The European Union (EU) is the most ambitious and successful project of economic and political integration in the history of international relations. Born from the ashes of World War II, it established and strengthened, over six decades of existence, a community of peace, freedom, democracy and prosperity among its Member States, based on a social market economy and ensuring social protection and the well-being of its citizens.
With a population of around 500 million people, as a result of its several enlargements, the EU represents one of the driving forces of the world's economy and trade. It is the largest source and recipient of foreign direct investment, as well as the largest donor of development aid. As a global player, the EU is a promoter of a world order based on multilateralism and international law, which emcompasses human rights and the Rule of Law.
European construction has been carried out through the outlining of joint responses to threats, against which individual Member States would be powerless. At present, the EU is confronted with a number of external challenges, such as migration flows, management of neighbourhoods to the South and East and the development and climate agendas. It also needs to tackles a set of internal priorities, such as strengthening economic and social convergence between the economies of the different Member States, the basis of the added value of the Union, or continuing efforts to ensure that the EU is seen by its citizens as an asset, capable of meeting their legitimate desires and defending their fundamental interests. In the face of these challenges and priorities, there is an urgent need to devise European responses based on solidarity and common interest that unite EU states within a community of values that goes beyond their differences and geographical boundaries.