The European Union (EU) is a partnered political and economic alliance of more than 25 European nations and the UK that was fostered after WWII as the European Economic Community (EEC), a 1958 six-country economic cooperative. The re-named 1993 European Union we know today is a product of the collapse of communism. It is founded on the basis of a Single Market and freedoms to move goods, services, people and money and by the end of the 1990s included protection treaties addressing the environment and security and defense issues among the European states. Interrelated communications, technology, language, and education among the countries began to thrive. Human rights emerged as a significant issue.

The new millennium saw the transition to a single euro-dollar currency. The war on terror made the countries within the EU more cohesive, healing differences and unifying to fight crime. The most recent decade begins in economic crisis. Green and climate-friendly technologies and cooperation are intended to foster growth and welfare.

Decisions are made through a “co-decision” process. The directly-elected European Parliament approves all EU legislation with the support of the 27 European Union governments, also known as, the Council.

The EU is in constant flux on a variety of issues. Regulating and safeguarding interests range from Greece’s economic crash, requiring Greece’s EU representatives, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and European Central Bank creditors to audit Greece’s implementation of its austerity programme and structural reforms, to the UK’s call for the EU to regulate unlawful financial short-selling by a Paris-based regulator.

Data protection is a latest concern. Britain’s Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has called the European Union’s attention to proposals that give consumers more control over how their data is used. The EU plans to update regulations that will put the burden on businesses. Small businesses and start ups are already impacted by strict cash regulations required by Brussels. This additional regulation, Grayling says, will cost jobs, and premiums will have to be passed onto consumers, thus impacting revenue streams.