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This Very Short Introduction explains the European Union in plain English. Fully updated for 2007 to include controversial and current topics such as the Euro currency, the EU's enlargement, and its role in ongoing world affairs, this accessible guide shows how and why the EU has developed from 1950 to the present. Covering a range of topics from the Union's early history and the ongoing interplay between 'eurosceptics' and federalists, to the single market, agriculture, and the environment, the authors examine the successes and failures of the EU, and explain the choices that lie ahead in the 21st century. Completely revised and updated to include coverage of the momentous changes that have taken place within the EU since 2000 Examines the benefits, controversies, and lessons learnt from programmes such as enlargement into central and eastern Europe, and the circulation of the Euro Covers the history of the Union since 1950, outlines the workings of its institutions, and explains what they do Examines the role of the EU as a peace-keeper in Europe and beyond, and how it functions in world politics, and looks at its role in supporting the rise of environmental politics Considers the future the Union, and the challenges and choices that lie ahead in the 21st century