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The European Union in all its complexities and controversies is often not well understood. I am therefore publishing today a briefing: Understanding the European Union (PDF).

The development of the European Union (EU) is defined by the principle of ever-greater integration expressed in the relevant treaties, notably in the preamble about ‘ever closer union’. That is, the goal is continual integration among the nations of Europe until economic, monetary, fiscal and political union has been achieved.

The Lisbon Treaty defines the EU, which has many of the elements of a nation state including a constitution, flag, anthem, embassies, civil service and the institutions described below. The Lisbon Treaty was formerly known as the EU Constitution. The Constitution was rejected in referendums by the people of the Netherlands and France in ‘No’ votes in 2005.

I am grateful to the team at Business for Britain for preparing this note to my specification and for those colleagues who kindly provided review. Errors, omissions and the choice of scope remain my own.

I hope this briefing helps inform the debate.

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