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The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries. The EU is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to foster interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. The EU currently consists of 28 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.
This Congressional Research Service report (CRS Report RS21372, completed in September 2016)serves as a primer on the EU. Despite the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the UK remains a full member of the bloc until it completes withdrawal negotiations, a process that has not yet begun and is expected to take at least two years. As such, this report largely addresses the EU and its institutions as they currently exist. It also briefly describes U.S.-