The Legal System of the European Union The Legal System of the European Union Introduction The European Union (EU) is a legal order that connects nations in Europe. The EU is essentially a political and economic union that encompasses up to 27 members states within the European region. This union, previously known as and is still often referred to as the European Community, is an intergovernmental organization established through a number of treaties. These treaties include among others the European Coal and Steel Community established in 1851, the European Atomic Energy Commission or Euratom established in 1957, the Treaty of Rome that led to the institution of the European Economic Community in 1957, the Single European Act of 1987, and the Treaty of European Union also called the Maastricht Treaty, which founded the European Union in 1993.
The treaty that established the Constitution for Europe was signed in the year 2004, but as at 2007, it became apparent that the treaty would not be ratified by member states. The Reform Treaty or the Treaty of Lisbon, which included an amended version of the original constitutional text of the Treaty that established the European Constitution, as well as numerous changes to the EU, was signed in December 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The aim of the new treaty was to ratify it in its member countries before the European elections held in 2009. The future of the Lisbon Treaty is uncertain following its rejection by a referendum in Ireland in the year 2008 and its ratification in other member states is still on hold since 2008 (Barnard, 2007). From the start, the plan behind establishing a common legal and economic community in Europe was to create a common market.
This vision formally materialized in 1993, and is currently down the path of monetary, political and economic union. At this stage, it is imperative to point out the EU member states. From 2008, EU member states are Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Latvia, Belgium, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Italy, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Hungary, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. However, Turkey Republic of Macedonia and Croatia are currently official member countries while Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia are potential member candidates (Albi, 2008).
The EU is continually enlarging its scope through the accession of new member states. The enlargement process started with the inner six nations that founded the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, namely, Belgium, France, West, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands.
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