On 11 September 2001, hijacked airliners are flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington. Nearly 3 000 people die. The EU countries stand firmly alongside the United States in the fight against international terror.
1 January 2002
Euro notes and coins arrive. Printing, minting and distributing them in 12 countries is a major logistical operation. More than 80 billion coins are involved. Notes are the same for all countries. Coins have one common face, giving the value, while the other carries a national emblem. All circulate freely. Using Finnish (or any other) euro coin to buy a Madrid metro ticket is something we take for granted.
31 March 2003
As part of its foreign and security policy, the EU takes on peace-keeping operations in the Balkans, firstly in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and then in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both cases, EU-led forces replace NATO units. Internally, the EU agrees to create an area of freedom, security and justice for all citizens by 2010.
1 May 2004
Eight countries of central and eastern Europe — the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia — join the EU, finally ending the division of Europe decided by the Great Powers 60 years earlier at Yalta. Cyprus and Malta also become members.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden.
New Member States: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
Candidate Countries: Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
29 October 2004
The 25 EU countries sign a. It is designed to streamline democratic decision-making and management in an EU of 25 and more countries. It also creates the post of a European Foreign Minister. It has to be ratified by all 25 countries before it can come into force. When citizens in both France and the Netherlands voted 'No' to the Constitution in referendums in 2005, EU leaders declared a "period of reflection".
The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit global warming and cut emissions of greenhouse gases, comes into force. The EU has consistently taken the lead in efforts to reduce the impact of climate change. The United States is not a party to the protocol.
The communications revolution continues. Many schools and homes now have high-speed access to the Internet. Text messages and SMS are the favourite way for young people to stay in constant contact with each other. Wide-screen and flat-screen TV sets and DVDs set the pace for home entertainment.
1 January 2007
Two more countries from eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania, now join the EU, brining the number of member states to 27 countries. Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are also candidates for future membership.
Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
13 December 2007
The 27 EU countries sign the Treaty of Lisbon, which amends the previous Treaties. It is designed to make the EU more democratic, efficient and transparent, and thereby able to tackle global challenges such as climate change, security and sustainable development. The Treaty of Lisbon is ratified by all EU countries before entering into force on 1 December 2009.
A major financial crisis hits the world economy. The problems start with mortgage loans in the United States. Several European banks also experience difficulties. The crisis leads to closer economic cooperation between EU countries.