Western European Union (WEU)

Association of 10 European countries to coordinate matters of European security and defense. The WEU was formed in 1955 as an outgrowth of the Brussels Treaty of 1948. Composed of Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Britain, it works in cooperation with NATO and the European Union and is administered by a council of the foreign affairs and defense ministers of the member countries. There are also several associate members, observers, and associate partners. It is headquartered in Brussels.

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Flag of the European Union.

Organization of European countries, formed in 1993 to oversee their economic and political integration. It was created by the Maastricht Treaty and ratified by all members of the European Community (EC), out of which the EU developed. The successful EC had made its members more receptive to greater integration and provided a framework for unified action by member countries in security and foreign policy and for cooperation in police and justice matters. In pursuit of its major goal to create a common monetary system, the EU established the euro, which replaced the national currencies of 12 of the 15 EU members in 2002. Originally confined to western Europe, the EU enlarged to include several central and eastern European countries in the early 21st century. The EU's principal institutions are the European Community, the Council of Ministers (a forum for individual ministries), the European Commission (an administrative bureaucracy), the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the European Central Bank.

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French Agence Spatiale Européenne

Western European space and space-technology research organization headquartered in Paris. It was founded in 1975 from the merger of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), both established in 1964. Members are Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Canada, through a special cooperative agreement, participates in some projects. The ESA developed the Ariane series of space launch vehicles, and it supports a launch facility in French Guiana. It has launched a system of meteorological satellites (Meteosat) as well as the Giotto space probe, which examined the nucleus of Halley's Comet, and Hipparcos, a satellite that measured the parallaxes, positions, and proper motions of more than 100,000 stars. It is also a participant in the construction of the International Space Station.

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(1948–51) U.S.-sponsored program to provide economic aid to European countries after World War II. The idea of a European self-help plan financed by the U.S. was proposed by George Marshall in 1947 and was authorized by Congress as the European Recovery Program. It provided almost $13 billion in grants and loans to 17 countries and was a key factor in reviving their economies and stabilizing their political structures. The plan's concept was extended to less-developed countries under the Point Four Program.

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Legislative assembly of the European Union (EU). Inaugurated in 1958 as the Common Assembly, the European Parliament originally consisted of representatives selected by the national parliaments of member countries. Beginning in 1979, members of the Parliament, who now number more than 700, were elected by direct universal suffrage to terms of five years. The number of members per country varies depending on population. The Parliament's leadership is shared by a president and 14 vice presidents, elected for 30-month terms. The EU Council of Ministers, which represents the member states, consults the Parliament, which is empowered to discuss whatever matters it wishes. The Parliament's powers were expanded with passage of the Maastricht Treaty (1993). Although it has veto power in most areas relating to economic integration and budgetary policy, it remains subordinate to the Council of Ministers and does not function with the authority of a national legislature such as the U.S. Congress or the British House of Commons.

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in full Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire formerly Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire.

International scientific organization established for collaborative research into subnuclear physics. Headquartered in Geneva, CERN includes extensive facilities at sites on both sides of the Swiss-French border. The results of its experimental and theoretical work are made generally available. It was established in part in order to reclaim European physicists who had emigrated to the U.S. as a result of World War II. In 2000 it had 20 European member nations and several nations with observer status.

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International organization whose purpose is to remove barriers to trade in industrial goods among its members. The EFTA's current members are Iceland, Liechteinstein, Norway, and Switzerland. It was formed in 1960 by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain as an alternative to the European Economic Community (EEC). Some of those countries later left the EFTA and joined the EEC. In the 1990s Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway joined the European Economic Area, which also included all members of the European Union. Each country in the EFTA maintains its own commercial policy toward countries outside the group.

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later European Community (EC) known as the Common Market

Association of European countries designed to promote European economic unity. It was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 to develop the economies of the member states into a single common market and to build a political union of the states of western Europe. The EEC also sought to establish a single commercial policy toward nonmember countries, to coordinate transportation systems, agricultural policies, and general economic policies, to remove measures restricting free competition, and to assure the mobility of labour, capital, and entrepreneurship among member states. The liberalized trade policies it sponsored from the 1950s were highly successful in increasing trade and economic prosperity in western Europe. In 1967 its governing bodies were merged into the European Community. In 1993 the EEC was renamed the European Community (EC); it is now the principal organization within the European Union.

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Judicial branch of the European Union (EU), established in 1958 to ensure the observance of international agreements negotiated by predecessor organizations of the EU. Headquartered in Luxembourg, it reviews the legality of the acts of EU executive bodies and rules on cases of civil law between member states or private parties. It can invalidate the laws of EU members when they conflict with EU law. Its bench, which is appointed by member governments, consists of 25 judges and 8 advocates-general. Prior to 2004, the ECJ met as a full chamber for all cases, but it now may sit as a “grand chamber” of 11 judges. Seealso International Court of Justice.

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Administrative agency designed to integrate the coal and steel industries of France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. It originated in the plan of Robert Schuman (1950) to establish a common market for coal and steel by those countries willing to submit to an independent authority. Created in 1952, the ECSC came to include all members of the European Union. It initially removed barriers to trade in coal, coke, steel, pig iron, and scrap iron; it later supervised the reduction of its members' excess production. In 1967 its governing bodies were merged into the European Community. When the treaty expired in 2002, the ECSC was dissolved.

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International organization established in 1958 to form a common market for developing peaceful uses of atomic energy. It originally had six members; it now includes all members of the European Union. Among its aims were to facilitate the establishment of a nuclear energy industry on a European rather than a national scale, coordinate research, encourage construction of power plants, establish safety regulations, and establish a common market for trade in nuclear equipment and materials. In 1967 its governing bodies were merged into the European Community.

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