Puchala is pointing out that:

Nobody agrees on whether the European Union is a type of country or if it is a large and powerful international organization.

This is partly why studying the European Union is so fascinating. It is something new that defies traditional labels like “country”, “nation-state”, or “international organization”.

The EU is certainly not a country like Canada or the United States, but there are important similarities between them.

The EU is like a country because:
The EU is unlike a country because:
  • Most EU Member States have adopted a single Currency, the Euro, just as Canada has one currency, the Canadian Dollar;
  • Legislation passed by EU institutions is binding on members and can be enforced in courts;
  • The EU has an anthem and flag like many countries do;
  • The citizens of the member states directly elect the European Parliament. The European Parliament, however is much weaker than the House of Commons in Canada. For example, it cannot propose legislation.
  • The EU consists of Member States, such as Italy and Poland, which have their own constitutions or similar founding documents, as well as their own autonomous governments;
  • The EU is based on a set of treaties between Member States, rather than on a constitution (although one is under discussion);
  • The EU does not have its own military force or a common foreign policy (although both are under discussion)

So what exactly is the European Union?

There are many terms and concepts that are used to describe the European Union.

Click on each of the following terms to find out how these terms describe and define the European Union:

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