What Is the European Union?

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This morning the Nobel Prize committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 to the European UnionMedia confusion abounds, Nobel Peace Prize edition.  What is the European Union, anyway?  Many newsreaders seemed to think the prize was awarded to the European Monetary Union, commonly called the Eurozone.  These are the 17 countries that use the euro as a currency.  However, the Nobel committee made it clear that the award was to the European Economic Union.  There are 27 countries in the economic union.  Major countries that do not use the euro include the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden.  (Interestingly, Norway, the country that hosts the Nobel awards, is not a member of either European union.)

The exact language used by the Nobel committee in making the award referred to the “60 year history” of the European Union.  That would be 1962, the beginning of the European Coal and Steel Community.  In 1958 the countries decided to change to a more compact name, the European Economic Community (called the Common Market).  In 1993 the name was changed to the European Union.  Therefore, the Nobel prize must be shared among 27 countries of the EU instead of the 17 countries in the eurozone.  (According to one comment, that works out to about €0.10 per capita.  The reporter asked that her share be deposited directly into her checking account.)

More media humor: “Good thing the EU got the Peace Prize.  There was no chance of them winning the prize for economics.

This information is incredibly easy to find.  The European Central Bank website has two maps of the respective zones.  The European Economic Union map includes the list of member countries:


European Economic Union countries

European Economic Union countries

And the European Monetary Union:

European Monetary Union countries

European Monetary Union countries

Remember when reporters actually reported and did research?


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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.