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Portal:European Union

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The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of over 510 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters (only) where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty was enacted in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The Communities 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 latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its predecessors, the United Kingdom signified an intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal.

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International Court of Justice.jpg

The International Court of Justice (known colloquially as the World Court or ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is in the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands. Established in 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, similar to that of its predecessor, is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court. The ICJ should not be confused with the International Criminal Court or a court exercising jurisdiction under Belgium's War Crimes Law, both of which also potentially have "global" jurisdiction. English and French are its two official languages.

The Court's workload is characterised by a wide range of judicial activity. Its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorised international organs and agencies. The number of decisions made by the ICJ has been relatively small, but there has clearly been an increased willingness to use the Court since the 1980s, especially among developing countries, although the USA withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986, meaning it accepts the court's jurisdiction on only a case-to-case basis.

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Valletta

Valletta, population 6,444 (2014), is the capital city of Malta. The whole city was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The official name the Order of Saint John gave to the city was Humilissima Civitas Valletta — a city bound to humility. However, with the building of bastions, curtains and ravelins, along with the beauty of the baroque buildings along its streets, it became known as Superbissima — 'Most Proud', amongst the ruling houses of Europe. In Maltese it is known as Il-Belt, simply meaning "The City".

The foundation stone of Valletta was laid by the Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, Jean Parisot de Valette, on 28 March 1566; The Order decided to found a new city on the Xiberras peninsula just after the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, so as to fortify the Order's position in Malta, effectively binding the Knights to the island. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important buildings were built by Girolamo Cassar. Valletta, hence, is an urban area which boasts many buildings from the 16th century and onwards, but most of them were built during the time of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of Malta).

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