The EU uses external relations instruments such as the European Neighbourhood Policy, which aims to link these countries to the east and south of the EU`s European territory to the Union. These countries, especially developing countries, include some that want to one day become either a Member State of the European Union or closer integration into the European Union. The EU offers financial support to european neighbourhood countries provided they meet the strict conditions for government reforms, economic reforms and other issues related to positive change. This process is usually underpinned by an action plan agreed by both Brussels and the target country. The European Union has seven main decision-making bodies, its bodies: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors. Responsibility for reviewing and amending legislation is shared between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, while executive tasks are carried out by the European Commission and, to a limited extent, by the European Council (not to be confused with the above-mentioned Council of the European Union). The monetary policy of the euro area is determined by the European Central Bank. The interpretation and application of Union law and the Treaties shall be ensured by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU budget is audited by the European Court of Auditors. There are also a number of aid agencies that advise the EU or operate in a specific area. The four countries that make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are not members of the EU, but are partially committed to the EU economy and regulation: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are part of the internal market through the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, which maintains similar relations through bilateral agreements.   Relations between the European micro-states of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City include the use of the euro and other areas of cooperation.  In front of the blue sky of the Western world, the stars symbolize the peoples of Europe in the form of a circle, a sign of unity.
The number of stars without exception is twelve, the number twelve being the symbol of perfection and fullness. Eurostat`s Eurobarometer opinion polls in 2005 showed that 52% of EU citizens believed in a God, 27% believed in “some kind of spirit or life force” and 18% did not believe in any form of faith.  Many countries have experienced a decline in church attendance and membership in recent years.  The countries where very few people professed religious beliefs were Estonia (16%) and the Czech Republic (19%).  The most religious countries were Malta (95%, mostly Catholic) as well as Cyprus and Romania (both predominantly Orthodox), with about 90% of citizens each professing their faith in their respective gods. Across the EU, faith was higher among women, the elderly, people of religious background, those who left school at the age of 15 or 16, and those who “took a position on the right side of the political ladder”.  The newly appointed President of the Commission, Jacques Delors (Delors Commission), led the adoption of the European flag by the Communities in 1986. In February 1986, during the first major revision of the Treaties since the Merger Treaty, the Heads of State or Government signed the Single European Act. The text dealt with institutional reform, including the extension of Community competences, particularly in the field of foreign policy.
It was an important element in the completion of the internal market and entered into force on 1 July 1987.  In addition to the emerging international policy of the European Union, the EU`s international influence is also felt through enlargement. The perceived benefits of EU membership act as an incentive for political and economic reforms in states that want to meet the EU membership criteria and are seen as an important contributing factor to the reform of former Communist European countries. :762 This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is commonly referred to as “soft power,” as opposed to military “hard power.”  In 1987, Turkey formally applied for membership of the Community and initiated the longest application procedure for a country. After the Polish strikes of 1988 and the agreement of the Polish Round Table, the first small signs of an opening in Central Europe appeared. The opening of a border gate between Austria and Hungary during the pan-European picnic on 19 August 1989 triggered a peaceful chain reaction, at the end of which there was no longer a GDR and the Eastern bloc had disintegrated. Otto von Habsburg and Imre Pozsgay saw the event as an opportunity to test Mikhail Gorbachev`s reaction to the opening of the Iron Curtain.  In particular, it was examined whether Moscow would give Soviet troops stationed in Hungary the order to intervene.  But with the mass exodus to the pan-European picnic, the subsequent hesitant behavior of the United Socialist Party of East Germany and the non-interference of the Soviet Union broke the dams.
Thus, the support of the Eastern Bloc was broken and, as a result, the Berlin Wall fell with the entire Iron Curtain.   Germany has been reunified and the door to the expansion of the former Eastern bloc has been opened (see also: Copenhagen Criteria).   Although the European Union was not officially created until 1993, it actually dates back to 1957, when the European Economic Community was created. The EEC was formed from an old group called the European Coal and Steel Community, which started its own group in 1951. You`ve probably seen images of this blue and gold flag being waved in many of Europe`s most powerful countries. You`ve probably also heard of a thing or two about Brexit. But what exactly is the European Union and how was it founded? And, perhaps more importantly, how did it work in the past and how does it work today? To become a member, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria set at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993. These require a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy; and acceptance of membership obligations, including EU law.
The assessment of a country`s compliance with the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.  Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon is the basis for the withdrawal of a member of the Union. Two territories left the Union: Greenland (an autonomous province of Denmark) withdrew in 1985;  The UK formally invoked Article 50 of the Consolidated Treaty on European Union in 2017 and was the only sovereign state to leave the EU when it left the EU in 2020. The Council of the European Union (also known as the Council and the “Council of Ministers”, its former title) constitute half of the EU`s legislative power. It consists of one minister from each Member State and meets in different configurations depending on the policy area. Despite its different configurations, it is considered as a single body.  In addition to its legislative functions, the Council also exercises executive functions with regard to the common foreign and security policy. The decisions offer an alternative to the two legal forms mentioned above. These are legal acts which apply only to certain specific persons, undertakings or Member States. They are most often used in competition law or State aid decisions, but are also often used for procedural or administrative matters within the institutions. Regulations, directives and decisions are legally equivalent and apply without formal hierarchy.  Originally, European policymakers increased the EU`s ability to act on environmental issues by defining it as a trade problem.
 Barriers to trade and distortions of competition in the common market could result from different environmental standards in different Member States.  In the following years, the environment became a formal policy domain with its own political actors, principles, and procedures. The legal basis for EU environmental policy was created with the introduction of the Single European Act in 1987.  The European Union has contributed to peace in Europe, notably by easing border disputes and to the spread of democracy, notably by promoting democratic reforms in the new Eastern European member states following the collapse of the USSR.   Researcher Thomas Risse wrote in 2009: “There is a consensus in the Eastern European literature that the prospect of EU membership has had a huge anchoring effect on new democracies.”  R. However, Daniel Kelemen argues that the EU has proven beneficial for leaders who oversee democratic regression, because the EU is reluctant to intervene in domestic politics, provides authoritarian governments with the means to strengthen their regimes, and because free movement within the EU allows dissident citizens to leave their backward countries. At the same time, the Union offers external coercion that prevents soft authoritarian regimes from turning into harsh dictatorships.  In February . . .