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Portal:European Union

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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are primarily located in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.

The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993, the latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

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Paris Air Show 2007-06-24 n18.jpg

The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an inter-governmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 20 member states. Its headquarters are in Paris, France. ESA has a staff of about 2,000 with an annual budget of about €4 billion in 2013.

ESA's spaceport is the Centre Spatial Guyanais (Guyana Space Centre) in Kourou, French Guiana, a site chosen because it is close to the equator from which commercially important orbits are easier to access. During the 1990s ESA gained the position of market leader in commercial space launches and in recent years ESA has established itself as a major player in space exploration.

ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, and the European Astronauts Centre (PACI), that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany.

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ROU Bucharest CoA3.svg

Bucharest is the capital city and industrial and commercial centre of Romania. It is located in the southeast of the country, and lies on the banks of the Dâmboviţa River. By European standards Bucharest is not an old city, its existence first being referred to by scholars as late as 1459, since then it has gone through a variety of changes, becoming the state capital of Romania in 1862 and steadily consolidating its position as the centre of the Romanian mass media, culture and arts. Its eclectic architecture is a mix of historical, interbellum, Communist-era, and modern; in the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of the "Paris of the East" or "Little Paris".

According to the 2011 census, Bucharest proper has a population of 1,883,425. There are approximately 2.3 million inhabitants in the greater metropolitan area. Economically, the city is by far the most prosperous in Romania and is one of the main industrial centres and transportation hubs of Eastern Europe, as the most important city in Romania, Bucharest also has a broad range of educational facilities.

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St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007.jpg
Photo credit: Diliff
A stitched mosaic of Saint Peter's Square, in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome, Italy, as seen from the top of St. Peter's Basilica.
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