These registrants accounted for 1,128,454 domains out of 2,444,947 .eu domains registered as of 31 December 2006. These registrations, typically those of individuals and companies protecting their brand, only represent 46% of the number of registered .eu domains.

It had been actively targeted during the Sunrise period by speculators using fast track Benelux trademarks to create prior rights on various high value generic terms and during the landrush by speculators using EU front companies in the UK and Cyprus to register large numbers of domains. While speculative activity occurred with the launch of other domains, it was the scale of the activity that called into question the competence of EURid in protecting the integrity of eu ccTLD.

The number of .eu domain registrations during the year after the landrush 7 April 2006 to 6 April 2007 seems to have peaked at approximately 2.6 million .eu domains. The market adjustment that follows a landrush in any domain name extension ensures that the number of registered domains will fall as many speculative domain registrations that failed to be resold will not be renewed. This is sometimes referred to as the Junk Dump. On the morning of 7 April 2007, the number of active .eu domains stood at 2,590,160 with approximately 15,000 domains having been deleted since 5 April 2007.

Approximately 1.5 million .eu domains were up for renewal in April 2007. The EURid registry software is based on the DNS. be software and domains are physically renewed at the end of the month of their anniversary of registration. This process differs from more sophisticated registries like that of .com TLD and other ccTLDs that operate on a daily basis. As with any post-landrush phase, an extension shrinks as the Junk Dump takes effect.

The extent of the shrinkage of .eu ccTLD is difficult to estimate because EURid does not publish detailed statistics on the number of new domains registered each day. Instead it provides only a single figure for the number of active domains. The number of new registrations are combined with numbers of domains registered. Approximately 250,000 .eu domains were either deleted or moved into quarantine by 30 April 2007. In the intervening years the renewal rate has stabilised to approximately 80%, which is above the industry average.[17]

Cyrillic domain

.ею, a top level domain using Cyrillic letters was put into operation on 1 June 2016. A Cyrillic domain was needed because Bulgaria, a member of the EU, uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The EU is called ЕС (Европейски Съюз) in Bulgarian Cyrillic, but .ес (in Cyrillic letters) is much too similar to .ec (in latin letters), the existing top level domain of Ecuador, so .ею was chosen. (While the latin and Cyrillic letters look identical, they do not use the same character set, and are distinct for data-processing purposes.)

EurId has a rule that the second-level domain name must be in the same script as the top-level domain, so Cyrillic second-level domains must go under .ею instead of .eu.[18] Older Cyrillic domains under .eu were cloned into .ею at its launch.

Greek domain

An application for a top level domain using Greek letters, .ευ was submitted in 2016. The application was turned down because it was too visually similar to .eu.[19] The Greek name of the EU is Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση (ΕΕ), but .εε would be too visually similar to .ee, the top level domain of Estonia.

See also

References

  1. ^ "IANA .eu country code entry".
  2. ^ "Register a domain name".
  3. ^ "Eurid's .eu Timeline". Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  4. ^ "ICANN board approves agreement with EURid" (PDF). EURid. 21 March 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2006.
  5. ^ "Check out our domain name: .eu is now in the internet root" (PDF). EURid. 2 May 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2006.
  6. ^ Parsons, Bob (9 April 2006). "The .EU landrush fiasco. A bumbling registry allows Europe's very own domain name to be highjacked!". Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2006.
  7. ^ Keizer, Gregg (11 April 2006). "New .EU Domain Name System Irks U.S. Firm". TechWeb Technology News. Archived from the original on 12 April 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2006.
  8. ^ Parsons, Bob (12 April 2006). "EURid denies .EU landrush abuse. These guys couldn't spin a top". Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2006.
  9. ^ News item from EURid announcing suspension of domain names and intention to sue domain name registrars. Retrieved on 26 July 2006. Archived 13 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Notice to stakeholders: withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules on .eu domain names". European Commission. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  11. ^ "UK citizens might lose .EU domains after Brexit". Engadget. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  12. ^ "The Commission proposes more flexibility in the .eu top-level-domain". europa.eu. 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  13. ^ "Agreement on new rules for the functioning of the .eu top level domain". europa.eu. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  14. ^ "2018/0110(COD): Implementation and functioning of the .eu top level domain name". europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  15. ^ a b "Brexit: Les Britanniques n'auront plus le droit aux noms de domaine en .eu".
  16. ^ a b "Website usage trends among top-level domains" (PDF). EURid. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  17. ^ "Annual Report 2011 - The .eu registry, EURid" (PDF). EURid. 5 June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  18. ^ "Guidelines for .eu in Cyrillic".
  19. ^ ".ею delegation" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.

External links

2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, also known as the EU referendum and the Brexit referendum, took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom (UK) and Gibraltar to ask the people if they wanted the country either to remain a member of or to leave the European Union (EU) under the provisions of the European Union Referendum Act 2015 and also the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. The referendum resulted in 51.9% of voters being in favour of leaving the EU. Although legally the referendum was non-binding, the government of that time had promised to implement the result, and it initiated the official EU withdrawal process on 29 March 2017, meaning that the UK is due to leave the EU before 11PM on 29 March 2019, UK time, when the two-year period for Brexit negotiations expires.Membership of the EU and its predecessors has long been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom. The country joined what were then the three European Communities, principally the European Economic Community (EEC, or "Common Market"), in 1973. A previous referendum on continued membership of the then European Communities (Common Market) was held in 1975, and it was approved by 67.2% (17,378,581) of "Yes" (stay) voters compared to 32.8% (8,470,073) of "No" voters.

In May 2015, in accordance with a Conservative Party manifesto commitment following their victory at the 2015 UK general election, the legal basis for a referendum on EU membership was established by the UK Parliament through the European Union Referendum Act 2015. Britain Stronger in Europe was the official group campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU, and was endorsed by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. Vote Leave was the official group campaigning for the UK to leave the EU, and was fronted by the Conservative MP Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove and Labour MP Gisela Stuart. Other campaign groups, political parties, businesses, trade unions, newspapers and prominent individuals were also involved, and each side had supporters from across the political spectrum.

Immediately after the result, financial markets reacted negatively worldwide, and Cameron announced that he would resign as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, having campaigned unsuccessfully for a "Remain" vote. It was the first time that a national referendum result had gone against the preferred option of the UK Government. Cameron was succeeded by Home Secretary Theresa May on 13 July 2016. The opposition Labour Party also faced a leadership challenge as a result of the EU referendum. Several campaign groups and parties (supporting both leave and remain) have been fined by the Electoral Commission for campaign finance irregularities, with the fines imposed on Leave.EU and BeLeave constrained by the cap on the commission's fines. There is also an ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the referendum.

Brexit

Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British" and "exit") is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), that was legally scheduled to take place on 29 March 2019 at 11 pm UK time. There is an ongoing debate about leaving with a Withdrawal Agreement that has been ratified by both parties as an international treaty between the UK and EU or leaving with no such treaty. The EU has decided that the date will be postponed to 12 April 2019 if the UK fails to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, or to 22 May 2019 if the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, when the period for ratifying a Withdrawal Agreement will end unless a further extension is agreed. On 14 March 2019, the House of Commons voted by a majority of 211 votes for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to ask the EU for such an extension of the period allowed for the negotiation. Brexit follows the referendum of 23 June 2016 when 51.9 per cent of voters chose to leave the EU. Withdrawal has been advocated by Eurosceptics, both left-wing and right-wing, while pro-Europeanists, who also span the political spectrum, have advocated continued membership.

The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath, with continued membership endorsed by a referendum in 1975. From the 1990s, opposition to further European integration came mainly from the right, and divisions within the Conservative Party led to rebellion over the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

The new UK Independence Party (UKIP) was a major advocate of a further referendum on continued membership of what had now become the European Union, and the party's growing popularity in the early 2010s resulted in UKIP being the most successful UK party in the 2014 European Parliament election. The cross-party People's Pledge campaign was also influential in bringing about a referendum. The Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron pledged during the campaign for the 2015 UK General Election to hold a new referendum—a promise which he fulfilled in 2016 following the pressure from the Eurosceptic wing of his party. Cameron, who had campaigned to remain, resigned after the result and was succeeded by Theresa May, his former Home Secretary. She called a snap general election less than a year later, but lost her overall majority. Her minority government is supported in key votes by the Democratic Unionist Party.

On 29 March 2017, the Government of the United Kingdom invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. May announced the government's intention not to seek permanent membership of the European single market or the EU customs union after leaving the EU and promised to repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and incorporate existing European Union law into UK domestic law. Negotiations with the EU officially started in June 2017, aiming to complete the withdrawal agreement by October 2018. In June 2018, the UK and the EU published a joint progress report outlining agreement on issues including customs, VAT and Euratom. In November 2018, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration, agreed between the UK Government and the EU, was published. On 15 January 2019, the House of Commons voted 432 to 202 against the deal, the largest parliamentary defeat in history for a sitting UK government. A second vote on 12 March was voted against 391 to 242, a loss of 149 votes, 81 less than the vote in January.

Brexit negotiations

Brexit negotiations are taking place between the United Kingdom and the European Union for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum on 23 June 2016.

The negotiating period began on 29 March 2017, when the United Kingdom served the withdrawal notice under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union; under the two-year deadline prescribed by Article 50, the period was to end on 29 March 2019.

On 19 June 2017, then-British Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels to begin talks with Michel Barnier, the Chief Negotiator appointed by the European Commission. Negotiations on the withdrawal agreement (which includes a transitional period and an outline of the objectives for a future relationship between the UK and the EU) were concluded in November 2018, with the European Union indicating that no further negotiation or changes before the UK legally leaves will be possible. If the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the UK and other EU state governments and comes into force, more negotiations might be needed to address Free Trade Agreement treaties between the European Union and its members (including the UK) for one part and third countries for the other part, and the tariff-rate quota, which might be split or renegotiated.In March 2019, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May and European Union leaders negotiated a two-week delay, moving the deadline from 29 March to 12 April 2019. The delay is intended to allow the Parliament of the United Kingdom to debate the proposed Brexit arrangement.

Citizenship of the European Union

Citizenship of the European Union (EU) is afforded to qualifying citizens of European Union member states. It was given to the citizens of member states by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, at the same time as the European Community was gaining its own legal identity. The treaty established a direct legal relationship between that new legal identity and its citizens by establishing a directly elected European Parliament and the ability for citizens to bring cases directly to the ECJ, and has been in force since 1993. European Union citizenship is additional to national citizenship. EU citizenship affords rights, freedoms and legal protections to all of its citizens.

European Union citizens have the right to free movement, settlement and employment across the EU. EU citizens are also free to trade and transport goods, services and capital through EU borders, as in a national market, with no restrictions on capital movements or fees. Citizens also have the right to vote in and run as a candidate in local elections in the country where they live, European elections and European Citizens' Initiative.

Citizenship of the EU also confers the right to consular protection by embassies of other EU member states when a person's country of citizenship is not represented by an embassy or consulate in the country in which they require protection. EU citizens also have the right to address the European Parliament, European Ombudsman, and EU agencies directly in their own language, provided the issue raised is within that institution's competence.EU citizens also enjoy the legal protections of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and acts and directives regarding, for example, protection of personal data, rights of victims of crime, preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, equal pay, protection from discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age. The EU also has an office of European Ombudsman whom EU citizens can approach directly.

E number

E numbers are codes for substances that are permitted to be used as food additives for use within the European Union and EFTA. The "E" stands for "Europe". Commonly found on food labels, their safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority.Having a single unified list for food additives was first agreed upon in 1962 with food colouring. In 1964, the directives for preservatives were added, 1970 for antioxidants and 1974 for the emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents.

Enlargement of the European Union

The European Union (EU) has expanded a number of times throughout its history by way of the accession of new member states to the Union. To join the EU, a state needs to fulfil economic and political conditions called the Copenhagen criteria (after the Copenhagen summit in June 1993), which require a stable democratic government that respects the rule of law, and its corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty, each current member state and the European Parliament must agree to any enlargement. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration. This term is also used to refer to the intensification of co-operation between EU member states as national governments allow for the gradual harmonisation of national laws.

The EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community, was founded with the Inner Six member states in 1958, when the Treaty of Rome came into force. Since then, the EU's membership has grown to twenty-eight, with the latest member state being Croatia, which joined in July 2013. The most recent territorial enlargement of the EU was the incorporation of Mayotte in 2014. The most notable territorial reductions of the EU, and its predecessors, were the exit of Algeria upon independence in 1962 and the exit of Greenland in 1985.

As of 2018, accession negotiations are under way with Serbia (since 2014), Montenegro (since 2012) and Turkey (since 2005). Serbia and Montenegro have been described by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn as the front-runner candidates, and projected that they would join by 2025, during the next mandate of the European Commission. Negotiations with Turkey have also been ongoing at a slower pace, particularly since the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt due to objections from the EU to the Turkish government's response. Additionally, the United Kingdom is negotiating its withdrawal from the EU, following a referendum in which a majority voted in favour of leaving the EU.

Euro

The euro (sign: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area, and counts about 343 million citizens as of 2019. The euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The euro is subdivided into 100 cents.

The currency is also used officially by the institutions of the European Union, by four European microstates that are not EU members, as well as unilaterally by Montenegro and Kosovo. Outside Europe, a number of special territories of EU members also use the euro as their currency. Additionally, 240 million people worldwide as of 2018 use currencies pegged to the euro.The euro is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar.

As of August 2018, with more than €1.2 trillion in circulation, the euro has one of the highest combined values of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar.The name euro was officially adopted on 16 December 1995 in Madrid. The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1 (US$1.1743). Physical euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation on 1 January 2002, making it the day-to-day operating currency of its original members, and by March 2002 it had completely replaced the former currencies. While the euro dropped subsequently to US$0.83 within two years (26 October 2000), it has traded above the U.S. dollar since the end of 2002, peaking at US$1.60 on 18 July 2008. In late 2009, the euro became immersed in the European sovereign-debt crisis, which led to the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility as well as other reforms aimed at stabilising and strengthening the currency.

European Commission

The European Commission (EC) is an institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg City, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate. Unlike in the Council of the European Union, where members are directly and indirectly elected, and the European Parliament, where members are directly elected, the Commissioners are proposed by the Council of the European Union, on the basis of suggestions made by the national governments, and then appointed by the European Council after the approval of the European Parliament.

The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission (informally known as "commissioners"). There is one member per member state, but members are bound by their oath of office to represent the general interest of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. One of the 28 is the Commission President (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament. The Council of the European Union then nominates the other 27 members of the Commission in agreement with the nominated President, and the 28 members as a single body are then subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. The current Commission is the Juncker Commission, which took office in late 2014, following the European Parliament elections in May of the same year.

The term Commission is variously used, either in the narrow sense of the 28-member College of Commissioners (or College) or to also include the administrative body of about 32,000 European civil servants who are split into departments called directorates-general and services. The procedural languages of the Commission are English, French and German.

The Members of the Commission and their "cabinets" (immediate teams) are based in the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the EEA Agreement, an international agreement which allows for the extension of the EU's single market to non-EU member parties. The EEA links the European Union member states and three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable free movement of labour, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. The EEA was established on 1 January 1994 upon entry into force of the EEA Agreement. The contracting parties are the European Union (EU), its member states, and the member states of the European Free Trade Association.However, the EEA Treaty is a commercial treaty and differs from the EU Treaties in certain key respects. The EFTA members do not participate in the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy. According to Article 1 its purpose is to "promote a continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relation." Unlike the EU Treaties, there is no mention of "ever closer union".

The right to free movement of persons between EEA member states and the relevant provisions on safeguard measures are identical to those applying between members of the European Union. The right and rules applicable in all EEA member states, including those which are not members of the EU, are specified in Directive 2004/38/EC and in the Agreement on the European Economic Area. The EEA Agreement specifies that membership is open to member states of either the European Union or European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EFTA states which are party to the EEA Agreement participate in the EU's internal market without being members of the EU or the European Union Customs Union. They adopt most EU legislation concerning the single market, with notable exclusions including laws regarding the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. The EEA's "decision-shaping" processes enable EEA EFTA member states to influence and contribute to new EEA policy and legislation from an early stage. Third country goods are excluded for these states on rules of origin.

When entering into force in 1994, the EEA parties were 17 states and two European Communities: the European Community, which was later absorbed into the EU's wider framework, and the now defunct European Coal and Steel Community. Membership has grown to 31 states as of 2016: 28 EU member states, as well as three of the four member states of the EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The Agreement is applied provisionally with respect to Croatia—the remaining and most recent EU member state—pending ratification of its accession by all EEA parties. One EFTA member, Switzerland, has not joined the EEA, but has a series of bilateral agreements with the EU which allow it also to participate in the internal market.

European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) is the only parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU) that is directly elected by EU citizens aged 18 or older. Together with the Council of the European Union (also known as the 'Council'), which should not be confused with the European Council and the Council of Europe, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 members (MEPs), that will become 705 starting from the 2019–2024 legislature (because of specific provisions adopted about Brexit), who represent the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009).It has been directly elected by the European citizens (each EU Member State's national has his state's nationality and EU one consequently) every five years and by universal suffrage since 1979. However, voter turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, and has been under 50% since 1999. Voter turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters.Although the European Parliament has legislative power, as does the Council, it does not formally possess legislative initiative (which is the prerogative of the European Commission), as most national parliaments of European Union member states do. The Parliament is the "first institution" of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU (it exercises executive powers, but no legislative ones other than legislative initiative), is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure.The President of the European Parliament (Parliament's speaker) is Antonio Tajani (EPP), elected in January 2017. He presides over a multi-party chamber, the two largest groups being the Group of the European People's Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The last union-wide elections were the 2014 elections.

The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels (Belgium), Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France).

Luxembourg City is home to the administrative offices (the "General Secretariat"). Meetings of the whole Parliament ("plenary sessions") take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels.

European Single Market

The European Single Market, Internal Market or Common Market is a single market which seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour – the "four freedoms" – within the European Union (EU). The market encompasses the EU's 28 member states, and has been extended, with exceptions, to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Agreement on the European Economic Area and to Switzerland through bilateral treaties.

A number of potential EU accession candidates have Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the EU, which allow for limited participation in selected sectors of the Single Market, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. In addition, through three individual agreements on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU, the post-Soviet countries of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have also been granted limited access to the Single Market in selected sectors. Turkey has access to the free movement of some goods via its membership in the European Union–Turkey Customs Union.The market is intended to be conducive to increased competition, increased specialisation, larger economies of scale, allowing goods and factors of production to move to the area where they are most valued, thus improving the efficiency of the allocation of resources. It is also intended to drive economic integration whereby the once separate economies of the member states become integrated within a single EU-wide economy. Half the trade in goods within the EU is covered by legislation harmonised by the EU. The creation of the internal market as a seamless, single market is an ongoing process, with the integration of the service industry still containing gaps. It also has an increasing international element, with the market represented as one in international trade negotiations.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members 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. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU and European 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 members 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 its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal on 29 March 2019.

Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower.

European migrant crisis

The European migrant crisis or refugee crisis is a term given to a period beginning in 2013 when rising numbers of people arrived in the European Union (EU) from across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe. It is part of a pattern of increased immigration to Europe from other continents which began in the mid-20th century and which has encountered resistance in many European countries.Immigrants from outside Europe include asylum seekers and economic migrants. The term "immigrant" is used by the European Commission to describe a person from a non-EU country establishing his or her usual residence in the territory of an EU country for a period that is, or is expected to be, at least twelve months. Most of the migrants came from Muslim-majority countries in regions south and east of Europe, including the Greater Middle East and Africa.In rare cases, immigration has been a cover for Islamic State militants disguised as refugees or migrants. By religious affiliation, the majority of entrants were Muslim (usually Sunni Muslim), with a small component of non-Muslim minorities (including Yazidis, Assyrians and Mandeans). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the top three nationalities of entrants of the over one million Mediterranean Sea arrivals between January 2015 and March 2016 were Syrian (46.7%), Afghan (20.9%) and Iraqi (9.4%).Of the migrants arriving in Europe by sea in 2015, 58% were males over 18 years of age (77% of adults), 17% were females over 18 (22% of adults) and the remaining 25% were under 18. The number of deaths at sea rose to record levels in April 2015, when five boats carrying almost 2,000 migrants to Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200 people. The shipwrecks took place in a context of ongoing conflicts and refugee crises in several Asian and African countries, which increased the total number of forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2014 to almost 60 million, the highest level since World War II.Though the migrant crisis is mostly discussed in Europe, the top ten countries with the most refugees are Middle Eastern and African countries. Jordan, Turkey, and Pakistan are the top three biggest migrant destinations, while Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad are the rest of the countries in the top 10 of the list. Six out of the top ten countries with the most refugees are Muslim-majority countries.

Euroscepticism

Euroscepticism (also known as EU-scepticism) means criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration. It ranges from those who oppose some EU institutions and policies and seek reform ("soft Euroscepticism"), to those who oppose EU membership outright and see the EU as unreformable ("hard Euroscepticism" or "anti-European Unionism"/"anti-EUism"). The opposite of Euroscepticism is known as pro-Europeanism (or European Unionism).

The main sources of Euroscepticism have been beliefs that integration undermines national sovereignty and the nation state; that the EU is elitist and lacks democratic legitimacy and transparency; that it is too bureaucratic and wasteful; that it encourages high levels of migration; or perceptions that it is a neoliberal organisation serving the business elite at the expense of the working class, responsible for austerity and driving privatization.Euroscepticism is found in groups across the political spectrum, both left-wing and right-wing, and is often found in populist parties. Although they criticise the EU for many of the same reasons, Eurosceptic left-wing populists focus more on economic issues (such as the European debt crisis and TTIP) while Eurosceptic right-wing populists focus more on nationalism and immigration (such as the European migrant crisis). The recent rise in radical right-wing parties is strongly linked to a rise in Euroscepticism.Eurobarometer surveys of EU citizens show that trust in the EU and its institutions has declined strongly since a peak in 2007. Since then it has been consistently below 50%. A 2009 survey showed that support for EU membership was lowest in the United Kingdom (UK), Latvia and Hungary. By 2016, the countries viewing the EU most unfavourably were the UK, Greece, France and Spain. A referendum on continued EU membership was held in the UK in 2016, which resulted in a 51.9% vote in favour of leaving the EU. Since 2015, trust in the EU has risen slightly in most EU countries as a result of falling unemployment rates and accelerating economic growth.Euroscepticism should not be confused with anti-Europeanism, which is a dislike of European culture and European ethnic groups by non-Europeans.

Member state of the European Union

The European Union (EU) consists of 28 member states. Each member state is party to the founding treaties of the union and thereby subject to the privileges and obligations of membership. Unlike members of most international organisations, the member states of the EU are subjected to binding laws in exchange for representation within the common legislative and judicial institutions. Member states must agree unanimously for the EU to adopt policies concerning defence and foreign policy. Subsidiarity is a founding principle of the EU.

In 1957, six core states founded the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany). The remaining states have acceded in subsequent enlargements. On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the newest member state of the EU. To accede, a state must fulfill the economic and political requirements known as the Copenhagen criteria, which require a candidate to have a democratic, free-market government together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect for the rule of law. Enlargement of the Union is also contingent upon the consent of all existing members and the candidate's adoption of the existing body of EU law, known as the acquis communautaire.

There is disparity in the size, wealth, and political system of member states, but all have de jure equal rights. In practice, certain states are considerably more influential than others. While in some areas majority voting takes place where larger states have more votes than smaller ones, smaller states have disproportional representation compared to their population. No member state has withdrawn or been suspended from the EU, though some dependent territories or semi-autonomous areas have left. In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum on membership of the EU, resulting in 51.89% of votes cast, being in favour of leaving. The United Kingdom government invoked Article 50 on 29 March 2017 to formally initiate the withdrawal process.

Schengen Area

The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. The area is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement.

22 of the 28 EU member states participate in the Schengen Area. Of the six EU members that are not part of the Schengen Area, four—Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania—are legally obliged to join the area, while the other two—Ireland and the United Kingdom—maintain opt-outs. The four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, are not members of the EU, but have signed agreements in association with the Schengen Agreement. Three European microstates—Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City—are de facto part of the Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area has a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres (1,664,911 sq mi). About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, and in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce. Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders in total. 57 million crossings are due to transport of goods by road, with a value of €2.8 trillion each year. The decrease in the cost of trade due to Schengen varies from 0.42% to 1.59% depending on geography, trade partners, and other factors. Countries outside of the Schengen area also benefit.

States in the Schengen Area have strengthened border controls with non-Schengen countries.

Serie A

Serie A (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsɛːrje ˈa]), also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Coppa Campioni d'Italia. It has been operating for over eighty years since the 1929–30 season. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, when the Lega Serie A was created for the 2010–11 season.

Serie A is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world and it is often depicted as the most tactical national league. Serie A was the world's second-strongest national league in 2014 according to IFFHSand has produced the highest number of European Cup finalists: Italian clubs have reached the final of the competition on 27 occasions, winning the title 12 times. Serie A is ranked third among European leagues according to UEFA's league coefficient, behind La Liga, Premier League, and ahead of Bundesliga and Ligue 1, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League during the last five years. Serie A led the UEFA ranking from 1986 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1999.In its current format, the Italian Football Championship was revised from having regional and interregional rounds, to a single-tier league from the 1929–30 season onwards. The championship titles won prior to 1929 are officially recognised by FIGC with the same weighting as titles that were subsequently awarded. However, the 1945–46 season, when the league was played over two geographical groups due to the ravages of WWII, is not statistically considered, even if its title is fully official. All the winning teams are recognised with the title of Campione d'Italia ("Champion of Italy"), which is ratified by the Lega Serie A before the start of the next edition of the championship.

The league hosts three of the world's most famous clubs as Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, all founding members of the G-14, a group which represented the largest and most prestigious European football clubs from 2000 to 2008, being the first two cited also founding members of its successive organisation, European Club Association (ECA). More players have won the coveted Ballon d'Or award while playing at a Serie A club than any league in the world other than Spain's La Liga. – although Spain's La Liga has the highest total number of Ballon d'Or winners. Juventus, Italy's most successful club of the 20th century and the most successful Italian team, is tied for fourth in Europe and eighth in the world with the most official international titles. The club is also the only one in the world to have won all possible official confederation competitions. Milan is joint third club for official international titles won in the world, with 18. Internazionale, following their achievements in the 2009–10 season, became the first Italian team to have achieved a treble. Inter are also the only team in Italian football history to have never been relegated. Juventus, Milan and Inter, along with Roma, Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli, are known as the Seven Sisters of Italian football.Serie A is one of the most storied football leagues in the world. Of the 100 greatest footballers in history chosen by FourFourTwo magazine in 2017, 42 players have played in Serie A, more than any other league in the world. Juventus is the team that has produced the most World Cup champions (25), with Inter (19), Roma (15) and Milan (10), being respectively third, fourth and ninth in that ranking.

Treaty of Lisbon

The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU member states on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009. It amends the Maastricht Treaty (1993), known in updated form as the Treaty on European Union (2007) or TEU, and the Treaty of Rome (1957), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) or TFEU. It also amends the attached treaty protocols as well as the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

Prominent changes included the move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in at least 45 policy areas in the Council of Ministers, a change in calculating such a majority to a new double majority, a more powerful European Parliament forming a bicameral legislature alongside the Council of Ministers under the ordinary legislative procedure, a consolidated legal personality for the EU and the creation of a long-term President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Treaty also made the Union's bill of rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding. The Treaty for the first time gave member states the explicit legal right to leave the EU and the procedure to do so.

The stated aim of the treaty was to "complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam [1997] and by the Treaty of Nice [2001] with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action". Opponents of the Treaty of Lisbon, such as former Danish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jens-Peter Bonde, argued that it would centralize the EU, and weaken democracy by "moving power away" from national electorates. Supporters argue that it brings more checks and balances into the EU system, with stronger powers for the European Parliament and a new role for national parliaments.

Negotiations to modify EU institutions began in 2001, resulting first in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which would have repealed the existing European treaties and replaced them with a "constitution". Although ratified by a majority of member states, this was abandoned after being rejected by 54% of French voters on 29 May 2005 and then by 61% of Dutch voters on 1 June 2005. After a "period of reflection", member states agreed instead to maintain the existing treaties, but to amend them, salvaging a number of the reforms that had been envisaged in the constitution. An amending "reform" treaty was drawn up and signed in Lisbon in 2007. It was originally intended to have been ratified by all member states by the end of 2008. This timetable failed, primarily due to the initial rejection of the Treaty in June 2008 by the Irish electorate, a decision which was reversed in a second referendum in October 2009 after Ireland secured a number of concessions related to the treaty.

Visa policy of the Schengen Area

The visa policy of the Schengen Area is set by the European Union and applies to the Schengen Area and to other EU member states without the opt-outs obtained by Ireland and the United Kingdom. The visa policy allows nationals of certain countries to enter the Schengen Area without a visa for short stays and requires others to have a visa.

The Schengen Area consists of 22 EU member states and four non-EU countries who are members of EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not yet part of the Schengen Area but, nonetheless, have a visa policy that is based on the Schengen acquis.Ireland and the United Kingdom opt out of the EU visa policies and instead operate their own separate visa policies, as do certain overseas territories of EU and Schengen member states.

Nationals of EU and Schengen countries are not only visa-exempt but are legally entitled to enter and reside in each other's countries. Their right to freedom of movement in each other's countries can, however, be limited in a reserved number of situations, as prescribed by the EU treaties.

Withdrawal from the European Union

Withdrawal from the European Union is the legal and political process whereby an EU member state ceases to be a member of the Union. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements".As of February 2019, no member state has withdrawn from the EU (or the EC); however, the Government of the United Kingdom triggered Article 50 to begin the UK's withdrawal from the EU in March 2017 following a referendum, and the withdrawal was scheduled in law to occur on 29 March 2019.Three territories of EU member states have withdrawn: French Algeria (in 1962, upon independence), Greenland (in 1985, following a referendum) and Saint Barthélemy (in 2012), the latter two becoming Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union.

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