What the EU does today
Today the EU is an important global player, contributing to global peace and security through actions including peace-building missions. It is the world's largest donor of development aid and helps countries facing humanitarian crises, both through donating emergency aid and by helping them strengthen their crisis preparedness and resilience. As the world's largest single market and as its biggest trader the EU contributes to world prosperity, and its currency, the euro, is now a major world currency.
The EU is also active in areas such as climate change, energy and the environment. With Japan it is negotiating an ambitious Free Trade Agreement that could increase trade in both directions, and a Strategic Partnership Agreement.
The EU has continued to expand and now has 28 Member States, with 6 other countries being candidates to join. Any European country which respects and promotes the EU's democratic values, has a functioning market economy and is able to implement the obligations of membership may apply to join. Conditions for membership are set out in the Copenhagen Criteria.