The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 member states. It has a population of over 500 million; Germany is its largest member.
The founding members of the bloc were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany, who signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993.
The proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the USA is generating all kinds of negative headlines, but industrialists on both sides of the Atlantic are hoping for a successful conclusion. Uniform standards, for example, would make it easier to export engineering products.
On this week's programme: Europe responds to the bloodshed and butchery in Iraq: EU efforts to halt the march of the Islamic State - Campaigns in support of the Yazidis – A policy change by the Vatican – Turkey's role in the crisis – Civilians flee Ukraine fighting - Has Ukraine civil war entered the realm of science fiction?- French government sells off assets to - Road pirates in Prague.
While the US has bombed IS positions and is prepared to arm Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the European Union has been searching for a common position on how to stop the extremists’ advance. France has promised to arm the Peshmerga directly, Germany has pledged non-lethal military supplies, while Britain’s position has been less clear cut. Lars Bevanger has the details.
For months the Ukrainians, as well as the EU and the US, have been accusing President Putin of fomenting the conflict in the east of the country - providing the separatists with money, men and materiel. But one analyst argues that he’s also deployed a rather more curious weapon to stir up trouble: science fiction. Stephen Beard has been finding out more.