An economic and political association of certain European countries as a unit with internal free trade and common external tariffs.
The European Union was created on 1 November 1993, with the coming into force of the Maastricht Treaty. It encompasses the old European Community (EC) together with two intergovernmental ‘pillars’ for dealing with foreign affairs and with immigration and justice. The terms European Economic Community (EEC) and European Community (EC) continue to be used loosely to refer to what is now the European Union. The European Union consists of twenty-eight member states, nineteen of which use the common currency unit, the euro