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Expanding to Europe Has Never Been Better

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Expanding to Europe Has Never Been Better

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With a population of 450 million, the European Union (EU) is the largest economic area in the world, with a gross domestic product of over 13 trillion dollars.

Making the move into Europe has never looked so attractive. Consulting House outlines the reasons why.

With a population of 450 million, the European Union (EU) is the largest economic area in the world, with a gross domestic product of over 13 trillion dollars. The heart of the EU is the European Community (EC) formed in 1957, the aim of which was and is the economic integration of the member states in order to create a single common market.

To achieve this single market, the EC grants all EU citizens four fundamental freedoms: the freedom of movement of persons, the right of establishment, the freedom to provide services, and the freedom of movement of goods. The purpose of these is to enable all EU citizens to conduct business activities in any other member state without obstructive restrictions. In particular, an EU national conducting business activities "across borders" with another member state is not subject to business regulations stricter than those applicable to that country's own citizens (known as the "ban on discrimination").

The EU's "capital" is Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission, which monitors compliance with the Community's laws and drafts laws on its own initiative. The legislative body that decides on these proposals is the highest EU committee – the Council of the European Union, formerly known as the Council of Ministers – together with the European Parliament. In the Council of the European Union, the individual member states are represented by ministers of their governments. The European Parliament, an EU body directly elected by the citizens of the individual member states, is based in Strasbourg, France. In addition to its clearly extended participatory rights in the area of legislation, the Parliament exercises democratic control over the Commission and has the right to exercise a vote of no confidence.

In addition to a common economic policy, the EU is increasingly developing a common security and foreign policy and increasing cooperation between police forces and judicial authorities. Finally, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg provides a forum not just for the arbitration of disputes between the individual member states, but also for actions from individual citizens or companies who feel their European rights of freedom – the "fundamental rights" – have been infringed.

The EU is a single market. Inland customs borders have ceased to exist in 1992.

The EU sets uniform external tariffs for non-EU states. Every entrepreneur from the EU can set up anywhere in the member states, and employees can also be employed in all countries. However, transition periods were agreed for the free movement of persons for the new member states. The common euro currency has been in existence in 12 member states since 1999. The euro has replaced the national currency as the means of payment in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. The European Central Bank, which is the common monetary authority of the member states, has its headquarters in the financial metropolis of Frankfurt am Main.

One of the EU's most important aims is to promote Europe's competitiveness. Around one third of the budget of 100 billion euros is spent on promoting business and employment in disadvantaged regions.

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