The EU budget is funded from sources including a percentage of each member country's gross national income. It is spent on efforts as diverse as raising the standard of living in poorer regions and ensuring food safety. The euro is the common currency of most EU countries.
The EU obtains revenue not only from contributions from member countries but also from import duties on products from outside the EU and a percentage of the value-added tax levied by each country.
The EU budget pays for a vast array of activities from rural development and environmental protection to protection of external borders and promotion of human rights. The Commission, Council and Parliament all have a say in how big the budget is and how it is allocated. But the Commission and EU countries are responsible for the actual spending.
The euro – used every day by some 338.6 million Europeans – is the most tangible proof of cooperation between EU countries. Its benefits are immediately obvious to anyone travelling abroad or shopping online on websites based in another EU country.
The economic crisis has prompted intense and sustained action by the EU's national governments, the European Central Bank and the Commission since it erupted worldwide in 2008. All have been working closely together to support growth and employment, protect savings, maintain a flow of affordable credit for businesses and households, ensure financial stability, and put in place a better governance system for the future.