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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are primarily located in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the community 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 Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

Selected article

Scottish Parliament detail.jpg

The Scottish Parliament Building is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh. Construction on the building commenced in June 1999 and the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate in the new Parliament on Tuesday, 7 September 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth II took place on 9 October 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died during the course of its construction.

From the outset, the building and its construction proved to be highly controversial. The choice of location, architect, design and construction company were all criticised by politicians, the media and the Scottish public. When it finally opened in 2004, the building was over three years late with an estimated final cost of £431m, higher than initial costings of between £10m and £40m. The building was welcomed by architectural academics and critics. The building conceives a poetic union between the Scottish landscape, its people, its culture and the city of Edinburgh. This approach won the parliament numerous awards including the 2005 Stirling Prize and has been described as "a tour de force of arts and crafts and quality without parallel in the last 100 years of British architecture".

Selected city

Sofia

Sofia is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria, with a population of 1,246,791, and some 1,377,761 in the metropolitan area, the Capital Municipality. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of the mountain massif Vitosha, and is the administrative, cultural, and economic centre of the country.

The history of Sofia dates back to the 8th century B.C, when Thracians established a settlement there. Sofia has had several names in the different periods of its existence, and remnants of the city's millenary history can still be seen today alongside modern landmarks. Sofia is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, blending its past and present in a remarkable architectural style. Historic landmarks include the 10th-century Boyana Church, the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, and the early Byzantine Saint Sofia Church. More modern architecture is represented by the Bulgarian National Opera and Ballet, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the Rakovski Str theatre district, Slaveykov Square's outdoor book market, and the NDK. Sofia is the see of an Eastern Orthodox and of a Roman Catholic diocese.

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