Estonia adopts the euro as its currency, becoming the 17th member of the euro area.
Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) become the ‘European Capitals of Culture’ for 2011.
Hungary takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. Its programme focuses on four priority areas: inclusive growth and employment; stronger food, energy and water policies; a citizen-friendly Union; and enlargement and neighbourhood policy.
Three new European financial supervisory authorities begin operating: the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority.
The European Year of Volunteering kicks off: it highlights the importance of volunteering and encourages more people to make a difference in society.
The first "European semester" gets under way – a six-monthly cycle of economic policy coordination between EU countries which is meant to help prevent economic crises like the one in 2008-10.
The European Council offers its full support for a peaceful transition to democracy with its neighbours in the southern Mediterranean region.
The European Parliament approves a resolution granting EU political and financial support for Egypt’s transition to democracy, also reiterating the solidarity with the Tunisian 'Jasmine Revolution', deploring the violence that claimed several lives.
The European Union activates its Civil Protection Mechanism to coordinate an EU assistance and solidarity response following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
A joint statement from Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative, welcomes the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 to halt the suffering of Libyan civilians affected by the conflict with Gaddafi’s government.
A comprehensive package of measures to strengthen the European economy is finalised at the spring European Council in Brussels. The Euro Plus Pact was set up to reinforce economic policy coordination in the Economic and Monetary Union.
The European Parliament adopts a resolution on the repression of protests in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. It condemns the use of violence against protestors and urges the authorities to listen to their calls for more freedom.
25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. The EU maintains its commitment to strengthening nuclear safety.
Agreement is reached on a new European Heritage Label, an award which will highlight sites that celebrate the history and development of the European Union. EU countries may propose sites every two years: one site per country may be awarded the label.
War crimes and genocide suspect Ratko Mladić is arrested by Serbian authorities, removing an obstacle to Serbia joining the EU.
A joint Transparency Register for EU lobbyists is launched by the Commission and the Parliament, merging their separate registers. It marks a milestone in improving transparency.
European Council agrees that the accession negotiations with Croatia should be concluded by the end of June 2011, paving the way for the country to become the 28th EU member in 2013.
The European Commission proposes a multiannual spending plan – an EU budget for 2014 to 2020 – aimed at boosting growth.
The Greek Parliament adopts a package of spending cuts and structural reforms to reduce the country’s debt and to make the economy more competitive. The EU reaffirms its support and solidarity.
Poland takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. Its programme includes economic growth, a more secure Europe, and closer relations with the EU’s eastern and southern neighbours.
Euro area countries sign a treaty creating a European Stability Mechanism, able to lend up to €500 billion to euro area countries in crisis.
The results of a round of bank stress tests are published, revealing banks’ ability to withstand a new recession. Some 83 out of 91 banks pass.
Euro area leaders agree on new support measures for Greece amounting to €109 billion.
The EU adopts restrictive measures against Syria, responding to the violent repression of pro-democracy demonstrations.
The European Union offers humanitarian and financial assistance for a democratic Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
The protection period for music recording rights is extended from 50 to 70 years in the EU with the adoption of an EU directive;
The EU participates in the UN’s annual general debate for the first time. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, speaks of the international community’s "responsibility to assist" Libya with political transition.
EU support of €350m is announced for countries undergoing democratic transformation in North Africa and the Middle East.
A new tax on transactions between financial institutions is proposed by Commission President José Manuel Barroso during his annual State of the Union address.
The European Parliament in Brussels opens its Visitors' Centre – the Parlamentarium. An array of interactive multimedia tools give tourists and local residents alike an insight into the workings of the European Parliament and the other EU institutions.
The launch of the first two Galileo satellites brings the EU one step closer to having its own satellite navigation system. Galileo will help improve transport, rescue services, banking transactions and electricity provision.
The European Council agrees on a number of measures to secure growth and job creation.
A summit of Heads of State and Government from the euro area puts in place a comprehensive strategy that ensures fiscal consolidation, growth, support to countries in difficulty, and stronger euro area governance.
Mario Draghi, former Governor of Italy's Central Bank, takes over as President of the European Central Bank (ECB).
The leaders of 20 major advanced and emerging economies meet at the G20 summit in Cannes, France. They agree on determined and coordinated action for global economic recovery and job creation and take steps on financial reform.
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopts a package of six legislative proposals aimed at strengthening economic governance in the EU. It includes rules for more responsible management of banks.
A new coalition government takes office in Greece, led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
Change of government in Italy. The new Prime Minister Mario Monti will implement sharp economic reforms.
The Commission presents a four-part package of measures to deepen EU and euro area economic governance: the 2012 Annual Growth Survey setting out the economic priorities for the coming year; two Regulations to tighten economic and budgetary surveillance in the euro area; and a Green Paper on Stability Bonds.
At the European Council, 17 members of the euro area and several other EU countries agree to participate in a new 'fiscal compact' and to coordinate their economic policies more tightly.
Václav Havel, former Czechoslovak and Czech President, who fought for freedom under communist rule, dies. "He was a true European and has been a champion of democracy and liberty throughout his life. Václav Havel's name will remain forever attached to the reunification of Europe and the expansion of its values to Central and Eastern Europe," said Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
Liechtenstein joins the EU's border-free Schengen area.