|Real World Organization|
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993, upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community. With almost 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share (US$18.4 trillion in 2008) of the nominal gross world product.
After the end of the Second World War, moves towards European integration were seen by many as an escape from the extreme forms of nationalism which had devastated the continent. One such attempt to unite Europeans was the European Coal and Steel Community which, while having the modest aim of centralised control of the previously national coal and steel industries of its member states, was declared to be "a first step in the federation of Europe". The founding members of the Community were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
Two additional communities were created in 1957: the European Economic Community (EEC) establishing a customs union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for cooperation in developing nuclear energy. In 1967 the Merger Treaty created a single set of institutions for the three communities, which were collectively referred to as the European Communities, although more commonly just as the European Community (EC).
In 1973 the Communities enlarged to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Norway had negotiated to join at the same time but a referendum rejected membership and so it remained outside. In 1979 the first direct, democratic elections to the European Parliament were held.
Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986. In 1985 the Schengen Agreement created largely open borders without passport controls between most member states. In 1986 the European flag began to be used by the Community and the Single European Act was signed.
The Iron Curtain's fall enabled eastward enlargement. (Berlin Wall) In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the former East Germany became part of the Community as part of a newly united Germany. With enlargement toward East-Central Europe on the agenda, the Copenhagen criteria for candidate members to join the European Union were agreed.
With over 56 % of the population in the 27 Member States of the European Union living in rural areas, which cover 91 % of the territory, rural development is a vitally important policy area. Farming and forestry remain crucial for land use and the management of natural resources in the EU's rural areas, and as a platform for economic diversification in rural communities. The strengthening of EU rural development policy is, therefore, an overall EU priority.
The European Union has an active rural development policy because this helps them to achieve valuable goals for their countryside and for the people who live and work there.
The EU's rural areas are a vital part of its physical make-up and its identity. According to a standard definition, more than 91% of the territory of the EU is "rural", and this area is home to more than 56% of the EU's population. Furthermore, the EU's fantastic range of striking and beautiful landscapes are among the things that give it its character – from mountains to steppe, from great forests to rolling fields.
Many of their rural areas face significant challenges. Some of their farming and forestry businesses still need to build their competitiveness. More generally, average income per head is lower in rural regions than in our towns and cities, while the skills base is narrower and the service sector is less developed. Also, caring for the rural environment often carries a financial cost.
In 2016, a nuclear attack occurs in Saudi Arabia, killing 6 million people and crippling the world's oil supply. The following year, the United States of America and the European Union sign the historic SLAMS (Space-Land-Air Missile Shield) Treaty, agreeing to co-develop technologies for a comprehensive, interlocking anti-ballistic missile system. The US and EU test launch nuclear salvos against each other, which the SLAMS weapons completely destroy. Emboldened by the success of the tests, the US and EU pronounce "the end of strategic nuclear war," and the world celebrates a new age of peace. But with crude oil at USD 800 a barrel, the EU member-states are forced to consolidate political, economic, and military power to form the European Federation. The United Kingdom and Ireland decline membership, instead merging to form the "New Commonwealth", an ally of the EF. Nations too weak to join the EF, notably the Balkans (except Bulgaria and Greece), along with Ukraine, Moldova, and most of Romania collapse completely, and were subsequently taken over by Russia, who refer to it as "their land".