- The European Union
- How Does it Work?
- How is it Governed?
- Which Countries are EU Members?
- The Euro €
- Schengen Area
The European Union
The European Union (EU) is a unified monetary body that seeks to balance the needs of its 28 member countries, all of whom are independent fiscal and political entities. It has all the advantages of a large, unified trading area but with political conflicts between member states. It tries to overcome this weakness through a series of trade agreements and negotiations. It’s known formally as the European Economic and Monetary Union.
Today, the EU, is one of the safest and biggest free-travel zones in the world.
In line with the whole ideology behind the formation of the EU, another advantage is that member states enjoy free trade without the need to pay additional taxation. This helps members maintain competitive prices.
Since it speaks on behalf of millions of citizens, the EU can ensure that concerns of its member states are taken seriously and heard internationally. It allows the EU to have a more significant power in the international scene.
How Does it Work?
The EU eliminates all border controls between members allowing the free flow of goods and people (except for random spot checks for crime and drugs). The EU promotes state-of-the-art technologies to its members in environmental protection, with projects in research, development and energy.
Public contracts are open to bidders from any member country. Any product legally manufactured in one member country can be sold to any other member without tariffs or duties.
How is it Governed?
Three bodies run the EU: the EU Council (representing national governments), the Parliament (elected by the people) and the European Commission (the EU staff). They make sure all members act consistently in regional, agricultural, and social policies.
Here’s how the three bodies uphold the laws governing the EU, which are spelled out in a series of treaties and supporting regulations:
– The EU Council sets the policies and proposes new legislations. The political leadership, or Presidency of the EU, is held by a different leading country every six months (between 1st January and 30th June 2017, Malta will be holding the Presidency of the EU);
– The European Parliament debates and approves the laws proposed by the Council; and
– The European Commission staffs and executes the laws.
Which Countries are EU Members?
The EU’s 28 member countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The Euro €
Today, the Euro is one of the world’s most powerful currencies, used by more than 320 million citizens in twenty-four countries. 19 EU Members and 5 other European countries use the Euro. These are:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the Vatican City.
The Advantages of Schengen
A Schengen Visa is the document issued by the appropriate authorities to the interested party for visiting/travelling to and within the Schengen Area.
The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as a single country. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the European Union (EU) and the other 4 are part of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).
EU: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The abolition of borders between European countries has resulted in:
- Nationals of any country, when in the Schengen Area, to liberally cross the internal borders of the Schengen countries, free from border checks;
- Shared standards for crossing the external borders of Schengen countries;
- Harmonized entry and short-stay visa conditions for all Schengen countries;
- Improved collaboration between the police of member countries;
- Privileged judicial collaboration between Schengen countries, including faster extradition of suspected criminals, and easier relocation for execution of criminal verdicts; and
- An advanced shared database, assisting member countries to quickly exchange information about people and goods between them, known as (SIS) The Schengen Information System.
If you are a non-EU, EEA or Swiss national in possession of a residence permit of one of the Schengen Countries (e.g., Malta) you do not need a Schengen visa to allow you to travel to another Schengen area country for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180 day period.
The Malta Residence and Visa Programme provides the applicant and his/her family with a Maltese residence card which allows holders to travel within Schengen under the above conditions. If you want to know more on how we can assist you to obtain such status kindly click here to see the process and other benefits of the Malta Residence and Visa Programme.